Mort Laitner
Mort Laitner

What Would Shtisel Do?

'Shtisel' has a certain voyeuristic appeal to some Jewish viewers. (Netflix/Dori Media/via JTA)

I’m watching one of the episodes Shtisel, Season 3 when Shulem exclaims, “Dreck mit charoset!

Wow, did I just hear that.

This Hasidim sums up life in three words.

Shulem coins the Yiddish equivalent to, “Life is a bowl of cherries.”

Shulem knows that life ain’t no bowl of cherries.

But rather it’s a concoction of apples, walnuts, cinnamon, brown sugar or honey, sweet red kosher wine and crap.

What audacity to simplify life into three words!

Who does this guy think he is—Bob Dylan?

For only a philosophical genius simplifies human existence into three words.

Shulem knows how humans exist and how during our time on this planet  we carry our own baggage.

Baggage colored a deep shade of red or a dark brown.

So why do I love this man of wisdom?

So why do I hate this man of G-d?

To answer these questions, I think comparative analysis is the way to go.

I’m going to compare myself to Shulem Shtisel.

We’re similar in age—more or less;

We’re both zeydehs:

We both know the taste of tsuris;

He smokes cigarettes; I use to;

We ‘re professional eaters; we have the bellies to prove it;

We both love cheese cake and wasser mit gaz;

We both own SodaStreams;

We are both believers;

He follows the 613; I follow some of these commandments;

He’s religious and I am secular;

We both dress for our parts;

We both are big fans of tikkum olam;

He thinks he’s smarter than his family and friends; I know I am. (humor);

He thinks he knows what’s best for other people and isn’t afraid to tell them; I am. (not humor);

He freely peddles out advice, even if it is not asked for. I don’t because I know, like a meshuga¬†hundt, it always turns around and bites me in my tuchus;

His ego whispers, “Women are still attracted to you.” But his ego lies.

My ego, on the other hand, is a deaf mute;

He is a smart manipulator of men/women and I don’t even try—no one listens;

He klops (slaps) people; I don’t.

He likes to be a bissel shikkhured. Me not so much.

I’m done.

Now it’s your turn to compare yourself to Shulem Shtisel.

Zei gezunt.

But before I leave you, here are my final words of wisdom:

Before you make any decisions in your life, always ask yourself, “What would Shulem Shtisel do?”

About the Author
Florida's Jewish short-story writer, speaker, film producer and retired attorney. He has authored, "A Hebraic Obsession", "The Hanukkah Bunny" and "The Greatest Gift." He produced an award-winning short film entitled, "The Stairs". Movie can be viewed on my TOI blog. Mort is a correspondent for the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel Jewish Journal.
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