_The Mendele Review_: Yiddish Literature and Language
              (A Companion to _MENDELE_)
Contents of Vol. 04.011
30 July 2000

1a) See the Yiddish text of "A tate mit bonim"

1b) On "A tate mit bonim" by Itshe-Meyer Vaysnberg (Leonard Prager)

The editor comments on a story now added to the Onkelos Project.
Readers can now compare the Yiddish text with the English translation
by Isaac Rosenfeld in Howe and Greenberg's _A Treasury of Yiddish

2) "The Treasure" by Sholem Aleichem (translated by Louis Fridhandler)

Louis Fridhandler gives us another of his skilful translations of a
Sholem Aleichem story -- this time a translation of a translation -- and
finds a parallel for the plot in the notes of the famous
seventeenth-century English diarist, Samuel Pepys.  Ever alert to events
around him, Pepys recorded a striking financial anecdote associated with
the Sabbatian tremor among his Israelite contemporaries.

It would be interesting to know what literary sources, contemporary
criminal accounts, or personal life experiences may have actually served
Sholem Aleichem in constructing this satire of credulity and greed.
Sholem Aleichem went bankrupt -- largely due to losses on the the stock
exchange -- a year after this story was published.  Credulity in money
matters characterizes the exasperating but sympathetic and
indestructible "luftmentsh" Menakhem Mendl, created several years after
"The Treasure" was written.  In 1889 in "The Treasure" Sholem Aleichen
focussed sharply on the devastating notion of earning money
quasi-magically.  [L.P.]


Date: 30 July 2000
From: Noyekh Miller  and
Leonard Prager 
Subject: "A tate mit bonim" fun Itshe-Meyer Vaysnberg

Yiddish text at:


Date: 30 July 2000
From: Leonard Prager 
Subject: On "A tate mit bonim" fun Itshe-Meyer Vaysnberg

             On "A tate mit bonim" by I.M. Weissenberg

Irving Howe and Eliezer Greenberg were fortunate to enlist Isaac
Rosenfeld as translator of Itshe-Meyer Vaysnberg's somewhat repelling
but also compelling short story "A tate mit bonim" [see _A Treasury of
Yiddish Stories_, pp. 297-307], the latest addition to Project Onkelos
[see _TMR_ 4.002 for a project description].  Rosenfeld was a writer of
distinction (old-timers may recall his somewhat sensational 1949
_Commentary_ essay "Adam and Eve on Delancey Street) and his fine novel
_Passage from Home_.  His translation of "A tate mit bonim" must receive
high grades, yet as keen readers of the Yiddish text [now available at
http://www2.trincoll.edu/~mendele/tmr/tate.pdf] we might wish to question some
of his renditions, beginning with the very title of the story.

Rosenfeld's title, "Father and the Boys," links the descriptive term
_father_ (which often carries dignified overtones) to the jocular
collocation "the boys," a highly allusive term which when applied to
adult males evokes the senses of convivial confraternity and playfully
protracted adolescence.  The father, Shloyme, and his two sons, Pinkhes
and Moyshe Brutan, sitting at table gorging themselves and singing
sabbath hymns to the tune of a carousel march are nothing but "the
boys."  The author specifically called his story "A tate mit bonim,"
introducing irony with the word _bonim_, which means 'sons' in Hebrew
but in Yiddish frequently differs from _zin_ 'sons' in its subtly
contemptuous or humorous coloring.  Try as hard as I might I could not
come up with a more apt English title than Rosenfeld's, much as the
filial connection so vital to the story and expressed in _his sons_ is
missing there.  The characters of the sons and the nature of their
relationship to Shloyme, the father, are central to this story of
intergenerational conflict and social change.

Howe and Greenberg are right in refusing to classify Vaysnberg as a
"naturalist," which many critics understandably do.  In employing a
"slice of life" technique, choosing as subject a coarse family,
depicting the gross motives and behavior of its members, attending to
detail, acknowledging the material forces that shape human actions,
Vaysnberg goes far in the naturalist mode.  However, as Howe and
Greenberg point out, there is a romantic tinge in his writings, so
evident in the nature descriptions in "A tate mit bonim."  And, in
addition to the irony emphasized in the title, there is both
bizarre, macabre tragedy and raucous comedy in our story.

Prepositions in Yiddish, as in English, can be highly expressive.
Vaysnberg writes "A tate _mit_ bonim" rather than, say, "A tate fun
bonim."  The central plot event in the story is the mother's suffocating
of her newborn son during a strange dream.  Khane-Leye charges the Queen
of Sheba, a Lilith figure here, with coming through the window at night
and crushing the infant with her large breasts (normally a means of
nurture not murder).  Shloyme, the husband, standing before the rabbi
and demanding a divorce, accuses his wife of having "killed" two sons,
an earlier birth having also miscarried.  We recall Khane-Leye's
confession to her neighbor before giving birth that "zi hot nisht keyn
nakhes fun kinder" ['she has no gratification from her children']; being
modern readers, we begin to suspect that nocturnal infant-crushing may
be Khane-Leye's unconscious weapon against domestic servitude -- is she
not little more than the kitchen-slave of three ravenous males?  The
father had plans for those dead sons -- with (i.e.  _mit_) four sturdy
sons "volt er gekont a velt mit a medine aynnemen" ['he could have
conquered the world'].  In peasant economies children, especially male
children, are capital, life insurance.  _With_ four sons, Shloyme could
have become prosperous.  What a material loss he has endured!

Vaysnberg gives us a realistic picture of a particular working-class
shtetl family.  The mother can liken her sleeping elder son to a steam
engine, but power in this home -- in several senses -- is manual.  The
father is an itinerant tailor who spends his weekdays in surrounding
villages sewing by hand for the gentiles and rural Jews.  His two sons,
Pinkhes and Moyshe Brutan, are his helpers, though the older son,
Pinkhes, has become delinquent and challenges the father's authority (at
the same time that he desires his approbation) with his fists.
Khane-Leye has given her husband a nickname "Shloyme der grober kop"
['Shloyme the fathead'] because of the way he and his sons devour food
(including her own Sabbath morning breakfast) on Friday evening when
other Jews are on their way to synagogue.  In her eyes, they do not
simply eat, but feed their _piskes_, their 'animal mouths'.  Food is a
central motif in the story.  Moyshe Brutan is obsessed with the subject.
A principle fantasy of his shows him running off to work as a journeyman
tailor -- i.e. replacing his father -- without his mother knowing his
whereabouts and consequently worrying about him; with his triumphant
return home for the Sabbath, all the women gazing at this vigorous young
man striding home with his pockets full; and his turning over his
earnings to his mother who serves him with numerous of his favorite
dishes, though he feigns being a delicate eater.

The flashback carousel episode in "A tate mit bonim" is crucial to the
story.  The revolving, loudly decorated mechanical contraption with its
blaring march tune and its painted wooden horses and coaches conjures up
the outside gentile world of encroaching technology and tawdry
recreation.  The simple-minded Shloyme and his madcap son Pinkhes are
fascinated by the carousel.  Pinkhes instinctively helps to set up the
equipment and is offererd a place in the troupe.  Significantly he does
not accept; he will make adventurous sorties into the gentile world but
will not desert his _gemeinschaft_.  He offers his father a free ride on
the carousel, proud that he can do so and his father glows at his son's
prowess.  But Pinkhes' generous act has a comic denouement when the
father finds himself on a horse "chasing" a shikse and the son aloft at
the controls grows dizzy and vomits down on his father as well as
falling from his perch and stopping the show.  They run home in

Vomiting on one's own father is a rather extreme image of filial
rebellion, but Vaysnberg does not shy away from disgusting scenes.  He
is, however, not merely describing an event.  The revolving carousel
embodies the notion of encroaching change, and the inverted positions
of parent and child suggests the breakdown of traditional authority.  In
the concluding section of the story, it is the son Pinkhes who tells his
father to go home and forget about divorcing his mother; he gives her
money for food and tells her to go home and cook.  The concluding scene
of the story is a modulated "happy ending," a convincing one.
Khane-Leye, who can now drop a sentimental tear for her prodigal son and
protector, has cooked the Sabbath eve dinner and the men are sate.  Now,
led by the father -- not all of whose seniority has been usurped -- the
males sing zmires [Sabbath song'] to the tune of a carousel march, an
element of the "other" having been safely incorporated into traditional
patterns.  The delinquent son has restored the family to that degree of
harmony it is capable of achieving.  The author appears to identify with
the raw energy of his characters, primitive though they may be.

Date:  30 July 2000
From: Louis Fridlander 
Subject: "The Treasury" by Sholem ALeichem

                          The Treasure

                        by Sholem Aleichem

Translated from an unsigned Yiddish translation of the Hebrew original
by Louis Fridhandler

[Translator's Introduction] Sholem Aleichem wrote this piece in Hebrew
with the original title, "Ha-Otsar".  It was published in _Ha-Melits_,
1889, Nos. 272, 275.  A Yiddish translation (unnamed translator) was
published as "Der Oytser", in _Fargesene Bletlekh_ [Forgotten Pages],
ed.  Y. Mitlman and Kh.  Nadel, Melukhe Farlag far Di Natsyonale
Minderhaytn in USSR, Kiev, 1939, pp. 62-78.  In his edition of Sholem
Aleichem's Hebrew writings (_Ktavim ivriim_, Jerusalem:  Mosad Bialik,
1976), Chone Shmeruk makes clear that "No Yiddish version of the story
is known.  A Yiddish translation of the story appeared in _Fargesene
Bletlekh_..."  My translation is from the unsigned Yiddish translation
in _Fargesene Bletlekh_ -- i.e. it is a translation of a translation.

The words _bitter_ and _sardonic_ come to mind in characterizing this
tale of poor, gullible Jews fleeced by swindlers.  Still, Sholem
Aleichem manages to entertain while reminding readers of a terrifying
and shameful history.

Shabtai the innkeeper recalls Shabtai Tsvi, the false messiah of 1665.
Yankl Squealer represents Jewish informers who cooperated with the
anti-Semitic regime.  Yankl Snatcher reminded readers of the cantonist
system of military recruitment of Jews, 1827-1856.  A fearful
degradation gripped Jewish communities under pressures of high numbers
of recruits demanded by tsarist military authorities from each shtetl.
Bands of Jewish men, the snatchers (khapers), kidnapped Jewish children,
some as young as eight, and delivered them to the Russian military
authorities.  The children were sent to camps (cantons) far from home
where the Russian captors attempted forcible conversion to Christianity
through beatings, torture and starvation.  The children were not
permitted to speak Yiddish or observe familiar Jewish religious or
secular customs.  It was often a death sentence.  Of those who survived,
few remained Jews.  The cantonist system was established by Nicholas I
in 1827 and abolished by Alexander II in 1856.

Another interesting sidelight:  Samuel Pepys refers in his diary to a
rumor about a London Jew.  Sholem Aleichem's story mirrors elements of
the rumor recorded by Samuel Pepys on February 19, 1666:  "Here [at his
bookseller's] I am told for certain, what I have heard once or twice
already, of a Jew in town, that in the name of the rest doth offer to
give any man 10 pounds, to be paid 100 pounds if a certain person, now
at Smirna, be within these two years owned by all the princes of the
East, and perticularly the Grand Segnor, as the King of the World, in
the same manner as we do the King of England here, and that this man is
the true Messiah.  One named a friend of his that had received ten
pieces in gold upon this score, and says that the Jew hath disposed of
1100 pounds in this manner -- which is very strange; and certainly this
year of 1666 will be a year of great action, but what the consequences
of it will be, God knows."  [_The Diary of Samuel Pepys_, A new and
complete transcription, ed.  Robert Latham and William Matthews.
Berkeley and Los Angeles:  University of California Press, vol. 7, 1972,
p. 47.]

The "certain person, now at Smirna" is an obvious reference to Shabtai
Tsvi.  Sholem Aleichem's story also revolves about Jews lured by false
hopes into giving away money in expectation of high returns:  each ruble
to be returned a hundredfold.  In Samuel Pepys' record, the return is
only tenfold.  Pepys and Sholem Aleichem, diverse in culture and
background, found interest in the same far-fetched legend.

                                * * *


Mazepevkites are like no others on earth.  They scatter money as though
strewing ashes, to right and to left.  In _their_ eyes, rubles are like
ants.  It's all for charity.  Their generous souls care for the
well-being of all in their midst, the pauper or stranger.

A Mazepevkite prays:

"Look here, merciful Father.  Money and silver are Yours, are they not?
You don't mind then, do You, if I, being among the needy, am chosen to
become one of the rich?  Am I not worthy?  Merciful God!  Show me Your
wondrous deeds:  let me win the lottery.  Just this once.  And You will
profit.  I will do in fear that which is dear to You:  unstinting
donations.  For the synagogue that much, and for the bathhouse (pardon
for mentioning both in the same breath) this much; a fine gift for the
Talmud Torah; twice as much for the sick-house; alms for the poor and
for benevolent societies such as 'Heal the Sick', 'Support the Fallen',
'Free the Captive', and so on and on."

Mazepevkites sprinkle money about, but still the poor go hungry, and the
boys of the Talmud Torah wear tattered clothes, bare bottoms showing,
and the synagogue is a fright with teetering walls about to collapse,
and the bathhouse....

But nobody's surprised.  No Mazepevkite has ever won the lottery.  Still
they spread money around in full faith that "Good Fortune" himself
(though he tarries) will soon be at their side on their "Great Day."
Even in sleep, they speak only of riches that await them.  Wealth will
come, not from business and trade, or slowly and surely from labor, but
all at once.  It will be cast down to them from heaven.  O, Sing Psalms
of Joy!  Thousands, tens of thousands, a hundred thousand....  Do you
think that's impossible for God?

How did this boundless money hunger grow in such a place?  Moneyed
moguls do not sprout like mushrooms in Mazepevke.  On the contrary,
poverty rules and struts proudly about town; the numbers of destitute
swell day by day; all doors to a living are barred . Jews bemoan their
fate, roam about like ghosts, not knowing how to feed their families.
But Mazepevkites are unequaled in faith and belief.  In this dark
valley, they hope all year for miracles.  Roast fowl will fly straight
to their mouths.

Berko, the collector, supports their faith.  He sells lottery tickets by
the hundreds and thousands.  No house in Mazepevke is without its
ticket.  As yet they've won nothing, but still they hope.  They
patiently wait for the day, their day of destiny, but that day is
dragging its feet.  Legends tell of such prospects.

"Once there was a pious man, with no food nor means of support...."
Remember that story?  Remember how he went to sleep poor, and arose
rich?  Now I'll tell you a story not of one pious man but of a town full
of faithful folks without food or support; and of a Jewish woman,
virtuous and wise.  And honest!  She had a treasure of two hundred
million rubles, gold beyond measure.


It happened in the 5649th year since creation, or 1889 as Europe and
other civilized lands count.  On the eleventh day of the month of Iyar,
the Jewish streets of Mazepevke buzzed and rocked with a rumor that the
woman with the key to the locked treasure had arrived.

Everyone heard how this woman had been going from town to town near and
far shedding abundance upon the poor wherever she went.  How fortunate,
they!  "You lucky people!  Come!  Reach out and grab your share.  Fill
your knapsacks and your boxes.  You think 200,000,000 pieces of gold is

Nobody knows where that treasure is now, nor how the woman acquired
custody, but at last she was in Mazepevke for only a few days.  In two
or three weeks, she would divulge the secret, unearth the riches.

The treasure's first sacred burial place was in the village of Khrudovka
near Mazepevke between two hills where a gentile nobleman fell dead as
he dug for the treasure before its time.

Some say:

Many long years ago, the commander of all the Cossack armies, the hetman
Mazepa,(1) buried it several yards deep in the earth.  It held two
hundred million gold rubles as well as many pieces of silver and gold,
with pearls and diamonds in iron and copper pitchers and pots.  The
treasure was covered by a copper door secured by a golden lock which
could be opened only by a key fashioned of fine spun gold.  That key was
now held by the Jewish woman.

But how did the key reach her hands?  Some say that Mazepa lost it and a
Jew, Moyshe Groys, found it and bequeathed it to his children bidding
them to pass it from generation to generation.  It finally reached the
woman who now resides among us.  Moyshe's will decreed that the treasure
be unearthed on the day before Shvues, 5649.  _This year!_ The will
warned that whoever touched it before its time would die.  That fate
befell the gentile nobleman who had tried to snatch the legacy meant for
Jewish heirs.

But others say:

It was not Mazepa who buried the treasure but Gonta(2), may his name be
erased(3); and it was not buried in Mazepevke but in Uman.(4) Here's
what happened.  There once was a Jew called Anshl of Uman, simple and
God-fearing.  He had a scraggly mare hitched to his wagon upon which he
toted goods to the courts of Polish noblemen.  When Gonta set out to
bury the treasure, Anshl happened to be at the edge of a nearby forest
standing to recite the Eighteen Blessings beside his loaded wagon.  At
the words, "And our eyes will see," he caught sight of Gonta and a pack
of his Cossacks digging a hole.  Into it they lowered many sacks of gold
and silver coins, precious stones and diamonds whose radiance almost
blinded Anshl.  The Cossacks dashed off in haste without noticing him.
Anshl stepped out of the woods, hauled out the treasure, and hefted it
onto his wagon.  He dumped his own meager wares into the hole, covered
them up with earth, and dashed off.

Others said:

No, that's not how it was!  They claimed that the treasure was in the
woman's home locked in a silver casket.  It held gold coins, priceless
jewelry and paper drawn on an English bank worth two hundred million
rubles.  It was to be guarded until the moment ordained for its
distribution, the day before Shvues, 5649.  Soon!  This very year!

At last, here she was in Mazepevke, and all could see the treasure with
their very own eyes.  That raised a mighty lust in each heart.  Each
racing mind silently counted, "Two hundred million!  Oh, my!  What
couldn't I do with that!?"

The woman had two aides, two treasurers, obviously fine people with
honest faces.  Mazepevkites crowded around them asking how to claim a
share of the treasure.  An aide explained, "Whoever folds one ruble into
a treasurer's palm will later dip his own hand into the pile of gold,
and carry off his share of one hundred rubles.  Give one hundred, take
ten thousand!"

A truly fine business!  What mortal soul would spurn this chance to
insure his future?  "PAWN YOUR SHIRT AND GET RICH QUICK!"

>From all over town, Mazepevkites brought money to the woman.  He who had
no ready cash pawned household linen, clothes and his wife's jewelry
(begging her pardon).  And there opened a font of measureless profit for
moneylenders who were besieged with people imploring, "Here, take these
clothes.  Charge me plenty of interest as long as you hand over money!"
The rush grew fiercer when everyone learned that the woman would stop
accepting money after the 33rd day in Omer.  She didn't need this
business.  What for?  It was nothing compared to the fortune she would

No one doubted there was money in her treasure.  First, consider that
many treasures must have been buried in bygone days.  And second,
everybody saw the old copper pitcher near the woman brimming with rubles
and other sparkling coins.  How can anyone not believe?  And yet the
mischievous wiseacres of Mazepevke jeered and sneered at those who ran
to give their money to the woman.

"See how they ask the wind to blow their money away."

"He'll see that money again when he can see his ears."

"All he'll get for his money is a fistful of rags."

But two or three days later these cynics learned their lesson and
dropped their waggish ways.  One by one, they, just like the others,
began to sneak in the dark, out of sight, into the woman's room at the
inn.  They hurried to give her their last ruble because soon it would
be too late to claim their share.  The gates would shut, and pawning
goods would help no longer.  True, the woman shrank from taking money.
Her aides, the treasurers, also firmly resisted, but everyone ardently
begged, "Take, take!  Why should it bother you to take?"  The treasurers
relented, and took.  And they took and took from early morning to the
middle of the night.  The door kept swinging back and forth on its
hinges, not resting a moment.  As one left another entered.  Men and
women, old and young, boys and girls, brides and grooms shoved and
bumped each other in the sides and backs, pushing to be first, as people
often do.

The upright woman with the treasure wore a silken shawl across her
shoulders, a clean bonnet on her head, a golden necklace studded with
diamonds, topazes on her forehead, earrings, and many rings on her
fingers.  She lodged at the inn of our well-known innkeeper, Shabtai,
and spoke hardly at all to her visitors.  She relied for that on her two
kinsmen, the treasurers, who bustled about the room, whispering in each
other's ear.  Mostly, they ignored the townspeople milling about with
their little clumps of money, but now and then one caught the eye of a
kind treasurer who agreed to take the money.  Another claim for a share
in the treasure was thus duly recorded.  How sweet it was!

To Shabtai fell the task of discreet and modest spokesman.  Anyone who
came to see the woman had to enlist Shabtai as mouthpiece, mediator and
advocate.  That's how it has always been done in Mazepevke:  somebody to
take your side for every purpose; or, as they call him, a "side-taker".
At the landlord's, a "side-taker"; when pleading with the well-to-do,
or at the police station, or with the doctor, or the rabbi.  Anywhere, a
"side-taker".  They stir neither hand nor foot without first arranging
for a person to be on their side.  Shabtai represented those wishing
for an introduction to a treasurer.  Shabtai might say, "Here is Mr. so
and so, one of our good citizens, prays in the old shul."  Or, "This is
Mrs. so and so, a fine woman, sells milk and butter."  Shabtai paved
the way for a grateful Mazepevke.

For his trouble, Shabtai secured for himself a due reward.  His motto
was, "It pays to walk slowly behind an overloaded wagon."  First, he
arranged fitting dowries for his four daughters.  That is, he gave the
woman a hundred rubles (twenty-five for each daughter duly recorded) to
stake a later claim for two thousand five hundred rubles each.

Shabtai was no fool, and pleaded his case.  To the treasurers he argued
that as he was the innkeeper, he was worthier than anyone off the
street, and so deserved a supplement beyond those ten thousand rubles to
defray those heavy wedding expenses.  "Listen, gentlemen.  Four
weddings!  That's no joke.  My wife, Dvoyre (may she live and be well),
will want a silk dress and a fur coat.  And what about cash for the
rabbi and the sexton and the cantor?  And the musicians?  And...,
and more!"

The worthy treasurers answered that if Shabtai would give them free room
and board, they would later dip into the treasure and give him pearls
and diamonds.  Shabtai could then sell them for ready cash.

"You will _not_ sell those pearls and diamonds," shrieked Dvoyre.  "No!
Never!  Not for all the money in the world will I let you do such a
thing, Shabtai, because they'll be mine!  You hear?"

"Anything you like," answered Shabtai in good humor.  "I won't bicker
with you now.  O, may Shvues come quickly."


As Shvues approached, the growing crowds at the inn shoved harder, until
Shabtai proclaimed, "An end to this!  The gates have shut.  The woman
can't share her treasure with just anybody."

Still, people pawned house and home, left businesses and jobs, and
thrust money at the woman.  She took, but not eagerly.  Contracts,
betrothals were canceled, and marriages were fractured, all for the sake
of the treasure, the only thing on their minds.  A week before the
"Great Day" was to arrive, a great misfortune struck from out of the

Before I tell you what happened, I must tell you this:

In these awful times, Mazepevkites do many things for a living.  Among
those trades is an easy one.  It is dirty and disgusting:  betrayal of
neighbors to tsarist oppressors.  A betrayer is spawned by hate and
envy, and every town has its own betrayer (to our shame and pain) who
has a big tongue and puts it to work.  Mazepevke's honored master in
this trade is "Yankl Squealer" who reminds us of "Yankl Snatcher"(6) of

May these evil pursuers be expelled from God's congregation.  Only then
will the Jews know release from affliction.  That scabby livelihood
gripped us in its clutches in those dark days of choking horror and

Yankl is a distinguished family man in Mazepevke, and all show him due
respect.  After all, he is an informer!  Every storekeeper in town
(whether or not he deals in contraband), every merchant (whether he has
a business permit or not), every Hebrew teacher (whether or not he has
a license to teach) knows his duty:  to bring a "gift" to Yankl, a few
rubles.  Whatever happens in town, Yankl gets his tribute (to keep the
dog from barking).  And this leech supports two voracious daughters with
deep pockets wider than the ocean, and as insatiable as the gaping maw
of hell.

Yankl's most important sense is smell.  His long nose sniffs out
anything, even underground!  It pokes and digs.  Go to Mazepevke, and
the nose that gives the town its special character will be first in line
to greet you.

Yankl's nose sniffed out the woman and her treasure.  Shabtai the
innkeeper, on advice from the aides, took Yankl aside for a chat, and
slipped him a little something on the sly.  But this time the yearnings
of Yankl's nose were not sated.  Yankl came poking and sniffing again
and again, robbing Shabtai of peace.  Perhaps Shabtai could have settled
Yankl's nerves with a few more rubles, but Shabtai the hothead is easily
vexed, and slow to beg pardon.  He poured his bitter gall and boundless
fury on Yankl, screaming, "Is there no limit, you leech?  Will you suck
your brothers' blood to the last drop?  Go, go in the best of health;
and keep your face hidden forever from my sight!"

Yankl turned his lengthy nose toward the door and silently departed,
aflame with rage.

"Why do you argue with everybody?" asked Dvoyre, Shabtai's wife.  "Don't
forget.  That's Yankl!"

"I'm not afraid," said Shabtai, smugly.  I have enough for dowries, the
weddings, your pearls and diamonds, so why should I tremble?  Will he
squeal on me that I run an inn?  To blazes with it!  After Shvues, God
willing, I'll marry off my daughters, and I'll say goodbye and good
riddance to the inn and the whole town.  Let them burn!  Nice people
like me are appalled by Mazepevke's tumult and its shady business.
There's a great big world out there to see."

Soon after, on the eve of Shvues, there was a great commotion,
pandemonium, at Shabtai's inn.  People came running from all over town

In the confusion, the woman and her treasurers fled to parts unknown,
leaving only a pair of ripped trousers, a prayer shawl, a few rags, and
the gold key.  Shabtai spent that night in jail with other honored
townspeople, in a cold, cramped room (no charge for the lodging).  In
the morning, they were found innocent of any crime, and released.  After
much investigation, the magistrate noted in his book, that:

A) No one knew the names or occupations of the woman and her assistants,
whence they came, nor where they went.

B) The gold key was made in Mazepevke before Passover by the red-headed
locksmith, who was told it was for a holy ark in the Land of Israel.

C) Those rascals gypped the Jews, drained their money, left behind a
town full of embittered, penniless imbeciles who believe everything, and
are held in contempt by decent types.

The magistrate wrote further:  Behold this people, rascals all, sons of
scoundrels, without peers in shrewdness and cunning.

The remaining notes of the magistrate were tied with string, and stored
among the archives of Mazepevke.  They now await study by future
scholars of antiquities.


(1) In late 17th century, Mazepa, successor to Khmelnitski, was hetman
of the Zaporozhian Cossacks.  In Yiddish, _mazepa_ means 'slovenly

(2) Cossack hetman in the 18th century.

(3) This curse, _yemakh shemo_, is present in the Hebrew version, but
omitted from the Yiddish version in _Fargesene Bletlekh_.

(4) Uman was the site of a massacre of Jews in 1768.  Gonta was a
End of _The Mendele Review_ 04.011

Leonard Prager, editor

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