And they argue with anyone.
Really? This is the best picture you could come up with?
"Two Jews, three opinions."
Describe Jews Love to Argue here.
What am I, your slave? You do it!
— A saying
Um, okay... For whatever reason, Jews and arguing go together like Passover and matzah.
You call that a simile?
Hey, I'm trying. Give me a break. This probably has to do with the layout of the Talmud
, which contains a whole lot of back-and-forth arguments, arguments about what other people are arguing about, and often not even a resolution to the arguments (Or an argument if there is an argument or not...).
Oho, so you're the big
...I have no idea what that means. Anyway, this is a joke more common among Jews themselves
than among gentiles [non-Jews]. Such conversations are generally (in fiction) liberally peppered with Yiddish as a Second Language
gevaldige (terrific) description? If I had known you'd write such
dreck, I wouldn't have come over.
I'm trying not to spend too much time on this. Give me some slack.
So you don't think our culture is worth your time?
That's not what I meant. I just have other things to do.
So you just come here to bang a kettle? A—
Dammit, what the hell is your problem? I get just a few lousy minutes
out of my busy day to make this, and that's not good enough for you?
Oh, you call yourself
busy, just sitting around opening tab after tab—
Shut up! You don't know what I have to go through every day
Um... while those two are going at it, compare Jewish Mother, Alter Kocker, Passive-Aggressive Kombat, Jewish Complaining.
And what would
you know from comparisons, anyway?
- In American Splendor, Harvey Pekar notes that old Jewish women will argue over ANYTHING at the checkout counter of a grocery store.
- One strip in Torpedo has the titular contract killer out of town for a few days, so his assistant decides to take a few contracts himself, thinking it can't be that hard. However, it turns out two Jewish shopkeepers had mutually asked that he kill the other, so he spends some time going back and forth between the two shops as they increase the price. Finally he snaps and drags them both out in the middle of the street so they can settle the argument without involving him. Several hours later, they come to an understanding by beating the crap out of the poor guy.
- A scene in The Hebrew Hammer where the Jewish Justice League talks about the best man for the job.
- Woody Allen's kvetching in Annie Hall inevitably turned into some kind of argument.
- In You Don't Mess with the Zohan, Israeli Jews love to argue... with Palestinians. It's really quite civil and all in good fun, though.
- God On Trial is a movie about a group of Jewish prisoners at a concentration camp, arguing whether or not God is to blame for their predicament. Arguing is all that happens in the movie.
- In Monty Python's Life of Brian, the Judean resistance groups against the Romans can't agree on anything, and are the Trope Namer for We Are Struggling Together, fighting each other more than fighting the Romans. It's an accidental example, since it's a parody of the tendency of left-wing militant groups to fragment and factionalize, but it still counts.
- There is Truth in Television, as the various Jewish Resistance groups did spend a lot of time fighting each other.
- Then there are the marketplace scenes. From peddlers who insist on haggling (even if you give them what they want) to people who like to find logical holes in every sermon.
- In High Anxiety, Mel Brooks and Madeline Kahn need to get past customs, despite Mel's character being a suspected murderer! How do they do this? By posing as a constantly bickering couple of Alter Kockers that the airport staff are relieved to finally get rid of. It almost works— until Mel's gun sets off the metal detector...
- David and his father in Independence Day bicker near-constantly, even while en route to the White House.
Religion and Mythology
- A Jewish congregation was arguing over whether one should stand or sit during the Shema Yisroel. Half of the congregation said one should sit, the other half insisted one should stand. Every time the Shema was recited they shouted at each other, “Sit down!” and “Stand up!” The fighting became so bad that the congregation was split in two, each half contending that they knew the tradition in that synagogue.
Finally, the rabbi decided to visit a one hundred year old member of the synagogue who was living in a nursing home. He took a delegation from each of the arguing sides with him to see the oldest member of the “shul”. “Now, tell us,” said the rabbi, “what is our tradition?” “Should we stand during the Shema?” “No,” said the old man. “That is not our tradition.” “Well, then,” said the rabbi, “should we sit during the Shema?” “No,” the old man, “that is not our tradition.” “But we need to know what to do,” said the rabbi, “because our congregation members are fighting among each other.” “That,” said the oldest member of the congregation, “that is our tradition.” (This version of the joke from here.)
- The Bible: This is what the Midrash and the Talmud are, Rabbis arguing. In the Torah, Jews argue with God. Abraham frickin' haggles with God over the amount of righteous men needed to save Sodom and Gomorrah. Just to clarify: The Talmud is a record of rabbis arguing, often over other arguments which are over the Midrash's arguments with itself. Traditional Talmud study is basically nonstop arguing. So really people are arguing about arguments about arguments about arguments. Then they start comparing 'those'' arguments...
- The name "Israel" which God originally gave Jacob (Genesis 32:28) means "He wrestles with God". While the story of Jacob struggling with the Angel is usually thought of in a purely literal sense, the more figurative meaning—that Israel's people (i.e. the Jews) are always "wrestling" (arguing) with God—is every bit as valid. Due to the complexities of the Hebrew language, the exact nature of how they wrestle is unclear. It could actually be a mental 'struggle' in Jacob's own mind. There are several varying translation for 'isra', from 'rule' to 'straight'. They are the "Israelites," so wrestling with God is part of their name too.
- Moses also argues with God when he wants to destroy the People of Israel and make Moses into the (first of the) new People of Israel. Moses argues with God and wins the argument. And this happens over. And over. And over.
- This trope even unwittingly appears in Muslim tradition, where, during Muhammad's Night Journey, it is Moses who convinces Muhammad to haggle with God on the number of required prayers for Muslims when God commands Muslims to pray fifty times a day; Moses, probably seeing the difficulty with which Jews were having in following all 613 mitzvot, advises Muhammad to ask God to lighten the load. Muhammad goes up to God's throne and comes back to Moses several times, each time asking (more or less) "What do you think, Mo?", and Moses replying (more or less) "Still too much, Mu," eventually bringing it down from fifty to five. Moses encouraged him to get it down to three, but Muhammad said, essentially, "that's a bit much". (This all occurred in the Meccan period, when the small Muslim community knew little of the Jews except that they were fellow monotheists, hence the qualifier "unwittingly.")
- It also ends up in Christian tradition: a good part of the gospels is about Jesus arguing with Pharisees. A good part of the epistles is about Paul arguing with other Jewish converts(over whether gentile converts have to keep Torah).
- There's a book titled, Arguing with God: A Jewish Tradition. Abraham was just the start.
- There's also a story of Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus, a prominent (and extremely conservative) Roman era rabbi, trying to convince the Sanhedrin that he was in the right about a particular kind of oven being impervious to Levitical uncleanness. Even when overruled, he managed to call on various signs from the natural world (trees, a stream, the beams of the Sanhedrin building) to show he was in the right. Each time, the Sanhedrin dismissed the sign as the sign-bearer stepping outside of its jurisdiction. Finally, Eliezer beseeched God himself to step in...which he did, identifying Eliezer as correct about the oven being tamei-proof. Cue the Sanhedrin head rebuking God for this, even quoting Deuteronomy to the effect that the demands of the law put jurisdiction only among the rabbis; "it is not in the heavens". Let that sink in; the rabbis dismissed God for overstepping his legal bounds. Best part? Immediately afterwards, at the throne of Heaven, God was laughing with delight, saying "My children have defeated me, my children have defeated me!".
- Another story from the Talmud highlights the degree of affection involved in the process. Rabbi Yohanan's study partner, Resh Lakish, dies, and the other rabbis find him someone new to work with. But where Resh Lakish would argue every point Yohanan made, no matter how obviously correct, the new guy was willing to say "you're right". This did not help Yohanan's mood. According to the Talmud, Yohanan replies that Resh Lakish would pick apart everything Yohanan said, and in answering the rebuttals the discussion would move forward. But this new guy - hah! "But you [the new partner] say 'we learned a teaching that supports you.' Of course I know that I am right!" And on that thought, he goes out to shed some Manly Tears for his old argument partner..
- Susie Essman once speculated that if she and her mother were hiding from the Nazis like Anne Frank was, holed up in an attic without being able to make any noise at all, ever, her mother would get them all killed by bitching about a dish not being properly washed.
- Borscht Belt comedy is full of argument-centered humor. All references to the comic's spouse will be about how they constantly fight and don't get along.
- Fiddler on the Roof, especially Tevye and Golde. Occasionally, Tevye and God!
- Most notably in this clip (go to the 5:00 minute mark).
- "Four Jews In A Room Bitching" is the title of the opening number of March Of The Falsettos.
- Salome has five Jews arguing with each other about the nature of God.
- Mushnik does this frequently in Little Shop of Horrors.
- Margin for Error:
Consul: It is with some reluctance I find myself agreeing with a Jew in anything—
Moe: Well, us Jews has got so many different points of view it ain't always avoidable—
- This video of two Jewish brothers imitating an old Jewish couple arguing about the logistics of doing a drive-by.
- Fractious of the Whateley Universe also has obsessive-compulsive disorder, so she can't keep from arguing, even with her friends. Still, given that one of her friends has the codename Loophole...
- Jackie Mason as Rabbi Krustofsky on The Simpsons.
- In Rugrats, Tommy's grandparents, Boris and Minka. Any time Boris asks Minka anything, her response was always, "What do I look like here? Your servant girl?"