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Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter Thirty-One: Hevedke the Jew

The next chapter of the award-winning novel.
Cover of Tevye in the Promised Land by Tzvi Fishman.

“How long can you expect Abba to stay cooped up like a chicken?” Bat Sheva asked.

“Where did he go?” Hava asked.

“To Morasha.”

“To Morasha? Is he crazy? Does he want to get sick?”

“God forbid,” another voice said. It was the tailor’s wife. In the confines of the tent, she could not help fom overhearing the conversation.

“Of course,” Hava said. “God forbid. But why did he go back to Morasha?”

Tevye had ridden off to Morasha with Elisha to make sure the guard they had left there was doing his job. He wasn’t. They found him lying in a puddle of blood with a bullet in his back. Shocked, they stared in silent wonder at the destruction they saw all around them. All of the houses had been burned down to the ground. All of the livestock and tools had been stolen. The vegetables and flowers in Shmuelik’s beloved garden lay trampled and uprooted. The Torah ark was smashed into pieces. Luckily, the settlers had taken the sacred scroll with them when they had left. Tevye and Elisha gazed at the devastation. The settlement of Morasha had vanished, as if the earth had swallowed it up.

“At least,” Tevye said, “There is one consolation.”

“What is that?” the Yemenite asked.

“They stole the animals too.”

His friend looked at him with a puzzled expression.

“The animals were diseased,” Tevye said. “Hopefully, the murderers and thieves will be too.”

         

Hava’s wedding was held on a chilly, moonlit evening in the Hebrew month of Shevat. Festive torchlights were lit in one of the orchards where the ceremony was to be held. The chuppah was ready and waiting. Everyone in the settlement turned out to welcome Rabbi Kook, who had journeyed all the way from Jaffa to officiate at the marriage. Crowned by a fur shtreimel which accentuated his regal appearance, the heralded Chief Rabbi took the time to exchange a greeting with each and every guest. As much as the settlers loved Rabbi Kook, he loved them for their devotion to building the land. More than that – he loved them simply because they were Jews. And had they been gentiles, he would have loved them just the same. Everyone whom God had created, Rabbi Kook loved. Once, he had confided to Nachman, that even people who fell into sin were deserving of love. Certainly not for the evil they did, but for whatever small good, because they too had been formed in God’s image.

How ironic life could be, Tevye thought! The scandal that had been his greatest shame was now the cause of his greatest honor. Taking his daughter’s hand, he led her to the wedding canopy, accompanied by the distinguished Rabbi. What an honor of honors it was for Tevye to stand beside the revered Rabbi Kook as he chanted the blessing over the wine and read out the formal wedding Ketubah agreement. The traditional wedding glass was broken, recalling the destruction of Jerusalem and how the joy of the bride and the groom couldn’t be complete until the Holy City was restored. With a cheer from the crowd, Issac became Hava’s one-hundred-percent kosher husband.

The festive wedding meal was held in the Zichron Yaacov community hall. Wine was plentiful, and the dancing was joyous. Tevye was in exceptionally high spirits, fulfilling, with great gusto, the mitzvah of rejoicing with the newlyweds. Hillel played his accordion alongside a clarinet player and a Hasid with a fiddle. The wedding guests danced and danced. A group of Russian Jews balanced bottles of wine on their heads, entertaining the chatan and kallah. Not to be upstaged, Elisha’s sons Ariel and Yehuda folded up newspapers into cones, lighted them with matches, and balanced the flaming torches on the tips of their noses – an act which drew enthusiastic applause from the crowd.

The groom hugged Tevye and called him father. Laughing, Tevye dragged Hava’s husband over to meet the Yemenite side of the family. If Tevye was Issac’s father, that made Elisha a grandfather of sorts to the groom! Could better proof be found that the Almighty was gathering His exiled children from the four corners of the earth? In the joy of the great celebration, all of the winter’s sorrow was gladly put aside, as King Solomon had said, there was “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” There was enough sadness and tragedy in the life of a Jew. When an occasion of happiness fell out from the sky, a man had to seize it.

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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