Yiddish proverbs

From Quotes
Nowadays men cannot love seven night but they must have all their desires: that love may not endure by reason; for where they be soon accorded and hasty, heat soon it cooleth. Right so fareth love nowadays, soon hot soon cold: this is no stability. But the old love was not so.
Sir Thomas Malory
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Proverbs in the Yiddish language.

With original Yiddish

  • וואָס לענגער איין בלינדער לייבט, דאָס מער זייט ער.
    • Vos lenger ein blinder leybt, dos mehr seht er.
    • Translation: The longer a blind man lives, the more he sees.
  • אז מען לייבט, ערלייבט מען
    • "Az men lebt, erleybt men."
    • Translation: When one lives, one experiences. i.e With life comes experience.
  • גאָט האַט איין וועלט פיל קליינער וועלטער בערשאַפען.
    • Gott hot ein velt fill kleiner velter berschaffen.
    • Translation: God created a world full of small worlds.
  • קיינער זייט נישט זיין אייגענער הויקער
    • "Keiner zeyt nisht zein eigener hoyker."
    • Translation: No one sees his own hunchback. i.e No one sees his own faults.
  • מענטש טראַחט, גאָט לאַחט.
    • Mentsch tracht, Gott lacht.
    • Translation: Man plans, God laughs.

Without original Yiddish

  • A dead man is mourned seven days; a fool, his lifetime.
  • A fool is his own informer.
  • A good friend you get for nothing, an enemy you have to buy.
  • A heavy purse makes a light heart.
  • A shlemiel lands on his back, and bruises his nose.
  • An imaginary ailment is worse than a disease.
  • God is an honest payer, but a very slow one.
  • God loves the poor and helps the rich.
  • God will provide. If only God would provide until He provides!
  • Hope may give a man strength, but not sense.
  • If I dealt in candles, the sun wouldn't set; if I dealt in shrouds, people would stop dying.
  • If the head doesn't work it's bad news for the legs.
  • If the rich could hire someone to die for them, the poor would make a wonderful living.
  • If you have nothing to lose, you can try anything.
  • If you lie on the ground, you can't fall.
  • If you seek a reputation for wisdom, agree with everyone.
  • It is far easier to spot faults in another than virtues in oneself.
  • It is the kindness and not the harshness in the headmaster’s voice that pushes tough boys to cry.
  • Life is the cheapest bargain--you get it for nothing.
  • Love is blind; jealousy sees too much.
  • Love your neighbor, even if he plays the trombone.
  • May God protect you from goyisha hands and yiddishe tongues.
  • Money is round, so it rolls away.
  • No man suffers from another's sins--he has enough of his own.
  • Once poor, never rich.
  • One good deed has many claimants.
  • Rejoice not at your enemy's fall, but don't pick him up, either.
  • Some people are like new shoes--the cheaper they are, the louder they squeak!
  • Spare us what we can learn to endure.
  • The girl who can't dance says the band can't play.
  • The heaviest thing in the world is an empty pocket.
  • The whole world is a big town.
  • Treat me like a rabbi; watch me like a thief.
  • Understanding is something we're sure the other fellow hasn't got.
  • We have far greater compassion for another's misfortune than our pleasure in another's good fortune.
  • What you don't see with your eyes, don't invent with your tongue.
  • You can't force anyone to love you or lend you money.
  • Your health comes first--you can always hang yourself later.
  • Man makes plans, and God laughs.
  • Confidence is half of victory.
  • God made man because he loves stories.
  • A good enemy is better than a bad friend. (Transliteration: Besser a Gutter Soineh Aider a Shlecter Freint.)


  • Ayalti, Hanan J., (ed.), Yiddish Proverbs, New York, 1949.
  • Bernstein, Ignaz and B. W. Segel, Jiddische Sprichwörter, Frankfurt a. M., 1908.
  • King, Alan, Alan King's Jewish Joke Book, (published(?)), 2003(?)