Monday, October 26, 2009

The True Beginnings of the Schmoigerman Scammer Dynasty - Don Vital Haim de Menubal part 2


The enterprising and thoroughly corrupt Hymie would soon find a new use for his mentor Du'ecq's "la barata". He found out that a concentrated solution of Du'ecq's adulterated wine vinegar would soften wood, enabling him to change the inscriptions on the famous wooden alms entitlement cards that were his family's stock in trade ever since they arrived in Spain from Eretz Yisroel.

So, he began to issue his own cards and then to soften them, change the inscriptions on them, and resell them after one mark after another purchased them from him at 80 or 90 per cent of face value and found themselves essentially paying 150 per cent more for staples at the market as the counterfeit cards only entitled the bearer to a small and basic food ration. The rest of the ration was indeed paid for by the community, and went to none other than Hymie himself.

In addition, Hymie would augment his income by running what became known as "la juega de Sheketz Arroz," the infested rice game. He would lend one particular market stallholder money at exorbitant interest, and send thugs to mark all of his dried goods with the damning phrase "Sheketz Arroz" - "an abomination in the rice". This meant that the goods were not kosher, and that most gentiles would reject them as well due to insect infestation. Miraculously, a Menubal agent would appear at the stand with a wagon load of "BaDaTz Sefarad Mehadrin" grains, certified with a barely visible kosher seal, of course by none other than "Haham Vital Haim de Menubal". Never mind that such a certification was not even worth the material used in manufacturing the seal; most women in Spain were illiterate and had no idea what the seal meant. Indeed, consumers believed that the grains were special and therefore willing to pay three times the price of regular grain.

Soon enough, Hymie Nebela became a wholesale grain trader, or more accurately a wholesale fraudster of the first order. He invented a new measure called the "sharp ton" (tonna acuta), which consisted of perhaps three tenths of an actual ton, the remainder of the crate being filled with nothing but what was termed "wind and hot air". Of course the price for a "sharp ton" of Nebela flour or rice would equal four times that of an actual ton of non kosher certified grains, and anyone who complained or refused to take the Nebela grains on credit at exorbitant interest would awaken the next morning to find an armed thug and a sign "Nebela Foods Limited" adorning their stall. By now, practically every merchant who had not been driven to ruin by the Sheketz Arroz scheme was forced to buy from the Nebela enterprises.

And since royal titles were easy enough to obtain in the various kingdoms that comprised the Spanish territories, even Hymie Nebela became a knight, taking the royal name of "Don Vital Haim de Menubal, Duca de Vaca". In time, Duca de Vaca, which meant Duke of Cow, would become the basis for an old Spanish song mocking the easy availability of such titles. And later on, in the colonies, English colonists would mistranslate the title of the song as "Duke of Earl", also mocking spurious titles of nobility which were as available in England for the right price just as they were in Spain.

Now, as a nobleman, Don Vital Haim de Menubal, who still claimed to be the very model of a Spanish rabbinical scholar, could realize his long held goal. He could rise to the very greatest heights of deceit and avarice by opening his own private mint, using the same principles of honesty and manipulation of weight and measures that he relied upon to invent and popularize the "sharp ton".

All Don Vital Haim de Menubal had to do was to find a willing king with a willing kingdom. This, as we shall see, proved quite simple for this man of great imagination and even greater moral turpitude.

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