Read Tevye the Dairyman and the Railroad Stories Online

Authors: Sholem Aleichem

Tags: #Fiction, #Short Stories (Single Author)

Tevye the Dairyman and the Railroad Stories (57 page)

BOOK: Tevye the Dairyman and the Railroad Stories
3.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

172
Makdim rakhamim leroygez
—“For all men believe that He is slow to anger: the Merciful One
Whose pity comes before His wrath.”
From the High Holy Day service.

173
Vayehi hayoym
.

174
The name rings a bell from the Bible—Tevye is thinking of Gamliel the son of Pedahtsur, the head of the tribe of Menasheh. (Numbers, 2:20.)

175
Lanokhri toshikh—“Unto a stranger
[Gentile]
thou mayest lend upon usury;
but unto thy brother [Israelite] thou shalt not.” Deuteronomy, 23:20. The Bible permits the Israelite to lend money at interest only to the non-Israelite, since to his brother he is commanded to lend it free; Tevye, however, humorously construes “usury” to mean bribery.

176
Lay orkhu hayomim
—“Before many days went by.” A pseudo-verse: the phrase
orkhu hayomim
, “the days went by,” occurs in the Bible, but not in the negative.

177
Holakh Moyshe-Mordekhai
.

178
Vayeyleykh khoronoh
—“And he [Jacob] went to Haran.” Genesis, 28:10.

179
Mah zeh ve’al mah zeh
—“Then Esther called for Hatach, one of the king’s chamberlains … and gave him a commandment to Mordecai to know
what it was and why it was.”
Esther, 4:5. Here Tevye makes a question of it, i.e., what’s the point of it all?

180
Lehoyshivi im nedivim
—“He raiseth the poor man up out of the dust … 
that He may set him with princes
, even with the princes of his people.” Psalms, 113:7–8.

181
Royv godloy veroyv oshroy
—“The multitude of his riches and wealth.” Tevye is misquoting, apparently unintentionally: the verse he has in mind (Esther, 5:11) reads, “And Haman told them of the glory of his
riches, and the multitude of his children, and all the things wherein the king had promoted him
[gidloy;
Tevye reads it
godloy
—“his wealth”].”

182
Lomoh zeh anoykhi
—“And she [Rebecca] said, If it be so,
why am I thus?”
Genesis, 25:22.

183
Mah yoym miyomim
—“What is [different about] this day among days?” A rabbinic expression.

184
Mekimi mi’ofor dal
—“He raiseth up the poor out of the dust …” Psalms, 113:7. From the
hallel
prayer.

185
Meyashpoys yorim evyoyn
—“ … And lifteth the needy out of the dunghill.” Psalms, 113:7.

186
Shloyshoh she’okhlu
—“Rabbi Simeon says,
Three men who eat
together at the same table and speak no words of Torah may as well have eaten the flesh of a pagan sacrifice.”
The Ethics of the Fathers
.

187
“A righteous man knows the soul of his beast.” Proverbs, 12:10.

188
Marbeh nekhosim marbeh da’ogoh
—“He [Hillel the Elder] used to say, Much meat, many worms,
much possessions, many worries.” The Ethics of the Fathers
.

189
Loy dubim veloy ya’ar
.

190
Holakh le’oylomoy
—“He has gone to his world.” A rabbinic euphemism for saying someone has died.

191
What Onkelos has to say in his Targum.

192
Miznavto dekhazirto loy makhtmen shtreimilto
—A comic concoction of Aramaic and Yiddish meaning, as Tevye tells Podhotzur, that one cannot make a shtreimel, a Hasidic round fur hat, out of the tail of a pig.

193
Wailing Wall—The western wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the one remaining feature of the destroyed Temple and the holiest of Jewish shrines.

194
Rachel’s Tomb—A small mausoleum near Bethlehem supposedly containing the grave of the matriarch Rachel, who died in childbirth, according to the Bible, on her way to that city. It is traditionally a place where Jews, particularly women, come to ask for their prayers to be granted.

195
Cave of the Patriarchs—A structure in Hebron which is a shrine for Jews and Moslems. According to popular belief it houses the graves of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, and Leah.

196
Kheyt shekhotosi lefonekho
—“The sin that I have sinned before Thee.” A recurrent phrase in the confessional section of the Yom Kippur prayer.

197
Vayisu vayakhanu
.

198
Im eyn ani li mi li—“He
[Hillel the Elder] said,
If I am not for myself, who will be?
And if I am for myself what am I? And if not now, when?”
The Ethics of the Fathers
.

199
Veyoda shor koyneyhu—“The ox knoweth his owner
and the ass his master’s crib.” Isaiah, 1:3. Tevye is punning here, as
koyneyhu
, “his owner,” can also mean “his buyer.”

200
Zeh khelki mikoyl amoli
—“And this was my portion of all my labor.” Ecclesiastes, 2:10.

201
Each of the hundred-and-seven-and-twenty lands of King Ahasuerus—Esther, 1:1.

202
Harey ani keven shivim shonoh
.

203
Shmo’eyni
—“And Abraham … spoke unto Ephron, saying … I pray thee,
hear me.”
Genesis, 23:12–13.

204
What Bible reading—The Pentateuch is traditionally divided into fifty-four weekly readings (there are occasional doublings), each chanted in the synagogue on one Sabbath of the year. Each reading is named for one or two of the words occurring in its first verse; thus the third reading in Genesis, which starts with Genesis, 12:1, is called Lekh-Lekho, “Get thee out.”

205
Lekh-lekho … meyartsekho … umimoyladitkho … el ha’orets asher arekko
—“And the Lord said unto Abram,
Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee.”
Genesis, 12:1.

206
Al tashlikheynu le’eys ziknoh
—“Cast us not away [O Lord] in our old age.” From the penitential and High Holy Day prayers.

207
Al hatoyroh ve’al ha’avoydoh
—“Simeon the just … said that the world rests on three things:
on Torah and on work
and on charity.”
The Ethics of the Fathers
. Tevye is being ironical, of course: the only “Torah” Motl knew was work itself.

208
Vayomos Moysheh
—“And Moses died.” Deuteronomy, 34:5.

209
The
battel
prayer.

210
Mekimi … mi’ofor dal
.

211
Oylim veyordim
.

212
Be’al korkhekho atoh khai
.

213
Nakhzor le’inyoneynu harishon
—“Let us return to our original matter.” A rabbinic expression used to terminate a digression in a scholarly discussion.

214
The story of the Amalekites—Exodus, 17.

215
“Then came Amalek and fought with Israel.” Exodus, 17:8.

216
Bo’u mayim ad nefesh
.

217
Ka’asher ohavti
—“And Isaac … called Esau, his eldest son, and said unto him … make me savory meat,
such as I love.”
Genesis, 27:1,4. Tevye, however, means “such as you love.”

218
Vayehi bimey Mendel Beilis
—“And it came to pass in the days of Mendel Beilis.” On the Beilis case, see Introduction,
this page
.

219
Zdrastvoytye
—“Good day” in Russian.

220
Tsoras rabbim khatsi nekhomoh
—“The troubles of others are half a comfort [for one’s own].” A rabbinic proverb.

221
Mah onu umeh khayeynu
.

222
Li hashomayim veli ha’orets
—“The heavens are mine and the earth is mine.” Psalms, 89:12; there, though, it says, “The heavens are Thine and the earth is Thine too.”

223
Lekh-lekho meyartsekho
.

224
El ha’orets asher arekko
.

225
Ad kan oymnm beshabbes hagodol
.

226
Kerakheym ov al bonim
.

227
Eyl erekh apoyim
—A long-suffering God.

228
Solakhti kidvorekho
.

229
Bonim uvney vonim
—“Sons and sons of sons.” A rabbinic expression for “sons and grandsons.”

230
Mi ke’amkho yisro’eyl goy ekhod—“And who
in the whole earth
is like the one nation, thy people Israel?”
Samuel II, 7:23. A vintage Tevyism. Whereas in the Bible the word
goy
simply means “nation” and refers here to the Israelites themselves, Tevye construes it in the postbiblical sense of “Gentile” and ungrammatically but ingeniously reinterprets
the verse to mean: how can even one goy
(goy ekhod)
be like a Jew
(ke’amkho yisro’eyl)?

231
Ashrekho yisro’eyl—“Happy art thou, 0 Israel;
who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord?” Deuteronomy, 33:29.

The Railroad Stories

232
Places Jews are barred from—See
this page–
this page
.

233
“As much as a catcall on Purim bothers Haman”—On the holiday of Purim, when the Book of Esther is read in the synagogue, it is customary for the congregation to boo, stamp its feet, and jeer whenever the name of Haman is mentioned.

234
Darovanomu konyu vzuby nye smotryat
—Russian: “One doesn’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”

235
Rashi.

236
Vedno pana po kholavakh
—Russian: “You can tell a squire by his boots.”

237
Sukkos.

238
Eating a chicken cooked in butter—Jewish dietary laws forbid the eating of meat and dairy products together.

239
Going beardless or hatless—Not shaving one’s beard and keeping one’s head covered at all times are two of the hallmarks of the Orthodox Jew and (a litmus test mentioned more than once in
The Railroad Stories)
the chief signs by which he is immediately recognized as such by other Jews.

240
Matsoh Fund—In the days before Passover it was customary in Jewish communities to collect money for the poor to enable them to buy matsos—the flat, unleavened bread eaten on the holiday—and other necessities.

241
A lulav and esrog—The lulav, or palm shoot, and esrog, or citron, are both part of the Sukkos ritual. Since neither was grown in Russia, they had to be brought by special dealers from abroad.

242
Chto nada
—Russian: “Is there something [that you want]?”

243
Chtotakoye, golubchik—
Russian: “What is the matter, my pigeon?”

244
Nichevo
—Russian: “There’s no need.”

245
Purishkevich—V. N. Purishkevich (1870–1920), leader of the anti-Semitic faction in the Duma, the Russian parliament, and founder of “the Black Hundreds” (see
this page
).

246
Azef—Yevno Fishelevich Azef (1869–1918), a secret agent of the Russian police planted in the illegal Social-Revolutionary Party, where he rose to a top position while informing on its members and activities.

247
Nikolai the First—Czar of Russia from 1825 to 1855.

248
Blessing the New Moon—In accordance with the lunar nature of the Jewish calendar, it is customary among Orthodox Jews to hold a prayer for the new moon at the beginning of every month. The ceremony is held outdoors—where, the moon being young, there is little light in the absence of artificial illumination.

249
Emigration Committee—An arm of the Jewish Colonization Association, an organization established by the Jewish philanthropist Baron Maurice de Hirsch (1831–1896) for the purpose of encouraging Jewish rural settlement in Argentina.

250
Yeshiva—An advanced school for Talmudic studies and the training of Orthodox rabbis.

251
Hanukkah candles.

252
Elul—The last month of the Hebrew year, occurring in late summer; it is followed by the month of Tishri with its High Holy Days. During Elul it is customary for observant Jews to rise each day before dawn for special penitential prayers in the synagogue and to visit the graves of loved ones.

253
Artsybashev—See
this page
.

254
Bohopoli, Heysen, etc.—Towns in the southern Ukraine, several hundred miles southwest of the Kiev (“Yehupetz”) region.

255
Witte—Count Sergei Yulievich Witte, Russian statesman and a rail-road engineer himself. He served as minister of communications in 1892.

256
Poliakov—Lazarus Poliakov, a rich Russian Jewish banker who lived in Moscow.

257
Hoshana Rabbah—See note to p. 67 on the Book of Life.
1861
Sukkos.

258
Waved his palm branch

259
It’s only half a holiday—The major Jewish holidays, such asSukkoth, are divided into
yomim toyvim
(singular, yom
tov)
, days on which most of the restrictions in force on the Sabbath, including that on work and travel, apply, and
khol hamo’ed
, days on which they do not. Hoshana Rabbah is a
khol hamo’ed
day, but the following day, Shemini Atzeret, the Day of Solemn Assembly, is
a yom tov
. It is followed by Simchat Torah.

260
The Book of Life.

261
Simkhes Toyroh—The holiday of Simchat Torah, which celebrates the completion of the yearly cycle of Torah readings. It is a day on which there is much dancing, singing, and sometimes drinking, and is considered the merriest festivity of the Jewish year.

262
A married woman’s hair—Among Orthodox Jews a married woman’s hair must be covered at all times. (Among the extreme Orthodox, it is commonly shaved before marriage, the bare scalp being covered by a kerchief or wig.)

263
Put up his samovar on the Sabbath—Among the many Sabbath restrictions is one on lighting fires and cooking food.

BOOK: Tevye the Dairyman and the Railroad Stories
3.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson
Amelia Grey - [Rogues' Dynasty 06] by The Rogue Steals a Bride
The Day Of The Wave by Wicks, Becky
DragonLight by Donita K. Paul
The Ghost Shift by John Gapper
The Royal Baby Revelation by Sharon Kendrick
The Last Girls by Lee Smith