web analytics
May 22, 2015 / 4 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter Twenty-Three: A New Kind of Jew


Tevye.500

Before continuing his narrative, Elisha once again filled Tevye’s glass to the brim, as if to fortify him for the saga he was about to relate. Tevye listened intently. Chickens scurried around them and occasionally flew onto the table, but the two men ignored them. With a broom, one of Elisha’s children kept sweeping them away from the “salon.”

With eighty fellow villagers, Elisha’s family had set forth with all of their meager belongings. Uncles, aunts, cousins, and parents accompanied them for miles before waving tearful good-byes. Children and grandparents who had trouble walking, rode on the few camels they had. Everyone else traveled on foot. After three days, they reached the great desert and began a punishing trek. Their mornings would begin an hour before sunrise, when they would set off in cool of the dawn. Hours later, when the sun rose over their heads in the sky, they would seek rest from its pitiless heat, crowding together in whatever shade they could find. Scorched by the sun and desert wind, the men had to strip off their undergarments. The desert water was bitter, barely quenching their thirst. For meals, the women baked malawach, a thin, wafer-like pancake of bread. All through the day, flies clung to their faces, no matter how much they were swatted away. In the late afternoon, when the sun’s fury lessened, they once again set forth over the endless landscape of dunes. In the evening, they would walk until they came upon a village, where they would buy whatever staples they lacked. More often than not, hostile tribesmen sought to rob them, but four of the Jews had guns, and one blast from a rifle was enough to scare marauders away.

One night, they were surrounded by a company of Moslem soldiers. When the soldiers attacked, the Jews pulled out their swords. Elisha’s oldest son, Ariel, opened fire with his rifle. Immediately, the soldiers panicked and fled. But the victory was short-lasting. In the next village they came to, more soldiers were waiting. The Jews were arrested as traitors and held under guard for a week until the decision arrived from the capital to release them. Elisha called it a miracle.

“Thank the good Lord,” Tevye said, pushing his empty glass forward.

“Amen,” Elisha responded. “In the merit of our righteous forefathers who remained faithful to our holy Torah for thousands of years in the face of oppression and danger, God saves us again and again.”

“To our forefathers,” Tevye said, holding up his replenished glass. The two men toasted and Elisha continued his tale.

Weeks later, after having marched on foot over two-thousand kilometers, the Yemenites reached the coast. Some fainted at the sight of the water. A grandfather collapsed in the water and drowned. To escape the sun and the heat, they gathered sticks and cloth and made primitive shelters on the beach. They were told that the steamer traveling to Palestine passed by once in six months. They could wait or take sailboats to Aden, but Jews were forbidden to enter Aden with arms. So they sold their rifles and swords, even their slaughtering knives. For weeks they ate fruit and fish. Then, while waiting for the boat to arrive, a company of soldiers on horseback appeared on the seashore and charged at them while they were unarmed. The only defense they had were the weapons of their forefathers – the blasts of their shofars and their prayers. Elisha stood with his long, curving ram’s horn and sent three militant blasts through the air. “Tekiah! Tekiah! Tekiah!” Other shofars sounded around him. Thinking that the Jews were calling evil spirits, the soldiers turned and retreated. The Moslems, Elisha explained, were superstitious people, and they feared that the Jews could bring down thunderbolts from Heaven.

In the meantime, a sailor came running with the news that a boat was waiting out in the harbor. Walking in water up to their chests, they reached the small rowboats which ferried passengers out to the ship. With a cheer, the Jews climbed on board.

Tevye raised his empty glass once again with a broad, cheerful smile. But this time, Elisha did not extend the bottle. His eyes squinted with seriousness as he went on with his story. Their joy, he said, was short-lived as storm clouds rushed toward them and enveloped the ship in turbulent waters. Crowded together, with rain pouring down on their heads, and a howling wind piercing their bones, the terrified Jews roped themselves together so that the waves crashing down over the boat would not wash them away. They begged the Almighty to save them. A week passed without a glimpse of the sun. When Elisha’s pregnant wife went into labor, the other women sat in a circle around her, screening the men from the birth. Not a peep passed her lips as her eleventh child was born. But before Elisha’s friends could wish him a mazal tov, a mast snapped like a twig, and a sail flew away over the ocean. Waves splashed on board. Planks shattered and seawater poured through the breaches. Three children were washed overboard. No one could save them. Working heroically, the crew managed to anchor the ship close to the shore, where hasty repairs were made. Elisha paused in his story to bend down to the floor and pick up the toddler who was crawling under the table. Fittingly, he had named the boy, Yonah, after the prophet who had been saved from a stormy and turbulent sea.

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 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 “Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter Twenty-Three: A New Kind of Jew”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Tzipi Hotovely, new Deputy Foreign Minister.
Foreign Minister Hotovely: Tell the World ‘God Gave Israel to the Jews’
Latest Sections Stories
Respler-052215

This therapist kept focusing on how “I could do better,” never on how we could make the marriage work.

South-Florida-logo

Mistrust that has lingered after the fiasco in Ferguson, Missouri, has edged the issue forward.

South-Florida-logo

“The observance of a kosher diet is a key tenet of Judaism, and one which no state has the right to deny,” said Nathan Diament, executive director for public policy of the Orthodox Union.

Two weeks of intense learning in the classroom about Israel culminated with Yom Ha’Atzmaut. Students attended sessions with their teachers and learned about history, culture, military power, advocacy, slang, cooking, and more.

The nations of the world left the vessel to sit rotting in the water during one of the coldest winters in decades and with its starving and freezing passengers abandoned.

Rabbi Yisroel Edelman, the synagogue’s spiritual leader, declared, “The Young Israel of Deerfield Beach is looking forward to our partnership with the OU. The impact the OU has brought to Jewish communities throughout the country through its outreach and educational resources is enormous and we anticipate the same for our community in Deerfield Beach as well.”

Our goal here is to offer you recipes that you can make on Yom Tov with ingredients you might just have in the house. Enjoy and chag sameach!

Gardening can be a healthy, wholesome activity for the whole family.

Unfortunately, the probability is that he will not see a reason to change as he has been acting this way for a long time and clearly has some issues with respecting women.

All of these small changes work their way into the framework of the elephant and the rider because they are helping the elephant move forward.

It’s hard not to be intrigued by recipes with names like Thanksgiving Stuffing Soup, Braised Chicken with Rhubarb Gravy and Vidalia Onion Fritters with Sambal Yogurt Dip.

More Articles from Tzvi Fishman
Rabbi Levinger (zt"l)

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

Rabbi Levinger in blue, seated with the author

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.

Rav Kook often studied Rebbe Nachman’s writings with guests during Suedat Shleeshi meal on Shabbat

Many think they’re serving G-d but they’re really asleep-Rebbe Nachman taught stories to wake people

Point is, the eyes are the soul’s windows and forbidden images, face it or not, pollute a Jew’s soul

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

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/books/the-book-shelf/tevye-in-the-promised-land-books/chapter-twenty-three-a-new-kind-of-jew/2013/01/21/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: