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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 '15 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 '15 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 '15 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 '15 at 5:07
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    More generally: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/66135 – msh210 Dec 9 '15 at 22:02
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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 '15 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. – Avrohom Yitzchok Mar 22 '15 at 21:19

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