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Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter Twenty-Two: A Visit to the Yeshiva

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“God has already answered your prayers,” the wise Rabbi said. “Look around you. Just open your eyes. Where are you? You are learning the Torah in a yeshiva in the Holy Land.  God has opened the door to His palace. If you are saddened because you want to enter the royal chambers immediately, and that door seems closed, that does not mean that  God is not with you. He simply knows you aren’t yet ready. One needs patience, great faith, and diligent study. The learning of Torah takes many years, and a man must be willing to surrender himself to it completely before God unlocks the doors to its innermost chambers and secrets.”

Gazing at the holy Rabbi and seeing in his eyes the wisdom of thousands of years, Hevedke felt foolish for acting like a child who impatiently wants a new toy, now, and doesn’t want to wait. The Torah came through toil. The Torah came through sacrifice. Simple belief was not enough. All of life had to be a sanctified, conscious striving to become closer to God. A religious Jew had to be holy in all of his endeavors, with every breath of his life, from morning till night. With everything he ate, everything he said, everything he did, a Jew had to be conscious of God and abide by the laws of the Torah. And all of this had to be learned through detailed, painstaking study. For the free-thinking poet, this meant bowing to a wisdom greater than his. It meant putting all of his previous arrogance and theories aside and relying on the teachers who could guide him through oceans of unchartered waters. It meant learning a new language and a whole new way of being. It meant severing himself from his past and building a new future. Once his youthful heart came to understand that this was the whole secret of life, to discover God and to cling to His ways, he was possessed with a passion that even his great love for Hava couldn’t match. It was the most joyous, wondrous, frightening, challenging, light-filled journey which Hevedke had ever embarked on.

Somewhere, someday, at the end of the voyage, he knew that Hava was waiting, and that gave him courage and faith. Even if it took him years, like Rabbi Akiva, Hevedke was willing to dedicate all of himself to this holy, spiritual mission.

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


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