“Where are you going?” he asked Tevye.
“Back to work. What about you?”
“I’ve decided to go to America,” the carpenter confessed.
Tevye stopped by the barn. He looked at his good friend sadly.
“America?” he asked.
“Yes. America. I’m fed up with this hell.”
“What do you think you will find in America?”
“I don’t know. But at least it won’t be locusts and swamps.”
“Locusts come in many sizes, and swamps come in many shapes,” Tevye said cryptically.
Whatever Tevye was implying, Shilo didn’t catch on.
“If you were smart, you’d leave this place too before the next disaster strikes.”
“If I were smart,” Tevye answered. “I would have been a rich man like the Baron, and not such a penniless fool.”
“With a smile, he left Shilo standing outside the barn. The mules looked up at him in surprise as he entered. They hadn’t worked in two weeks. Immediately, they brayed out in unison, letting him know they were hungry. Looking around, he spotted a sack of carrots which had miraculously escaped being devoured by locusts. He fed a handful to each beast and chomped on one himself. Selecting a mule from the pack, Tevye gave it a slap on its rump.
“Brains before beauty,” he said, following the brute out the barn door.
Elisha met Tevye on his way to the field.
“Tevye,” he cautioned. “If you plow up your field, you may uncover one of the ditches we dug.”
“So I’ll start a new field,” Tevye answered. “There’s plenty of land. This mule here has strength in its back, even if I don’t.”
He harnessed the creature and hooked it up to the plow.
“Anyway,” Tevye added. “The worst is over now.”
Instinctively, both men looked up at the horizon. The sky was blue and clear. A man had to believe with all of his heart that the Lord would bless his endeavor. For the moment, thank God, there was no sign of locusts. That in itself was a blessing.
Strapping the harness of the plow over his shoulders, Tevye headed back to the fields.
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.
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