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
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?
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...