web analytics
August 31, 2014 / 5 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Possibly the Greatest Jewish Novel Ever Written

Tevye

“SOMEBODY HELP ME!” Tevye screamed.

His cry echoed over the swamp. Tevye looked up at the sky. The thick wall of clouds was beginning to scatter. The moon peeked through the umbrage as if to see who was causing all of the commotion below. For the first time, Tevye could see the reeds and bulrushes around him. In front of them was swamp. Behind them was swamp. All around them were bulrushes and reeds. Beneath him, Tevye felt the mule sink down another inch into the mud.

“Gevalt,” he mumbled. “It’s quicksand.”

The mule turned its head to look back at Tevye, as if to say, “Shmuck, why did you make me go forward?”

Tevye frowned. His legs dangled in the warm, musty water. Once again, he felt the heavy animal sink into the soupy floor of the swamp. He cried out again in the night, but the echo of his cry was swallowed up by the darkness. No one could hear him. And one wrong movement could topple him off the back of the mule to a lonely and ignominious finish. Until the whole swamp was drained, nobody would ever find him.

Tevye sat frozen, like a statue of some general on a horse. Terrified, he allowed himself just the slightest of movements, a lift of an eye up to Heaven.

“Dear God,” he began, “If You get me out of this mess, I promise to give up drinking. Have mercy, my King, have mercy. Is a man to blame for a small taste of vodka? Is getting a little shikor, a reason to drown a man in a swamp? Perhaps if I were a priest who served in the Temple, but I am only a poor milkman with less brains than this mule.”

Dark clouds once again covered the moon, as if sealing up the window to Heaven.

“If You are angry at me, please let me know why, and I will be glad to repent,” Tevye passionately pleaded. “If it is because I complain now and then, from now on I will keep my mouth tightly sealed. If it is because my mind wanders now and again in the middle of my prayers, I promise to pray like King David. If it is because I spoke loshon hora against Golda’s cousin, Menachen Mendel, if I ever see the thief again, I’ll get down on my knees and kiss his shoes.”

The wall of clouds remained impervious to Tevye’s entreaties. Mosquitoes landed on his face. Afraid to lift his hands from the nape of the mule, he let them bite him at will. A deep, sorrowful bellow sounded from the beast. Once again, it sunk another inch into the quicksand.

“Did I ever miss saying Shema Yisrael?” Tevye asked, in growing desperation. “Did I ever lift a finger on Shabbos? Did another man’s ruble ever find its way into my pocket in an unlawlul way?”

Tormented by the bites of mosquitoes, Tevye bent over to squash them against the neck of the mule. Once again, the shift of weight caused the animal’s front legs to sink deeper into the abyss.

“The Lord is my shepherd,” Tevye whispered, continuing on with the Psalm. If his own merit wasn’t sufficient to bring forth a miracle, out of God’s love for King David, surely the All-Merciful would answer his prayer. “I shall not want. He makest me to lie down in green pastures. He leadest me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.”

Tevye paused. Where was it written that drowning in quicksand was restoring the soul? But this wasn’t the time to begin arguing with God.

“I am a worthless old milkman, I know,” he continued. “But I have little Moishe and Hannei to care for, and an unborn child on the way. Why punish them? Why leave them without a father? Does leading a man in righteousness mean leading him into a swamp? ‘Though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.’ So, if You are listening, please send me Your rod and Your staff.”

In the distance, Tevye could vaguely hear the roar of the sea. A great weariness overcame him. The mosquitoes were stinging him with a fury, but if he leaped off the mule, where would he be? Who would ever find him? Thinking back on his life, and on his long list of sorrows, he realized how truly precious life was! What a wondrous gift! How good it was to live, even in a hot, airless tent with scorpions and spiders! Why hadn’t he been grateful for every single moment of his time in the Holy Land?

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.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tzvi Fishman, author of the Jewish Press blog Felafel on Rye and author of more than a dozen books.
Current Top Story
US Marines walk a city street in Fallujah, heavily damaged by the fighting. (2004)
Netanyahu Says Making Gaza ‘Israel’s Fallujah’ Was Too High a Price
Latest Blogs Stories
The Palestinian Authority backed by EU funds, has sent Bedouin into the E-1 area of Maaleh Adumim to claim it is part of their fictional history.

The new “Begin Plan” is an impending nightmare, it rewards the Bedouins for brazen land-grabbing.

its a deal

There is absolutely nothing for Israel’s security in this American document.

A Jewish wedding.

Is it because of corrupt values and lack of meeting opportunities that we have a shidduch crisis?

Islamic Law

Israel is fighting the war that none of the Western world has the ability or courage to fight.

Finish the job! Sayyem et a missima!סיים את המסימה!

Life after 50? You better believe it! Tips on how to prepare and enjoy life after retirement.

All civilian responsibilities will be given over to an Arab government. Education, health, a judicial system and taxes will be the responsibility of the Arab government. Any terrorist activity against the Arab government or Israel will be dealt with in the most severe manner. This situation will continue for 3 years. During that time, Israel will help build an infrastructure for […]

Hamas targeted the Erez Crossing when it knew that Gazans and Israeli Arabs would be there, out in the open…

Does it really take Jewish innovation to come up with this idea?

If you don’t know who’s behind The terror in your mind The answer’s not hard to find, Blame the Jews

If feminism is mentioned at all, it is usually to condemn it as an anti Torah ideal.

“…people making jokes about turning this into a shelter rave, taking #bombshelterselfies…”

Marriage is not just about emotional fidelity but about financial fidelity as well.

So you want to blame Israel? First answer these 5 simple questions, and see if you even have a leg to stand on…

Hamas’s online Jihadi supporters and groupies are desperately trying to differentiate between their support for Hamas and supporting ISIS.

We all got degrees. We got married. We had families. We worked. We and were Koveih Itim

More Articles from Tzvi Fishman

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: