Inside Israel 6:16 AM 12/4/2013
Middle East 4:42 AM 12/4/2013
Middle East 2:15 AM 12/4/2013
Tamar & Tovia Dynamite
Before making Aliyah to Israel, Tzvi Fishman was a Hollywood screenwriter. He has co-authored 4 books with Rabbi David Samson, based on the teachings of Rabbi Kook, Eretz Yisrael, Art of T'shuva, War and Peace, and Torat Eretz Yisrael.
Planning a summer vacation? Let’s say you have enough money to go to Israel, but for the same price you can get an extra few days in Honolulu or Paris. Where should you choose?
Of course, if you are a Jew living in Israel, you don’t have this question at all. It is halachically forbidden to leave the Land of Israel simply to go on a pleasure jaunt overseas (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 531:4). This is because the Land of Israel is holy, and the rest of the world is not. Leaving Israel adversely affects a Jew’s holiness and blemishes his worship of G-d. This is what King David meant when he said, “For they have driven me out this day from being joined to the inheritance of the L-rd, saying, Go and serve other gods” (Shmuel 1, 26:19). Certainly, King David wouldn’t engage in idol worship, but as the Talmud explains, “Any Jew who lives outside the Land of Israel is like someone who has no G-d” (Ketubot 110b). A Jew is only allowed to leave the Land of Israel to do a mitzvah. He can go to the Diaspora to visit family, find a wife, or go on a business trip to make a livelihood, but to remain there is forbidden. Once he has accomplished his mitzvah, he must return to Israel. But if his trip is just for a fun vacation, then the Diaspora is out.
But what about the strange breed of Jew that lives outside of the Land to begin with, like a fish out of water? Let’s say that due to the Roman conquest of ancient Israel, and the subsequent expulsion of the Jews, he was born in America. If he goes on a vacation to Paris or Hong Kong, he isn’t affecting his level of holiness, because his surroundings are impure to begin with wherever he is. According to Jewish Law, the Diaspora possesses the spiritual status of a grave. Some graves are known for their hot dogs, while others have the aromas of expensive perfumes. Some graves are surrounded by beautiful beaches, while others have buildings that reach up to the sky. But a grave is a grave whether it is New York or France. Whether a Jew visits Broadway or the Champs Elysses, it doesn’t make a difference. A land filled with idol worship is spiritually polluting whether the idol is worshipped in English or French. Sure, the Jew may have a grand time at the museums and theaters. And if he is religious and takes off his yarmulke for a few days, well, what’s the big sin in that? He can always wear a cap to hide the fact that he’s Jewish.
However, if a Jew from America decides to vacation in Israel, then he is doing a mitzvah. Every four steps that he takes, he earns a place in the World to Come. In contrast, a Jew can walk all across Australia, and all we will get is sore feet. Plus by spending his vacation money in Israel, the American Jew is helping the Jewish People resettle the Land. In boosting the economy of Israel by paying for hotel rooms and renting cars, he is playing an active part in Redemption. The Israel Tourist Ministry reports that for every 100,000 tourists coming to visit Israel, the country gains 9 million dollars and 4,500 permanent places of employment. One of the questions a Jew is asked by the Celestial Court when he gets to Heaven is “Did you look forward to the Redemption?” By having spent a vacation in Israel, he can answer, yes, he took a part in the rebuilding of the Jewish People in their Land. Chances are that he will also pray in a few minyans in Israel, go to the Kotel, and learn some Torah on his sightseeing trips. Each of these things infuses a Jew in Israel with a dose of spiritual adrenaline and fills the world with light. And there is a good chance that he will have a great time here too. Maybe even better than if he had decided to vacation in Honolulu. Because chances are that for the first time in his life he will feel like a genuine Jew, and not like a stranger in someone else’s land. If he is crazy for beaches, well we have beaches too. And if he loves golf, there is even a golf course in the country. True, the cuisine may be more elegant in other places, but at least in Israel there is a pretty good chance that it’s kosher. And as far as Jewish kids go, after a vacation in Israel, they usually say that they had the best time of their lives. All in all, Israel can be pretty cool.
Surveys reveal that only about 15% of Diaspora Jews have visited Israel. To me, that’s embarrassing. How can it be that G-d gave us back our homeland and so many Jews don’t come? You can say it is hard to move to a country far away, but what’s the big deal about coming for a visit? It certainly isn’t because of the money. Snorkeling in the Caribbean and enjoying a gondola ride along stinking, garbage-filled sewers costs about the same. If you sneak into their closets and pull out their suitcases, you are sure to find baggage tickets still attached to the handles, with airport stops in Puerto Rico and Venice. If Jews can visit Rome and the Vatican, why not Jerusalem?
Regarding the claim that visiting Israel is dangerous. This simply isn’t true. About two million tourists come to Israel each year. Over the last ten years, maybe a handful of them were the victims of terrorist killings. Statistically, there is more danger for a tourist in the mountains of South America, the highways of France, and the bars of Bangkok.
So this summer, when you are checking out your vacation options, be brave, be Jewish, and make the Holy Land number one on your list.
Today, the third day of Tammuz, is the yahrtzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. Perhaps more than anyone in our time, he spread the light of Judaism to Jews all over the world. Chabad Houses are located in almost every country. Chabadniks have booths in airports from Paris to Hong Kong, eager to assist a wandering Jew put on a pair of Tefillin. Come Hanukah time, Chabad menorahs are lit in every city square. The picture of the Rebbe adorns the homes of millions of Jews, reminding them of the traditions of their Forefathers.
I remember the first time I saw him, I was standing in the small prayer hall in the building next to 770 when the Rebbe entered to daven Mincha. A wave of holy energy emanated from him like a beam of light, sending me tumbling backwards into the wall. It was an amazing experience.
I remember the first time I saw him, I was standing in the small prayer hall in the building next to 770 when the Rebbe entered to daven Mincha. A wave of holy energy emanated from him like a beam of light, sending me tumbling backwards into the wall. It was an amazing experience.
In addition to his towering Yiddishkeit, the Rebbe was a great supporter of Israel. Often he warned that the surrender of territories in the Land of Israel would bring danger to all the nation. And how right he was! After Oslo, Israeli buses and Jews were blown up all over the country. After the disengagement from Gush Katif, hundreds of deadly missiles rained down on Israel’s north. And we see today what has become of Gaza – a haven for terrorists that threatens us all.
The Rebbe’s great love for Eretz Yisrael finds expression in the life of the founder of Chabad, Rebbe Schneur Zalman of Liadi, author of the “Tanya,” one of our 10 recommended books. The Ba’al HaTanya, as he is known, was imprisoned in Russia when informers accused him of treason against the state. After a thorough investigation, he was set free. In a letter to the Rebbe of Berditchev, telling him of his release, he writes: “Hashem has arranged my release by virtue of th merit of the Holy Land and its inhabitants. This is what stood by our side and will always assist us in rescuing us from the oppressor and delivering us from distress.”
Rabbi Shlomo Yisachar Teichtal explains in his book, “Eim HaBanim Semeichah,” that the Land of Israel has the power to save us though G-d’s blessing to our Forefathers, as it says, “And I will remember My covenant with Yaacov, and also My covnant with Yitzhak, and also My covenant with Avraham I will remember, and I will remember the Land” (Vayikra, 26:42). This means that even should the merit of the Patriarchs run out, then Hashem will remember the Land of Israel and save us! From this we learn that the merit of the Land of Israel is even greater than the merit of our Forefathers.
Another great teaching of the Rebbe was the importance of charity. Every weekday, he would hand out dollar bills to the long line of people who would come from all over the world for his blessing. On a simple level, he was teaching people to turn money into the doing of a mitzvah, rather than making its acquisition the goal of their lives. On a deeper level, the Tanya explains the great virtue of charity which is equal in weight to all of commandments. While other mitzvot are performed with the body and its different organs, the giving of charity is also performed by what the “Tanya” calls, the vitalizing soul. This is because, in the case of charity, a person “gives out of the toil of his hands, and since surely all the strength of his vitalizing soul is embodied in the execution of his work through which he earned his money, when he gives his money for charity, his whole viatl soul ascends to G-d.”
In the great merit of the Rebbe and the Torah teachings of all the Tzaddikim, and in the great merit of Eretz Yisrael and the mitzvah of charity, may the complete Redemption come speedily, in our time. Amen.
Yosef was called "Tzaddik" because he overcame the temptations of Egypt’s reigning temptress, Potifar’s wife. This wasn’t a onetime victory, but a tortuous daily battle. Every day, she tried to seduce him in novel ways. Only his great fear of G-d, and his devotion to the holy ideals of his Forefathers, saved him. Today, Rosh Chodesh Tammuz, hundreds of Jews will be traveling to Yosef’s Tomb in Shechem to celebrate Yosef's memorial by reciting all-night supplications, called Tikun HaYesod, designed to rectify sexual transgression.
Rabbi Nachman taught that sexual temptation is the ultimate test that every Jew faces.
Given the promiscuous society we live in, we are all tested with temptations each day like Yosef, on the streets of our cities, in shopping centers, at the movies. Today, all of the seductions of Potifar’s wife have found their way into our offices and homes in the day to day temptations of our computers. Not only because of the easy accessibility of porn sites on the web. Google and Yahoo may seem harmless, but they are loaded with pitfalls and immodest photos that bring deadly harm to the holy Jewish soul.
Anyone who navigates his way through a session at the computer without falling into its snares, has successfully overcome temptations equal to Potifar’s Wife and deserves the title of "Tzaddik," just like Yosef.
Because Book Week in Israel always stretches into the next week as well, we are going to honor the memory of Yosef with some words about Rabbi Nachman’s "Tikun Clalli," one of our top ten recommended books. Rabbi Nachman’s Tikun is a rectification for sexual transgression, known as Tikun HaBrit, specifically the spilling of the sexual life force in vain, which can come about in many ways, including the abuse of Internet surfing. As our Sages have taught, "The eyes see, the heart desires, and the body completes the action" (Rashi on BaMidbar, 25:39)
If Rabbi Nachman thought it vital to the spiritual health of the Jewish People to compose his Tikun some two-hundred years ago when the majority of Jewish women in Russia attired themselves in modest dresses with sleeves to the wrist and hems to the heel, how much more so is the remedy needed today when everything is left shamelessly open for everyone to see on the streets of our cities and on our computers at home!
The Tikun Clalli is an arrangement of 10 Psalms, followed by a long and heartfelt confession that was written by Rabbi Nachman’s foremost student, Rabbi Natan. Millions of copies of the Tikun have been distributed in pamphlet form around the world in dozens of languages. It is recited daily by tens of thousands of Jews, not only Breslev Hasidim. Others recite it less frequently, following a sexual mistake. Rabbi Nachman taught that sexual temptation is the ultimate test that every Jew faces. Here are a few things that Rabbi Natan writes in the preface to the Tikun. May they help to strengthen us in our own daily battles and inspire us to emulate the great righteousness of Yosef:
"When the Rebbe revealed this teaching, he started by saying that the first remedy is to immerse in a mikvah, as soon as possible, preferably on the very same day that a person becomes impure. The Rebbe first disclosed the 10 Psalms to the Rabbi of Breslov and to my close friend, Rabbi Naftali of Nemirov. He said to them: ‘Three quarters of the world are caught in this trap. Now I am going to make you witnesses of my words. Know that these 10 Psalms are highly effective in the case of seminal pollution. In fact, they are a complete remedy, and they help very greatly. When a pollution occurs to a person who has been having thoughts and fantasies during the day, it indeed causes evil forces (kelipot) to be created, as is explained in the mystical literature. However, if one recites these 10 Psalms on the same day, it is certainly a very powerful remedy. If one can go to the mikvah and afterwards recite these Psalms, it is excellent. Even if he is unavoidably prevented from immersing, through sickness, for example, or because he is on a journey, happy is he, because they are a great and awesome remedy. If he says them with understanding and devotion, this is certainly very good. But even simply saying the words is very effective.’
"The Rebbe said, ‘When my days are ended and I leave the world, I will intercede for anyone who comes to my grave, recites these 10 Psalms, and gives to charity. No matter how grave his sins and transgressions, I will do everything in my power to save him and cleanse him. I will span the length and breadth of the creation for him. I will take a hold of his side locks and pull him out of hell.’
"The Rebbe told us to: ‘Go out an spread the teaching of these 10 Psalms to all men. It may seem like an easy thing to say 10 Psalms, bit in practice it will prove to be very difficult.’
"The Rebbe warned us of the difficulties from the start. We have done all that we could to make the matter known to all those who seek to purify themselves. Everyone must now do as he sees fit. Listen if you want to, or ignore it of you wish.
"Rebbe Nachman was very insistent that one should not allow oneself to be worried in the slightest by this occurrence, especially now that the remedy of the 10 Psalms is available. Fear and depression are very damaging. By reciting the 10 Psalms on the same day as this occurrence, the sin is completely rectified and the person should have no worries at all. The Rebbe taught us that it is vital to always be joyous and not to become depressed about anything in the world, regardless what happens. If you are absolutely determined to let nothing worry you, in the end you will be worthy of overcoming everything and attaining peace. It is impossible to explain all this in print, but one who has sense will understand."
The 10 Psalms are: 16, 32, 41, 42, 59, 77, 90, 105, 137, 150 to be recited in that order. Books and booklets containing these Psalms and the confession that follows can be found at Jewish bookstores.
Don't let it get you down that Shimon Peres, founder of Oslo and Hamastan, is our new President. Don't let it get you down that Ehud Barak, who was ready to give up half of Jerusalem, is back in the ballgame. Don't let it get you down that Bibi is still the head of the spineless Likud. Don't worry. The great spiritual revolution is coming. As part of our continuing tribute to Book Week, we are posting a short story from the award winning book, "Days of Mashiach" written by my mother's favorite blogger. Happy reading!
The chief of staff, the generals, nuclear physicists, and rabbis stood staring at the panoramic screen in the IDF's Strategic Military Control Center. The computerized screen spanned a wall in the war room which had been code-named "Magen David" because of its star-shaped design. Up on the screen was a satellite map of the world. Israel was a small red light in the center of the globe, like a heart amidst the organs of the body. Other lights were flickering on the screen from all over the northern hemisphere. New lights flashed on over Nevada, Utah, and New Mexico. Each light marked the launching of a nuclear warhead from an underground silo. Russia had started the massive attack only a minute before with a wave of missiles which were now on their way over Turkey and arcing steadily closer toward Israel. Bombers were streaking toward the Mediterranean. None of the bearded men in the room seemed surprised when the United States joined in the air strike. America's participation in the UN coalition against the tiny Jewish State had been predicted for weeks, ever since the mass arrests of Jews in America. The Arab oil embargo had crippled world economy and left Americans angry and cold. Until Palestine was freed, the Arabs were refusing to export their oil. On the pretext of safety, American Foreign Service personnel had been evacuated from Israel. Once again, the Jews had been set up for slaughter. On the screen in the war room, lights were flickering now over Pakistan, France, England, and Germany.
"It's seems like every uncircumcised dog with an A-bomb wants to get a crack at us," Yehuda growled, throwing up his hands in dismay.
For a moment, everyone laughed, even the rabbis. In fact, Yehuda, the world-famous air-force commander was the only non-religious officer in the underground center. The secret bunker had been re-nicknamed "The Covenant Room" because all of the bearded, skull-capped men present believed that this was the place where G-d would reaffirm, before the eyes of the world, the ancient Covenant He had made with Abraham, bequeathing the Land of Israel to the Jews. Yehuda believed it, too, in a deep non-religious way which he couldn't define nor express. He was a simple man, a soldier's soldier, born with an ardent love for his land and his people. In war after bloody war, he had risked his life on the battlefield and in the skies. Both Jews and Arabs called him the Lion of Yehuda. Now, once again, he had stayed on to fight, long after many others had left, because he knew, in the way only a military specialist could know, that Israel's great victories over much vaster forces had been caused by something more than military prowess and weaponry. Yehuda had sensed, almost mystically from his very first battle, the presence of some unseen helping hand.
All of the eyes in the room were watching him now. Lights had flashed on over China and from submarines scattered throughout the seven seas. Yehuda gazed at the tense faces around him. They were all good solid soldiers. Many were graduates of Hesder yeshivot. Others were Russians who had spent years in Siberian jails. Several of the bearded men had been his soldiers before they had become baale tshuva during the great religious revolution in Israel. Seemingly overnight, the nation had returned to the Torah. After the last elections, when the majority of the Knesset became religious, most of Yehuda's contemporaries had fled. The people he had grown up with, the builders of the country, had become a tired and spiritually empty minority – all of the socialists, liberals, democrats, professors, and writers who had lacked the final faith to continue the struggle against what seemed like insurmountable odds. The young people had abandoned the country with them, the children of the kibbutz generation who had yearned for peace at all costs. The orphans of Rabin Square had fled the country for the more peaceful plazas of L.A. and New York when the religious parties took over.
Yehuda himself had his share of doubts. There had even been moments of fear. Not fear of dying. His battle scars proved that he didn't fear death. His fears came from not understanding what was happening to his country. His mind couldn't comprehend the great religious upheaval. He simply couldn't fathom the fervent practice of a law and tradition he had never bothered to learn.
Yehuda glanced down at the one man who remained seated in the war room – the eighty-two year old Chief Rabbi. Neither the Chief of Staff of the army, nor the Minister of Defense would make a decision without his assent. Unlike the uniformed men in the room, the Rabbi wore a long black coat, black hat, and tefillin. An old, fraying Psalm book lay clutched in his hands. He never bothered to look up at the screen. He didn't have to, he said. Everything had already been written. Yehuda had waged a fierce battle against the Rabbi's inclusion amongst the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Military decisions and strategy demanded real combat experience, he argued. But the country's new ruler couldn't be convinced. "Torah scholars increase peace in the world," he maintained.
Judah aimed the remote control at the large screen. The image changed to the star-war map of nuclear launchers in outer space. A storm of atomic warheads were arcing through the heavens from American and Russian space stations. Yehuda looked down at the white-bearded Rabbi.
"I think it's about time we did something, sir."
"Call Jerusalem," the old Rabbi whispered.
Yehuda glanced at the digital clock on the screen. The countdown clicked down to five minutes and twenty seconds until the first missiles would reach Israel's borders. With a steady, battle-tried hand, he picked up the red telephone on the table. Even now, after two years, it was difficult for Yehuda to accept that his country had a King.
"Hallel," was all the quiet voice answered.
All eyes in the war room were focused on Yehuda as he hung up the phone.
"Operation Hallel," he repeated.
There was a spontaneous cheer in the room, a burst of applause and confident embraces. Amidst all the tumult, the Chief Rabbi continued on with his prayers.
Yehuda shuddered. For the first time in his entire army career, his palms began to moisten. In the past, his brilliant strategies had crippled enemy forces. His pilots had paralyzed Syrian missiles and Russian-built tanks. His special units had executed stunning assassinations in Iran, Tunis, and Iraq. He himself had piloted bombers and rescue missions since the earliest days of the State. He had parachuted behind enemy lines to lead attacks on terrorists bases in missions that were never reported. But Operation Hallel was something much different. Operation Hallel was madness.
"This is national suicide!" he screamed at the Rabbi. "Those aren't Scud missiles headed our way – they're nuclear bombs!"
"You have a job to do," the Rabbi calmly answered.
"Whoever heard of a military plan dependent on prayer?"
Yehuda glanced around in hope of enlisting support. All of the eyes and beards in the room were staring at him. He drew back his shoulders, and once again aimed the remote control at the screen. The scene switched to a view of the Temple Mount. Yehuda paused. Everyone held their breath.
"What are you waiting for?!" somebody yelled.
Suddenly, the paratrooper commander, and onetime kibbutznik who had moved his family to Hebron, jumped Yehuda from behind and grabbed the remote control from his hand.
"If he won't do it, I will," he said and pushed on a button.
Up on the screen, a gigantic explosion rocked the ancient Mount. The golden dome of the Moslem shrine was blown to smithereens. Arabs took off in a run. A cloud of gold dust spread over the Kotel.
The war room resounded with cheering. It was the same cry of victory that Yehuda had shouted when the Old City had been captured a generation before. Across the room, Israel's highest ranking general raised a shofar to his lips and gave a piercing blast. "They're all madmen," Yehuda thought. His friends who had abandoned the country had been right after all. The government of Israel had been captured by crazies.
Yehuda grabbed back the remote control from the paratrooper commander. He flicked the screen back to the map of the world. Nuclear missiles and bombers were zeroing in on the tiny Jewish State, yet his colleagues in the war room were clapping their hands. "Switch it back to the Temple Mount!" they demanded.
With the clock counting down to three minutes, Yehuda returned to the scene in Jerusalem. Four separate views of the Temple Mount appeared on the screen. The Moslem shrine had vanished. In its place, the Foundation Stone jutted up from the earth like the peak of a mountain, as indestructible as the Covenant which G-d had sworn to Abraham. Yehuda remembered the Bible story from his school days on the kibbutz. His teacher had called it a fable. His parents maintained that religion was a dinosaur of the past – the opium of the Jews of the ghetto. And that's what he had passed on to his son, Shimson. Where was the boy now, Yehuda wondered? Hiding with his gentile wife in Mexico City, or rounded up in some detention camp in L.A.? When the boy had fled the country, a piece of Yehuda had died. His other son, his Uri, had been killed in a war. His wife, bless her soul, had dropped dead from heartbreak. The only thing which Yehuda had left was his allegiance to Tzahal and the nation.
His keen pilot's eyes stayed glued to the screen as Israeli tanks smashed into the Temple Mount courtyard. Another cheer went up as the voice of the tank commander came loud and clear over the radio. "Har HaBayit b'yadanu!" he shouted.
On screen number two, hundreds of yeshiva students were running up to a corner of the Mount. They came in swarms, singing and dancing, as if drunken with fervor. Their words, the words of the Hallel, sounded over the war room's speakers. "The sea saw and fled... the Jordan turned back... the mountains skipped like rams...."
On screen number three, a team of Levites and Kohanim were erecting an altar which a flatbed truck had driven into the Temple Mount courtyard. A jeep sped onto the scene, towing a trailer behind it. The ramp of the trailer swung open. Precious time was ticking away as a Kohen tugged on a rope and led out the pure red heifer which Technion geneticists had bred.
And now, up on screen four, the King's limousine sped toward the Western Wall where thousands of people had gathered. In the meantime, Yehuda flashed the screen back to the space map. Startled eyes watched as the rainbow of lights arcing over the earth began to flicker and fade. One by one, they disappeared from the screen. Another wild cheer filled the war room.
"Screen scan!" Yehuda ordered.
"Screen functions normal," the chief technician answered.
"Computer check!" Yehuda barked.
"All systems normal," the programmer affirmed.
"There's got to be some mistake," Yehuda mumbled as missile after missile vanished in outer space.
"There's no mistake," the Chief Rabbi said softly.
One by one, American and Russian space stations exploded.
"We didn't do that," Yehuda said.
"Why don't you get a drink of water, Yehuda," the old Rabbi said kindly.
"I'm all right, sir," the lifetime soldier answered.
The clock read one minute and counting. On the world map, the remaining warheads were converging on Israel from all over the globe. On the Temple Mount, the praying was becoming more and more frenzied. Multitudes sang out in unison, "Why should the nations say, Where is their G-d? Our G-d is in heaven. Whatever He desires, He does." The words of the prayer echoed over the holy city. Masses thronged toward the Kotel. Jews from all over Jerusalem joined together, pressing forward to glimpse the King as he pushed his way to Har HaBayit. "David, King of Israel," they shouted as he approached. He reached the site of the outer courtyard and gazed up to Heaven. "My vows to the Lord I will fulfill in the presence of all His people," he sang. "In the courtyards of the House of G-d, in your midst, Jerusalem, Halleluyah!"
The men in the war room were all strapping on their tefillin. An army commander, a Chabadnik, walked over to Yehuda and invited him to don a pair too. The diehard kibbutznik gazed down at the black boxes and shook his head no.
"Are you sure," the Hasid asked.
"Yes, I'm sure," Yehuda answered.
"You needn't feel embarrassed," the Hasid persisted.
"Leave him alone," the Chief Rabbi ordered.
The Chabadnik withdrew. Of all the battles which Yehuda had faced, the battle he was fighting right now in his heart was the fiercest. How could he change a whole lifetime of belief? Even if he wanted to, he couldn't. He was that kind of man. Principles were sacred, whether right or wrong. If he had championed misguided ideals, he would stand up to the punishment. Wasn't his presence enough for them? He was there, just like the rest of them, standing in the war room beside the Chief Rabbi. He had devoted his life to his people – with all of his heart, with all of his soul, with all of his might. That was the religion he knew. If that wasn't enough for them, or for G-d, so be it.
"We can still knock out Moscow and Berlin with our A-bombs," the air-force commander insisted.
"No," the Rabbi answered.
"We can't just do nothing," Yehuda protested.
"Pray with the others," the soft voice replied.
"I can't," Yehuda said.
"Try. Hashem wants to hear. It's your voice that's missing."
Yehuda felt faint. In all of his sixty-five years, he hadn't prayed once. He didn't know how. He didn't know even to whom. Up on the Temple Mount, ashes from the slaughtered red cow were being sprinkled over the crowds of Kohanim. The sight was too much for the man called the Lion. Feeling his legs weaken, he collapsed into the chair beside the Rabbi. The world's stockpile of nuclear warheads was approaching the borders of Israel, and the leaders of the Jewish nation were sacrificing a cow on the Temple Mount altar! Camera crews rushed in for close-ups. Yehuda felt dizzy. Was the innocent slaughter of animals the enlightenment that the Jewish people were supposed to project to the world?
"Perhaps we should respond more conventionally," Yehuda suggested.
"No," came the quiet reply.
"As a back-up."
The Rabbi didn't answer.
On the Temple Mount, the smoke of incense rose in a column up to the sky. Before all of this witchcraft began, Yehuda was beginning to believe. He had felt himself wanting to believe. The faith of the men in the room was so powerful, Yehuda had started to feel it too. But sacrificing animals was simply too much. His reasoning mind said no – these maniacs had to be stopped. There was nothing else he could do. He reached into his belt to draw out his gun. He would hold the Chief Rabbi hostage and activate the nuclear devices which the Israelis had secretly built in Moscow and Berlin. But before he could grab the old man, a hand clutched his arm and dragged him into a circle of dancing that had spontaneously began in the war room. The generals, commanders, and army chiefs of staff were all holding hands in a circle and singing: "All the nations surround me. In G-d's name I cut them down. They surrounded me like bees. They were extinguished like a thorn fire."
Once, in his youth, Yehuda had danced like this. On the kibbutz, around an Israeli-night campfire, with his strong, robust comrades, he had sung songs of Zion. Their youthful faith had seemed invincible too, like the faith of the men in the war room. Now, as he danced in a circle, clutching hands imbued with belief, a transfusion of faith charged through him, cleansing him of his doubts. Before the dancers had completed their first circle, Yehuda was singing along with them. "I shall not die, for I shall live and relate the deeds of the Lord. G-d has chastised me, but unto death, He has not handed me." The words of their song formed on his lips as if he had been chanting it in synagogue for years. A great elation washed over him. "Open for me the gates of righteousness. I will enter them," he sang. "I will give thanks unto G-d."
Everyone sang and stared up at the screen. As the first wave of bombers reached the shores of Tel Aviv, a wall of rain clouds appeared in the sky. Jerusalem vanished in an impenetrable fog. In the lead French bomber, the dials on the instrument panel were spinning wildly in circles. The mysterious fog darkened the cockpit. An unworldly thunder shook the plane like a toy. The terrified pilot tried to swing the giant bomber around, but the steering was jammed. Screams of Russian and German pilots crackled over the speakers in the star-shaped war room. The clock clicked down to zero. The dancing ended. Eyes stared up at the map. When the lights on the screen overshot Israel and continued on toward Cairo, Damascus, and Amman, pandemonium broke out in the war room.
Yehuda picked up the bearded man next to him and gave him a kiss. Radio communiques bursted over the control center's receivers. A dispatch from the Golan Heights reported that a storm of hailstones bigger than basketballs had paralyzed Syria's tank force. Tidal waves had overturned enemy battleships and submarines like toys. An earthquake registering 9.2 on the Richter Scale had devastated Jordan, and twenty divisions of the royal army had plummeted into the earth.
"I can't believe it," Yehuda said, but his own eyes were seeing that the words of the Hallel were true....
"This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us exult and rejoice in Him."
Within minutes, the cities of Cairo, Damascus, Baghdad, and Tehran disappeared from the map. Half the country of Libya fell into the sea. Amidst the celebration in the war room, only the Chief Rabbi noticed that something was wrong. Somehow, a slower, out-of-date bomber from Poland had kept straight on target. It appeared over Mevasseret Zion and roared noisily toward Mount Moriah. All eyes turned toward Yehuda.
"How'd it get through?" someone yelled.
"Bring it down!" another demanded.
"It's too late," Yehuda answered.
The throng at the Temple Mount gazed up into the Jerusalem sky and watched two small dots grow bigger. They stood there, unwilling to believe, until, seemingly all at once, they realized what the falling dots were. "Bombs!" someone shouted. People scattered in every direction. In the war room, even the face of the Chief Rabbi was pale. Yehuda looked around the room for someone to do something, to say something, to pray something, to sing. But nobody moved, nobody spoke, as if something had gone terribly wrong.
"Do something, G-d," Yehuda prayed for the first time in his life.
The first bomb landed by the Kotel with an earth-shaking THUD. The impact caused a deep crater, but the explosion never came. The other bomb landed with a THUNK a short distance away. The stones in the Western Wall trembled. For an eternal moment, everyone waited without taking a breath – the thousands clinging to the ground at the Kotel; the men in the war room; the millions of viewers on TV. Only the King remained erect at the Wall.
"They're not going to blow up!" Yehuda exclained.
It was almost as if the people at the Kotel could hear him. Everyone stood on their feet and raised their hands to the sky. Their cheer resounded all over the world. Crowds rushed forward to peer down the craters at the bombs which didn't go off. The Chief Rabbi collapsed, exhausted in his chair, not sure himself if this last miracle was the Finger of G-d, or plain Polish ineptitude.
"The bombs have mysteriously failed to explode," an American TV reporter explained to his satellite viewers. "A freak technical failure has saved the city of Jerusalem today. Unusual weather conditions, thick fog, and a chance summer hailstorm, have paralyzed the world's nuclear arsenal and spared the indestructible Jewish nation."
"The hell with unusual weather conditions," Yehuda exclaimed.
On the screen in the war room, the CNN reporter continued his eyewitness coverage. "Scientists from the Cape Kennedy Research Center in Florida are saying that planetary disturbances which transpired over two billion light years ago are the cause of the startling events," he explained.
"Shtuyot!" Yehuda said loudly. "That’s utter nonsense. G-d did it all. G-d saved us. It was Him, plain as day!"
Yehuda turned to the Chief Rabbi. "Can't they see it?" he asked.
A kind, wise smile spread over the Rabbi's face. "It's hard enough for our own people to see it," he answered. "What do you expect from the goyim?"
A great novel must not only be well-written, it must carry a great message. Since the ultimate goal in life is getting closer to G-d and Torah, and participating in the rebuilding of the Jewish Nation in Eretz Yisrael, it follows that a great novel should inspire its readers toward these spiritual heights. There is no novel that does this so well as "Tuvia in the Promised Land." The sweeping, historical journey takes Sholom Aleichem's famous milkman, Tevye, of "Fiddler on the Roof" and brings him and his daughters to the Holy Land to become Tuvia, a proud pioneer settler in Eretz Yisrael. In the humble opinion of this blogger, "Tuvia in the Promised Land" is a deeply inspiring saga, a novel your whole family will never forget.
Nemerov, the district Police Commissioner, reared his horse in the air.
"Three days," he warned. "The Jews of Anatevka have three days to clear out of the area."
Tevye spat in disgust at the ground. "Three days," he brooded. Three days were all the authorities were giving the Jews to sell their belongings and evacuate the village they loved.
It didn't matter that the Jews had lived in Anatevka long before the Russians. The Police Commissioner didn't care that Tevye's great-grandfather, may his memory be a blessing, had cleared the forest by the lake and built the first house in the region. It didn't matter to the Czar and his soldiers that for as long as anyone could remember, the Jews had dutifully paid the taxes which had laden the Czar's table with food, while the pantries of the Jews remained bare. Nor did it matter to them that the Jews had cleaned out their stables, chopped their wood, sewed their garments, and delivered their milk. It didn't matter that a Jew would bow in respect when a Russian passed by, just to keep peace. Nor did it matter to them that the decent folk of Anatevka had no other place to call home. They were Jews, and that was that. The Czar, may his name be blotted out of existence, had made his decision in the interests of the Motherland. His order was final. The Jews had three days to get out. The butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers of Anatevka had been declared enemies of the state.
The usually goodhearted milkman spat in anger as the Commissioner and his soldiers rode out of the village. Then he looked up at the heavens and prayed.
"My Father and King, Whose ways are perfect and just, and Who does only good to His people – even if we can't understand Your kindness in throwing us out of our homes – after the Jews of Anatevka have journeyed to some faraway land, may the Czar and his cossacks be swallowed up into the earth."
Not that all Russians were as wicked as the Czar and his soldiers. After all, the same G-d had created all people, Jews and Russians alike. Loving G-d meant loving all of His creation. But sometimes, it wasn't so easy. When someone kicks you out of your home, and treats you like dirt, it's hard for a man to be grateful.
Where would they go? Tevye didn't know. To Broditchov, in a distant part of Russia, where the pogroms had not yet struck? To America? To Poland? To the Land of Israel? To England? Or France? Tevye didn't have time to think up a plan. He would simply go along with everyone else in his village, wherever the Almighty led them. After all, had Abraham known his destination when G-d told him to leave his birthplace for some faraway land? As the Torah says, "And Abraham believed!" He trusted in G-d. Without complaining, he packed up his belongings and went.
Tevye's head kept spinning like it did when he drank too much vodka on Purim. There were so many things to arrange. How do you pack a lifetime into three days? Maybe he should have pulled the Police Commissioner off of his horse and given him a good thrashing. Maybe he should have rallied the Jews to rebellion. But what would that have accomplished? Reports of pogroms had reached them from all over Russia. Burnings, lootings, evacuations, the slaughter of innocent women and children. Just because they were Jews. How could they rebel? Did the Jews have an army? Did they have weapons with which they could fight? Was Tevye Judah the Maccabee, that he could rally people to follow? What kind of resistance could the lowly Jews muster?
Tevye trudged back to his tiny castle, the home he had built long ago with more youthful hands. Was a house merely pieces of wood that a man could so easily sell it? What about all of the years, the memories, the joys, and the sorrows? True, Tevye thought, he could have survived just as well without all of the sorrows, but that was the life of a Jew. There were good times and bad. A house could be sold, but what about all of the memories engraved in the planks of the walls? Well, he supposed he could take his memories with him.
His daughters, Tzeitl, Bat Sheva, and Ruchel, stared at him as he sank into his chair. They had witnessed the degrading spectacle from the doorway of the house. They had watched the Commissioner rear his horse and almost knock their father down when Tevye had grabbed the stallion's reins in an effort to plead for his people.
"Where will we go?" Tzeitl asked.
"Where the Almighty leads us," Tevye answered.
"What will we do when we get there?" Bat Sheva, the youngest, inquired.
"What the Almighty decrees."
"Who will buy our house?" Tzeitl continued. Her two small children, Moishe and Hannie, ran over to hug her. They gazed up at their grandfather with big, searching eyes.
Tevye didn't have an answer.
"Is it true, Tata," Ruchel said. "Do we really have to leave Anatevka?"
Their questions were giving him a headache.
"Am I the Almighty?" he asked, slamming a hand on the table. "Do I decide what will be in the world? Do I stand in the place of the Creator that I know His secret plans?"
Tevye stood up from his chair. In painful situations, a father had to appear confident. When the ship was sinking, the captain had to keep firm command. In times of crisis, children needed the example of a father's unwavering faith.
"Enough pointless chatter," he said. "Haven't our Sages warned us that a man who talks at length with women brings calamity down on his head? The Almighty will provide for us, just as he has for the last four-thousand years. Pack up what you need for a journey. The rest I will sell in the city. In the meantime, your father has important business which he needs to transact."
In the barn, Tevye saddled his horse. He didn't have the heart to tell the creature the news. They had been companions through rainstorms and blizzards, through famine and blight. Together, they had shared life's burdens for thousands of miles. The old mare had been as faithful to him as his wife.
"Oy Golda," Tevye said, sighing at her memory. "May your soul rest in peace."
Finally, he understood why G-d, in His kindness, had taken Golda away from him while she was still in the prime of her life. To spare her the humiliation of being chased out of her house by the soldiers of the Czar.
In his crestfallen state, the journey into Yehupetz seemed to take longer than usual. Tevye's horse must have thought it strange to travel such a long distance in silence, but Tevye was not in the mood for conversation. His thoughts were so jumbled, his usual erudition escaped him. A lone verse of King David's Psalms echoed in his thoughts: "Some with chariots, and some with horses, but we in the name of the L-rd our G-d call out." There was some consolation in that. Even if the authorities took away his house, his wagon, and even his horse, Tevye would still have his G-d.
Luckily, the milkman's mazel was with him. The tax collector agreed to buy Tevye's house. Out of all the Russians Tevye knew, the tax collector, Karamozky, was the man he most trusted. Like clockwork, every three months, on the first day of the week, the punctual civil servant would arrive in Anatevka. After paying his village taxes, Tevye would invite him for a drink in his house. The tax collector seemed to enjoy Tevye's discourses on the Bible, and Tevye cherished nothing more than drinking with someone who was willing to listen. Golda was less enthused.
"It's not your wisdom he likes," she said. "It's your vodka."
Like the experienced salesman he was, Tevye set forth the advantages of buying the house as if it were a splendid estate. The tax collector himself could testify to its sturdy construction. Hadn't he sat there him_ self, a guest of the family, year after year, through winter snowstorms and the summer's scorching sun? Tevye even advised Karamozky to buy six or seven houses in Anatevka. That way he would become a principle investor in the village, like a baron with properties all over town. Finally, Tevye begged him.
"If not for me, your devoted milkman, then for my daughters."
What was left of his daughters, Tuvia mused. On the road back to Anatevka, waves of pent-up sorrow poured out of Tevye's heart. Tevye, the milkman, had been known for his beautiful daughters. Seven more radiant creations could not be found. Their graces were praised all over the Pale. "Vanity of vanity, says Tevye, all is vanity." What did their beauty bring except endless trouble? Did not the wise Solomon teach, "Grace is deceptive, and beauty is vain – a woman who fears the L-rd is the one to be praised?" It would have been better if his daughters had all looked like him, with his big shnoz of a nose, and not like his beautiful Golda. Not that Tevye was complaining. After all, who is a man to complain? Doesn't everything he have belong to his Maker? As it says, "The L-rd giveth, and the L-rd takes away."
What could a father do? He had tried to raise his seven daughters in the traditions of his people. Like the four legs which hold up a table, there were four pillars to every good Jewish home. The honor due the father and mother; the honor due the Sabbath; the honor of Torah; and the honor of G-d. But modern times had crept in, and newfangled notions, like termites, had begun to eat away the foundations of the past. First Tzeitl wanted to pick her own husband. The match her father had arranged with Lazar Wolf, the butcher, wasn't to her fancy! She was in love with the poor tailor, Motel! In love! What did his daughter know about love? Living with a woman for twenty-five years – that was love. When you worked all day like a slave, and came home smelling like your horse, and your wife opened her arms to you and clung to you in the night, even though you didn't know if there would be food to feed another child – that was love. Not the beating of the heart that comes from a walk through the woods.
"But I love him!" Tzeitl had pleaded, with tears in her eyes.
What was Tevye to do? Was his heart made out of stone? Besides, Motel was a good boy. A bumbling shlemiel of the highest order, that was for sure, but he could read from a prayerbook, and it was certain from the way he looked at Tzeitl that he would burn their candles down to the wick, sewing garments all through the night to provide a decent life for Tevye's daughter.
But as the saying goes – when the milk begins to go sour, it soon begins to stink. His second daughter, Hodel, was even more of a beauty. Her features were stately, like the portrait of a queen hanging on an aristocrat's wall. Her flight from the nest had been Tevye's own fault. He himself had brought the free-thinking Perchik into their home to teach her to read. While the father was in the barn, milking his cows, the young revolutionist was in the house, milking his daughter's dreams.
"A new Russia! A classless society! A worker's state! Equality for all!" the young communist preached.
Tevye got headaches listening to his speeches, but to Hodel, he was a prince on a gleaming white steed. And his stock only went up with the girl when he was arrested. The memory haunted Tevye even now – the picture of Hodel standing at the railroad station, waiting for the train which would take her away to her Perchik in exile on the other side of the Pale. What a long wagon-ride home it had been for Tevye, not knowing if he would ever see his beautiful daughter again!
But at least Perchik had been a Jew. Tevye and Golda could thank G-d for that. A Jew with his head screwed on backwards, but a circumcised member of Abraham's faith. Their third daughter, Hava, hadn't been so lucky. In Tevye's mind, she was dead. His third daughter had ceased to exist. When she ran off with the poet, Hevedke Galagan, that was the end. Here the line had to be drawn. Hodel's sister's marriage to the heretic Perchik was a tragedy which had to be mourned, but there was always the chance that the Almighty would hear Tevye's prayers and open the misguided youth's heart to the Torah. But that a Russian poet should marry his daughter? To allow such a breach would mark the doom of his people. It was a rejection of Tevye's whole life, of everything he had ever believed. A gentile was a gentile, and a Jew was a Jew. The two shall not come together in marriage. When a priest informed Tevye of the secret elopement, Tevye ripped his shirt in anguish, as if his daughter were dead. He tore her memory out of his heart. The name, Hava, was never, ever, to be mentioned in his house!
You would think that a milkman had been punished enough for his sins. But the Almighty was only beginning. Oy, Shprintza, Shprintza, my pretty little bird, thought Tevye, as his horse automatically stopped by the lake. Tevye recalled the scene as if it were yesterday. The crowd of people. The running. The screams. With a voice of doom in his heart, Tevye had jumped down from his wagon. The crowd made way as he bent down by the girl's body. Shprintza, drowned! Heartbroken over the suitor whom Tevye had brought to the house. The wealthy Aaronchik had stolen the tender girl's heart, and then disappeared like a thief, may both he and his mother be drowned!
The shock proved too much for Golda. A more valorous woman never existed, but after Shprintza died, a part of Golda went with her. The light in Golda's eyes seem to flicker and fade. Tevye brought her flowers and a new dress from the best boutique in Yehupetz, but nothing could lessen her pain.
"Why did you squander our money?" she asked. "Couldn't I have sewn a dress just as pretty?"
That was his Golda. That was why he loved her. Tevye spoke soothing words, sang happy songs, and even romanced her with a dance around the table, but nothing could bring her out of her mourning. One tragedy after another proved too much for her heart. Hodel had left home to follow her Comunist into exile. Hava had run away with a sweet-talking Chekhov. And now Shprintza had drowned. The strong Golda simply shattered like crystal. Late one evening, Tevye came home from work and found his wife sprawled dead on the floor.
Why had King David composed his Psalms if not to help a mortal find strength in trying times like these? As the Rabbis teach, G-d's way are not our ways. Who is a milkman to understand the mysteries of heaven and earth? With every tragedy, the sun still rises in the morning, the rooster crows, the Jew has his prayers, the cows must be milked. In short, life must go on.
And where was Baylke, the most beautiful rose of Tevye's bouquet? Already in America, with her good-for_nothing Pedhotzer. Who could have foretold it? Before her wedding, Baylke was certain she had found the key to the Garden of Eden on earth. And so, to be truthful, had Tevye. Wasn't Pedhotzer fantastically wealthy? A builder of houses, bridges, and roads. His house was a castle. His yard an estate. He had two silver carriages, with a team of Arabian horses for each. People said there was a servant in every room in his mansion. Even his ashtrays were gold. Tevye knew. He saw them himself, on the day Pedhotzer summoned him to appear at his home.
The extraordinary invitation came several months after the wedding. Tevye had not seen his little girl since the happy, regal affair. Finally, a messenger arrived with a call from her king. Pedhotzer wanted to see him. Finally, Tevye thought, his fortune was changing. His daughter had not forgotten her poor, aging father. Surely she had secured him a job of prestige and authority, with a servant, a driver, elegant new clothes, and summer vacations at the Boiberik lake with all of the other rich Jews from the city.
"Tevye," he said. "I know I can talk straightforwardly with you, because I know you are an honest man. You know I am wealthy, and I intend to give your daughter all of the treasures of the earth. I have been informed from very private sources that the great Baron Edmond de Rothschild is interested in doing business with me. In fact, I expect him to come for a visit to our house very soon."
Tevye was anxiously waiting to hear the fantastic job offer.
"Tell me," his new son-in-law continued, "how do you think the Baron would react if he heard that my wife's father is a milkman?"
He said the word milkman as if it were something disgusting. Baylke stood by his side, looking like royalty in a dress the likes of which Tevye's poor Golda had never even seen in her dreams.
"That is why I think it would be better for everyone if you were to take a long trip to Eretz Yisrael. I'll pay all of your travel expenses, of course, and even help get you started in a business if you decide you want to stay there."
Tevye felt as if a demon had snuck up behind him and stuck a knife in his back. Pedhotzer wanted to send him away to the Land of Israel! And Baylke, his warmhearted Baylke, stood silently at her rich husband's side, staring at her father with a gaze as cold as a winter day. What had happened to her? What had transformed his sweet, loving princess into such a statue-like queen?
As Tevye's friend, Sholom Aleichem, would say, to make a long story short, money is not always a blessing. Carrying his wounded pride as nobly as he could, Tevye made his way to the door of the mansion. As things turned out, that was the closest he had gotten to Jerusalem. The winds of revolution in Russia changed the future for everyone. Suddenly, Pedhotzer's government contracts were canceled. His fortunes plunged. His building empire collapsed. Baron Rothschild found a different partner. Almost overnight, Pedhotzer was penniless. Baylke had to sell her silk dresses and furs to help buy them passage to America. Her husband was humiliated, just as he had humiliated Tevye. Measure for measure, the wise Rabbis say. The doings of man do not go unnoticed. An Eye sees, and a Hand records. Not that Tevye felt any great satisfaction. True, his insult had been repaid, but at the expense of his daughter. Who knew if he would ever see his Baylke again?
At least Tevye still had his babies, Bat Sheva and Ruchel, to comfort him in his solitude. Both were as pretty as their sisters. They had not yet found husbands, though their turn under the wedding canopy had come. No doubt they had postponed their own happiness to look after their poor, widowed father. Not that Tevye needed any special attention. After all, he was a man, not a horse. But that was the nature of his daughters. They were kindhearted, just like their mother had been.
Not only were Bat Sheva and Ruchel still with him, but Tzeitl, the eldest, had returned to Tevye's house after her poor tailor of a husband dropped dead. Motel was taken from the world by the croup, his reward for mending clothes night and day in his damp basement workroom, in order to buy a decent piece of meat to honor the Sabbath.
Tevye laughed. Joke of all jokes. All of a sudden, with Motel's untimely departure, grandfather Tevye, the "Zaida" became Tevye the "Tata" the substitute father for Tzeitl's two little demons, Moishe and Hannie. Just when the old stud had been whipped and broken, when his legs barely could walk, and his heart could no longer pull the load of the wagon, just when he longed to be put out to pasture, Tevye became a father for Tzeitl's two wild little kinderlach!
"Not so fast, Tevye," G-d seemed to be saying. "You think I have no more surprises in store? You think your mission on earth is completed? No, no, my precious Tevye – your adventure is only beginning!"
After all, wasn't Rabbi Akiva forty years old when he started learning Torah? And wasn't Moses eighty years old when G-d first spoke to him in the wilderness? And wasn't Abraham 100 years old when Sarah gave birth to Isaac? For the Jews, the people of miracles, life was always just beginning. Who knew what tomorrow would bring? Tevye was not even allowed to feel sorry for himself, which was the only real luxury a poor man had. The Almighty had many more tricks up His sleeve!
He was at home, making last preparations for their departure from Anatevka when Tzeitl told him she had a surprise.
"A surprise," he asked? "What kind of surprise?"
"Please, Tata," she said, "Give her a chance."
Give who a chance, Tevye wondered? Tzeitl opened the door to the bedroom and who was standing there? A dybbuk? A ghost? No. It was Tevye's dead daughter, Hava! His beloved Hava who had run off with the Russian poet, Hevedke.
"Tata," she cried. "Tata!"
Before Tevye could react, his daughter rushed forward and threw herself in his lap. "Tata, forgive me," she tearfully pleaded. "Forgive me!"
"Who am I to forgive?" Tevye answered. "Do I sit on G-d's throne? Is a milkman in charge up in Heaven? It is written in the Torah, `A daughter of the children of Israel shall not take a husband from among the foreign nations.' I didn't make the rules. Why do you come weeping to me now?"
But in the very next moment he thought, "Is it not also written in our prayers, `L-rd,
L-rd, G-d, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in kindness and truth. Preserver of kindness for thousands of generations, forgiver of iniquity and error.?'"
Tevye stared down at his naive, errant daughter as she sobbed at his feet.
"Tevye," he asked himself. "In all fairness, are you not commanded to imitate the ways of your Creator? Just as He forgives, aren't you commanded to forgive also?"
Yet another voice asked:
"But what about Golda? What about my Golda who died of a broken heart? Can her death be forgiven? Oh, Golda, who deserved to be buried in the Tomb of the Patriarchs, in the sacred cave in Hevron next to Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah. Oh, Golda, the saint of a woman who suffered with her poor husband, the incompetent shlimazl of a milkman, for so many years – would she herself forgive this weeping, penitent daughter?
"She wants to come back, Tevye," he heard Golda say, as if she were standing with them in the house. "She's ashamed she didn't listen to us. She's ashamed of what the Russians are doing to the Jews. She's a good girl, Tevye. She just was confused."
Tevye glanced down at his daughter. The way she said "Tata" shattered Tevye's doubts. Her tears on his hands melted his long frozen heart.
"Hava," he answered. A sob shook his body. Not just any ordinary sob, but a sob of a lifetime, a sob of generations, not just the pain of Tevye the milkman, but the anguish of Jewish fathers and Anatevkas all over the world.
"Hava, my daughter," he said.
"Father," she answered, her cheeks shining with tears. Tzeitl was weeping along with little Moishe and Hannie. Bat Sheva and Ruchel were crying too. Even Tevye's horse was moved by the reunion. Hearing their sobs, he stuck his head in the window to see what new misfortune had befallen his master. The whole house was in tears. Only Golda was smiling. For a moment, Tevye saw her, standing like an angel in the kitchen, gazing happily upon her brood.
"Golda," he mumbled.
"Enough crying, my husband," she scolded. "Act like a man!"
True, Tevye thought. There was work to be done. Packing, selling, deciding what treasures to take. But all of that tumult could wait for the morrow. Now was the time for a hearty L'Chaim! A wandering daughter had found her way home! This was no private simcha. This was the joy of the community! The victory of tradition! The homecoming of every_ one's child, reaffirming the ancient covenant between G-d and the Jews.
Tevye stood up, grabbed a bottle of vodka, and strode out to the porch.
"My Hava's come home!" he shouted. "My Hava's come home!"
His daughters tried to stop him, but their father's happiness was not to be bottled. He strode down the main street of the village, yelling out the good news. People came out of their houses to bless him with mazal tovs and congratulatory kisses. Tevye's joy was infectious. The news spread through the village like the smell of hot soup. As the Purim verse says, "The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy!" Soon, Jews were dancing with joy in the street. A fiddler stood on a porch, head tilted over his fiddle, filling Anatevka with music. For the moment, Tevye and his friends forgot the Czar's decree. A daughter had returned to the fold. Even in an hour of danger, there was reason to give thanks. The G-d of Israel was with them!
END OF CHAPTER ONE
If I wasn't afraid of the sanctions of the International Blog Committee, I would post the entire 500 page novel on the net. If reader response is overwhelmingly in favor of such an audacious move, I may do it anywhere, assuming I can persuade the author. By the way - I don't think I mentioned who he is.