web analytics
April 26, 2015 / 7 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post


Possibly the Greatest Jewish Novel Ever Written

Tevye

A minute had not transpired when the mule halted abruptly again. Its body shivered below Tevye as if it, like Bilaam’s ass, had seen the Angel of Death standing before it, grasping an upraised sword. The mule reared up its head and brayed. Tevye sat frozen. The smell of the swamp filled his nostrils. Frogs croaked. To his right, a shadowy creature leaped through the darkness and splashed noisily into the water. An alligator, Tevye thought, not sure if there were alligators in this part of the world. Or a bobcat. Or more probably, a wild, man-eating boar.

“Oy vay,” Tevye thought. Either he would fall off a cliff, drown in the swamp, or be eaten by some wild creature. He heard a voice in his head remind him of a famous quote from the Talmud: “It isn’t the bite of the snake which kills, but a man’s very own sin.” Tevye trembled. Why had he gone to the beach and gotten drunk like an ignorant peasant? Why had he treated the sanctity of the Festival so lightly? Surely, he was being punished for that. If he had stayed in his tent, studying Torah, he never would have gotten lost in the swamp. Why hadn’t he listened to Nachman?

In a situation like this, what could a Jew do but pray?

“Though I walk through a valley of death, I shall fear no evil, for Thou art with me,” he recited, recalling the Psalm of Kind David by heart.

Insistently, Tevye gave the mule a kick. It stepped forward uncertainly, as if treading on treacherous ground. With a mind of its own, it refused to continue.

“Don’t be such a stubborn ass!” Tevye shouted, kicking its abdomen again. He flicked at the rein, urging it forward. The recalcitrant creature advanced a few short paces until it lurched forward. Its forelegs sank in the swamp. Tevye felt water splash into his shoes. With a growl, another invisible animal dived into the reeds up ahead.

“Eeeoooh!” Tevye yelled in alarm.

“Eeeaaah!” brayed the mule.

Fiercely, with all of his strength, Tevye jerked the reins to the left. The mule staggered forward and stopped.

“Yaaahh!” Tevye shouted, commanding the mule to respond.

“Yaaahh! Tevye screamed, booting the mule in its belly.

“Yaaahh!” Tevye bellowed, tugging the reins.

But the mule would not budge.

Angered, Tevye batted the mule on the head.

“Habyta, you jackass!” Tevye yelled out in Hebrew, urging the animal home. “Habyta!”

With a bellow, the frightened creature stumbled unsteadily forward. Once again its forelegs sank into the mud, this time up to its knees. The animal froze, its head slanting down toward the swamp, its rump in the air, as if it were a stallion trying to throw off a rider. Tevye grasped at the mule’s neck, bracing himself with all of his might so that he didn’t tumble forward into the water.

“CARMEL!” Tevye screamed. “ELISHA! NACHMAN! SOMEBODY SAVE ME!”

His shouts were answered by silence and the ominous buzz of mosquitoes.

“CARMEL!” he yelled, calling out for his wife. “ELISHA! NACHMAN! COME HELP!”

Certainly, someone was near. Certainly, his calls would be heard. The colony was only a short distance away, and certainly when Tevye was late in returning, a search party had already been sent out to find him.

But what if his shouts were heard by Arabs, not Jews? What if his yelling brought Bedouins? It wouldn’t be the first time that an Arab killed a Jew for his mule.

Tevye shut up. The buzzing of the mosquitoes grew louder. When one landed on his face, he gave it a slap, but the movement upset his already precarious balance. His legs squeezed the mule tightly as they both tilted dangerously towards the water.

“Oh Golda,” he whispered. “Don’t be angry with me. Get me out of this mess and I’ll leave my new wife.’

Again, a wild boar splashed into the swamp. Alarmed, Tevye tugged at the reins, pulling the mule backward. The animal made a great effort and staggered to unglue himself from the muck. But this time, his hind legs sank into the swamp. With a shudder, it stood rigid, unable or unwilling to budge.

About the Author: Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Creativity and Jewish Culture for his novel "Tevye in the Promised Land." For the past several years, he has written a popular and controversial blog at Arutz 7. A wide selection of his books are available at Amazon. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of The Jewish Press


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Possibly the Greatest Jewish Novel Ever Written”

Comments are closed.

Tzvi Fishman, author of the Jewish Press blog Felafel on Rye and author of more than a dozen books.
Current Top Story
USAID recipient Tarek Abbas, son of Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud.
Abbas’ Son Loses $10 Million Libel Suit in US Court
Latest Blogs Stories
heartflag.jpg

Celebrating 67 years of democratic independence, surviving wars&threats; so much to be thankful for!

Rabbi Lichtenstein (z"l).

He was a Torah giant, uniquely exemplifying the Hashkafa of Torah U’Mada (Torah & worldly knowledge)

A Soldier's Mother

All Israel walks beside them, holding them in our hearts, listening, our hearts breaking with theirs

Yom HaZikaron

I’ve felt that if only we had established these communities sooner, then the victims would not have been killed

Is inflation always bad for the economy, and why is deflation not always an ideal situation?

It is the character of the individual that counts, not his sexual preferences.

Bibi gives a great speech, especially when talking to foreigners, but on policy, he’s very weak.

One of us had the chutzpah to ask him to join the ball game. He said okay and he played aggressively.

Watch this Doug Goldstein video to learn how easy it’s to open a US brokerage account from overseas.

An Israeli TV show about Holocaust Day asserted the Holocaust is/was a European not Jewish tragedy

“I am 100% convinced that she is not in any way anti-Semitic. She is in fact a philo-Semite”

Poverty has become a thriving business; Learn how the payday loan has affected many US households

Pressure by Pres. Rivlin for a monstrous “national unity government” has made things worse for Bibi

How do money managers take care of your money? And have you ever heard of “socially responsible” investing?

In the memory of loved ones, I commit to continue the fight for our survival in their blessed memory

The US Consulate in Israel should have people helping US citizens on various tax & benefits issues

More Articles from Tzvi Fishman
Author back in his Hollywood days

An Israeli actor pal asked me why I knew nothing about Judaism-The question hit like a thunderbolt

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/felafel-on-rye/possibly-the-greatest-jewish-novel-ever-written/2012/06/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: