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July 3, 2015 / 16 Tammuz, 5775
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Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter Twenty-Six: Tevye Takes a Wife

Tevye.500

“For the sake of your daughter,” Tevye said.

“What are you babbling about?” the Yemenite asked.

“A dream,” Tevye said in wild excitement. “A dream. The same dream came to me every night for a week – a sign that it’s true. My wife, Golda, you never met her. She came to me with a warning.”

“Tevye, your wife Golda is dead.”

“Dead? My wife Golda? You must be mistaken.”

“Didn’t you tell me you buried her in Rishon LeZion?”

“I thought that I did. But it must have been somebody else. My wife Golda returns every night. You don’t know her. What a revengeful woman she is. What a temper. Her jealousy reaches the sky. Believe me, she is planning to kill your daughter. Each night she appears with her knife. One day when I will be out in the fields, she will suddenly appear and slice your daughter to pieces.”

“Tevye, have you been drinking?” the bride’s father asked.

“Not a drop,” Tevye answered, raising his hand in an oath.

“Then you surely have fever.”

“I am as healthy and coherent as a person can be. For your own sake, I’m warning you. The wedding must be canceled. If you truly love your daughter, then save her.”

Elisha stared at his friend. Something really was the matter. Tevye’s hairs stuck out wildly from his kippah as if he had been truly frightened by a ghost. Indeed, a wise expression taught, “When there is a wedding, expect the Satan to arrive with the guests.” To prevent two souls from uniting in holy matrimony, the forces of evil exert all of their power to interfere.

“What about Abdul Abdulla?” Elisha asked.

“What about him?” Tevye responded.

“When he hears that you haven’t married my daughter, he will insist you marry his. And if you don’t, he will bring all of his soldiers, with all of the surrounding Arab villages, to war against us. He vowed to me, just as you and I are standing here now, that if you bring disgrace upon him and his daughter, he will slaughter all of the Jews in the region.”

“Slaughter all of the Jews?” Tevye asked.

“Those were his words. Believe me. I grew up among Arabs. When their pride is offended, they become savage beasts. I am sorry, Tevye, but to save all of our women and children, you will have to marry my daughter.”

What was Tevye to do? Certainly, it was better to have Golda curse him forever, rather than endanger all of the Jews. Elisha put a hand on his shoulder.

“Come my good friend,” he said. “Let’s go to the synagogue together. I remember, before my own wedding, my father-in-law took me with him to the synagogue to learn. He said that in a place where there is a Torah scroll and learning, demons weren’t allowed to enter. We will sit and study together just as God commanded Moses at Sinai. Time passes and a man comes to forget the many laws which govern a husband’s life with his wife. It’s time for a review. You will see that the blessing of learning Torah will turn all of your worries to joy. If your Golda truly loves you, which I am sure she does, do you really think she wants you to spend the rest of your life in the barn? On the contrary, I assure you, of all of the guests at the wedding, your Golda will be the most pleased.”

Tevye let the Yemenite lead him to the synagogue. How strange, he thought. This man, his very own age, was going to be his father-in-law, and Tevye, who already had grandchildren, was going to be his son.

As it turned out, Elisha was right. Golda was the happiest guest at the wedding. She stood at Tevye’s side under the canopied chuppah, beaming with pride, like a mother at the marriage of her son. Later, Hodel, who had arrived from Shoshana to be with her family for the wedding, confided to her father that she had noticed her too. Golda was even dressed for the occasion, wearing the same white gown which she had knitted for the wedding of Tzeitl and Motel. Her beauty was only surpassed by the bride’s. Carmel was adorned in the traditional Yemenite wedding gown and towering flower headset. Seeing how Golda smiled at her, Tevye let out a breath of relief. A grin spread across his serious expression, as wide as the crossing which God had made in the Red Sea for the Jews. Nachman recited the Ketubah wedding contract out loud and chanted the nuptial blessings. The bride blushed, Tevye stepped on the traditional glass, Hillel played on his accordion, “If I not set Jerusalem above my greatest joy,” and, miracle of miracles, Tevye, the milkman from Anatevka, had a stunning new Yemenite wife.

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." A wide selection of his books are available at Amazon.


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