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Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter Nine: Mazal Tov!

Tevye in the Promised Land

“The Rabbi said he would talk to him. He thinks Dupont can be persuaded, because the wedding will provide revenue to the colony, since we will be paying for the food. He said he would also talk to him about letting us live in Rishon LeZion. The Talmud Torah needs a new teacher, and he wants me to take the job.”

Mazal tov, mazal tov,” Tevye said. “The kindness of God never ceases.”

And so it was. In the morning, Aharon collected documents and bribe money from the new pioneers, or chalutzim, as they were called in Hebrew. When he had finished making a list, Tevye took him aside and gave him money to buy a wedding ring for Ruchel. Dupont, in a gesture of public relations to soften the bad feelings he had created the day before, gave his permission to hold the wedding celebration in Rishon. As if he had arranged the marriage himself, he returned to the porch of the dining room to magnanimously announce that the wedding would be held after nightfall in the courtyard of the colony. While Tevye tried to love every man, Jew and gentile alike, and to judge all of God’s children in a favorable light, he didn’t always succeed. The pompous Dupont was a perfect example. Tevye knew it was wrong, but he felt an urge to wipe the insincere grin off the manager’s face. But being a peace-loving man, and for the sake of his daughter, Tevye smiled and thanked Mr. Dupont for his kindness.

The women of the community worked in their kitchens all day to prepare a proper feast. A chuppah wedding canopy was erected by tying a prayer shawl to four poles. The Rabbi’s wife found Ruchel a white gown that fit her exactly. Nachman borrowed a shiny white kittel robe, and Tevye’s eyes moistened as he escorted his new son-in-law to the marriage canopy to wed his beaming daughter. The wedding guests, dressed in their most elegant Sabbath bowlers and bonnets, held up lanterns to light the way.

“Every wedding is special,” the Rabbi declared before pronouncing the nuptial blessings. “But this wedding is even more distinctive because it is the joining of two lives in the Land of Israel after a long, two-thousand-year exile.”

All of the wedding guests were silent as they listened to the words of the Rabbi. A glow shone in all of their eyes. Even Dupont felt a shiver of destiny in the cool evening breeze. Bat Sheva, Hava, and Tzeitl stood beside Ruchel, the bride, the beautiful kallah, overjoyed with their sister’s happiness, and filled with dreams of their own. Little Hannie and Moishe sat perched on Goliath’s broad shoulders, watching the wedding over the heads of the crowd. The big-hearted giant shed tears of joy as he watched the beaming countenance of his dearest friend, Nachman.

“Two-thousand years ago, the Romans invaded the Land of Israel, destroyed Jerusalem, and expelled the Jews from the land. To what is this like? To robbers who come and throw a man out of his house. The injustice can only be righted when the rightful owner returns to live in his home once again. So too with the return of the Jewish people to Eretz Yisrael.

“Nachman and Ruchel, the happiness of this occasion is not only your own private joy,” the Rabbi continued. “It is the happiness of all of the Jewish people all over the world. You are pioneers, leading the way for the rest of the nation, preparing the foundation for the great waves of aliyah-immigration which will follow. Our Sages tell us that every new home in the Land of Israel, and every new family, is a new stone in the building of Jerusalem. For two-thousand years at Jewish weddings all over the world, men and women have been saying the words of King David’s psalm, ‘If I forget you O Jerusalem,’ to remind them that their own private joy cannot be complete until our ancient city is rebuilt. This great love for our land and for Jerusalem is our secret. This is our strength. May the Lord bless you and keep you, may He shine His countenance upon you and grant you peace.”

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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