What’s Your Geduld Rating?


“Have geduld” is a Yiddish expression, usually told to folks who need additional geduld. Nu, you may ask, “voss hakst do ah cheinik, why are you blabbering”? Iz azoy, it’s like this: Without geduld, even things that are possible become impossible! Your response may be, “Zog shoyn, explain it already! What’s the meaning of the word “geduld”?

Nu, have geduld, and it will become as clear as the morning sky in Hawaii. The meaning of geduld is patience, and you have shown great geduld by following this little monologue.

Anyway, some folks have a tremendous amount of geduld, while others have as much gedul as a mahlpeh (monkey) in captivity. With geduld, you can drive all the way to California. Without geduld, driving to a nearby store is a problem.

The question is can geduld be acquired through practice, or is it an inborn trait?

A Few Examples of Geduld

Shmeryl Honikvetcher goes to his favorite restaurant, Fresser’s Delight, and after being seated, waits for service. He sits quietly for what appears to be forever, and his geduld begins a countdown, so to speak. Soon he begins performing an old mishugahs that he began in his youth: twirling the silverware. Next he taps the glass and creates a general disturbance. The waiter arrives and observes that Shmeryl is sitting on shpilkes (he’s jumpy). After giving the waiter a sarcastic greeting, he orders a well-done steak. Rather than steak, however, he receives an oysgedart (skinny) piece of chicken. His geduld is now at an all-time low. If he has geduld and common sense, he will ignore this inexcusable deed and deal with the waiter with politeness. His reward will be a geshmak (tasty) steak. If he doesn’t have geduld, he will blow up, so to speak, and his reward will be the skinny chicken – and a boych-vaytig, a stomachache, from the stress.  

Too Much Geduld?

Lacking geduld is a shlecht (bad) trait that has caused many problems. Having too much geduld, however, can also be detrimental. Vee Azoy (how)? you may ask. Iz azoy, it’s like this: Take the current position of the U.S. government regarding Iran developing an atomic bomb. The current White House occupant has endless geduld. It has created the impression that the U.S. is a paper tiger. Doss hayst (that means) that few nations respect the us. “Red lines” have been created, and all of them challenged by Iran, which has indicated that they have the U.S. ihn bawd (scorn) and will develop the bomb, executive agreement notwithstanding.

Historically, Hitler, y”sh, continued building his war machine while the world slept. At that time, England’s tsu misht (confused) minister, Neville Chamberlain, waved a paper signed by Hitler, smiled, and declared that he had achieved “peace in our time.” (These very same words were uttered by President Barak Hussein Obama in his second inaugural address! Google it!) When Hitler was informed about Chamberlain’s geduld, he laughed and invaded and plundered other nations – a terrible disaster for millions, especially for our people.

Had the nations of the world exhibited less geduld – had they halted the madman in his tracks – who knows how many lives would have been spared. In addition, an attack against the Jewish people ultimately has a boomerang effect on the aggressor, a truth expressed by Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu. His speech before the U.S. Congress was a kiddush Hashem. The applause he received was outstanding, and his words opened the eyes of many Americans.  

Geduld in Private Life

Nu, enough about about tsores (troubles), right? You are absolutely correct. So hair zich tsue (listen) to a tale about Nissel Pomerantz, a shlepper who wanted to marry Shayneh Popkovitz, a fine Yiddish maidle (girl). Nissel wanted to get married for many years. His dating record included rejecting a marriage possibility with Tilly Flichtbain, Sharon Meeser, and Tzippy Mandlebaum, prominent marriage “candidates.” His new ambition was to marry Shayneh Popkovitz.

One sunny day, he asked Shayneh the so-called big question, “Will you marry me?” Her response was “Nissel, have geduld.”

The weeks passed, and one day Nissel once again asked Shayneh the big question. Shayneh responded “Hahlt zich ein (control yourself) and have geduld.” Suddenly Nissel put his hand in his pocket and produced a diamond ring. “How many karats?” asked Shayneh. “At least one,” answered Nissel. “I can wait, so have geduld,” responded Shayneh.

Another day, another date and Nissel pulled out a two karat diamond ring. This time, Shaynah’s immediate reply was “Nissel, I have geduld and chaysheck (desire)!  

Cleaning Geduld

When Passover approaches we patiently begin cleaning the entire house. When the job is finally completed, we perform bedikas chametz , a ceremony that marks the completion of our labor. Bedikas chometz brings to mind the inspections conducted in the military.

Twice a month, there was a procedure called a “GI’ inspection of the barracks. Prior to the inspection, the floors were scrubbed clean, the windows washed, and the area dusted to death, so to speak. The inspecting officer arrived wearing a crisp looking uniform and a pair of white gloves. He began the inspection quietly, and we thought that there was hope. He reviewed the orderliness of the area and looked into the lockers and smiled. Suddenly, he requested a ladder, so we thought that he was a little meshugeh. He climbed up the ladder and wiped the top of the vent with his crisp white glove. Upon glancing at the glove, which was now gray from the shmutz (dirt), he began using unprintable language.

As he descended from the ladder we wished him what Yidden wish anti-Semites, mainly that he should slip and tsubrechen aleh bayner, break all of his bones. Why such a wish? you may ask. Because the entire area had to be re-cleaned, which meant five additional hours of work. (Some troopers wanted to actually carry out our wish regarding the inspector, so avoiding such an incident was a lesson in geduld.)

 Incidentally, is cleaning for Pesach similar to the GI inspection? After all, Pesach scrubbing is often very thorough, and we clean and inspect every nook and cranny of our house. There is a major difference, however. Following the completion of military inspections there is a sigh of relief, and humdrum life goes on. But after bedikas chometz, there is a special satisfaction knowing that we did a mitzva.

Geduld in Everyday Life

While loafing on a lounge chair on our porch, I observed a large spider web that had been constructed overnight. The spider remained in the corner of the web for what seemed to be eternity as it waited for some misguided insect to become trapped in the web. Now that spider had geduld! Finally, a nearsighted insect got caught in the web, and the spider had its meal.

*  *  *

A few dozen years ago, there were several students attending the University of Maryland who resided in the Hillel House with me. We shared duties, such as painting and servicing the building. Most of us worked diligently. The most exceptional student was in the pre-medical program. He studied throughout the evening hours and possessed gevaldik (outstanding) geduld. Today he is a well-known physician.

*  *  *

Fast forward a few years: To supplement my income as an educator, I took on a part-time position as a driving instructor. Teaching driving was interesting. There were two steering wheels, so that an incorrect move could be corrected by the instructor. Students generally were quick learners, and things were going well.

 However, one fateful day the owner of the school requested that I drive with his elderly aunt. She was a permanent fixture at the school and a known hopeless driving case. His aunt Bertha Tittlesworth (not her real name) was a fahrtumult (confused) person who appeared to lack the ability to follow directions. Bertha was built like an overloaded wagon, so to speak and she consistently moved the steering wheel in the wrong direction. An oncoming vehicle was approaching, so I asked her to apply the brakes. Instead, she applied the accelerator and nearly destroyed both the vehicle and its inhabitants!

After returning to the school, my geduld as a driving instructor came to an end.

Later I took a job as a taxi driver. Driving a taxi cab was interesting, too. There were no audio guides (GPS), so following a map was necessary. One day I picked up a customer who requested driving to a distant area. Upon arrival, he changed his mind and requested another address. It soon became apparent that he was shikur (drunk), so I located a nearby bar and asked if that that was where he wished to be taken. His reply was positive, and he needed no coaxing to leave the cab. As for payment, there was none! My geduld to continue driving a cab came to an abrupt halt.

Above Average Geduld Needed

There are some situation where just a little geduld won’t do it. Here are some of them:

  • If your kinderlach (kids) begin whining when you are snoozing.
  • When you stand in long line and a bahndeet (thug) shoves in front of you.
  • When your eyes begin kvetching (blinking) as you review your new property tax statement.
  • When you receive the fifth call that you won a “free” trip to the Bahamas.
  • When driving and a paskunyak (no-goodnik) cuts into your lane.
  • When you teach, and a student begins burping.
  • If a family snorer begins a concert at midnight.
  • If your computer advises you to reboot every five minutes.

Ah klal, to sum it up, the Ribono Shel Olam (G-d) has given us the capacity to have geduld. It is up to us to increase our geduld by practicing geduld. As the Yidden in Israel say: “Savlanut, chabibi….”

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