Date: Wed, 21 Jan 1998 20:37:25 -0500

From: Laurence Horn laurence.horn[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]YALE.EDU

Subject: Re: folk tale, "1, 2, 3"

At 6:32 PM -0500 1/21/98, simon[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]CVAX.IPFW.INDIANA.EDU wrote:

Not on topic, (apologies all) but I thought that some of you here might

know this---

there's a folk tale, situated variously in areas where pogroms occurred.

In the tale, the provincial governor, or ruler, or even village chief,

tells the local jewish population that one of them will have to debate

him, or vie with him, and if the jewish representative loses,s/he'll be

killed and everyone else driven out. No one wants to be the debater,

and finally an illiterate, lowly sweeper or laborer or cowherd (e

is selected. The cowherd and the village chief meet in the village

square, and sit face to face, silently for a long time. At last, the

cowherd hold up one finger. The village chief looks startled, then holds

up two fingers. After a while, the cowherd holds up three fingers. The

village chief announces that the cowherd has won and everyone can stay.

Later, each gives a different interpretation of what the other meant.

Larry Horn, where you der, charley?

Anyone? Anyone know this?


beth simon

Oops, too late. Greg Downing beat me to the punch (a nice expression,

that, by the way--is the allusion to boxing or to the Hindi-derived

erstwhile five-ingrediented libation?). The version I know is the same,

complete with the combatants being Pope vs. Moishe (or equivalent

shmendrik) rather than Pope vs. Chief Rabbi. Semiotic value essentially

the same as Greg gives it, and the provenance for me, I blush to admit

given my heritage, was also friendly spam. More charming, anyway, than the

nth incarnation of the Neiman Marcus cookie recipe...