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犹太法典的逻辑

2006-07-15 15:18中青网

  After months of negotiation with the Russian authorities, a Talmudist from Odessa was granted permission to visit Moscow. He boarded the train and found an empty seat.

  At the next stop a young man got on and sat next to him. The scholar looks at the young man and thinks: This fellow surely doesn't look like a peasant, and if he isn't a peasant he probably comes from this district. And If he comes from this district, then he must be Jewish because this is, after all, a Jewish district. On the other hand, if he is a Jew, where could he be going? I'm the only Jew in our district who has permission to travel to Moscow.

  Ahh? But just outside Moscow there is a little village called Samvet, and Jews don't need special permission to go there. But why would he be going to Samvet?

  He's probably going to visit one of the Jewish families there, but how many Jewish families are there in Samvet? There's Only two - there's the Bernsteins and the Steinbergs. And it couldn't be the Bernsteins that he's going to visit, because… a nice looking fellow like him must be visiting the Steinbergs. But why is he going? The Steinbergs have only daughters, so maybe he's their son-in-law.

  But then which daughter did he marry? They say that Sarah married a nice lawyer from Budapest, and Esther married a businessman from Zhitomir, so it must be Sarah's husband. Which means that his name is Alexander Cohen, if I'm not mistaken. But if he comes from Budapest, with all the anti-Semitism over there, he must have changed his name.

  What's the Hungarian equivalent of Cohen? Kovacs. But if they allowed him to change his name, he must have some special status. What could it be? A doctor from the University.

  At this point the scholar turns to the young man and says, “How do you do, Dr. Kovacs?”

  “Very well, thank you, sir.” answered the startled passenger. “But how did you know my name?”

  “Oh,” replied the Talmudist, “it was obvious.”

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