I don’t know
When I was young my mother sent me to summer camp (to get rid of me?). The director of the camp used to tell stories; always with deep meaning. I always remembered this one and it has much relevance to my notary work.
Long ago in the time of the Pharaohs, the Hebrew slaves building a Pyramid were literally starving. They sent a representative to meet with the great taskmaster. “If we are to make bricks we need more food”, they lamented. “You don’t meet quota because you are stupid, that’s the reason we don’t have the bricks quick enough” replied the taskmaster. The Hebrew representative went back to the labor camp with the taskmaster’s message.
The Chief Rabbi met with the people to discuss the situation. This time the Chief Rabbi himself went to see the Pharaoh with his plea for more food. Again he received the same response. He said, among his pleas that his people were not stupid.
The mighty Pharaoh listened and responded with the idea of a contest to settle the issue of the slaves being stupid. He felt that proving the slaves stupid would eliminate their constant requests for more food. His contest was to be a simple one. The Pharaoh’s chief adviser would meet with the wisest of the slaves in a question and answer contest – to the death. Each would ask the other a question. The first to admit not being able to answer the other’s question would immediately be put to death.
The Chief Rabbi returned to the slave camp with a heavy heart. A great meeting was held to determine who was the wisest and would stand a chance. Much was at stake, not only the life of the representative of the slaves, but also the issue of more food for the starving slaves.
Nobody would volunteer to debate with the mighty Pharaoh’s chief advisor. The Chief Rabbi felt he was not wise enough to win the contest. There was much crying in the slave camp as they lamented the lack of a champion who could match wits with the chief advisor.
Hearing the outcry, out from his humble tent came Shulmpie the tailor. “What’s the big deal about the debate”, he asked. He was told of the terrible possible outcome if they lost. “Well, I have no problem meeting the man, he is just a man like us”. The people laughed at Shulmpie and told him that he had exactly NO chance against the wisest of their captors.
However, nobody else would volunteer. Stuck with only one option, Shlumpie the tailor, dressed in shabby rags went to the Great Hall of the Pharaoh. The rules were simple. Both were to sit at a table surrounded by the Pharaoh’s personal guards armed with spears. They had orders from the Pharaoh himself to kill the first person who could not answer the other’s question. They were expert with their weapons.
In his splendid robes the chief advisor laughed at Schlumpie. “You can ask the first question if you dare”, he taunted. Unruffled, Schlumpie asked the meaning of (and I will put this Hebrew phrase phonetically) hay-nennie-o-day-a. Without hesitation the chief advisor replied “I do not know” – and was immediately killed by expertly thrown spears as the Pharaoh commanded.
The slaves were astonished and rejoiced. They carried Schlumpie on their shoulders from the Great Hall back to the slave camp. The Chief Rabbi was astonished and interviewed Schlumpie about his stunning victory and their salvation.
Shlumpie told his story: I was reading the Torah and came across a phrase that I did not learn in Hebrew school. I asked my friends what it said. Each of them said that they did not know. So I went to my Rabbi who also said “I do not know”. If you will recall Chief Rabbi, last month I asked you the same question and you also replied “I do not know”. So I figured if my friends did not know and the local Rabbi did not know and you, the Chief Rabbi did not know – it seemed to me that the Pharaoh’s big shot would not know either.
The phrase translates into English “I do not know”.