I remember a story about a maskil who approached the Satmar Rebbe, and who lamented the fact that Hungarian Jews don't differentiate between the samekh (ס), the sin (שׂ) and the sav (ת). The Satmar Rebbe's response was, "וכסילים מתי תשכילו" - a quote from Tehillim 94:8, meaning "O fools, when will you gain wisdom?" Brilliantly, of course, this passuk features all three of the consonants to which the maskil was referring.

I don't remember where I first heard this, but I very recently heard it again in this lecture by R' Aharon Kahn (at the 6:50 mark).

Does anybody have a printed source for this story?

  • I saw somewhere R' Ben Zion Mutzafi quoted R' Ya'akov Emden as applying that verse to people who do not differentiate (which would of course predate the Satmar Rebbe).
    – Fred
    Mar 22, 2015 at 4:27
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    Regarding your original question, see נהג כצאן יוסף (see #9 on the linked page, though it doesn't identify the Satmar Rebbe's as such).
    – Fred
    Mar 22, 2015 at 4:55
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    @Fred - that would be very interesting, given what the Yaavetz says in his siddur! (I asked another question about that here, in which I quoted the relevant passage.)
    – Shimon bM
    Mar 22, 2015 at 5:04
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    @Fred - also, the passage you bring is interesting in that it applies this story with the opposite intention (ie: to show the foolhardiness of those who confuse these consonants, rather than of those who are displeased with their confusion).
    – Shimon bM
    Mar 22, 2015 at 5:07
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    More generally: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/66135
    – msh210
    Dec 9, 2015 at 22:02

1 Answer 1


It's in the Hakdomoh to דברי יואל - שו"ת - חלק א

שאל אותו אחד מן המתחדשים שרצה להתעולל עמו, כיון שהאותיות ״ ס ׳ ש׳ ת׳״ שוין הם במבטא מה צורך יש בשלשת! והי׳ די באחד מהם, ורבינו מבלי לחשוב אפילו רגע השיב לו מיד, א״כ איך הי׳ נכתב הפסוק ״וכסילים מתי תשכילו״

  • Fantastic - thank you! Does "מתחדשים" refer to the "neologs"? I don't think I've seen that term before.
    – Shimon bM
    Mar 22, 2015 at 20:18
  • The second definition of NEOLOGY in [Merriam-Webster](www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/neology) is "a new doctrine; especially : a new method of theological interpretation". So I think that the neologs can be rightly described as מתחדשים. Mar 22, 2015 at 21:19

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