Schnorrers

The Art of Begging.

Print this page Print this page

Why Discriminate?

A shammes [synagogue caretaker] happened to be looking out of the synagogue's open door when he saw a familiar face. All at once it dawned on him where he had seen the man before. He rushed out and collared the passerby.

"Swindler! Thief!" the shammes yelled. "Only yesterday I saw you begging in front of a Catholic church. Today you're begging at the entrance to a synagogue. What are you, Catholic or Jew?"

"A Jew," the beggar gulped. "But in these hard times, who can make a living from only one religion?"

The Heir

Two brothers, Ganseh and Mishpocheh, who could not or would not work for their daily bread, were regular callers at the Rothschild residence where, once a month, they were given 100 marks each.

It happened that Ganseh died, so Mishpocheh made the usual call alone. The family treasurer who disbursed funds to the poor handed him the usual 100 marks.

"Just a chicken-pluckin' minute!" Mishpocheh protested. "What's with this 100 mark business? I'm entitled to 200, and when a man is entitled he's entitled, so hand it over!"

"Entitled nothing!" retorted the treasurer. "Your brother, Ganseh, is dead. His 100 marks is withdrawn."

"What do you mean, withdrawn?" the schnorrer said icily, "Who is my brother's heir--me or Rothschild?"

Cold Chicken

Then there's the story of the schnorrer who made a nuisance of himself by calling at the home of a rich merchant every evening, just in time for dinner.

The merchant was a kind man, but his patience was growing thin. Yet, what could he do? Jewish tradition requires that those who have must share with those who have not.

One evening, when the rich man was entertaining a lady of whom he was quite fond, who should knock on the door but Reb Nuisance himself--the star boarder.

"Look," hissed the merchant fiercely through the slightly opened door, "if you don't mind, I'm entertaining a lady friend."

"I don't mind at all," said the nervy schnorrer. "I'll eat in the kitchen."

"Then tell me, do you like cold chicken?"

"Oh, I just love cold chicken--I wouldn't have it any other way," said the beggar enthusiastically.

"That's just fine!" snapped the merchant. "Come back tomorrow night. The chicken is piping hot right now!"

The Miser and the Schnorrer

There were two men in the town whom no one had ever been able to outwit: Eisinger the rich miser, and Fenster the schnorrer. Neither had ever tested his mettle against the other but the day of reckoning inevitably came.

Fenster, the crafty beggar, decided to challenge Eisinger, the cunning skinflint, to a duel of wits. He went to the miser's house and, after a lengthy argument, persuaded him to lend a silver cup.

On the following day, Fenster not only returned the cup but he also gave Eisinger a little cup.

"What's the extra cup for?" asked the wealthy man suspiciously.

"Take it and have no fears, it rightfully belongs to you. You see, last night your large cup gave birth to this little one, so I thought it no more than right to give it to you."

"A regular schlemiel [fool]," thought the miser. "Very well," he said aloud, scarcely able to conceal his glee, "as long as you are honest enough to admit it, I'll be honest enough to accept it."

"Thank you," said Fenster. "And now I'd like to borrow a silver candelabra for the weekend. I'm expecting an important guest and I want to make a good impression."

The old tightwad was impressed, not only with the schnorrer's honesty but also with his apparent stupidity. "Sure, take it!" he said.

On the following Monday, bright and early, Fenster returned the candelabra, together with a separate candlestick.

"Your candelabra gave birth to this candlestick," explained the schnorrer.

Eisinger was too crafty a man to question Fenster about the absurdity of an inanimate object bearing offspring. "Anytime I can be of service in the future just call on me," he said pleasantly as he accepted the newborn gift.

"Well, there's something I can use right now," said Fenster. "I am expecting my brother-in-law tomorrow, and just to create a show, I'd like to borrow your diamond-studded gold watch."

The rich man immediately conjured up visions of an immaculate conception whose progeny would be a "baby" watch of comparable value to the "parent." He promptly handed over the watch, on the assurance that it would be returned the following evening. "What an ignorant fool!" he thought contemptuously.

But Fenster did not return the expensive watch the next evening, nor the next week, nor the following month. So the miser went to the schnorrer's humble dwelling to demand the return of his property.

"Where's my gold watch?" Eisinger asked.

"It grieves me to tell you this," explained Fenster, "but your watch took sick and died."

"Died? That's ridiculous!"

"Why is it ridiculous?" asked the schnorrer calmly. "If a silver cup and a candelabra can bear children, as you yourself agreed, then why can't a watch pass away?"

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.