Monday, March 15, 2010

Toldois Creedmoor: The Schmoigerman Chassune


(I will move the rest of the Toldois blog posts back here as well and close the Toldois blog when I do. This follows from the last Toldois blog post about Kalman Schmoiger who became the first schmoiger to bear the Schmoigerman surname).

Now a wealthy man in Ruthenian terms thanks to his army recruitment schemes, and at the very ground floor of his soon to be famous tontine investment scheme, the time had come for Kalman Schmoigerman to marry.

To be sure, there was no girl in Ruthenia who would even so much as look at Kalman Schmoigerman, despite his great wealth.

Years of inbreeding going back to the times of isolation of the deMenubal clan in cliffbound Montetres had produced a specimen as revolting as he was reprehensible. Kalman Schmoigerman was said to be the prototype for anti-Semitic cartoons, as he was cursed with a beaklike nose, a pinched face, a bent back, rounded shoulders, and a stature considered short even for the time and place of his birth. His beady eyes, black as vultures, rounded out the picture of a man who looked on the outside exactly as he was on the inside.

So who was he to marry?

The answer came from nearby Nagyszar, a village located on the Hungarian side of the regional border. Her name was Schprintza Schvartz, but she was actually named for a common ancestor of both chosson and kalla, namely Senzasperanza de Menuval. And her original name was Swarcsmuk, for she was a descendant of the successful and ehrlich Yehuda der Schmuckler, a jeweler from the Rhineland who had settled in Hungary and unknowingly married a de Menubal, who had been adopted from her dysfunctional family by a childless couple who raised her as would befit the daughter of a renowned talmid chochom and his wealthy wife.

Therefore, his wife Rochel was indeed a pleasant, kind and gentle woman who seemed to have escaped the curse of her Sodomite ancestors.

However, the Swarcsmuk name and dynasty came to be because Shmarya, known as Schmendrik, who one of her four sons with this jeweler, reverted to de Menuval type.

At the time of the passing of their father, the four sons were supposed to have received equal shares of the inheritance, for Yehuda der Schmuckler, a talmid chochom and baal chesed who never expected to live as long as he did, had given the bechor, Nissan, his double portion years ago, and Reb Nissan subsequently left Hungary to establish himself in London.

However, the other two brothers faced ruin, for the reprobate Schmendrik attempted to obtain the bulk of the fortune by summoning them to the beis din of Szarkonosvary and Arszvary, an unrecognized institution which served two very remote and isolated towns known for their ignorance. The dayan, Koirach Wercberger, who was probably an ancestor of Ku Klutz Karta - Manchester stalwart and excomunicatee Ahron Cohen, was as incompetent as he was corrupt and after receiving a handful of counterfeit crowns from the litigant, he decided the case as follows:

Nissan, the oldest - all white jewels
Shmarya Schmendrik, the litigant - all black jewels
Moishe, the largest in size - all large jewels
Chaim Yankel, the smallest in size - all small jewels

The other two brothers in Hungary, as well as Nissan in London, simply equitably combined and then redivided that which they were awarded and went about with their lives as ehrlicher Yidden. Indeed, many Hungarian Jews could be descended from them, for they took the names Weisz, Grosz and Klein respectively in a comical reference to the comical beis din case when forced to take surnames. (Other sources say that a corrupt bureaucrat tried to solicit a bribe from the two brothers who remained in Hungary, and when neither one was willing to play along, he assigned the name Grosz to the diminutive Chaim Yankel and the name Klein to Moishe, a veritable mountain of a man, albeit as decent and honest as he was huge and strong.)

But Shmarya Schmendrik boldly took the name of Swarcsmuk (pronounced Schvartzschmuck) because he was so proud at having received what he passed off, rightfully or wrongfully as priceless pieces of onyx and black pearls.

By then, the name Swarc or Schwarz had been bestowed on many a Jew in the region, and because Shmarya Swarcsmuk had developed a reputation as a complete reprobate who regularly dealt in counterfeit stone and metal along with stolen merchandise, those Schwartzes began to refer to him as Smuk (Schmuck) so as to make sure they were not assumed to be related to him.

Of course, a century or so later, with the first Jewish immigration to the United States, that innocent German word for jewel which had become associated with this most corrupt of men would in time enrich the American English lexicon as a somewhat risque word for a fool.

Kind, gentle Rochel, the wife of the late Yehuda der Schmuckler and mother of the four sons, could take no more after the absurd beis din case. After a month of hearing of Shmarya Schmendrick's shameful post litigation escapades, she knew her time had come. She also knew that she had to tell her story to her reprobate son, so that he knew from whence he had emerged.

She summoned Schmendrick to her bedside, and her son obeyed only because he knew he could relieve her of her valuables once she slipped into her final sleep.

And before she began her journey to Gan Eden, she told her son: "You are the continuation of the curse! You, how did I believe I would escape this! I was adopted by a talmid chochom and his rich wife, a childless couple who were told by the rov of my village to rescue me from my own parents who were always traveling and often in prison. Rumors were that I was a deMenubal but boruch Hashem even now I don't look like one, maybe my father wasn't who he was supposed to be, maybe my real mother was divorced, who knows anymore? My father's mother and father were cousins, because they were the grandchildren of that Yachne Shprintza Menivelman who everyone said was cursed, that her great-grandmother was Senz'Esperanza from Montetres, in Spain, from the de Menubals who ran the three card games and got thrown out of Spain for that long before the rest of the Yidden were. My son, when I saw what you did to your brothers, and how Hashem protected them as He protected Yaakov from his brother through His shaliach the Szarkonosvary Dayan, I know it is you who will be cursed forever, for bringing back the curse of Senz'Esperanza, of the Hopeless One. Listen to me! You must name your first daughter Shprintza and make sure she marries only another de Menuval. The de Menuvals are known in Ruthenia by our oldest and most accursed name that we got before korban bayis sheini, and they are called Shoiteh, Menivel, Gas Ruach, which is sometimes shortened to Schmoiger. Otherwise this curse will continue through you until the end of time! If you do that then the rest of your children will be saved and even Shprintza will live in great wealth that will pass through for generations!"

After her son agreed to follow her instructions (a given as it turns out because Shprintza did not grow up to be fit for anyone else besides a de Menuval - Schmoiger), Rochel, the wife of Yehuda der Schmuckler, fell into a coma that was followed a week later by her passing. And once her reprobate son cleaned her luxurious abode, his very childhood home, of every thing of value, he ran off on a stolen horse to send word to his brothers, who arrived in time to assure she would be properly buried and remembered for her life of good deeds rather than for her reprobate son. Hardly in need themselves, they were not surprised at all that nothing of value remained in the home but they did not have the desire to pursue their brother.

The gravestone under which she would rest listed Shmarya Schmendrik as having predeceased her on the day of the beis din case, which was in line with a cherem issued against him by several legitimate rabbonim. And Mamme Rochel was mourned throughout the land, with no mention made of Shmarya Schmendrik except by some who said, "She was not Rochel but Rivka, for she was such a fine lady but she had three Yaakovs and an Esav for sons."

And that fictitious date of death inscribed in stone would serve Shmarya Schmendrik's future son in law in good stead. After marrying Schmendrik's shrewish Shprintza in a ceremony held at one of the many Schmoigerman bawdy houses, and officiated by none other than the now completely senile Dayan of Szarkonosvary and Arsvary, Kalman Schmoigerman and his new eizer legamrei negdo Shprintza would mastermind the very first haimishe insurance fraud, the "Naye Karpatische Tontine" scheme.

Since it depended on the masterminds' ability to prove that participants had died before the expiration of the policies (today known as term life policies but with a rather odd payoff provision that meant the sum of the policy would end up with the last survivor), a funeral was duly held for what was billed to be the corpse of Shmarya Swarcsmuk, dredged up from sea after a terrible shipwreck.

In reality, Shmarya Swarcsmuk was simply, with the emphasis on simply because he had moved to Arsvary (known in Yiddish as Oisvorf) known under his more accurate epithet of Schmendrik Schmuck, and no Oisvorfer (later shortened to Oisvorf) was literate enough to read a gravestone in a far off village. But they and their Szarkonosvary neighbors were gullible enough to buy life insurance in its primitive tontine form from the "Karpatianer Tontine Gescheft".

As for the rest of the participants who were needed to predecease the Schmoigermans so as to enrich them, well, the title of the next installment of the Schmoigerman saga is:

"They Shoot Horses, Don't They"

(more coming by Sunday IYH)

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