The study hall was filled with Hasidim dressed in the long black frocks and fur hats common to the pious Jews of Anatevka. Many wore prayer shawls and tefillin. For a moment, Tevye felt like he had stepped into a yeshiva in Russia. Talmudic volumes, their covers torn from use, filled the shelves along the walls. An elaborately carved ark, the aron hakodesh, holding the Torah, stood in the south of the study hall so that prayers would be directed toward Jerusalem. The Hasid sat Tevye and Moishe in chairs by a large metal stove. The heat from its fire rose around them, removing the chill from their bones. Within a minute, cups of hot tea were brought to the visitors.
Tevye watched in happy wonder as Moishe took the cup in his
hands. The youth sipped at the warm, fragrant brew and smiled.
“Drink my child,” Tevye told him, amazed at the improvement he saw.
Every second, the boy seemed to get stronger. For the first time in days, color returned to his cheeks. A plate of biscuits and small pastries was set before them.
“Es,” Tevye said, handing the boy a sweet-smelling cake. “Eat some cake.
Moishe ate the tasty morsel with relish. Joyfully, his grandfather held out another.
“I want to go pray,” Moishe said.
They were the first words the child had spoken in days.
“Eat another piece of cake.”
“Later,” Moishe said, standing up.
“Are you sure you have the strength?” his grandfather asked.
“Hashem will give me the strength,” the boy said.
To Tevye’s surprise, the boy didn’t stand up to pray in the yeshiva. He walked to the door and hurried outside. Like a deer, Moishe ran down the hillside path which led to the cemetery. Tevye watched in amazement. Chills shook his body, not from the cold, but from the miracle he was witnessing. As if the boy had lived in the city of Safed for a lifetime, he ran straight to the grave of the holy Ari. Praying, his little body swayed back and forth like the Hasidic Jews beside him. Tevye looked up to the sky and said thank you. With joy in his heart, he walked down the dirt path to join his grandson in prayer at the grave of the holy Tzaddik. To the beleaguered milkman, it was a sign that God was still with him.