Our landlord wrote a curse on a Post-it and stuck it to our doorframe. What now?
December 9, 2005 2:32 PM   Subscribe

Apparently, our landlord has put some sort of a hex or curse on us. What would your response to this be, if any?
posted by jeb to Home & Garden (87 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure there's a straight answer for this one. If it bugs you, pick an appropriate way of dealing with it, anywhere from throwing it out to taping porn to it to confronting your landlord and asking for an explanation to moving to a new place. If it doesn't bug you, then laugh, put it on flickr and move on.
posted by websavvy at 2:37 PM on December 9, 2005

I'd probably post the photo online, do an Ask MeFi to see if anyone knew what it was about, and then forget about it.

Unless, of course, it actually was from Madonna. Then I might follow it up.
posted by chrismear at 2:37 PM on December 9, 2005

Are you sure it was your landlord?
posted by Gator at 2:38 PM on December 9, 2005

Get yourself a horseshoe. Or a four-leaf clover.
posted by horsewithnoname at 2:39 PM on December 9, 2005

It's a in Hebrew, it's a curse. Presumably the author believes in curses and is Jewish.

Take the thing to the author's rabbi. Let the rabbi remind him that socery is against Jewish law.
posted by orthogonality at 2:40 PM on December 9, 2005

911, if you want.

If not, ignore it.
posted by fire&wings at 2:41 PM on December 9, 2005

Print this and put it on your door. It will confuse, and possibly frighten.
posted by weirdoactor at 2:43 PM on December 9, 2005

orthogonality: Cool. What does the curse say?
posted by shothotbot at 2:45 PM on December 9, 2005

More great choices here. Tom Landry!
posted by weirdoactor at 2:45 PM on December 9, 2005

One always has to ask,"What did I do to deserve a Yiddish curse?"
posted by Atreides at 2:46 PM on December 9, 2005

Gator-- that's a good point. I don't know for sure that it is my landlord. I do have a lot of evidence that says that it was my landlord or an agent of my landlord, though.
posted by jeb at 2:47 PM on December 9, 2005

Maybe stick this to your/his/her door.
We can't help but be curious: why does your landlord hate you so?
posted by leapingsheep at 2:49 PM on December 9, 2005

shothotbot writes "orthogonality: Cool. What does the curse say?"

See the flicker site the OP linked to.
posted by orthogonality at 2:50 PM on December 9, 2005

From what you posted on Flickr, several other people got the same sort of note (and the comments over there indicate that the curse is directed at specific named persons). Have you talked to your neighbors? What do they think?
posted by Gator at 2:50 PM on December 9, 2005

Just wave around some burning sage and forget about it.

And don't eat any cookies left at your door.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:52 PM on December 9, 2005

I'd just pray to break the curse, if it was me.

Oh, and the scriptures do say that an undeserved curse does not come to rest, if that helps. (That's Old Testament, if it matters to you.)

So does anyone know just what exactly this says? Inquiring minds wanna know.
posted by konolia at 2:52 PM on December 9, 2005

It isn't Yiddish, and until somebody who reads modern Hebrew gets in on this, how do we know it is a curse and not just a nasty neighbor's note saying "Your garbage bags burst!"

Generally, Santeria trumps Kabalah every time.
posted by zaelic at 2:53 PM on December 9, 2005

Y'all, read the comments at Flickr. It has been roughly translated.
posted by Gator at 2:55 PM on December 9, 2005

OK, I just read the Flikr thread. You have Hasid landlord problems. Hang a smoked pork hock from your door, or a tiny toy pig with a sign saying "Happy Khazzerei!". If the guy is a bastard, take it to your local ortho rabbi and have the guy shamed.
posted by zaelic at 2:56 PM on December 9, 2005

If you start to go blind: contact a rabbi.
If you don't start to go blind: leave a note on the door in Sanskrit, wishing everyone a happy and healthy day.
posted by muddgirl at 2:58 PM on December 9, 2005

leapingsheep-- I have no idea. I always thought we were ideal tenants.

Gator-- We just found out from that flickr post today that it's a curse. The other neighbors think it's like instructions about how to refinish the floors (the floors were refinished the same day the post-its appeared). When we get back from work we'll tell them.
posted by jeb at 2:58 PM on December 9, 2005

From the flickr comments we in the linguistics department (specifically our hebrew speaker) concurs with the interpretation "strike blind the people of this house." but he says its not the Hebrew of a native speaker, so he's unsure and says it is very weird. watch out!

So if your landlord is a native speaker, it might be someone who is trying to curse your landlord...
posted by muddgirl at 2:59 PM on December 9, 2005

Ignore it and be happy that whoever is doing that believes in curses rather than attacks you directly. It's like on HBO's Rome: While Servilia was busy cursing Caesar and Atia, Caesar was having sex with Cleopatra and Atia hired some dudes to strip Servilia naked and cut her hair. Of course, then Servilia incited her son to kill Caesar. So that's not really helpful advice at all.

I was once cursed by a wiccan because I was trolling some wiccan newsgroup. I was supposed to get 7 years of misery and what-not. I laughed at the time, but all I've had since then is misery. Which proves that it's a pretty safe bet to curse usenet trolls since they're probably losers anyways. If you start developing any symptoms of blindness (blurry vision, not seeing anything), you should see your opthomologist and a rabbi immediately.
posted by fred_ashmore at 3:02 PM on December 9, 2005

Really confuse your landlord and put a mezuzha or your doorframe.
posted by Fat Guy at 3:06 PM on December 9, 2005

I don't think our LL has the cunning or cold-heartedness of Servilia, fred_ashmore, so I think that actually is a fair point. I also didn't see the last two episodes of the season, so maybe I'm missing something.
posted by jeb at 3:06 PM on December 9, 2005

horsewithnoname-- I'm thinking maybe cover all the bases and start eating a lot of lucky charms.
posted by jeb at 3:10 PM on December 9, 2005

Well, if it really is from your landlord I might be a little worried -- not so much about the curse itself as the fact that it's a sort of harrassment, albeit a mildly amusing form of harrassment. If it's some other party who has issues with people who live in the building, I wouldn't worry too much but I'd keep my eyes peeled for any other weird happenings, vandalism, anything like that.

If it was me, I'd also head over to the local synagogue and find the oldest rabbi in the place and ask him what he thinks about the matter. It's conceivable that the rabbis might know something about whoever in their community might be nursing a grudge, though I wouldn't count on getting any names from them.
posted by Gator at 3:10 PM on December 9, 2005

Draw a picture of a gun with the text "technology trumps religion" and put it on your door. :)
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:12 PM on December 9, 2005

If it was me, I think I'd want to take it to a rabbi just to get his interpretation and for interests sake.

At the very least if the nutbar who left it on your door does something really stupid/crazy, you'll have a witness to the situation that the police can talk to.
posted by Kickstart70 at 3:17 PM on December 9, 2005

So, are Levy Yitshak ben Sara-Sasha and Nachman ben Feyga people who live in your building? Because I'm thinking the landlord would know which apartment they live in...
This is really interesting. You should get the last laugh by writing a short story about it and making thousands of cents off of it.
posted by leapingsheep at 3:22 PM on December 9, 2005

I'd be strongly tempted to pretend that I've been blinded and start making loud noises about suing the landlord for the curse.

Or maybe I'd get myself a Cthulu doll to nail to the door.

And if Konolia's right about subsequent prophets and stuff being more powerful ju-ju than older ones (Christian pray trumping Jewish curses), then surely your best bet is to burn a Morman on the front lawn. Well, not a Mormon per se, but a potent Morman symbol. It'd be like cross-burning, but 3x more powerful.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:23 PM on December 9, 2005

Write your next rent check in a shaky, scrawly, blinded hand.
posted by interrobang at 3:24 PM on December 9, 2005

orthogonality has the most sensible answer. But some situations call for ludicrous responses. Mount a ladder over his doorway. Who knows. Maybe we'll see a picture of a ladder on his landlord's flickr page.
posted by horsewithnoname at 3:25 PM on December 9, 2005

Unserious answer: Voodoo.

Serious answer: Cursing people links you to them in a far more intimate way than you'd probably want. You don't want to get involved in any retribution. If it happens again, I second taking it to a local rabbi -- the more traditional the better.
posted by krisjohn at 3:26 PM on December 9, 2005

Whoever left it is a lunatic. That may mean your landlord is a lunatic, which usually means trouble.

...for example, watch for small personal items disappearing, small amounts of money being stolen from you, and the like. I'm serious. You should reconsider the security of your space.

Setting all of that aside, however, you could always take the note and stick it on your landlord's door. They'll know you're on to them, and either escalate or leave you alone. Of course, this assumes you want them to escalate.
posted by aramaic at 3:28 PM on December 9, 2005

nothing to add here but that I heart interrobang
posted by mimi at 3:38 PM on December 9, 2005

I'd just pray to break the curse, if it was me.

Jesus vs HaShem!!! Celebrity Deathmatch!!!

no, seriously: curses have exactly the amount of power you choose to give them -- it's all about you, about how superstitious you really are. if they manage to spook you, you'll be uncomfortable, and if bad things happen you'll think it was the curse, not simple bad luck (I mean, what about New Orleans? that's one big motherfucker of a curse, if you ask me).

bad things happen, period. if you choose to believe that they happen because of pieces of paper stuck on your door, well, it's your problem really.

having said that, if you double check it and the card really mentions you being blinded, it may be considered a physical threat. go to the police, give them the card, and mention that somebody wants to blind you. they may laugh at you, or they may take it seriously, I don't know.

but curses, really, only work against the superstitious. you should really avoid giving these assholes the power they wish they had. fuck them, and their caveman crap.
posted by matteo at 3:40 PM on December 9, 2005

interrobang-- maybe braille?

leapingsheep -- I know everyone in the building. None of them have those names.
posted by jeb at 3:41 PM on December 9, 2005

I second the voodoo suggestion...awesome?

Seriously though, I think aramaic is right that whoever did this is likely insane and probably doesn't like you. Insanity + hatred = no fun. On the other hand, it seems like a pretty inobrusive way of expressing their disdain...as such, I'm not sure this is necessarily a precursor to escalating behaviour.

Maybe you should draw little happy faces on the curse, photocopy it, and then stick it on every door in the building...just for fun.
posted by johnsmith415 at 3:42 PM on December 9, 2005

if it were me, i'd write an equally ridiculous response in hebrew and tack it over the first one. if you'd like help concocting one, let me know.
posted by booknerd at 3:44 PM on December 9, 2005

I know everyone in the building. None of them have those names.

Hmmm. Maybe see if you can't get photos of the other notes and see if they have the same names at the bottom.
posted by Gator at 3:46 PM on December 9, 2005

jeb, may I also ask what your evidence is for thinking it's your landlord? I do think it makes a difference in how you proceed, because as aramaic suggested, your landlord can do very real things to fuck with your living situation.
posted by Gator at 3:50 PM on December 9, 2005

I suggest changing the locks, btw. And without informing the landlord.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:00 PM on December 9, 2005

I know everyone in the building. None of them have those names.
Well, the ben part is "son of," so presumably those are their hebrew names. They are not always the same as legal names, or even translations of.

So, they could very well be the hebrew names of your neighbors. Which would also imply that the curse was specifically intended for two Jewish people in the building. (since, well, anyone else wouldn't have a Hebrew name).

I may be mistaken, but my ex husband was Jewish, and I'm pretty sure I remember that correctly.
posted by Kellydamnit at 4:11 PM on December 9, 2005

What is your landlord's first name? Is anything that begins with an L or N, or maybe ”Isaac”?

If I felt brave I might put up a note saying (in Hebrew) 'Please dont curse the residents of this building. Thanks.' If you feel like doing so and no one else offers, I can write it and you can print it out.
posted by needs more cowbell at 4:17 PM on December 9, 2005

Gather many small rocks, mark a tooth shape on them, spread where your note author walks = profit.
posted by JohnR at 4:19 PM on December 9, 2005

needs more cowbell: kind of like those "absolutely no solicitors" signs?

Absolutely no hexes, curses, or evil eyes!
posted by small_ruminant at 4:36 PM on December 9, 2005

I don't think the names on the note are the people intended to be cursed unless your building has tenants over the age of 200. Nachman ben Feiga (aka Rebbe Nachman) has been dead for a while now.
posted by Marit at 4:38 PM on December 9, 2005

your best bet is to burn a Morman on the front lawn

Or to hang a Mormaid upside down from the doorjamb.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:40 PM on December 9, 2005

I have it from a Hebrew-speaking coworker that it's more a thank you note than a curse written in fancy language:

Me: Can you read and translate this?

Him: Sort of... It is something that is left as either a request for donation or after giving a donation. Very flowery language. Second line is the name.
posted by xiojason at 4:47 PM on December 9, 2005

I would start paying my rent in chickens, since the landlord is obviously still living in the dark ages.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 4:49 PM on December 9, 2005

Yes, Nachman ben Feiga has been dead for 200 years. He was an extremely influential figure in the history of Hasidism.
So unless we're talking Zombie Nachman, that ain't who the curse is aimed out.
posted by Justinian at 4:50 PM on December 9, 2005

When I find something in my mail slot that I know isn't meant for me, but I can't seem to find the mail slot for the person it's addressed to (or if it has no name), I typically just put it in a random one.

I recommend walking down the street and casually placing it on a neighbor's door.

The best part is that if it happens again, it's just more fun for you. Their curse becomes a blessing.

On preview: In case xiojason is right, I also recommend placing notes that make no sense whatsoever on your landlord's door. Writing them in English is fine. They don't even have to be curses, just complete nonsense. Perhaps sounding as if maybe you needed a repair done: "Water dripping. Shut off. All clear." Simple and confusing.
posted by dsword at 4:54 PM on December 9, 2005

Figure out who did it and take a dump on their doorstep.
posted by Falconetti at 4:57 PM on December 9, 2005

Walk in and out of your apartment wearing sunglasses and tapping a stick. Putting a curse on someone is one thing, but I can imagine the hysteria if your landlord believes it came true.
posted by seanyboy at 5:04 PM on December 9, 2005

I would be curious too, but really, who has ever been cursed by way of post-it note? It wasn't even written in blood! Go ask you landlord about it, I'm sure they won't even know what your talking about because it just a dumb prank.
posted by snsranch at 5:14 PM on December 9, 2005

For some reason the first floor got much nicer looking notes. They look more permanent too.
posted by finn at 6:08 PM on December 9, 2005

Those stickers on the first floor make me think it's a graffiti/hoax sort of situation. I was immediately reminded of the Hebrew graffiti that was spraypainted and markered all over Boston a few years ago.
posted by VulcanMike at 6:24 PM on December 9, 2005

being a curse afterthought is still pretty impressive.
posted by ry at 6:24 PM on December 9, 2005

Oddly, Sasha (of Levy Yitshak ben Sara-Sasha) is spelled entirely differently on the post-it and the sticker.
posted by needs more cowbell at 6:42 PM on December 9, 2005

He's probably a Kabbalist.
If you want to screw with him - provided you know it's him, take the note, spit * on it three times in front of him and throw some salt on the ground in front of him. Draw a line and say "With the consent of God and with the consent of the Torah and of Israel who guard it may it be forbidden to any demon, male or female, to invade this place from this time forth and forever."
Then make the sign of the fig at him (bend your thumb between your forefingers) or put your left thumb in your right fist and your right thumb in your left fist.

It's an old way to ward off evil. The fig is an extra sort of "fuck you I'm protected" gesture. Really pisses off evil spirits.

*According to various sources (Orahg Hayim, Aus dem Leben, HaGan, the Testament of Shabbetai Horowitz), spit, particularly from a fasting man is a powerful liquid and can protect you from the unclean and dispel evil.

...from what I've heard.

Anyway, that's if you want to screw with him. Otherwise just ignore it. It's meaningless superstition.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:18 PM on December 9, 2005

Btw - it could be agitprop. Lots of Jews spitting at priests rumors going on around now.
Which is odd considering the history of spit, not the geopolitical situation.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:19 PM on December 9, 2005

The link I mean. Sorry, thinking 1/2 speed lately. Rough day.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:10 PM on December 9, 2005

You might want to speak to someone in the landlord's family, ask them to check in on him, see how he's doing. His behavior seems awfully strange, especially if there's been no shit betwixt you before now. It's possible he's suffering from schizophrenia or delusions of some kind. Or maybe he's just having an extremely shitty week. Either way, just by getting someone to stop by and talk to him, you could head off a major problem, one that could affect both you and him.
posted by Clay201 at 8:54 PM on December 9, 2005

You know, it sounds like he's an older guy...possibly living a sad life.

How about some compassion?
posted by filmgeek at 9:15 PM on December 9, 2005

Um, guys, the words on that note are taken from a verse in the Bible, specifically Genesis 19:11.

It's from the story of Lot and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Two angels come to visit and Lot and persuade him to leave the city with his family before the big bad lord destroys the cities and their evil inhabitants. Lot welcomes the angels as guests, but the people in the city find out that he's hosting outsiders, and come to his place demanding to "let us get to know these strangers." (The traditional interpretation of that is that they wanted to rape the visitors, I believe). Lot offers his virgin daughters to the mob (the ones he'll later sleep with). The crowd isn't satisfied, they start pushing their way in, and the angels smite the crowd with blindness, enabling Lot et al. to escape.

As for the names after the verse, the second one is Rebbe Nachman, as others have pointed out. The first one is Rabbi Levi-Yitzchok of Berditchev, another famous Hasidic rabbi of times past. Invoking their names is probably a method of appealing to their saintly ghosts to do something.

Are they gay folks in the building? It could be directed towards them. I can draw up a nice response note for your to copy, if you like.
posted by greatgefilte at 9:43 PM on December 9, 2005

"Love your neighbour as theyself" (Leviticus 19:18) springs to mind as a nice response.
posted by greatgefilte at 9:49 PM on December 9, 2005

blah, I messed up the bible-speak. but you all know what I mean.
posted by greatgefilte at 9:49 PM on December 9, 2005

I must say that, if the context greatgefilte provides is correct, I find the note a little more ominous. It could be a threat against gay folks or something.
posted by Justinian at 10:00 PM on December 9, 2005

I actually find it more insulting (and slightly amusing) than threatening, as if the writer of the note just wanted a bit of heavenly help in driving the gays out of his building and figured, "Stupid goyim, they'll never be able to read what this says." I guess Williamsburg Hasidim don't know about Metafilter...
posted by greatgefilte at 10:14 PM on December 9, 2005

Just to give them the benefit of the doubt, it could be that these stickers were left to ward off real intruders (burglars, etc.), not necessarily any particular tenants. Kinda like those kitschy red strings the neo-Kabbalists like to hawk. But it's a bit of an odd verse to pick if that's the intent.
posted by greatgefilte at 10:43 PM on December 9, 2005

We really need more info about the relationship between jeb and the landlord to answer this, but "ask the landlord" seems the best response so far, given the little we have to go on.

your best bet is to burn a Morman

posted by mediareport at 10:48 PM on December 9, 2005

Bah, finally a Hebrew question and I'm the last person on the scene! Figures! Anyhow, greatgefilte has it.

Anyhow, If you want to retaliate, come up with something cheeky (or straightforward, like: "we are not interested in curses, thank you!") and I'll translate it for you.
posted by ori at 10:56 PM on December 9, 2005

p.s. the Rabbi mentioned is Nachman of Breslov, which makes your landlord Breslovers, probably. They are weird and cultish. You can read their guidelines on cursing here
posted by ori at 11:00 PM on December 9, 2005

p.p.s You can quote the Rabbi's dictum that "An undeserved curse eventually turns back on the curser." That might get them to think twice.
posted by ori at 11:02 PM on December 9, 2005

from ori's link:

"A curse has no effect on a person of distinguished

See, it pays to have someone on the inside when the rules are being written.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:09 PM on December 9, 2005

If it is from the landlord, and a curse directed at a tenant, then I should think this is an act of assault, and a threat. Most especially if the tenant is goy, then we're talking illegal racism.

If it is a curse, and you know who placed it, and you want to have fun, then deposit a dead chicken (feathers in place) with no blood, upon their doorstep.

Otherwise, if you can go to the perps rabbi, that is a good thing. Cursing is nasty business. Curses are only made at a price, and fools cast them about thinking they are free!
posted by Goofyy at 3:44 AM on December 10, 2005

At this point, I'd take a copy of it to my landlord and say "What is this?" His answer would determine my next course of action.
posted by Miko at 6:32 AM on December 10, 2005

Leave one of these on your door:


No, I don't know what it means.

Or maybe this:


Or work up this one a little, maybe change the language to arabic:


Or to confuse the issue, just work this up a little, change "Human Vision" to "Divine Vision", that kind of thing:

posted by Ken McE at 7:50 AM on December 10, 2005

I second Gator's question.

If you've always been a model tenant, what makes you think that the note was left by your landlord? Couldn't it have been left by any psychotic Hebrew-speaker?
posted by Afroblanco at 8:37 AM on December 10, 2005

Also, I like how this question is categorized under "Home & Garden"

I could see the cover of the next issue of Better Homes and Gardens :

10 new healthy snacks for your kids!
Heirloom quilts you can make!
Best flowering houseplants!
Hebrew curses: how to translate, and what to do about them!
posted by Afroblanco at 8:41 AM on December 10, 2005

hey, is the rumour that jeb has been murdered true?
posted by tiamat at 11:03 AM on December 10, 2005

Tell your landlord that some madman has posted a Hebrew curse on your door and that you're afraid that there are mentally ill jews afoot, and that he should be concerned about its affect on housing prices.
posted by jewzilla at 5:01 PM on December 10, 2005

I had a nightmare about jeb last night!
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 5:14 PM on December 10, 2005

It looks like לוי יצחק בן שרה שאשה has a posse.
posted by oaf at 11:34 PM on December 10, 2005

Jeb, since you haven't yet had a chance to post your reasons for suspecting your landlord, I'm going to guess that your reasons are something like "Our landlord is an Orthodox Jew, and kind of strange." If so, I wanted to point out another possibility.

Most ultra-Orthodox people interact quite a bit with other members of the ultra-Orthodox community, which means that, if they have any enemies, those enemies are probably ultra-Orthodox, too. Maybe one of those enemies wanted to make trouble for your landlord, and is placing curses on you, the tenants, as a way of getting at your landlord.

If so, your landlord would certainly appreciate a heads-up.
posted by yankeefog at 5:37 AM on December 11, 2005

If anyone still cares: it appears that as some people speculated it is not a curse, but rather some sort of ward along the lines of a mezuzah. This comment on the photo at flickr said "It is an old time spiritual protection note that protects from thieves and robbers."

If I were to choose a "best answer" on this thread it would be this one.
posted by finn at 6:32 PM on December 12, 2005

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