Proverb – Yiddish

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 25
Occupation: Business Banking Officer
Residence: Los Angeles, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: March 2007
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Spanish, Italian, Yiddish

“Je länger ein Blinder lebt, desto mehr sieht er.”

“The longer a blind man lives, the more he sees.”

My informant first heard this proverb at the age of twenty (circa 2001) when he was visiting his grandfather during winter break.  He was attending the University of California at Berkeley at the time, when he decided to visit my grandfather who lives alone.  When Adam was watching television at his grandfather’s house, he saw a television show that my grandfather had been watching.  My informant forgets the name of the show, but recollects that during the show, this proverb was stated.  At first, my informant was not sure what it meant or why it was being said, but my grandfather turned to my brother and said “That is one of the best Yiddish sayings. Did you happen to catch what was being said?”  Adam responded by telling my grandfather that he had no idea what it meant, but would like to know.

My informant’s first reaction upon seeing and hearing the proverb was that it was interesting, but more importantly, informative.  Adam told me that the meaning of the proverb is that it “teaches people in life to live life to the fullest and no matter whether you can or cannot see, each day you will experience and see something new.”

This proverb is used in the Yiddish culture; moreover, it is used to tell someone to live life and not take anything for granted.  The example being used in this proverb is a blind man who isn’t supposed to see, but as he lives each day he may not be able to see everything, but he can experience different aspects of life and paint a picture in his head of what the object looks like.

The reason why this proverb is important in my informant’s life is because “it shows someone who may have a disability that he can still enjoy life and see things that [one] would not normally see.”

The reason why this proverb means so much to me is because of how sick I was when I was born.  I was born 3 lbs, 11 ounces, 7 weeks pre-mature, so my life was definitely at risk.  So, when I hear this proverb it makes me really think about what is important in life.  Since I was so close to dying at birth, this proverb really enforces the fact that one should live life to the fullest and not take anything for granted.