How many of my friends know what a schlemiel or a schlimazel is? These two words came up quite frequently in my youth. The simple explanation I received to help me understand the difference between the two is as follows (btw, mazel mean “luck” in Yiddish):
A schlemiel is a person who, while walking through a large, mostly empty dining room with a bowl of hot soup, nevertheless manages to spill the soup. A schlemazel is the person on whom the soup lands, perhaps the only one in the entire room.