“Isn’t he coming with us?”
“No. He’ll be staying here in Jaffa, in the yeshiva of Rabbi Kook.”
“For how long?” Hava asked.
“At least for a year. Isn’t that what we agreed?”
“Will I be able to visit?”
“No, not while he’s learning. The halacha-law forbids it.”
“Is Jewish law everything?” the girl protested.
“Yes,” her father replied.
“What about emotions? Aren’t they important?”
“They certainly are. In the right place, in the right time, and with the right person.”
“Can’t I even say good-bye?”
“No,” Tevye said. “Until Hevedke becomes a Jew, being together is out of the question.”
It hurt Tevye’s heart to say it, but he kept his face frozen in a stern, disapproving expression. It was best for the girl. After all, the experiment could fail. In the end, it might turn out that Hevedke’s love for Hava outweighed his love for the Torah. Until he proved himself in the purifying crucible of a yeshiva, where the Torah was learned day and night, all of his proclamations had as much substance as wind.
Hava stared at her father. She bit down on her lip. If this was the way it had to be, so be it. If this was a test, she was ready. If this was the way she could atone for the mistakes of her past, she would wait two years if she had to. Once, she had recklessly rushed off to be with Hevedke, and now, to make amends, she would have to wait a long time. With her heart pounding inside her, she turned away from the house of the Rabbi and stared out at the road. She wanted to be strong. For Hevedke’s sake. To give him a genuine chance to earn her father’s blessing.