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[Page 3]

Introduction


 

As unbelievable as it may sound, it is true that some people used all means, both legal and not, to prevent the appearance of the first volume. It did not suit the common man that a self-taught person should publish a book. (In Volume 4, this subject will be more thoroughly discussed). My illness at that time was advantageous for my adversaries, and when I saw the finished book, I noticed with amazement that the volume was not only thin but that it had also come into the world with several printing errors. This circumstance forced me to publish the second volume as soon as possible and in a stronger form, and to include all the sections that were missing from the first volume– to enlighten and clarify for the readers of the first volume.

In the opinion of several friends, it would be an error to use the new literary style because many unusual expressions could be given a different meaning.

What I have collected in my diary over a lifetime I give to you – literary and stylistic failings included – and I believe that, especially here, the style used at that time is best for this present effort.

I'm not looking for material gain or even recognition. The knowledge that I, as a self-taught person, have been helpful in some small measure satisfies me as the best reward.

“Accept my modest violet and look at it like the most beautiful roses.”

The Village Uncle
Ben-Saar
(Rubinstein)

 

[Page 6]

I

Old Stories

Ivon Duczak

“Yes, yes, everyone can know that I'm an anti-Semite. And when I catch that old Jew, Noah, I'll cut his throat like a chicken's.” And whenever he said it, his whole body trembled from excitement like an aspen leaf.

If one had brought him the old Noah, trussed up and helpless, and a knife for the job, Ivon Duczak would certainly not have touched the knife because he was naturally soft-hearted and couldn't even look at blood.

When his mother was about to kill a live fish, he ran out of the room, and when one was supposed to kill a hen for the holidays, he asked that the hen be taken to the Jewish shochet to be killed. He couldn't stand to see blood. And it really hurt him that anyone would kill an innocent animal. He really didn't want to kill the old Noah “stone dead,” but just to take some kind of revenge on him so his heart would feel lighter.

He liked the other Jews, as for example, the old zadik from Rebens Hoff. He was a pious man who studied the biblja (bible) day and night and only did that which pleased G-d. Also, the pious Jews who went around in their long kaftans(robes) to pray each day, and who were pious as the priest – they should be healthy. And the Jewish craftsmen who always worked and sang like busy bees, and the little Jewish children, the kinderlech who, even in winter, in frost and snow, went to cheder to study, they should be healthy. And the Jewish women who on Friday evenings after hard work, with fresh-cleaned cloths on their heads, blessing the Sabbath candles, who look like angels, praising G-d at every opportunity – nu, shouldn't one love them?

The dear G-d looks in every man's heart and knows his thoughts. And for that reason, he said freely, even to the priest, that he loved all these people, as Jesus Christ had commanded:

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

In spite of that, he remained an anti-Semite, and he had to take revenge on that old Jew, Noah.

*

He wasn't really named Ivon Duczak and had no idea of what the word anti-Semite even meant. His name was Petre Huzuliak. He was a pious djak (church singer) in the Prawoslawne Church, who grew up together with the Jews and had ties to them – and could not live without them. But because of this “old Noah,” he was held back in school and got the name, Ivon Duczak, for which the dear G-d should punish old Noah. Amen! Aside from that, he was no anti-Semite.

And here is how it happened

As our friend Peter (Petre Huzuliak) was about to finish elementary school, his mother expressed the wish that he should become a djak – not only because he had a beautiful voice, but also because he was pious and shy. The priest had the same opinion and so kept a watchful eye on Peter during his lessons in religion.

At the final exam in religion, the priest asked, “Tell me, my son, who was Noah? How many sons did he have, and what were their names?”

And Peter answered, “Noah was an old Jew, and he had three sons who were named Sem, Cham and Jafet.”

“Very good my son,” said the priest. “Now tell me who was the father of Sem, Cham and Jafet?” Peter gave this some thought and said softly, “I don't know that, Mr. Priest.”

The good priest felt pity for the pious youth and wanted to help him, so he put off the examination until the next day in the hope that his fellow students might help him. Peter ran straight to his Jewish friends, told them his problem and asked if they could help.

Who wouldn't want to help dear Peter? Lipie Brukenthal, Pine the Roiter, Herschale Sure Dienes and still others tried to explain to Peter that Noah was the father of Sem, Cham and Jafet. But it was no use.

Then Pine got the idea to teach him with an example, and he asked him the following question, “Look, Peter, in the village, there is the farmer, Ivon Duczak, with his three sons. Don't you know him?”

“Certainly I know him and his three sons, Ivan, Stefan and Metre.”

“Good, Peter. Who is the father of Ivan, Stefan and Metre?”

“That I don't know,” said Peter in a lowered voice.

“But, Peter, pull yourself together and think. When you hit Stefan, the son of Ivon Duczak, and he wants to complain about you to his father, what is the name of Stefan's father?”

“Ivon Duczak,” said Peter uncertainly.

“Yes, yes – Ivon Duczak!” confirmed everyone in a chorus. “So, who is the father of Ivan Stefan and Metre: Ivon Duczak is the father of his three sons Ivan, Stefan and Metre!” Everyone shouted together, proud of their success.

“So, Peter,” said Pine in a school teacher voice, “it's exactly the same with Noah as it is with Ivan Duczak. Tell us one more time: Who was the father of Sem, Cham and Jafet?”

“The father of Sem, Cham and Jafet was the old Noah! And the father of Ivan, Stefan and Metre is the old Ivon Duczak.”

So, everything was happily arranged and everyone went home satisfied.

*

Beaming with joy, Peter came for his examination the next day and said, “Mr. Priest, I know everything!”

“Good, my son,” said the kindly priest. “Answer for me the questions, who was Noah, how many sons did he have, and what were their names?”

With pride, Peter said, “Noah was an old Jew, he had three sons: Sem, Cham and Jafet.”

“Good, my son,” said the priest, “and now tell me who was the father of Sem, Cham and Jafet?”

“I know that Mr. Priest,” exulted Peter. “Ivon Duczak!”

The good-natured Priest hid his face and said wistfully, “Sit down, Ivon Duczak.”

From that time on, everyone called him, “Ivon Duczak,” and since that day, he has been an anti-Semite – but only against the old Jew Noah and his three sons. The other Jews he likes.

 

[Page 10]

Shimale Bock

At the time of the Jewish Vatican in Sadagora, anno Domini 1850–1914, there lived an honorable citizen, Shimale Bock, a balagule (teamster) who transported people and freight and also carried water to the dwellings. But in spite of all this, he remained a have-not.

His wägale (wagon), a prehistoric antique, could carry ten people and despite the fact that his schkappe (mare) was lame in one leg and limped along on the other three, like all the other balagules, he charged ten kreuzer per person for the trip from Sadagora to Czernowitz. One had to sit in the wägale for hours until it was full, and only after he had calculated that he had taken in ten times ten kreuzer did the vehicle drive off.

One day, there were only nine people and no tenth showed up. When the waiting got to be too much, several people made efforts to leave the wägale and abandon the trip. One impish passenger taunted him that the tenth had already arrived. Because of all the commotion, he overlooked the shortage and began the trip.

Arriving in Czernowitz, he counted his money and determined that he only had nine times ten kreuzer. He began to shout and demanded to know where the tenth person was hiding (that he was the tenth person this time was something he couldn't or didn't want to understand). When it was time to go home, he declared a strike and wouldn't move from the spot – he must have ten times ten kreuzer, as he would not accept a deficit of ten kreuzer.

The high point of the ruckus came when a returnee from Palestine took his side and argued that the bus in Palestine was as reliable as Shimale Bock's wägale, and in spite of that, the government made up the deficit of the bus system with subsidies and bonds to make sure that the owners did not get less than 400 pounds a month. Therefore, Shimale Bock had the right to insist on the passengers making up his shortage of ten kreuzer.

On the basis of this argument, a collection was taken to provide the missing ten kreuzer, and the strike ended. In triumph, Shimale Bock began the drive home. But the three-hour delay was the people's problem. With freight service, however, he was more cautious. According to his agreement with his schkappe the work day ran from early morning until minche (evening prayer). The tariff for a half wägale of freight was one krone and for the other half wägale, another one krone. Two times one equals two kroner. For every kind of freight, only one half wägale – one half with oats, the other half with corn – or one half melons, the other half hay – but an entire wägale of just one sort was simply not possible. Only “half of this” and “half of that” – two times one krone – and basta. When the rich horse dealer, Zucker, wanted to ship a full load of oats and offered three kroner, Schimale Bock refused the outrage. He only worked with half loads – one half oats and the other half hay. That he was harming himself never entered his mind. When a resident asked him to work in the evening for double the fee, Shimale Bock declined politely, reasoning that the schkappe does superhuman work and today she is out of humans.

For carrying water, he had a special rate: two buckets of water for two kreuzer. Poor people had to pay in advance. The rich paid him one krone at the end of the month and everything was fine. Then came a great calamity: this man, Mechale Zucker, had no other problem but to take a summer vacation and then return two months later. Miss Regina Zucker, the daughter of the house, didn't think it important to concern herself with Shimale Bock's bill, and so the accounts for the water delivery were not settled for two months.

Mr. Zucker had hardly returned from his summer vacation when the furious Shimale stormed into the salon and screamed as a man possessed, “Give me back my two months of water!” Mr. Zucker laughed aloud and gave him two kroner, and another two kroner on top of that in compensation. But Shimale Bock would not be taken in by this “swindle.” He was supposed to receive one krone every month, but he didn't receive them, and therefore he demanded that his water be returned. Finally, the rabbi had to convince him that Mr. Zucker was right. And so he took his two kroner, refused the rest, and ceased delivering water to the Zuckers.

Other than that, Shimale Bock was an honest and pious man. May he rest in peace.

 

[Page 13]

The Fortune Teller

On the Baronufka (the name of a street in the barony of the Baron Mustatza in Sadagora), lived a fortune teller, a sly, old Ukrainian woman. She could read the past and the future from the lines on a hand, read a fortune from playing cards and kernels of corn, show an old maid her future husband at midnight in a mirror, and – when necessary – procure magic bottles from the devil. Short and sweet, a real sorceress who for good pay could help herself and her clients.

The furnishings of the “magic palace” consisted of a bed, a table, two chairs, and a mirror on two columns, with a removable frame and black curtains. Outside was a prispe, a sort of bench against the wall made of stone and clay, where the clients waited patiently until their turn came.

Besides the black cat and the magic staff, she had two “secret agents,” a boy and a girl, both unsavory characters like the witch herself, ready for any unscrupulous deed as long as it brought in money. These characters mingled with the waiting public, listened to everything, asked about names, wishes, and financial situations, and then slipped unobtrusively through the back door to give the babushka (little grandmother) a complete report.

For obvious reasons, the “office hours” were at night, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., and the “official” language was Ukrainian with fragments of German, Yiddish, and Romanian thrown in. The swindle was most successful in the darkness. In addition, the procedure required a certain mystique which the night conjured up. Naturally, the fee had to be paid in advance. The easier cases were handled from 9 to 11 – the reading of lines on the hands, of playing cards, or of corn kernels. Then, from 11 until 1 in the morning, it was “magic,” visions in the mirror of longed-for people, and consultations with the devil.

In the magic palace, which was illuminated by only a candle, the babushka sat enthroned on a stool with the black cat, next to the table on which, as a sign of her dignity, lay the magic staff, the playing cards, and the corn kernels. The mirror with the black curtain, and the low hearth on which a copper kettle always seethed, had a mysterious effect on the customer like the Norns (Shakespeare's goddesses of past, present, and future).

The customer sat on the stool opposite the sorceress, paid the fee as well as a fat hen for the devil so that he wouldn't disturb the proceedings. And then the babushka would begin to read in a monotone voice, “Albo, maleste, albo, budete mate. Skoda!” (“Either you have had a problem, or you will have a problem.”)

Under the influence of the surroundings, the client admits that her husband, “Metro,” stole ten kroner from her and got drunk.

“I know that,” lied the babushka rapping with her magic staff on the table. “Be still! I know everything, and now just listen. Preede lest, czeres woda, (a letter will come across the sea). Albo, gla was, albo gla krewne wasche (either for you or for someone in the family).”

“A long life for you, babushka! My G-d, that is true! Six months ago you prophesied for Vaselena that she would get some money, and look, yesterday she received a lot of money from Canada, and now she wants to give you a fat piglet as a present!”

“I know everything,” lied the old one. “Send Vaselena to me tomorrow, and for you, here is a magic bottle. When Metro sleeps, rub it on his hands so that he will drink and steal less. With finality, the old one rapped her magic staff on the table and the session came to an end.

All the remaining simple cases were handled in a similar manner. The magic arts were exciting and complicated.

Once, an old maid came and wanted to see her future husband in the magic mirror. For three months, every two weeks, she had been coming with a fat hen, and she had studied how to conduct herself before the mirror when the longed-for moment arrived. Freshly bathed, dressed in her Sunday best, with her hair let down and a lemon in her hand in case she fainted, she had to wait until 12 o'clock at night. With the sounding of the alarm clock, the candle was extinguished and the eyes of the cat flashed demonically through the darkness at the client. The seething of the kettle on the hearth and the murmuring of the incantations by the babushka gave the room a ghostly atmosphere.

Then came the great moment! By the light of a match, the black curtain opened by itself, and in the mirror stood a festively dressed young man making gestures of one in love – until the match was extinguished.

The woman fainted, was refreshed with the lemon she had brought, and after a short period of recovery on the bed of the babushka, she was dismissed, well-satisfied. The “mark” had no idea that, for this deception, the mirror had been removed from the frame and a well-drilled young scoundrel had stood there to carry out the swindle.

When farmers' wives declared that the babushka knew everything and could do everything, even the well-read citizens were taken in. But there were also many who doubted that the witch was genuine. Three policemen thoroughly examined the affair. They came every Friday to investigate the case and purchased fat hens and ducks from the babushka at low prices (in fact, they never actually paid their bills), and the babushka said to the guardians of the law, “One hand washes the other, and both wash the stupid people.”

 

[Page 17]

Guardian of Shabbat

A picture of Shabbat in old Sadagora

In India, there once lived an old cockatoo.
With every scream, he would close one eye.
And when something was distasteful to him,
What did the cockatoo do?
He opened the one eye and closed the other.
He was a great philosopher, the old cockatoo,
For if you want to stay satisfied,
Always keep one eye closed.

On the small toloka (meadow) stood the prayer house, “Shomer Shabbat” (Guardian of the Sabbath). On weekdays, the usage was so-so, but on Friday evening, Shabbat, and holidays, it was almost impossible to find a seat. Every worshiper had his own seat, and guests had to stand or use the seat of a friend. This rule had to be followed without exception. One could not doubt the piety of the worshipers. All appeared in the prescribed Shabbat garments with tallis and tefillin. Even the women, chaste and G-d-fearing, cried in chorus in the women's section without any of them knowing what the “leader” was singing or praying. It was expected that a pious woman would cry in the prayer house, and so they cried piously and fulfilled their duty to G-d.

Now Chance, the imp, sees opportunities that would never occur to a mortal, and a “little bird” noticed the following incident. After the morning prayer, the sly Hersch Balagule (Hersch the teamster) said discretely to his prayer neighbor, Shimon Eli, “Tell me, friend, you have a new calf in your stall. Just for instance, if it weren't Shabbat, what does the calf cost?”

“Quiet, don't talk so loud,” warned the good Shimon Eli. “Wait until the lenen (Torah reading). There will be time then to look at the calf so you won't be buying “a cat in a sack.”

During the pause, the two pious ones snuck out and went to the stall to look at the calf, and Shimon Eli said uncertainly, “Just for instance, if it weren't Shabbat, for you the pleasure would cost ten kroner.”

“Just for instance, if it weren't Shabbat,” answered Hersch Balagule, “for seven kroner I'm a soycher (buyer, businessman).” And the two went piously and confidently back to the prayer house.

On their way home at midday, Hersch Balagule extended his hand to Shimon Eli and said categorically, “Listen, Shimon Eli, to my final offer: If it weren't now, just for instance, Shabbat, agree on eight kroner and this evening I'll come and get the calf.”

Shimon Eli reflected a while, grabbed Hersch Balagule's outstretched hand, and confirmed, “Just for instance, if it weren't now Shabbat – chap a mezie (grab a bargain) – the calf is yours! A gutn Shabbos, a gutn Shabbos.”

At the end of Shabbat, after the prayers, Hersch Balagule came to Shimon Eli's stall, paid the eight kroner and took the calf. And both left with pious expressions of “A gute woch, a gute woch.” (a good week)

 

[Page 19]

The Baron Mustatza and Mayer Sibale (1900)

At that time, whenever someone mentioned the name of the Baron Mustatza, one couldn't answer with anything but “hats off!” To the people of Sadagora, the baron was a nobleman in the fullest sense of the word. Every year at Easter, several Jewish families from the Baronufka in Rohozna (a main street in that village) and several from the city (Sadagora) were given cards that allowed them to get potatoes, matzoh, and also several guilden (money), and in the winter, they received firewood. The barony extended from the its origin in the city along the entire length of the Baronufka northward to the estate of Leiser Mendel Gottlieb, passing through a complex so vast that the eyes could not take it in. The gardens which surrounded the houses along the entire length of the Baronufka were a sight well worth seeing. Not only were apples, pears, plums, cherries and apricots being raised, but also oranges, dates, and lemons, which were grown under artificial conditions and strictly guarded. The youth who lived along this famous street could not resist their desire for this fruit, and often snuck into the gardens and caused enormous damage.

If a sinner was caught in the act, the guards tied him to a tree, pulled down his pants and thoroughly beat his tuchus (bottom) with stinging nettle. There he would be left tied up until his “colleagues” would come and free him.

Things were different with Mayer Sibale. This scallywag would fill his shirt front with fine sand for all eventualities, then sit in an orange tree and choose only the best fruit. Suddenly the guard came, rubbing his hands with satisfaction and calling to Mayer Sibale to come down. Mayerl (dim. of Mayer) lied that he had sprained his foot and asked the guard to help him down. Obligingly, the guard came closer and looked up at him, whereupon the scoundrel threw handfuls of sand in his eyes. By the time the guard had rubbed the sand out of his eyes, Mayerl and his booty would be long gone.

On the order of the Baron himself, the policeman, Officer Writko, tracked down the offender and brought him before the court.

“Mayer Sibale,” demanded the Baron, “tell the truth. Why did you do that with the sand?”

“Beloved Baron, may you have good health,” said Mayer. “I didn't like to do that, as you are a noble man and wise, but the guard is an anti-Semite and catches thieves not from loyalty to you but because he enjoys beating Jewish children with stinging nettle because they are poor and have no money to even buy an apple for themselves. That is why I tricked him.”

The Baron laughed heartily at the odd defense of the offender and finally said, “Listen, Mayer, this cannot happen anymore. Swear by the Toire (Torah) that you won't do it again, and you will get a new suit and a hat with a feather.” Mayer swore by the Toire, and both kept their word.

Ten years later, the Baron received a photograph and a letter from Czernowitz in which Mayer said that he had become a respectable and useful man and that he would never forget the nobility of the Baron.

 

[Page 21]

Kässerl

Red Kässerl and Chaim Krocz

It was on the Tuesday or Wednesday of Easter, 1902. On Pig Street - that really was the name of the main street - there were big crowds, and the merchants were doing a lot of business. As always and everywhere before Pesach, the matzo bakers hung around outside for half an hour to cool off from the heat of the oven. The porters leisurely carried the giant baskets of matzos to the balbatim (home owners) and the women were kascherten (cleaning for Pesach) the utensils outside their houses, gossiping and cackling like hens. Also standing there was Chaim Krocz, a balagule (teamster), who brought no honor to his profession because he worked for less than the going rates and didn't compete fairly. In spite of that, he was never able to buy a respectable Schkappe (mare). The nag that he'd had from before the time of Adam and Eve was lame in a front leg and blind, and the route from Pig Street to Rebens Hof took more than an hour, while the cries of “hotto” and “wischto” never stopped. G-d have mercy! A respectable freight wagon could easily cover this stretch in half an hour, but a respectable balagule demanded a commensurate price.

It would be an unforgivable error to underestimate the balagules who transported people from Sadagora to Czernowitz. They were a respected guild, with high-class customers and even a little school on the Baronufka. Their waiting place was by the bridge, and to tell the truth, they had a certain order and discipline. One could write novels about this guild. Their hackneys also stopped at a stand on “the front.” They were the cream of the balagules. This category of the hackneys was also well-situated among the respected citizens, for such a coach with well cared-for horses represented a small fortune at that time. Corresponding was their deportment - among their clients were the officers from the Hussar barracks, the prizim from the courts, and also the “higher” society. The hackneys were kept relatively clean, and the prices were regulated so that the inevitable differences of opinion were peacefully settled. But one often had groisse zuris (big troubles) with the Czernowitz hackneys. They imagined themselves to be “better” and looked down on those from Sadagora. Once, at the stand by the main railroad station in Czernowitz, a Czernowitzer coachman attacked a Sadagoran and was, in turn, badly beaten by the Sadagora balagules - “viribus unitis” - with their combined force. This led to a standing declaration of war between the Czernowitzer and the Sadagoran. The opposing general staffs worked out their plans of attack and designated Sadagora as their theatre of war.

On the appointed day, the Czernowitzers attacked the Sadagorans on their territory in order to “teach them a few things.” Under the leadership of “the Red Kässerl,” the Sadagorans defended themselves heroically in a battle that lasted more than two hours. All the shops were closed in an instant; whips, wagon shafts, boards and stones were all used as weapons, and everything was directed primarily against the courageous Kässerl, who attacked like a lion wherever a breach was made in the enemy line. Against the unfair throwing of stones, however, he was powerless, and the Sadagora guild was threatened with losing the battle. But then Chaim Krocz had a good idea. On his wagon was a box full of merchandise; he quickly threw out the goods and freed the box. Kässerl, who was bleeding from three head wounds, put the box over his bleeding head like a shield, and ran like a mad man at a stone thrower. He threw the box at him with all his strength such that he fell to the ground streaming with blood. The Sadagorans won the battle, and Joil Roife had to bandage more than 30 casualties.

When Red Kässerl was healthy again, he threw a big victory party, and Chaim Krocz received a good new Schkappe as a present for his help in the “victory of the just.”

 

[Page 23]

Adam's First Folly

A Biblical Satire

This story is actually true, as true as all of my stories, the more so as my great-grandmother, who was as old as the hills, wrote them down for me.

Before the dear Lord created the world, he created the Leviathan. This is a giant fish upon which rest the universe with all its planets and comets, even to the present day (Psalm 104, 3:5-7).

And once the Leviathan was in place, the Almighty said, “On your back will I place the myriad of planets with their pre-destined paths, one of which will be populated with god-like creatures, the human race. You will surely be able to make a meal of these humans when the Judgment Day comes. However, since your mere breath on the planet calls forth tremors, and such movement could upset my work, you are not permitted to move for all eternity (Isaiah 27:1).

Naturally, the giant Leviathan obeyed the command of the Almighty until the present day.

A great wild ox, the shor habor, was placed over the Leviathan and the universe as a guardian. The shor habor is an ox of such enormous dimensions that he can't even see the planets that circle beneath him. As the waters flooded the world, the shor habor drank just a little and the deluge stopped, and the waters of all the oceans became calm. Also, at the festive meal on the Day of Judgment, the shor habor will be eaten by the righteous – what a blessed meal!

The many things the dear Lord created on the innumerable planets, I cannot say, because the way from us to them is arduous. But on our earth, his creations were so magnificent and glorious that they couldn't even be fully described in all the First Book of Moses.

So, heaven and earth came into being as they were created at that time, since G-d, the Lord, made heaven and earth (Gen 1).

And G-d spoke: “The earth shall bring forth living creatures, one of each according to its kind, cattle, worms and animals on earth, one of each according to its kind.” And so it was. And G-d saw that it was good (Gen 1:24-25).

And G-d is not vain! He asked each one for his thoughts, whether anything should be changed. But all the creatures stood in awe of his glory and only sang, each in his own voice, a song of praise to the Creator of all creation.

And the Lord G-d made man from a lump of clay and breathed into his nostrils the living breath, and so man became a living soul (2:7).

And as Adam was placed above all creatures (1:28), the dear Lord created the garden of Eden, the paradise (2:8), which was far more beautiful than any of our gardens. Four streams flowed with milk and honey, and from the branches of the trees hung everything man would ever need to eat (2:9-10).

Adam was in awe and astounded by everything, and he got along well with all of the creatures, since they were all good company. Only the snake was of dubious character, which the good Adam was not happy about. When he asked the snake what his problem was, it whispered in his ear so the dear G-d shouldn't hear it – and for that reason, it is also not recorded in the Bible. It said, “All creatures are in twos, man and woman. Only we two are disadvantaged. Where is my man and your woman?”

Adam gave this some thought. He had to think for a long time, because, not being educated, he had not noticed. After he had thought long enough, he winked at the snake and said, “Sa fie de bine” (Yes for us both). And when the dear Lord asked him how he liked Creation, Adam replied, “There is still something missing.” The Almighty was surprised, gave it some thought, and said: “Tell me, my son, what I forgot to create, and if it is necessary, I will make it.”

And Adam spoke: “Look, Father, all creatures have partners, only I am alone. If you would make a woman for me, then you would have set the crown upon your work.”

Laughing with pity, G-d said, “Forget it, my child. The Leviathan and the shor habor don't have women and they have it much worse than you, yet even so, they are satisfied and praise my work. You have paradise, all creatures are your subjects, and you lead a life without care. I have thought out, considered, and weighed everything to make my creation flawless. If you got a wife, you would no longer be master of your own will.” But the snake winked and Adam grumbled, “You gave your divine word that if my request was reasonable, you would create it.”

Then G-d's forehead darkened. The earth trembled, as thunder and lightning whirled through the empty vastness, and the startled Leviathan and the shor habor whimpered. Had the time passed so quickly, had Judgment Day dawned? Then the Almighty thought again and said, smiling, “Just stay where you are. Everything is in order. Adam wants a woman, his desire shall be done!”

Then the storm calmed and all the stars radiated in new splendor. All the creatures cheered, and the glory was so overwhelming that Adam was intoxicated by its magnificence. Then the Lord G-d let a deep sleep come over Adam and he fell asleep, and G-d took his rib and closed the place with flesh (2:21).

Then an angel asked the others why Adam should “get the extra sausage” and be rewarded when he should have been punished rather then getting special treatment for criticizing G-d's work. G-d smiled, “But that will be his punishment! This decision will be the last one he makes, for now the woman will rule him.”

Then G-d took hold of the rib to form the woman, but the rib asked to remain in its place to protect the man's heart.

But G-d said smiling: “It will be alright, because you will be his helper, care for him and be his home maker, and for a while make him happy.” But the rib trembled and moaned, “Please no, please no, oh Lord, as a late arrival, I certainly will not be perfect and will therefore be subordinate to Adam. Let me remain instead where I was originally created.

But the dear Lord, in his infinite goodness, explained to the trembling rib, “It is not by my will but by Adam's that you were created. Even though you may be imperfect and subordinate to Adam, nevertheless it will do you no harm, because the snake will be on your side and you will dominate him. The man will leave his father and mother and cling to his woman and they will be of one flesh” (2:24).

Then curiosity tickled the emerging woman, and the rib said, “Thy will be done.”

And the Lord G-d made a woman from the rib that he took from the man and brought her to him (2:22).

Eve observed the sleeping Adam and smiled, and Adam sensed under his missing rib a pounding of the heart that he had never experienced before. He awoke amazed and was still more amazed to see Eve. Both smiled at each other, and Adam's joy knew no bounds.

The almighty Creator also smiled, because he knew all too well that Adam would soon cease to smile.

Should I also tell of the first case of sin - the snake and the apple? And that Adam was thrown out of paradise because of Eve? No, I'll tell that another time.

But the word of G-d has proved true up until the present day: The woman, a late arrival conceived out of anger by the snake, became an eternal punishment for Adam because of his knowing better than G-d, and to the present day, she rules the man who imagines he is master.

Poor slaves, who rule their masters.

Note: In my opinion, women are innocent in this matter because Eve did not want to be created, and Adam alone is responsible for the whole affair. But I also accept no blame, because my dear great grandmother wrote this story down for me and I have merely repeated what she wrote.

Ben-Saar

 

[Page 28]

Eternal Repition

About the culture of our planet earth

Men carve their gods, kneel before them and are afraid of them.

Professor Minkwitz

Everything was always there, says not only Rabbi Akiba but one can find it in “Kohelet” and other places. But nevertheless it is a bit of wisdom that should be more carefully examined than it presently is.

In determining the birth date of our earth, our scholars cannot agree, and with the excavations, the opinions really diverge. One scholar says that he has found skeletons of our ancestors which are 10,000 years old, while a second competes by presenting excavations that he estimates at 50,000 years old. A third can even offer objects 100,000 years old, while many more assert that the earth waits as if on a serving dish for its imminent destruction.

If we eliminate the mystic, and without tinted lenses seek the unvarnished truth, then we need only follow our noses and we will bump into facts which prove without a doubt that our earth has already celebrated her birthday an infinite number of times.

Everything was always there.

Adam and Eve – primitive humans who lived in caves and trees with no knowledge of fire – carts, first pulled by humans and later by animals – railroads, ships on the water and in the air, water in pipes, wireless telegraphy, phonograph and radio – rays which kill men, both those which make everything invisible and those that bring the dead to life – or so we wish. Everything was always there, including electricity, first with wires which circled the world, later becoming wireless and encompassing the entire globe. The universe is centralized, and with a single press of a button, the center supplies the inhabitants of earth with creative power, light, and everything possible.

Everything was always there.

There will always be the jealous and the know-it-alls, the strivers and despots who would prefer the destruction of the world rather than follow rationality. Then a revenge-seeking despot, who is in charge of the world-electro-central presses a button and everything on the earth, as well as inside the exploited crust of the earth, burns, carbonizes and perishes. What man's intelligence has invented, created, expanded and perfected for the well-being and use of mankind, a beastly nature has destroyed with a single push.

Everything was always there. Even atomic bombs and the like.

A new barren earth! – somewhere – nature has spared a few ants – men and animals. Helpless men, so few, seek food on the burnt earth – without help, naked and confused, exposed to heat and cold, they become animal-like, telling their newborns of a destroyed culture – girls, who can't understand the savages. What is culture? Ways and means to get nourishment, that is culture; inventing clubs, stone knives and similar tools to make food easier to catch, that's culture – kill the weak – remember Cain – and take his possessions, that is culture.

Everything was always there.

Our earth has experienced this process and similar ones countless times – see “excavations” – and the earth does not know its exact birth date any more than does Eve. It renews itself every few million years, and only from the excavations under the makeup can one see the wrinkles of our culture which say: everything was always there.

Our culture repeats itself countless times on our planet earth and begins again and again with the same melody:

Adam and Eve –strong and weak –big and small – just and unjust – laughing and crying – seeking, pondering, excavating, inventing – ruler and subjects – oppressor and oppressed – master and slaves –rich and poor – was, is and will always be.

Everything was always there.

Ben-Saar

 

[Page 31]

Betrayal

I

Dense flocks of ravens and crows flew south, cawing away, their ghostly shadows disturbing the last rays of the evening's setting sun.

With a dissatisfied expression on his face, Pavlo Danilow leaned his gaunt upper body forward and with his whip beat his exhausted nag, who couldn't pull the little wagon – dating from before the flood – quickly enough.

“Ravens and crows mean bad luck,” he grumbled to himself. “Who knows, but you, dear G-d in heaven. Already for ten weeks my only son, the poor Ivon, has been in the field fighting against the Czar.”

Wistfully, he wiped his wrinkled forehead and pale face with his calloused hand as if he could drive away his worried thoughts.

“Halt!” The coarse word hit his ear. Startled, Pavlo turned his head and became aware of a Cossack patrol.

Two sergeants whose rank he couldn't distinguish wanted him to stop. Mechanically Pavlo came to a halt.

“Are you a Jew?” asked the older of the two sergeants, a thin man with a full and shaggy beard.

“No!” answered Pavlo impatiently, “You should be able to tell that from my outfit.”

“Don't feel insulted,” laughed the bearded one, “even Jew dogs can disguise themselves. What are you?”

“Pravo-Slavne” – a true believer.

The Cossacks nodded with satisfaction. “If you are a Pravo-Slavne, that is good, we are also Pravo-Slavne and fight for the true belief in God and in our “little father,” the Czar. Our weapons are blessed and our enemies will soon be destroyed. The best proof of that is that they can't defend themselves and will have to give up the whole region to us. With that, the bearded one put on a very smug expression and gestured toward the horizon, as if he wanted to say: Half the world already belongs to me.

Pavlo wiped the sweat from his forehead.

“What is your name, brother in faith,” asked the bearded one, becoming very friendly.

My name is Pavlo Danilow – what do you want with me?”

“Tell me brother-in-faith Pavlo, in the name of G-d and the little father the Czar, have you seen an Austrian patrol in the area?”

Pavlo shrugged his shoulders.

“Don't be stupid, brother in faith. You will get ten pretty rubles and will do a good work for G-d and little father Czar.”

“I can't,” said Pavlo in a reluctant voice. “I don't yet know for sure if we will remain Russian.”

“But, of course!” the bearded one assured him. “The Austrian army has already been destroyed; there are only splintered bands wandering around – most of them have already been captured and we are looking for the rest.”

“And what do you do with the captured soldiers? Will they all be shot?” asked Pavlo in all seriousness.

“Well, what are you thinking? We are all true believers,” said the bearded one, irritated.

“We don't hurt them. We just take them to the rear, to Kiev, Odessa or another beautiful city where they are cared for. And then, after the end of the war, once Austria has paid the costs of the war, we will send the prisoners home. We would never mishandle them. We are true believers.”

“Oh, really? Then, of course, that's different – then I don't have to worry about my Ivan…”

“And where is the patrol?” the sergeant probed again.

Pavlo remained silent.

Nervously, the bearded one searched the folds of his kaftan, took out a ten ruble note and pressed it into Pavlo's hand.

“Where is the…”

Pavlo looked in all directions. “You won't betray me?”

“No! You are our brother in faith.”

Mechanically, Pavlo lifted his right hand and pointed over the brush.

“If you ride through that brush, there is a big farmstead which is deserted, and a little further on is a big hay stack. I saw them eating when I drove by there.”

“Good,” said the bearded one. “You'll stay here under guard until we are sure that you haven't lied.”

II

At a wink from the bearded one, two Cossacks came out of the brush and remained behind to guard Pavlo while the others disappeared into the brush.

*

Several rifle shots rang out in the distance and shattered the peace of the dusk. A startled bat flew away.

*

After a short time, the Cossacks returned, laughing and in a good mood.

“You didn't lie, you are free to go,” laughed the bearded one. “Here are another ten rubles for you – and go bury the dogs!”

He pressed another ten ruble note into Pavlo's hand and all the Cossacks quickly disappeared from Pavlo's sight – into the semi-darkness of the approaching night.

It roared in Pavlo's head. The Russian money burned like molten lead. He had clearly heard rifle shots and also the screams of terrified men.

And “bury the dogs,” the bearded one had said.

Pavlo left his wagon and, as if driven by furies, he raced to the site of the calamity – not to follow the bearded one's order – no – only to be sure of what had happened.

He shivered. With a terrible sense of foreboding, he approached the haystack.

With trembling hands he supported himself against the fence which he had just climbed over. Now he was in the yard… He felt very cold….

In the yard, five Austrian soldiers lay dead in their blood.

Pavlo felt an awful remorse – it seemed as if the dead were looking at him in reproach – the Russian money was fire hot and heavy as stones.

A True Event

Pavlo wanted to put the money in his mashenka (purse)…and then, as if on purpose, it fell between two corpses lying next to each other.

“Well, sere matere,” grumbled Pavlo trying to give himself courage as he bent over to pick up the money. But he had to push a soldier's head to one side in order to get to the bills. But he had barely even looked at the face of the corpse when he fell like a sack of grain over the dead soldiers.

The hair on his head stood up like barbed wire, and his eyes threatened to bulge out of their sockets. With a piercing shriek, he let out a horrified scream that echoed wildly through the deathly silence of the deserted place:

“Ivan – my son!”

In the distance, one could hear violent noises and shooting, the clatter of horses and the rumble of wagons, which came ever nearer. Pavlo stood mutely staring.

Sometime around midnight, a large Austrian column passed by, and a soldier came to the well not far from the location of the catastrophe. There he found Pavlo – dead in the well, hanging from the shaft of his wagon.

The nag stared dumbly into the well, not understanding why his master was dangling there for so long.

And somewhere far, far off on the battlefields, hyenas and jackals sang songs of praise for death and for the men without conscience who had started the war.

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