web analytics
July 1, 2015 / 14 Tammuz, 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." A wide selection of his books are available at Amazon.

The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion 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
investing-in-gold_4548807_lrg
What Sanctions? Iran Receives 13 Tons of Gold From S. Africa
Latest Blogs Stories
Malachi Rosenfeld HY"D

Israel & world Jewry are under attack and in grave danger but UN’s focus is denouncing Israel

Doug Goldstein

What is human chess? How easy is it to predict the actions of others?

Rethink UN bias against Israel

It’s time to stand up against the bias & no longer accept the constant UN prejudice against Israel.

Malachi Moshe Rosenfeld, one of four injured in a terror attack near the West Bank settlement of Shvut Rachel, north of Ramallah, has died (HYD)

Malachi Moshe Rosenfeld, injured in a terror attack in Samaria, has died (HYD)

Allah is NOT merciful: Stabbing, beheading, shooting innocents is barbaric & cowardly acts of terror

How could the Jerusalem Post think the attack could have been other than a terrorist act?

Going to Mt of Olives cemetery was like visiting Jurassic Park in a jeep with dinosaurs rampaging

Hanan Porat z”l, teary-eyed said ” We returned to the Gush(Etzion)we shall return to the Gush(Katif)

“Mispachology”: Theory you share a common link with someone you’ve never met or been in contact with

It seems that Pres. Rivlin has joined all other so-called Right politicians and now is trending Left

Dear Muslims, Happy Ramadan. It’s clear from the news that your people are having a “bang-up” month

The President was right, every Jew should have a gun. He just asked the wrong person about it.

Everybody knows that during Ramadan Arab Muslim terror attacks increase.

UN says Hamas tried to warn us of rocket attacks? I was here. Not once did those…I want to scream

{Originally posted to the author’s website, Emes Ve-Emunah} The inevitable finally happened. Rabbi Avi Weiss has dispensed with his prior refusal to call his female ordainees ‘rabbis’.  I challenged him to stop dancing around that title with made up titles  (like Raba and Maharat) and he finally rose to the challenge. His motivation in not […]

How can you transform thinking to action? What are the mountains you need to climb to reach goals?

More Articles from Tzvi Fishman
Tzvi Fishman at Cemetery of Mount of Olives

Going to Mt of Olives cemetery was like visiting Jurassic Park in a jeep with dinosaurs rampaging

The "Rightist" author and artist, Tzvi Fishman

To boost aliya, Israel will encourage Marshall’s, Costco, K Mart & Entenmann’s Bakeries to open here

Of course there’s air in America, but it isn’t the holy air of Eretz Yisrael.

The warnings came true: Among the 1000 released terrorists, many returned to terror activity

Torah is to be lived. Rabbi Moshe Levinger was a completely living Torah, the Torah of Eretz Yisrael

Without Israel, the Jewish People are scattered nomads lacking Torah’s true national grandeur&power

If other pleasures exceed the joy we feel for Jerusalem, then something is wrong with our Judaism.

There will be peace when we listen to G-d and do want he tells us to do – all for our very own good.

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: