Have you ever seen the magazine called Mad? It often illustrates a yokel named Alfred E. Neuman. Alfred is depicted as a dude without a die-geh (worry) in the world. The following quote describes his philosophy: All the sleepless nights, burdened days, joyless, restless, peace-destroying, health-destroying, love-destroying hours men and women have ever in all earth’s centuries given. Worry never wrought one good thing! Perhaps this quote regarding the uselessness of worrying is on the mark – doss hayst (that means), maybe it’s right!
If someone has a worried expression, it’s probably best to leave him alone. However, if it worries you to the point of plotzing (bursting), you may ask him (or her), “Fahr voss diegehst do – Why are you worrying?” The response may simply be, “Ich diegeh nit – I’m not worrying. That’s my normal facial expression!” He may then wonder why you are draying ah kopp (confusing him).
A person with a health agenda will assure us that worrying will ultimately shorten our lives. However diegeh is a human trait, Therefore, unless we keep diegehs under control, they can become a habit. Indeed, chronic worriers diegeh about anything and everything. Some diegeh whether a social event or meeting will begin precisely on time. Others diegeh whether the Baltimore Ravens will rehire that paskunyak (no-goodnik) Ray Rice, while others diegeh about the stock market. Ayn leh diegeh soff – there is no end to their worrying!
Diegeh begins early in life. For example, when our Biblical ancestor Jacob was in his mother’s womb, he moved around and diegehed whenever his mother Rifka passed by a yeshiva, while his twin brother Esau diegehed and did the twist whenever she passed a church, ah brawch (unfortunately). Therefore, Rifka was nebech so perplexed that she thought, “Vehr darf der ganseh miseh – who needs the whole thing!? For the complete miseh (story), take out your Chumash and review a chapter entitled Toldos Yitzchak (Toldos).
You may wonder why infants shrie (cry) and shrie without letup. Do they diegeh about diaper styles or their mother’s fashion sense? Not exactly. Babilehs probably diegeh about when they will get their next meal or when someone will relieve their flooded posterior.
After babyhood, children have new diegehs such as how to adjust to their friends and relatives and, above all, how to get along with their parents. School is another major diegeh. For example, Berel Vimple (not his real name) entered Yeshivas Chayeh Ruahs. After he was introduced to his teacher and to the class, a class vilder chayeh (wild guy) gingerly tossed a paper plane towards Berel. Nu, did the plane land on the floor, or perhaps on the book case? Not a chance! It took a nose dive and landed on Berel’s desk: geshosen and getrofehn (right on target)!
Berel began to diegeh whether to reveal the identity of the plane’s launcher, or whether to shvyg (be quiet) about the incident. If he snitches on the plane thrower, his reputation could suffer, because a “tattle tale” isn’t exactly beloved! If he is quiet, there is the possibility of another plane flying over the “wild blue yonder” and landing on somebody’s head or vair vais (who knows) where! Nu, diegehs and more diegehs! So, Berel picks up the plane and tosses it towards the trash can. It takes a curve towards the teacher and, bingo, right on his head while he’s discussing aviation! Berel is on his way to the principal’s office. Perhaps if Berel did diegeh prior to tossing the plane, things would have been better. In this example, therefore, to diegeh is good…which shows that there is useful and useless worrying.
To find out about the diegehs of the young, directly, I telephoned my nine-year-old ainikel (grandson) and enquired. The discussion went something like this: “Nu, Yehudah Ephraim, what are some of your diegehs?”
He thought about it for a moment and responded, “Pressure at ball games.”
“What kind of pressure?” I asked.
“Whether I’ll be okay when up at bat,” he answered.
Incidentally, Ryan Ephraim (as I call him), is a topnotch athlete (no bragging intended – nu, maybe a little). “Do you have any other diegehs,” I asked.
“How I did on the test!” he responded.
My 16-year-old ainikel, Mordechai Aryeh (Zack), responded quickly: “Tests, tests, tests….”
Finally, I asked the same question to Heneh (Niky) my 15-year-old ainikel, and she stated, “Tests, studying, the social media, and bugs!”
“Voss hayst (what do you mean) bugs?” I asked.
“Insects!” she answered.
Diegehs of Middle Age and Beyond
So when do we reach middle age?” you may ask. Thirty? Forty? Fifty? Dehr enfehr iz (the answer is) that you reach middle age when all that you exercise is caution! Some diegehs which dray the kopp (take you for a spin) and drain your energy include marriage plans, mortgage payments, school tuition, household expenses, and credit card debt. The list could go on and on.
As we enter the “golden years,” health issues such as blood pressure, weight, hearing, and vision become main concerns. We can either diegeh about them or make them priorities in daily health habits.
Another Yiddish word for worry is zorgehn. The maxim, “bargehn macht zorgen – borrowing creates worries,” is an old but meaningful one. Incidentally, William Shakespeare cautioned the world, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.” He must have been ah kluger (smart) person who understood that borrowing and lending are probably one of the greatest causes of worrying. Much of the government economy depends on having the population owe money. Correct? Klair ess iber, think it over.
One of my recent diegehs was whether to get a flu shot. The media constantly advertised the need to get inoculated. I therefore went to a pharmacy which had a huge placard in their showcase explaining the need to have a flu shot and how easy, quick, and painless the procedure is. Ahz ah yohr oif zay, but wait, wait.
The pharmacist assured me that it is beneficial for golden agers to receive the more potent “super vaccine.” Nu, like a lemach (dope) I followed his advice. After receiving the injection, I drove home and began feeling like a spaced out character. In a few minutes I began shaking like a lulav during Hallel! Next, my body temperature increased, followed by repeated breching (upchucking), like a fahrsamt (poisoned) person. Ihn kurtsehn (to sum up), it was like a nightmare that turned into reality! Several hours later, my condition, baruch Hashem (thank G-d), improved, so the saying “never again” currently applies to fahrzetsteh (nasty) flu shots!
Recently, I went to the pharmacy, and the sales person uttered words that could have caused his instant demise if I had been carrying a shotgun. Nu, you may wonder, did he blaspheme the name of the Ribono Shel Olam (G-d), chass vesholom? Did he insult the Jewish people? Not exactly. His question was whether I was interested in getting a flu shot!
Throughout our lives, we have many diegehs. Some are authentic, while most are nisht gefehrlich (not terrible). So why are we diegenen so much? Give it some thought. Perhaps Alfred E. Neuman’s slogan, “What, me worry?” will be an incentive to reduce your diegehnen. This song from after World War I still has a message to remember:
Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile, smile
What’s the use of worrying, it never was worthwhile.
So pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile. smile !
Let’s reduce diegeh and enjoy the daily gift that the Ribono Shel Olam (G-d) gives us: the gift of life! Baruch Hashem, yom yom – Thank G-d each and every day!