Rewriting a Yiddish Proverb

The Elim Family Worship Centre in Peterborough, Ontario has a tendency to borrow and rewrite phrases that are more familiar in their original form. The most recent example is this sign

LaughThe inspiration for the Elim Family Worship Centre’s latest directive is a Yiddish proverb: “Der mentsh trakht un Got lakht.”

Translated as “Man plans and God laughs,” the English equivalent is “Man proposes; God disposes” or “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”

It is more likely that God, if he exists, cries rather than laughs at  people’s preoccupation with what He does and doesn’t do, especially if he reads articles like “God and Humor” that maintain “humor is very rare in the Bible.”

Humour may be very rare in the Bible, but it is alive and well on church signs.

2 thoughts on “Rewriting a Yiddish Proverb

  1. It’s a little ironic that the sign is actually encouraging people to make plans, by inviting them to show up at 9:30 or 10:30 on Sunday. Will a chortling Yahweh disrupt any plans they might formulate to attend services at the Elim Family Worship Centre?

    I rather like the general thrust of the sign, though, and of the original proverb. It’s a poetic way of acknowledging the unpredictability of the universe.

    • I don’t think one needs to resort to notions as vast as the entire Universe to find unpredictability.

      There seems to be plenty of it right here at the Human scale.

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