Date: Wed, 21 Jan 1998 18:48:44 -0500 From: Gregory {Greg} Downing Subject: Re: folk tale, "1, 2, 3" Greg D. comment below. At 06:32 PM 1/21/98 EST, you 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? > >thanks > >beth simon >assistant professor, linguistics and english >indiana university purdue university >simon[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] > This is a bit of folklore that has been around for some time, and with the advent of cut-and-paste-capable email, it travels even more than it used to. The most recent time I saw this story was when one of my students emailed it to me in Oct. 1997. I found it easily by searching for the letter sequence "three fingers" in my fall-of-97 email box. Here it is in full with the ending ( = puchline), in the version I was sent in Oct. 1997 anyway: |Religious Sign Language |About a century or two ago, the Pope decided that all the Jews had to |leave the Vatican. Naturally there was a big uproar from the Jewish |community. So the Pope made a deal. He would have a religious debate |with a member of the Jewish community; if the Jew won, the Jews could |stay; if the Pope won, the Jews would leave. | |The Jews realised that they had no choice. So they picked a middle-aged |man named Moishe to represent them. Moishe asked for one addition to the |debate. To make it more interesting, neither side would be allowed to |talk. The pope agreed. | |The day of the great debate came. Moishe and the Pope sat opposite each |other for a full minute before the Pope raised his hand and showed three |fingers. Moishe looked back at him and raised one finger. The Pope waved |his fingers in a circle around his head. Moishe pointed to the ground |where he sat. The Pope pulled out a wafer and a glass of wine. Moishe |pulled out an apple. The Pope stood up and said, "I give up. This man is |too good. The Jews can stay." | |An hour later, the cardinals were all around the Pope asking him what |happened. The Pope said: "First I held up three fingers to represent the |Trinity. He responded by holding up one finger to remind me that there |was still one God common to both our religions. Then I waved my finger |around me to show him that God was all around us. He responded by |pointing to the ground and showing that god was also right here with us. |I pulled out the wine and the wafer to show that god absolves us from |our sins. He pulled out an apple to remind me of original sin. He had an |answer for everything! What could I do?" | |Meanwhile, the Jewish community had crowded around Moishe. "What |happened?" they asked. "Well," said Moishe, "First he said to me that |the Jews had three days to get out of here. I told him that not one of |us was leaving. Then he told me that this whole city would be cleared of |Jews. I let him know that we were staying right here." "And then?" asked |a woman. "I don't know," said Moishe. "He took out his lunch and I took |out mine." Greg Downing/NYU, at greg.downing[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] or downingg[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]