Farblunget or farblondjet (פארבלאנדזשעט, pronounced farb-LAWN-jet) is a Yiddish adjective that aptly describes the state of aimless wandering, or being hopelessly lost and unsure where to turn next.

For example, after plodding around the alleys of Jerusalem’s Old City for hours, Moshe, a camera-toting tourist from Queens, had to admit that he was utterly farblunget.

Less known to English speakers, blondje is a verb that means getting yourself lost or continuing to wander around once you are lost. Thus, Moshe’s wife, Rivky, may tell him that as long as he stubbornly refuses to look at a map, he’ll continue to blondje for the remainder of their trip.

Don’t Blondje Through Life

Just as a person may become farblunget during the course of a trip, a soul may blondje in its life journey on earth.

“Every soul is entrusted with a mission unique to her alone,” explained the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson, of righteous memory. “She is granted the specific aptitudes, talents and resources necessary to excel in her ordained role. One must take care not to become one of those farblundgete souls who wander haplessly through life, trying their hand at every field of endeavor except for the one that is truly and inherently their own.”

He bolstered his point with a parable:

The Souls That Had Become Farblunget

A wealthy businessman and his coachman arrived in a city one Friday afternoon. The rich man settled in at the best hotel in town, and the coachman went off to his humble lodgings.

Both washed and dressed for Shabbat, and set out toward the synagogue for the evening service. On his way, the businessman chanced upon a large wagon which had swerved off the road and become stuck in a ditch. Rushing to help a fellow in need, he climbed down into the ditch and began pushing and pulling at the wagon together with its hapless driver. But for all his finesse at handling the most challenging of business deals, when it came to extracting a wagon and a team of horses from a muddy ditch, our businessman was hopelessly out of his depth.

After struggling for an hour in the knee-deep mud, he had succeeded only in ruining his best suit, amassing a most impressive collection of cuts and bruises, and getting the wagon even more deeply embedded in the mud. Finally he dragged his limping body to the synagogue, arriving a scant minute before the start of Shabbat.

Meanwhile, the coachman arrived at the synagogue early and sat down to recite a few chapters of Psalms. He found a group of wandering paupers and, being blessed with a most generous nature, invited them all to share his Shabbat meal. When the synagogue sexton approached the poor and homeless to arrange meal placements for them—as is customary in Jewish communities—he received the same reply from each: “Thank you, but I have already been invited for the Shabbat meal.”

Unfortunately, however, the coachman’s budget was hardly equal to his generous heart. It is hard to imagine that his dozen guests left his table with more than a shadow of a meal in their hungry stomachs.

Thus the coachman, with his 20 years of experience pulling wagons out of muddy ditches, took it upon himself to feed a small army, while the wealthy businessman, whose Shabbat meal leftovers could easily have fed every hungry man within a ten-mile radius, floundered about in a ditch . . .