web analytics
December 25, 2014 / 3 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter Thirty: Waters of Eden


Cover of Tevye in the Promised Land by Tzvi Fishman.

Reaching the city was like entering another world. For one thing, Tevye did not see anyone who wasn’t Jewish. Ever since the time of the Second Temple, for nearly two-thousand years, Jews had lived in the ancient, mountain refuge. The roadway had never been smoothed, as if no one cared about physical comfort. Buildings were interspersed with crumbling ruins. A series of devastating earthquakes had left rubble everywhere. A legend claimed that the disasters had happened because of the awesome power of the Kabbalists’ prayers. The houses still standing were built out of large blocks of stone. The Jews who passed by on the roadside had long, untrimmed beards and burning mystical eyes. They darted swiftly down narrow alleyways, their eyes on the ground, their thoughts up in Heaven. Most of them lived on charity sent by Jews overseas. They spent their days fasting, engrossed in study and fervent prayer. When Tevye asked the way to the famous mikvah, they all pointed in a direction away from the town, down the sloping hillside.

The steepness of the descent was frightening. Tevye’s horse balked. At the outskirts of the old, picturesque village, the road ended and the wagon ride came to a halt. Tevye took the towels which Hava had packed with the food, and an extra blanket to make sure that Moishe didnt catch cold. A narrow dirt path led down to the ancient mountainside cemetery of Safed. Many of the tombstones were cracked. Though the earthquakes had made ruins of the city, the cemetery itself has been spared. A group of Hasidim stood reading Psalms around the gravesite where the Ari was buried. Day and night, supplicants prayed at the grave of the famous Kabbalist. Candles burned on the monument. A short distance away was the grave of Rabbi Yosef Caro, author of the Shulchan Aruch, the codified volumes of Jewish Law. Further down the hill was the tomb of the Prophet Hosea, and the cave where the martyred Hannah was buried with her eight slaughtered sons.

A serene, holy stillness hung over the hillside. Even Bat Sheva, who was normally skeptic, could sense the mystical pull of the site. She walked beside her father, not saying a word. Moishe opened his eyes and stared at the cemetery. Only God knew what the small boy was thinking.

“That must be the mikvah,” Tevye said, pointing to the mouth of a cave, where a Hasid was standing.

“I’ll wait for you here,” Bat Sheva said.

“There’s a woman in the cemetery,” her father said, “Go pray by her side.”

Embarrassed, Bat Sheva hesitated. She stood awed, feeling that all of the holy Rabbis were gazing at her from their graves. She was filled with shame, as if her lapses in keeping the Torah made her unworthy to pray in so sacred a place.

Carrying the boy in his arms, Tevye descended toward the cave. Its entrance was a narrow archway of rock. Inside, candles burning on a ledge lit the darkness. The walls were all solid stone, as if the cave had been carved out of a gigantic boulder. Deeper into the cave, an underground stream flowed into a small natural pool. The shadowy figure of the Hasid appeared behind them. Without questioning Tevye, he wished the boy a speedy recovery and asked if he could help. Tevye let him hold Moishe as he quickly undressed. The cold rocky floor sent chills through his body. In the flicker of the candlelight, the boy’s big eyes stared questioningly up at his grandfather.

“Don’t worry, my tateleh,” ‘Tevye said. “You are going to get better, I promise.”

He stripped the boy bare and scooped him up in his arms. Careful not to slip on the wet, rocky slate, Tevye inched toward the mikvah. He knew the mountain water was bound to be cold, but when his foot descended the first stone step into the pool, he felt as if he had submerged it into an ice-covered pond.  Why prolong the agony, he thought? With a gasp, he rushed forward and leaped into the freezing pool. He carried Moishe down with him under the water, then let him go for the briefest of moments so that the boy would be completely immersed in the pool. Then with a shivering roar, he burst out of the water and lunged for the steps. The Hasid reached down and swept the boy into a towel. Tevye’s teeth chattered as he hoisted himself back up to the floor of the cave. They dried and dressed the boy quickly, then bundled him up in the blanket which his grandfather had brought. The Hasid said that Tevye could bring the boy to the yeshiva up the hill, to warm him by the stove. Tevye readily accepted the offer. Quickly, so that Moishe wouldn’t catch a cold, he followed the black-garbed Jew up the steep path. Outside the yeshiva, the Hasid stopped in a narrow alley and knocked on a door. An old, kerchiefed woman appeared. After a moment’s explanation, Bat Sheva was invited inside while her father took Moishe into the wooden building which housed the yeshiva.

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


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter Thirty: Waters of Eden”

  1. Recia Ray says:

    a very good writ!! lol….enjoyed it…

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Naftali Bennett, chairman of the Jewish Home party.
Bayit Yehudi Finally Has the Education Ministry (Until Elections)
Latest Sections Stories
Schonfeld-logo1

When someone with a fixed mindset has a negative interaction with a friend or loved one, he or she immediately projects that rejection onto him or herself saying: “I’m unlovable.”

Respler-121914

How many potential shidduchim are not coming about because we, the mothers, are not allowing them to go through?

Is the Torah offering nechama by subtly hinting that death brings reunion with loved ones who preceded you?

She approached Holofernes and, with a sword concealed under her robe, severed his head.

Here are examples of games that need to be played by more than one person and an added bonus: they’re all Shabbos-friendly.

The incident was completely unforeseeable. The only term to describe the set of circumstances surrounding it is “freak occurrence.”

The first Chabad Center in Broward County, Chabad of South Broward, now runs nearly fifty programs and agencies. T

The NHS was also honored to have Bob Diener as keynote speaker.

Written with flowing language and engaging style, Attar weaves a spell that combines mystery, humor, adventure and Kabbalah in the most magical place in the world, the Old City of erusalem.

There are those who highlight the diversity of these different teachings, seeing each rebbe as teaching a separate path.

Rav Dynovisz will be speaking in Hebrew on Wednesday, January 7, at 7:30 p.m.

Rabbi Simeon Schreiber, senior chaplain at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, saw a small room in the hospital that was dark and dismal but could be used for Sabbath guests.

More Articles from Tzvi Fishman

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/books/the-book-shelf/tevye-in-the-promised-land-books/tevye-in-the-promised-land-chapter-thirty-waters-of-eden/2013/03/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: