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  • Writer's pictureCorbin Allardice

August 29, 1911

I am pessimistic, and that is something fundamentally base--one must not be pessimistic; only base natures of know not of joy.


Is not every pessimism connected to an egocentrism? To what end do I need it and what do I want to get out of having it--I ask this again and again and again. I am an egocentrist.


I have told myself: be a slave--serve the future Yiddish luminaries.* Why hasn’t that bright word illuminated my gray life? I don’t believe in it. Indeed, but I also don’t want it. Modesty lies only in birth and in the will to birth, the rest is harlotry.** The will to slavery--to being a slave--is an immoral will. True. But therefore, is my entire life not--immoral?


If one is infertile and possesses self-conscious awareness of his own infertility--then that is both a heavy sin and great misfortune. But God is merciful and great is his grace. The sun shines for the holy and the wicked.


Something waits for he who waits for nothing--he who does not birth. You must not hasten it.*** Life is not a market--there is no haggling.**** Wait quietly and glad, ready yourself, you unworthy man, make yourself pure! You are in sin, whether you are still waiting, or you have already given up. In sin--[even] then, when your unearned joy comes.


Atone for your sin!*****


What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? (Job 2:10, KJV).

Happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty. (Job 5:17, KJV).


By Moyshe Varshe

Translated by Corbin Allardice


*- Literally Varshe says “serve the future Yiddish personality,” but the word, perzenlekhkayt, is often used to refer to a big shot, someone who has made a name for themself in the cultural sphere. It is possible he has someone specific in mind here (perhaps his close friend Zishe Landau), or perhaps he is saying something more enigmatic. 

**- Modesty and Harlotry form a stronger rhyme in Yiddish, tsnies un znus. The category of modesty/tsnies encapsulates virtue and piety, and might be thought of as ethically and (religiously) legal conduct. 

***- Klaybn tor men nit

****- This can also be read as “you must not sell yourself/hire yourself out,” punning to echohis previous discussion of slavery.

*****- Koyf oys dayn zind! For more on oyskoyfn see note on “August 22, 1911”

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