Bless Her Heart

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God Bless Us.jpgSo you’re aware that on O’Reilly Hillary Clinton pronounced these magical five words: “Rich people—God bless us.” A new devotee of the prosperity gospel? A clinger to the famed Calvinist preferential option for the rich? Well, fairness obliges a link to Trailhead’s Christopher Beam, who pooh-poohs anything of the sort (while castigating Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson for fibbing about the words).
So “God Bless Us,” in Clinton’s Protestant lexicon, should just be taken as a kind of verbal hiccup, meaning something like, “Aren’t we the fortunate ones!” The Jewish equivalent, which comes from an entirely different semantic place, is (as my grandmother pronounced it) kinna hurra. The actual Hebrew for that, transliterated, is “Kain Eyin Harrah,” or “no evil eye.” The point is, any verbal acknowledgment of something good must be followed by an imprecation that the evil eye stay away. As in, “My grandson just got into medical school, kinna hurra.” Or, as Wolfson’s grandmother might have put it, “Rich people like us–kinna hurra.”

  • Jim Martin

    A quibble, but “kain ayin hara” is actually Yiddish. (The phrase “ayin hara”, meaning “evil eye”, is a Hebrew import into Yiddish.) The Hebrew equivalent is “b’li ayin hara.”

  • Mark Silk

    I stand slightly corrected. “Kain,” of course, is Yiddish, as in the German “Kein.” The phrase is two-thirds Hebrew, nisch?