What Does “May You Grow Like An Onion With Your Head In The Ground!" Mean?
Vaksn zolstu vi a tsibele mitn kop in dr'erd!
Jews have a long history with the onion. This piquant bulb actually held great esteem in Ashkenazi society, and has therefore inspired some fittingly pungent expressions. One of the most well known Yiddish curses—onion-related or otherwise—is the one in question. Believe it or not, this is actually an abbreviated version of the curse—perfect for shouting out your car window at dangerously distracted drivers! The most common full version ends with:
“ [...] un dis fis aroyf!”
“ [...] and your feet in the air!”
I would think this addition states the obvious and is therefore superfluous, but to each his own! The most curious version of this notorious curse concludes with:
“ […] di fis in shpitol, un di hent in kloyster!”
“ […] your feet in the hospital, and your hands in a church!”
This addition is especially harsh considering there are perhaps no two more unappealing places for a Jew to find himself:
- The church, for obvious and hopefully antiquated reasons.
- The hospital because, as I’ve mentioned in other articles, to a Jew, health is paramount.
This most verbose version is a masterpiece as it employs the element of surprise to add injury to insult, so to speak. It’s believed that, because of the aforementioned prominence of the onion in Jewish society, the curse’s target would be not only unfazed but completely disarmed by the first part, and thus left all the more vulnerable to the one-two punch of the second and third parts. History and an Ashkenazi affinity for the onion aside, to the modern cursee the abbreviated version is more than sufficient. Hey, I like an onion as much as the next gal, but I certainly wouldn’t take lightly the idea of spending an eternity doing a headstand in the dirt!
Perhaps you Yoga-enthusiasts have a different opinion? Do tell!
Ilene and Gloria are trying desperately to get their husbands to at least look at each other following a particularly devastating game of bridge at the senior center. …
Ilene: “Larry! You and Jacob have been bridge partners and, more importantly, best friends for 35 years! You can’t let this stupid game come between you!”
Gloria: [whispering to Ilene] “Not a good start, Ilene; as much as we think it’s ridiculous, they live for that ‘stupid game.’” [out loud to the men] “You’re behaving like children! I refuse to believe that you survived thousands of wins and losses together, in life and in that game, and you’re going to throw it away over one bad bid?! That’s just plain meshuggeneh!”
Ilene: “You really have nothing to say to each other?”
Jacob: [turning to his recently-proclaimed ex-partner and -friend] “I have something to say: May you grow like an onion with your head in the ground!”
Larry: [bitterly] “I’ll see you there, old friend!”
Both men storm out and the women are left to roll their eyes in peace. …
Ilene: “Well, we tried. Now let’s have a nosh. All this mediation’s got me starving!”
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