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Authors: Sholem Aleichem

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

Tevye the Dairyman and the Railroad Stories (58 page)

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264
Tisha b’Av—A fast day, commemorating the destruction of the Temple, occurring in midsummer.

265
Koshering his dishes for Passover—In accordance with the prohibition on keeping any leaven or leavened foods in the house during the eight days of Passover, observant Jews either change all their dishes for the holiday or else “kosher,” that is, ritually purify, the dishes they have been using.

266
Tallis koton
—A small, rectangular undergarment that slips over the head and has fringed tassles hanging from each of its four corners. It is worn at all times by observant male Jews, in obedience to the commandment, “And the Lord spoke unto Moses saying, Speak unto the Children of Israel and bid them that they make them fringes on the borders of their garments, throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a riband of blue.” Numbers, 15:37.

267
Tefillin—The phylacteries, or leather thongs, to which are attached small, hollow cubes containing verses written on parchment, that a Jew binds to his arm and forehead every morning when praying. This is in accordance with the biblical commandment, “And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.” Deuteronomy, 6:8.

268
General Tolmachov—The governor of Odessa and a well-known and-Semite.

269
Sixty-six—A two-handed card game belonging to the pinochle family. It is played with a 24-card deck, containing the ace, king, queen, jack, ten, and nine of each suit, and the cards rank in that order except for the ten, which is next-highest to the ace. Points are scored for king-queen melds or marriages (40 for a trump marriage, otherwise 20) and for tricks taken, and the first player to score 66 points wins the hand. If his opponent has over 33 points, the winner is awarded one “game-point”; under 33, two game-points; and none at all, three game-points. Seven game-points generally win a match.

270
Tallis—The fringed prayer shawl worn by observant Jews during the morning prayer.

271
Tefillin.

272
Hanukkah.

273
A
two in arithmetic—In the Russian system, students were graded on a scale of one to five.

274
Chto vam ugodno
—Russian: “What is it that you want?”

275
Gospodin Direktor
, etc.—These words, spoken in broken Russian, are translated by the father himself in the lines that follow.

276
Tak chto-zhe vam ugodno
—Russian: “But
what
is it that you want?”

277
A
guaranteed … exemption—Only sons, according to Russian law, were automatically excused from the army.

278
Itsik—An affectionate form of Yitzchok, the Hebrew for “Isaac.”

279
Alter—When a child was seriously ill or otherwise feared for, it was the custom among East European Jews to change his name for good luck. Alter, which means “old one” in Yiddish, was one of the substitute names most frequently used, the belief being that it would throw the Angel of Death off the child’s tracks.

280
Eisik—The Germanized form of “Isaac,” which also had currency among Yiddish-speaking Jews as a name.

281
Government rabbi—As a way of tightening its control over the Jewish communities under its rule, which preferred to conduct their internal affairs with minimal recourse to civil authority, the Russian government enacted a law in 1857 requiring each community to employ a publicly licensed or “crown” rabbi, who was a graduate of a state-run rabbinical school. Such rabbis, who acted as go-betweens
for the community and the government bureaucracy, were held in low esteem by the Jewish population, which made as little use of them as possible.

282
Molodyets
—Russian: “wonderful!”

283
Stupaytye
—Russian: “Get out of here!”

284
Stupaytye, vi nodoyedli veyevrei
—“Get out of here, you Jewish pest!”

285
Baron de Hirsch.

286
Amo pezizo
—“The impulsive people.” A rabbinic epithet for the Jews, based on a traditional commentary on the Israelites’ answer to Moses when making ready to receive the Law at Mount Sinai (Exodus, 24:7), “We will obey it and hear it”—for, as the rabbis pointed out, “We will [first] hear it and [then, if it suits us] obey it,” would have been the more prudent response. On the narrator’s use of Hebrew quotations, see
this page
–this page
.

287
Oylom keminhogoy
.

288
Bekharbi uvekashti
—“Moreover, I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite
with my sword and with my bow.”
Genesis, 48:22.

289
Kidibo’ey
—“As is proper.” A common Talmudic term.

290
Begapoy yovoy uvegapoy yeytsey
.

291
Al tehi boz lekhoyl bosor
—“Show disdain for no man”; a misquotation from
The Ethics of the Fathers
, which has
odom
instead of
bosor
. Although
bosor
also means “man,” its primary meaning is “flesh” or “meat,” which may be why the narrator associates it with garlic. In any case, though, he clearly does not know what he is saying.

292
Koyl yisro’el khaveyrim
—“All Jews are brethren.” A rabbinic saying.

293
Hamibli eyn kvorim bemitsrayim
—“And they said unto Moses,
Are there not enough graves in Egypt
that thou hast taken us to die in the wilderness?” Exodus, 14:11.

294
Tovar voborotye
—Russian: “The merchandise is moving.”

295
Ulai yerakheym
—“Perhaps He will have mercy.” There seems to be no traditional source for this quote.

296
Pshoyt neveyloh … ve’al titstoreykh
—“[Better to]
skin carcasses
in the marketplace [for a living]
rather than depend on
others.” A Talmudic proverb.

297
Koyl dikhfin yeysey veyitzrokh
.

298
Hekhiloysoh linpoyl … nofoyl tipoyl
—“Then said his wise men and Zeresh his wife unto him [Haman], If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews, before whom
thou hast begun to fall
, thou shalt not prevail against him, but
thou shalt surely fall
before him.” Esther, 6:13.

299
Tallis kotons
.

300
Tomus nafshi im plishtim—
“Let me die with the Philistines.” Judges, 16:30.

301
Purishkevitch.

302
A heder teacher—The heder was a schoolroom in which small children were taught beginning subjects, mostly religious ones.

303
The Torah reader—Reading the weekly portion of the Torah in the synagogue is a highly specialized task, as the reader must know by heart the chant notes, vocalization, and punctuation of the text, none of which appear in the Torah scroll itself.

304
Pravozshitelestvo, Gospodin Yevrei
—Russian: “Your permit, Mr. Jew!”

305
Khorosho, Gospodin Obradchik—“All
right, Mr. Cleric.”

306
Prayer group—Though any Jew can pray privately, ten male Jews (a minyan) are needed for public prayer to be held.

307
Deathday—On the Hebrew anniversary, the
yortsayt
, as it is called in Yiddish, of a family member’s death, a memorial candle is lit and the male survivors are expected to say the kaddish—which can only be recited in a minyan.

308
Girded his waist—Extremely pious Jews belt their jackets at the waist when they pray, in order to symbolically divide the upper or “spiritual” part of themselves from the lower or “animal” part.

309
Ashrey yoyshvey veysekho
 ….

310
On
the eighth day—The day of life on which, barring illness, all Jewish male children are circumcised. The circumcision too must be performed in the presence of a minyan.

311
Sholem aleykhem
—See
this page–
this page
.

312
After the candles had been lit—The lighting and blessing of the Sabbath candles on Friday evening marks the onset of the day of rest.

313
Hallah—The braided bread that is blessed after the wine and the ritual washing of hands at the beginning of the Sabbath meal.

314
But it was the holy Sabbath—Among the many acts prohibited on the Sabbath are lighting and extinguishing a fire. Jewish law, of course, permits the Sabbath to be violated when human life is endangered, but to a sufficiently pious Jew the mere burning down of his house does not fall into that category. Furthermore, though a non-Jew is allowed to put out the fire, the Jew must not openly request him to do so, for that too would be a violation of the Sabbath laws.

315
Chvedka, serdtse
—Russian: “dearest Chvedka.”

316
Never before … had he been without a hat.

317
Tefillin.

318
Kiddush wine—The wine, generally sweet, that is blessed at the beginning of Sabbath and holiday meals.

BOOK: Tevye the Dairyman and the Railroad Stories
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