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November 22, 2014 / 29 Heshvan, 5775
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Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter Thirty-Nine: Winds of War

Friday, May 17th, 2013

Word arrived that boatloads of new Jewish immigrants from Russia were arriving in Jaffa. Rumors spread that a wave of bloody pogroms were causing thousands of Jews to flee from their homes. Every settler was anxious to learn which villages had been attacked. Everyone had friends and relatives in Russia, and, of course, all of the settlers were worried about their fate. Not only was the Czar’s empire in turmoil, all of Europe was quaking in the throes of a cataclysmic war. As if overnight, enlightened, “civilized” Germany had become a raging, bloodthirsty beast. At least for the moment, the remote Turkish province of Palestine was far away from the conflict.

More often than not, the Turkish authorities refused to grant permission to allow the boatloads of immigrants to disembark. Many Jews had to sail back to Russia or Italy. Others journeyed on to Egypt. The fortunate and the brave either swam, or were secretly ferried ashore along the desolate Mediterranean coastline. Among the Jews who received legal papers, and among those who didn’t, a trickle found their way to Olat HaShachar.

With all of the building on the settlement, and with the success of their first two harvests, a decision had to be made. To keep up with the rate of development and expansion, more workers were needed. If the pioneers of Olat HaShachar truly wanted to conquer the land, they first had to conquer the workload. Presently there were not enough hands. Acres and acres of farmable land lay untouched. Sand dunes waited to be leveled and turned into vineyards. Barren wasteland waited to be transformed into pastures. The possibilities for growth were endless, but many more workers were needed.

One afternoon, a group of thirty young Jews marched into the colony. None had beards, and many didn’t even wear caps. Their backpacks were filled with apples, bread, blankets, and coconut oil, which some used for cooking and others for protecting their skin in the sun. They were led by a distinguished gentleman named Dr. Arthur Ruppin. He explained that the new immigrants had all joined his workers’ union, which he fittingly called “The Workers of Zion.” The goal of the movement was to unite all of the Jewish labor in Palestine, secure favorable terms for the workers, and thus make the Jews of the land independent, without having to depend on Arab labor to survive. Ruppin told Shimon, Tevye, Elisha, and a crowd of curious settlers, that the worker’s union was willing to hire out the laborers to the colony for minimal wages and board.

While the veteran pioneers gathered around the new immigrants to learn what was happening in Russia, Shimon took Tevye and a small group of other settlement leaders aside.

“This is a godsend,” Shimon said. “We’ve been desperate for workers for months.”

“Now we can get rid of the Arabs we hired to work in the fields,” Elisha added.

“Hiring these Jews will surely cost us much more,” Baruch said. He was Shimon’s right-hand man, in charge of the administration of the colony.

“Not according to this Ruppin,” Shimon answered.

“It’s too good to be true,” Tevye said.

The others all turned to him.

“What do you mean?” Shimon said.

“I thank the good Lord for every Jew who steps foot in the Land of Israel. But, I am sorry to say, I don’t see any rabbis among them.”

“Tevye’s right,” Sharagi agreed. “Do we want so many free-thinkers living in Olat HaShachar? They nearly outnumber us.”

“They will only be hired workers,” Shimon answered. “They won’t have a say in how we run the yishuv, nor a vote in our general assemblies.”

“Even if they don’t have a vote, their presence is sure to be a dangerous influence,” Tevye said. “I’ve raised seven daughters, and I know the pitfalls of exposing young minds to their godless ideas. Thank the good Lord, all of my daughters are married, but there are others who could be courting disaster.”

The others were momentarily silent. Elisha realized the reality of the problem. He still had three unmarried daughters and half a minyan of young, impressionable sons. Everyone turned toward Nachman.

“First we have to look at the new arrivals as our beloved Jewish brothers,” he said. “Their desire to join us in rebuilding our land is a wonderful thing. By being here, they will be exposed to the treasures of Judaism and the beauty of the Torah. As the great Sage, Hillel, taught us – we should be like the disciples of Aharon, loving our brethren and bringing them closer to Torah. At the same time, we have to be careful to put a guarding fence around our sacred beliefs, as Reb Tevye has rightly observed.”

Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter Thirty-Eight: A Love Song for Hodel

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Months passed. Yankele and his family boarded a freighter and headed back to Russia. Guttmacher’s brother either never received, or didn’t bother to answer the letter Tevye had written to him, so Guttmacher’s two orphaned children became permanent fixtures in Tevye’s home. Another addition to the family also arrived. Ruchel and Nachman had a baby – a princess of a girl whom they named Sarah Tzeitl.

Buildings continued to sprout up in the Olat HaShachar colony. The dry beds of the swamp land were plowed. Crops were planted, wheat, barley, maize, and rye. Looking out from the hilltop synagogue, fields and vegetable gardens decorated the landscape like a colorful patchwork quilt. Wagon loads of water melons, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, cabbage, beets, and onions were shipped off to the Jaffa market. Citrus trees were planted, but the religious law of orlah, one of the agricultural laws which God had commanded the Jews to obey in the Holy Land, forbade the settlers from eating the fruit for the first three years of its growth. Laws requiring that gleanings and the corner of fields be left for the poor were also strictly observed, as well as the rules governing mixed plantings and tithes. Nachman, who had spent several days in Jaffa studying the agricultural laws with Rabbi Kook, was appointed to oversee their enforcement on the yishuv.

As if it were another law of the land, Arab marauders made periodic raids on the colony, stealing whatever they could lift or uproot. When two bulls were stolen, the settlers began chaining the legs of their livestock at night, but the measure didn’t foil the Arabs. Instead of leading the bulls away, they chopped them up with machetes and hauled them away in pieces. Once again, the Jews complained to the local Turkish officials, but nothing was done to apprehend the offenders. Past experience had taught Tevye that only a decisive response by the Jews would discourage the Arabs from further encroachments. His motion to organize an ambush was accepted. For a week, the Jews hid at night in the small forest of eucalyptus trees which had been planted to dry up the swamp. On the sixth night, a group of armed Arabs snuck out of the sand dunes bordering the colony. Silently, they darted through the darkness toward the barn. With a roar, Tevye rose to his feet and charged forward. Like a platoon following its commander, the other Jews raced out from their hiding places. Their shouts startled the Arabs. Only four of the settlers had rifles, but the roar of their gunfire terrified the thieves. Dropping their weapons, they ran to their horses and fled. Though none of the marauders had been wounded, the Arabs learned a lesson. Half a year passed without a further incident of trespassing or theft.

For the time being, life was a pleasure. A long stretch of spectacular weather arrived. Work progressed in leaps and bounds. At the end of the day, Tevye collapsed into bed in happy exhaustion. He felt that his sins, as well as the sins of the land, had been granted atonement. New life sprouted up everywhere. In his heart, in his house, and in the once desolate fields. Like the fruit of the sabra cactus which grew wild in the hills, the land was thorny and hard on the outside, but sweet and juicy within. As if overnight, wherever the eye looked, instead of swamp and sand, blossoming gardens and orchards covered the landscape.

“Blee ayin hara,” his wife Cannel said.

Anytime Tevye would praise their good fortune, his wife would whisper, “Blee ayin hara,” hoping that the evil eye would not cast its glance on them. It was an expression she had learned from her father. In this world, a man could never be certain what lay ahead. He could never take credit for his achievement and success, believing that his own wisdom and strength had brought him his good fortune. Everything was a blessing from God, and a man had to keep his head humbly bowed and always give thanks to his Maker.

At least for the moment, Tevye’s heart was at peace. As the Rabbis said, why should a man look out for a storm on a clear, sunny day? Or maybe Tevye had said that. Sometimes he couldn’t remember which words of wisdom the Rabbis had written, and which expressions he had coined on his own. Be that as it may, the only small worry that Tevye had was his unmarried daughter.

Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter Thirty-Seven: A Son at Last!

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

“I think it’s coming,” Carmel said. Tevye opened his eyes. As far as he could tell, it was the middle of the night.

“What’s coming?” he sleepily asked.

“The baby.”

“Go back to sleep,” he said, rolling over onto his side. Tevye was no great scholar, but he was knowledgeable about two things in life — cows and babies. After all, he had fathered seven daughters. And with Golda, it was always the same hysterical false alarms until the real moment arrived. Tevye knew from experience that the birth of the baby could he hours away. Even days.

“Tevye. . .Tevye,” Carmel called in the dark.

Tevye grumbled. The next moment he was snoring.

“Tevye,” Carmel called urgently, poking her husband in the back. “Are you ready to be the midwife?”

Tevye stirred and sat up in bed.

“Midwife? What midwife?”

“I need a midwife, Tevye. I’m having the baby.”

“You’re having the baby?” Tevye asked, still groggy from sleep. He reached over to the table, found the matches, and lit a candle. On the other side of the tent, Guttmacher’s two children were sleeping. Carmel’s eyes were wide with a mixture of fear and wonder. Her forehead was sweating.

“You have contractions?” he asked.

She shook her head yes.

“For how long?”

“For hours,” she said, biting her lip as another painful contraction seized a hold of her hips.

“Why didn’t you wake me?” he asked.

“I tried to. Three times.”

Tevye attempted to think clearly. If that were the case, his wife was liable to give birth to the baby right then and there in his lap. Wasn’t it written that the Hebrew women in Egypt gave birth in a lively fashion before the midwives would arrive? Maybe his Yemenite wife was like them. He stood up and thought about what he should do. In Anatevka, he would go and get Shendel, the midwife. But who knew where Shendel was now?

“Whom should I call?” he asked his wife as he hurriedly pulled on his trousers.

“My mother,” she answered.

“Your mother is a midwife?”

“All Yemenite women are midwives.”

“All of them?”

“Well, maybe not all of them, but most of them. Will you please hurry and call her before the baby comes out!”

“My shoes,” he said. “Where are my shoes?”

“Outside the tent,” his wife answered. Her back arched in pain and she let out a long anguished sigh. She clutched the bed with both hands and whimpered. Sweat shone on her forehead.

“Hurry!” she whispered. “But first check your shoes for scorpions.”

“What a saint,” Tevye thought. His wife worried about him, even when she was in the middle of labor. Quickly, Tevye hurried out of the tent. He didn’t bother to put on his shoes. He ran straight to the tent of Elisha.

To make a long story short, as the great writer, Sholom Aleicheim, would say, Carmel gave birth to a boy! When the moaning and groaning were over, Tevye had been blessed with a son! After seven daughters, a male child was born to Tevye, the son of Schneur Zalman! In the middle of the night, the whole settlement turned out to wish the proud father mazal tovs and L’chaims! While Carmel embraced her precious baby in the tent, Tevye danced outside. Everyone shared his great joy. Hillel was so happy, he played his accordion, stamped his feet, and blew into his harmonica, all at the very same time. Liquor and refreshments arrived as if by magic. Everyone joined in the party.

In the middle of the dancing, Tevye felt he had to make sure that this happiness wasn’t a dream. He simply couldn’t believe his good fortune. After so much hardship and sorrow, how could there be such great joy? He hurried to his tent and demanded to see the baby. The crowd of women made way. Pushing the cloth diaper aside, the father took a glimpse to be certain. There was no doubt about it. The good Lord had blessed Tevye with a boy! Holding his newborn son triumphantly up in one hand like a freshly baked loaf of challah, Tevye carried the bundle toward the door of the tent.

Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter Thirty-Six: Tevye the Builder

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

As weeks passed, Tevye felt more and more invincible. An inner transformation was taking place which he himself couldn’t explain, as if a new soul had entered his body. He felt like he was not only Tevye, but someonc much greater, as if the spirits of Goliath and Shmuelik, Bat Sheva and Golda, Tzeitl and Guttmacher, along with the heroes of history, had all become a part of his being. The strength of generations impelled him forward in his tasks. He was tireless in his labor. In addition to draining the swamps, he dug ditches throughout the night. When a wave of hot desert winds made work in the swamps too dangerous, he plowed fields and planted, sawed wooden planks and hammered the foundations of buildings. Unable to sleep more than a few hours a night, he did double shifts of guard duty, chased away snooping Arabs, and greeted the sunrise, wrapped in tallit and teffilin. Instead of mourning, he worked and he built. On the Sabbath, he rested, just as God had commanded. But come Motzei Shabbos, with the appearance of the first three stars in the sky, Tevye rushed back to his labor.

Busy with the endless work on the settlement, Tevye fought off moments of doubt and philosophical reflections. He knew that thinking too much could get a man into trouble. Why the Almighty did what He did was something no human could grasp. Nothing could be gained by complaining. It was God’s world to run things the way He saw fit. It was a mortal man’s duty to accept his fate in contentment and song. As Nachman always reminded them, that was man’s task and trial on earth, to trust in the Lord, in good times and bad, whether we understood God’s mysteries or not.

Which isn’t to say that Tevye turned into a saint. Many times he was angry. And often, there was more fury than joy in his work. And he was still wont to turn a questioning eye up to Heaven, and occasionally, even to sneer. But, for the most part, he kept his lips sealed. If anything, he shared a private battle with God. Like a boxer dizzy with blows, he was determined not to fall down. And if he fell down, he was determined to get back on his feet. He wouldn’t be beaten. His faith wouldn’t die. His body could ache and become food for mosquitoes, but his soul couldn’t be touched by a swamp. Where once he had been cautious, now he didn’t feel any fear. Tevye wasn’t worried about meeting the Angel of Death. “Come and take me!” he roared.

Like the Jewish People, he would live on forever. Tevye’s revenge was his work. He became an example for everyone. Summer arrived, bringing along hot, sandy winds from the desert. There were days a man couldn’t open his eyes without being blinded. While the settlers sought shelter in their tents, Tevye stood in the swamp, his eyes tightly closed, scooping buckets of water out of the swamp. The heat was scorching. There were no cool drinks to quench the nagging thirst, no ice, no shade, no air to breath in the oppressively humid lowlands. Even the ocean was warm. And nights were so still, no relief from the merciless desert sharav could be found, even by sleeping outside of their airless tents.

Still, work in the swamp continued. If not by the settlers, by the fiery rays of the sun. As if the Lord was pitching in some help of His own, the swamps began to evaporate and dry. By late August, the canal to the sea approached completion. Only a pipe-length section remained. When that last piece was set into place, the remaining swamp water would be drained off into the ocean. Only one small obstacle stood in the way. The pipe had to be laid in the most dangerous part of the swamp, where the mosquitoes had built their main encampment. Whoever connected together the last two sections was sure to be eaten alive. Descending into the nest of mosquitoes meant almost certain death. A general meeting was called which everyone had to attend. Lots were to be drawn to determine the unlucky hero.

Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter Thirty-Five: A Thousand Tevyes

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

The day after Tevye’s rescue, he stayed in bed with a chill. His face and his hands were so swollen with mosquito bites, he barely looked like himself. Feeling too queasy to eat, he sipped on tea and quinine. As if expecting the worst, visitors stopped by all the day long to pay their respects. Carmel stood guard by her husband, making sure the guests didn’t linger too long and weaken his strength. Several times, he dozed off to sleep but awoke in a sweat, gasping from the same terrifying image — the head of the heroic mule sticking out of the swamp. Fearing that the creature would appear everytime he closed his eyes, Tevye preferred not to sleep. The following evening, he mustered enough strength to sit down with guests for a holiday meal. It was the last day of Passover, and Tevye filled up his silver goblet for the traditional Kiddush. True, he had vowed to give up drinking, but Kiddush couldn’t be called drinking. The blessing over the wine was a mitzvah, and he certainly hadn’t vowed to give up any mitzvah! With relish, he gulped down the sweet, pungent wine.

Thankfully, his chill went away. The malaria which everyone feared, never developed. After all, what sense did it make to save a man from the swamp, just to have him drop dead in his tent? No, you could be sure that God had some greater destiny in store for old Tevye.

When the holiday ended, Tevye joined the other settlers back at work in the swamp. With a new fearlessness, he reached out for the buckets of swamp water. If his night in the bog hadn’t killed him, his work during the day wouldn’t either. After all, he had received enough bites to be immune from malaria for life.

The work of draining the insect-filled swamps progressed with a frustrating slowness. But as weeks went by, the settlers could see that they were winning the battle. Little by little, the water marks on the reeds sticking out of the swamp began to descend. Slowly, slowly, the water level receded. Bucket after bucket passed from hand to hand in a constant rhythmic motion. Thousands and thousands of buckets were dumped into pits in the sand. Wagons arrived filled with tall eucalyptus trees, which cost the colony as much money as they had paid to buy the land. Planted in the swamps, their roots sucked up water like hoses.

Teams of diggers toiled day and night on the canal which was to drain swamp water off to the sea. Pipes were laid in the ditches, and the stagnant, deadly, marsh water began to trickle and flow.

Just when victory seemed within reach and a spirit of hope filled their labor, tragedy struck. Tevye was passing a bucket to Esther, the carpenter’s eldest daughter, when he saw Guttmacher swoon in the middle of the swamp and fall limply into the water. Quickly, Ariel grabbed him and pulled him out of the marsh to the shore. The undertaker was shivering. His eyes were red, his face yellow with fever.

“Let’s get him into a wagon, quickly!” Tevye called.

Immediately, Ariel ran for his wagon. Tevye bent down and grasped his friend’s hand. Though it was the middle of the day, with the sun high in the sky, the undertaker’s body was shaking. Bat Sheva handed a canteen to her father. He raised it to Guttmacher’s lips, but he was too ill to drink. The water spilled over his mouth.

“Where’s my wife? Where’s my wife?” the sick man deliriously asked.

Tevye trembled, recalling the black, stormy day when they had buried Guttmacher’s wife. Sand flew into the air as Ariel arrived with the wagon. By nightfall, Tevye reasoned, they could be in Zichron Yaacov. Though only a small number of the infirmary’s patients walked out alive, there was always a chance. The workers helped Ariel lift Guttmacher onto the wagon. For a moment, his eyes seemed to clear. He clung onto Tevye’s sleeve.

“Tevye, why bother?” he asked. “Bury me here.”

“You’re not going to die,” Tevye answered. “You can’t. You’re the only undertaker we have.”

Guttmacher smiled. Then his eyes closed and he drifted off to sleep. A half hour into the journey, he regained consciousness. He gazed up at Tevye and said, “I have a brother who lives in Minsk. He can take care of my children.”

Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter Thirty-Four: Fear No Evil

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

When the festival of Pesach arrived, all work on the new settlement came to a halt in order to get ready for the Passover holiday. Tents had to be searched for chametz, and matzot had to be baked. As Tevye confided to Guttmacher, at least one thing about their new life in Olat HaShachar was easier than it had been in Russia.

“What’s that?” the undertaker asked.

“Searching for chametz.”

Guttmacher laughed. It was true. Their tents hardly had any furniture. Within minutes, all pieces of leaven and bread crumbs could be swept from the house. There were no sofas to move, no cabinets and dressers to clean, nor kitchens to scrub. But just the same, since the Master of the Universe had commanded them to remove all traces of leaven from the house during the seven day Passover holiday, they searched diligently just as Jews had been doing since the exodus from Egypt three-thousand years before. Tevye got down on his knees with a candle and feather to peer under the folds of the tent for crumbs. And sure enough, his love for the mitzvah was quickly rewarded. He didn’t find any traces of cake or bread, but he did find two curly-tailed scorpions whose sting was known to be deadly.

When it came to baking the matzot, the industrious scene could have passed for Anatevka. A special oven for baking the thin unleavened bread was made out of brick. Water from a nearby well had been stored overnight so that it would be cool at the time of the kneading, to be sure that the flour wouldn’t leaven. When the baking began, the men pounded the flour paste on top of tables and kneaded it without stopping until each batch of dough was ready. Once the flour and water were mixed, and the dough was flattened and slid into the oven, if more than eighteen minutes had passed, it had to be burned or fed to the animals before the holiday in fear that it had already leavened. Nachman was given the honor of separating the priest’s due, or challah, a mitzvah which was done only in Eretz Yisrael. Tevye, who was in charge of the kneading, made sure his workers kept shouting out, “L’sham matzah mitzvah-for the sake of the commandment of matzah.” By the middle of the frantic baking, everyone was sweating. The workers burst out in a spontaneous song.

“Just as God gathered us out from Egypt, he will gather us from the four corners of the earth!”

Surely, a Turkish passerby would have thought the Jews were crazy. What normal man became so ecstatic about baking such poor-looking bread? No outsider could ever understand the great secret of their joy. The joy of doing God’s will. The joy in knowing that the words which they were singing were sure to come true.

Shimon wanted the pioneer chalutzim to keep working during the intermediary days of the seven-day holiday. He maintained the commandment of settling the Land of Israel took pecedence the prohibition of working on Chol HaMoed, the intermediary days of the holiday, if the work was vital to the success of the yishuv. Of course, this ruling brought groans from the settlers, who were tired of the swamps, the ditch digging, and the planting of eucalyptus trees. Pesach was Pesach. In Russia, they hadn’t worked during the seven-day holiday. Why should they here? Nachman was prepared to side with Shimon, reasoning that the work of draining the swamps could save lives, and this justified working on the festival.

“Going into the swamps is what kills people,” Tevye argued, “not staying out of them.”

While his point was well-taken, it wasn’t completely correct. Dozens of settlers had fallen victim to yellow fever and malaria without actually descending into the swamps. Since the Morasha settlers had arrived, the swamps had claimed two further victims among the “Lovers of Zion.” A father and son who were working in the fields near the marshes at the other side of the settlement had come down with the fever and died. The disease-carrying mosquitoes could fly wherever they wished, making the whole vicinity a hazard. But since the overwhelming majority of settlers were in favor of rest, a vacation from work was declared. The mosquitoes could wait. Passover was the festival of freedom, and people were happy for a chance to forget about the dangerous labor of draining the swamps.

Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter Thirty-Two: A Letter From America

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

          One late afternoon when Tevye returned to his tent after a back-breaking day in the winery, a letter was waiting from Baylke. Sure enough, she had been in touch with Golda’s distant cousin in Chicago, and he had forwarded Tevye’s letter to her in New York. She had been thrilled to hear from her family, and hoped that more letters were in the mail. She wrote that the news of their safe arrival in Palestine had quieted a nagging fear in her heart that perhaps, like so many others, they had been caught in the bloody persecutions in Russia. She was happy for them, but when she read about her big sister’s death, she had fallen into a week-long depression. The blades of grass from the Land of Israel which her father had stuffed into the envelope had brought tears to her eyes. She reported that neighbors came by their flat throughout the day to see the holy blades and to hold them in their hands. Though the letter had taken months to arrive, Baylke said that the grass had remained a deep shade of green.           “A miracle!” a friend of hers had exclaimed in the sweater factory where she worked.

Baylke wrote that they were doing wonderfully. At first, they had shared a flat with another family, but now they had their own large apartment. Her husband, Pedhotzer, had found work in a bank, and it hadn’t taken long before the management had recognized his outstanding business savvy and talents. He was now a manager in the loan department, and as soon as he mastered English, Baylke was sure that he would be promoted to an even higher position. Of course, his goal was to start a business of his own, and his work at the bank was only temporary in order to learn the ins-and-outs of American enterprise.

America, she confirmed, was truly a land of gold and fortune. Though dollars didn’t grow on trees, with hard work a man could become a millionaire. They had met people who had arrived in New York with nothing, and who now owned Manhattan hotels, theaters, dress factories, and jewelry stores on Fifth Avenue. It wouldn’t be long, she wrote, until they had a luxurious apartment of their own, but in the meantime, they had an extra room in their Essex Street flat, and she wanted her family to come.

The city of New York, Baylke wrote, was like a dream. Its buildings reached up to heaven. Kings and queens walked the streets. Cafes, restaurants, and nightclubs never closed. Stores were filled with treasures from all over the world. Everyone could own his own automobile. And a Jew didn’t have to live in a ghetto. He could be an American, like everyone else.

“That’s the end of the Jews in America,” Tevye said wryly.

“It sounds wonderful to me,” Bat Sheva argued. “Why does a Jew always have to be different? If we were like everyone else, the gentiles would stop hating us.”

“The gentiles will stop hating us when men will walk on the moon,” her father responded.

“That’s ridiculous,” Bat Sheva answered. “Men will never walk on the moon.”

“Neither will the goyim stop hating us.”

“Then again,” Tevye thought out loud, the very next day, as he was shlepping barrels of wine on his back like a donkey, “where is it written that Tevye has to be a poor shlemiel all of his life. If I had a million dollars like all of the Jews in New York, I could study, give charity, and do a long list of good deeds. I could become a great man like the Baron himself! After all, if the Almighty wanted a man to work like a mule all his life, He would have graced him with another two legs.”

Tevye carried the barrel on his shoulder from the warehouse to a wagon outside. With a groan, he let the great weight slide off his neck and roll onto the planks of the wagon. Walking back to the warehouse, he could barely stand straight. Why bother? He would only have to stoop over again to lift another barrel onto his back. But if he were in New York, there he could be a wealthy importer of wines, or the owner of a fancy restaurant, or the manager of one of his son-in-law’s hotels. True, Pedhotzer was a swine of a person, but for the sake of the family, Tevye could pretend to get along. He would move in with his daughter until he could get started on his own. With a little luck and hard work, it wouldn’t be long before Tevye could afford a mansion like everyone else.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/books/the-book-shelf/tevye-in-the-promised-land-books/tevye-in-the-promised-land-chapter-thirty-two-a-letter-from-america/2013/03/28/

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