A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from October 01, 2015
“How can they both be right?"/"You’re right, too.”

A popular joke is frequently told about when a judge (or a rabbi) hears a case, telling both sides that they’re right. A listener asks how both sides can be right, and the judge (or rabbi) responds, “You’re right, too!”

The joke possibly originated with the stories grouped under the name of Nasreddin Hodja, a 13th century populist Sufi philosopher and wise man in what is now Turkey. The joke was popularized in New York City’s Jewish community by Yiddish author Sholom Aleichem (1859-1916) and the Broadway musical based on his writings, Fiddler on the Roof (1964).


Wikiquote: Nasreddin
Nasreddin (variously Nasrudin, Nasrettin, etc.) is a legendary folk character in the Middle East and Central Asia, portrayed as a wise fool, clever simpleton, or instructive prankster.

Nothing is conclusively known about the person who originally inspired the stories, but popular tradition considers him a minor cleric from Anatolia in the 13th or early 14th century. The oldest surviving manuscripts containing tales of Nasreddin date from 16th century, and are Turkish. By the 19th century, tales of the older Arabic trickster character Juha became amalgamated into the lore of Nasreddin.
(...)
He was deeply impressed by the eloquence of the plaintiff, and after hearing his evidence he exclaimed, “I believe you are right!”
The clerk of the court explained that he should make no such comment until he had heard the case for the defence. Having done so, Nasruddin cried out, “I believe you are right!”
“But they can’t both be right,” expostulated the clerk.
“I believe you are right,” said the Mulla.
. Ivor Lucas, A Road to Damascus (1997), ISBN 1860641520, p. 84

Google Books
Fiddler on the Roof:
Based on Sholom Aleichem’s Stories

By Joseph Stein
New York, NY: Pocket Books
1964
Pg. 26:
MORDCHA
Why should I break my head about the outside world? Let them break their own heads.
Pg. 27:
TEVYE
He’s right. As the Good Book says, “If you spit in the air, it lands in your face.”

PERCHIK
That’s nonsense. You can’t close your eyes to what’s happening in the world.

TEVYE
He’s right.

AVRAM
He’s right and he’s right? How can they both be right?

TEVYE
You know, you’re also right.

17 January 1965, The Sunday Oregonian (Portland, OR), “Turks Find All ‘Right’” by Hal McClure, pg. 11, col. 2:
ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP)—Turks tell a story about their legendary humorist, Nasreddin Hoca, a sort of Will Rogers of his day, that may describe Turkey’s shifts in foreign policy.

Hoca, acting as judge in a village case, told the plaintiffs, “I believe you are right.” Then he told the defendant the same thing. The court clerk whispered: “Hoca, how can they both be right?” Hoca replied: “I believe you are right, too.”

Google Books
Selected Papers 1968
New York, NY: Haskins & Sells
1969
Pp. 72-73:
If any of you have seen the musical Fiddler on the Roof, you may recall a scene at the very beginning of the show that perfectly characterizes the present situation. Tevye [Tev-yuh], a dairyman, is on stage. He is a poor peasant, living in a small village in czarist Russia, just before the beginning of the Communist revolution. From one side of the stage comes a friend, caught up in the Communist spirit, who speaks to Tevye critically of the Czar. ‘The Czar is an oppressor of the people. He takes our finest young men from the farms, where they are sorely needed, and puts them in his army, where they are trained only to bully and abuse us. The Czar’s policies permit us no land and no freedoms. We are nothing more than slaves, bound to a land we do not own. We must overthrow the Czar.” Tevye, listening carefully, nods his head and says, “You’re right!”

Then another friend, this one still loyal to the Czar, comes from the other side of the stage and speaks to Tevye. “The Czar is the protector of the people. Certainly he takes our best young men into the army, but let’s face it; They live and eat better in the army than they ever coudl at home. Moreover, the army preserves law and order within the land, and protects our borders from the armies of alien nations. For our own safety, the Czar must have our every loyalty.” And Tevye, again listening carefully, nods his head and says, “You’re right !”

Now a third man, who has been standing by and has heard both conversations, comes over, clearly vexed. “What’s the matter with you?” he says to Tevye. “One fellow comes up and says he wants to overthrow the Czar; you hear him out and say he’s right. Then the other fellow comes up and tells you how wonderful the Czar is, and how we must preserve him, and you tell him he’s right. Now tell me, how can they both be right?” And Tevye thinks a moment, and says, “You know something? You’re right too!”

Google Books
How to Give and Receive Advice
By Gerard I. Nierenberg
New York, NY: Simon and Schuster
1975
Pg. 74:
There was a wise old teacher who was asked by two pupils to adjudicate a dispute between them. After he had heard the first pupil’s story, he nodded and said “You’re right.” The other pupil objected: ‘Wait a minute. Let me tell my story.” So he told his version and when he was finished the wise man said, “You’re right.” With this, the wise man’s wife, who had been listening, exploded: “How can you say that? First you say he’s right. Then you say he’s right. They can’t both be right!” The wise man stroked his beard and said, “And you’re right too.”

Google Books
Jewish Wit for All Occasions
By Simon R. Pollack
New York, NY: A & W Visual Library
1979
Pg. 73:
A man and his wife came to the village rabbi. The woman poured out a long history of her misery at the hands of her husband. “I can’t stand it!” she wound up with. “He’s awful!”

The old rabbi took her hand and said, “You’re right.”

Next it was the husband’s turn. His story was just as accusing. He complained tearfully about his wife’s behavior, citing many misdeeds.

The rabbi patted the man gently on the back, and said to him, “You’re right.”

A student who had been permitted to listen to both interviews now approached the rabbi, and whispered, “How can it be, rabbi? You told her she was right, and now you tell him he is right. How can both of them be right?”

“Ah!” answered the rabbi. “You’re right, too!”

Miami (FL) Herald
OCTOBER 1, 2015
Abbas’ ‘bomb’ was a dud
BY URI DROMI
(...)
There is an old joke (like all Jewish jokes): Two Jews come to the Rabbi for arbitration. The first Jew presents his case, and the Rabbi says, “You’re right.” Then the second Jew enters and complains, and again the Rabbi says, “You’re right.” When they leave, the Rabbi’s wife, who had been listening from the kitchen, asked him how they could both possibly be right, to which the Rabbi replied, “You’re right, too.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Thursday, October 01, 2015 • Permalink