[Ads-l] Anecdote Origin: Your question is quite simple. Hence, I=?UTF-8?Q?=E2=80=99m_?=going to ask my chauffeur to respond

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jun 6 02:43:58 UTC 2023

I received a request to explore the provenance of an anecdote in which
Albert Einstein and his chauffeur secretly swapped roles. Variants of
this tale featured Wernher von Braun, Max Planck, Ezekiel Landau, and
Jacob ben Wolf Kranz.

Snopes examined this topic and found helpful citations beginning in 1950.

Here are links to my article:
Full: https://quoteinvestigator.medium.com/4fe138ad8abc
Abbrev: https://quoteinvestigator.com/2023/06/05/chauffeur/

The earliest match I’ve located appeared in 1926.

[ref] 1926 Copyright, Laughs from Jewish Lore by Jacob Richman,
Chapter 1: Leaders in Israel, Story: Even His Driver Was a Scholar,
Quote Page 30 and 31, Funk & Wagnalls, New York. (Full View in
archive.org) link [/ref]


[Begin excerpt]
It was the custom of Rabbi Ezekiel Landau, of Prague, to make
semi-annual trips to the communities suburban to his city, and render
his services in settling their religious and economic problems.

His driver was a jolly man and he often took the liberty to jest with
his famous master. “Rabbi,” he once facetiously remarked, “I  tell you
that my task requires more skill than yours. I could settle the petty
squabbles of the tiny hamlets just as well as you, but you couldn’t do
my work.”

The ecclesiastical passenger accepted the challenge, and the two
exchanged their clothes and their positions on the wagon, continuing
their journey incognito.

Arriving in the first village the “rabbi” was welcomed by a committee
of prominent men, who  escorted  him  to  the  house  of  one  of
their leading citizens. After having dined with the guest, the
representative men of the community brought before the consideration
of the visiting “rabbi” some difficult problem that had been baffling
the best minds of the community for a long time.

The pseudo-rabbi heard the query with  great solemnity, and shrugged
his shoulders, evidently wondering at the ignorance of his

“You have asked me a very, very silly question,” he finally remarked.
“Even my driver can answer that. Here he is, ask him.”
[End excerpt]

Earlier citations and feedback welcome,

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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