Tevye stepped to the door of the bedroom and peered inside. The boy’s father lay sprawled on the floor, his white beard reddened with blood.
“Fear not, my son,” a woman’s voice said.
It was only then that Tevye noticed the old woman standing in a corner. She clutched a shawl tightly around her thin figure and gazed across the room with an open-eyed stare. Tevye could tell she was blind.
“Before your father died, he gave you his blessing,” she said. Her eyes seemed to shine as if she were gazing at an apparition which they could not see. “And he asked that you pray for his soul at the holy Wall in Jerusalem.”
Nachman stared at his mother in silence. One of his brothers ran in the house.
“Your father died with the Shema on his lips,” the old woman said. “The house filled with light, and an angel escorted his soul up to Heaven. The prophet Elijah was waiting with a chariot of fire. Your father glanced down at me and said not to worry. Then, with a serene smile, he disappeared into a gateway of light. May his memory be for a blessing.”