_The Mendele Review_: Yiddish Literature and Language
              (A Companion to _MENDELE_)
Contents of Vol. 04.016
12 December 2000
              |                           |
              |Yoysef Kerler (1918 - 2000)|
              |_______________________ ___|

              |                           |
              | Shmuel Bat (1919 - 2000)  |

1) In Memoriam: Yoysef Kerler and Shmuel Bat
2) "Er lebt vi got in frankraykh" (ed.)
3) "Konkurentn" (Yoyne Roznfeld)[Jonah Rosenfeld]

                       In Memoriam

We mourn the passing of Yoysef Kerler, Yiddish poet, essayist and
critic.  The former Soviet-Yiddish writer was editor of the _Yerushalmer
Almanakh_ and one of its founders.  Among his volumes of verse and prose
we find a collaborative book of poems, _Shpigl-ksav_ (1996) by himself
and his son, the Oxford Yiddish scholar and poet, Dr.  Dov-Ber Kerler.
Here Yoysef Kerler wrote:

              "Mayn epitafye iz a vild geviks
               In kenigraykh fun troyer un badoyer --
               A shmeykhl shlaykht farbay zikh vi a fuks
               Un vert farfaln tsvishn shteyner groye.

               Do shlogt zikh op dos mentshlekhe geveyn
               In shtumkayt, vos an eybikayt zikh tsit
               Un fun der zayt mayn shmeykhl blaybt aleyn
               Ven ale verter, ale verter vern mid." [p. 42]

(Yoysef Kerler's poem "guter dokter vey-tsu-mir" appeared in _TMR_
                               * * *

Shmuel Batt, a Yiddish writer with a rich past, died this month in
California.  His faith in the vitality of Yiddish never faltered.
(Notices of his work can be found in _TMR_ 3.017 and 4.001.)
                               * * *

Date: 12 December 2000
From: Leonard Prager 
Subject:  "Er lebt vi got in frankraykh"

In my experience it is rare to find a novel by an American Jewish writer
which does not have some, albeit sparse, reference to Yiddish or which
does not use an occasional Yiddish-origin expression.  In Saul Bellow's
most recent novel, _Ravelstein_, an explicit reference to what seemed to
be a Yiddish saying caught my eye.

The titular hero of _Ravelstein_, a confirmed francophile, plans a trip
to Paris even though he is deathly ill.  The narrator, his close friend,
unwisely questions this course:  "...there was nothing I couldn't tell
Ravelstein.  Partly this meant that there was scarcely anything he
wouldn't have detected on his own.  So he would have understood also
that I looked down on Paris, rather.  There is a Jewish freethinker's
saying about Paris -- _wie Gott in Frankreich_.  Meaning that even God
took his holidays in France.  Why?  Because the French are atheists and
among them God himself could be carefree, a _flaneur_, like any
tourist."  [Saul Bellow.  _Ravelstein_, Viking, 2000. p. 171.]

Bellow does not mention Yiddish; he speaks of the saying as
characteristic of "Jewish freethinker[s]."  Moreover, he writes the
expression in German and not in Yiddish.  There is certainly a Yiddish
expression "Er lebt vi got in frankraykh."  ['He lives like God in
France.'] Ignaz Bernstein records it in his classic _Juedische
Sprichwoerter und Redensarten_ (Warsaw 1908), where it is item no. 16
under _leben_ -- Bernstein gives it in Yiddish on the right-side page
and on the opposite page in a germanized transcription of the Yiddish
together with explanation in German:  "Er lebt, wi Got in Frankreich"
and "D[as] h[eist] sorglos."  Harkavi's Yiddish-Hebrew-English
Dictionary gives it and defines it as 'zorgloz; to live in clover'.
Bellow gives only the simile, writing "wie Gott in Frankreich" --i.e. he
employs German spelling, which would be identical to Bernstein's
transcription if "wie" were altered to "wi" and "Gott" to "Got".  After
questioning a number of German Jews who knew no Yiddish and who all
recognized "Er lebt wie Gott in Frankreich," I concluded that the saying
was originally German and probably passed into Yiddish via Galicia.

Bernstein points the reader to a comparable expression:  "A lebn vi bay
got hintern oyvn" ['like living at God's house behind the stove'].
Bernstein's comment here is "Wen jemand ein sorgloses, behagliches Leben
fuehrt."  ['When someone lives a carefree life.'] Bernstein and Harkavi
agree that "Er lebt vi got in frankraykh" means 'to live a carefree
life'.  In the Yiddish of many of us this idea would more likely have
been expressed by the parallel saying "Er lebt vi got in odes" ['He
lives like God in Odessa'] -- a calque of "vi got in frankraykh".
Though not found in Bernstein, Harkavi gives it and defines it exactly
as he defined the saying with _frankraykh_, namely _zorgloz_ 'carefree'.

But why Odessa?  Ignaz Bernstein has two expressions under "Odessa,"
both emphasizing the town's imputed immoral state:  1) "odeser
sharlatanes" ('Odessa charlatans'); 2) "tsen mayl fun odes brent dos
gehenem" ('Hell burns ten miles from Odessa').  Bernstein explains the
latter:  "Die Einwohner von Odessa gelten als irreligioese Leute un wer
in ihre Naehe kommt, verfaellt der Hoelle."  In Yiddish he explains that
"Odessa residents are regarded as great heretics."  They are, that is to
say, libertines like the Parisians and the expressions are parallel.
Krueger-Lorenzen uncovers the origin of "Er lebt wie Gott in Frankreich"
precisely in a historical moment marked by irreligiosity.  Here is his
gloss:  "Ihm geht es besonders gut, er geniesst zein Leben sorglos und
in Freuden -- entstand in der grosser Franzoesischen Revolution von
1789, in der Gott abgesetzt wurde und der Kultus von der Vernunft an die
Stelle der Christentum trat.  Man stellte sich Gott gleichsam
pensioniert vor, der nun in Frankreich so besonders sorglos und
gluecklich leben kannte."  ('He fares especially well.  He enjoys a life
without worry.  Created during the French Revolution of 1789 when God
was 'dismissed' and the cult of reason replaced Christianity.  God was
imagined as being retired and able to live in France, where he was
particularly happy and content'.)  [Kurt Krueger-Lorenzen, "Er lebt wie
Gott in Frankreich," _Deutsche Redensarten und was dahinter steckt_,
Muenchen:  Wilhelm Heyne Verlag, 4th ed., 1986, p. 114.]

The original expression, according to Krueger-Lorenzen, has God
pensioned off by those who no longer require his services, but it is
later understood as saying God is on vacation, presumably having on his
own initiative chosen the most agreeable land for the purpose.  Paris
for the Western European and Odessa for the East-European Jews conjured
up images of pleasure equally well.  However, Jews from all walks of
life used both "Er lebt vi got in frankraykh" and "Er lebt vi got in
odes" in a humorous manner to express the idea of maximum freedom from
restraint, maximum access to comfort and self-indulgence.  Their origins
notwithstanding, these sayings have long lost any possible anticlerical
taint.  The parents of Jewish children who said "Got krigt zikh mitn
vayb" ['God is fighting with his wife'] when they heard lightning
strike, also had wit and imagination.

3)---------------------------------------------------- Date:  12
Date: 12 December 2000
From:  Marjorie Schonhaut Hirshan 
Subject:  "Konkurentn" fun Yoyne Roznfeld

[We are pleased to present a romanized version of "Konkurentn."
Romanized Yiddish is Yiddish, Latin-letter graphemes notwithstanding.
We assume that there are people who would like to read a Yiddish text
but have not yet mastered the Hebrew/Yiddish alphabet.  A romanized
Yiddish text can be helpful in a number of ways even for those who read
Yiddish well -- for aid in the pronunciation of words of Hebrew-Aramaic
origin and, yes, in learning the Standard Yiddish Orthography.  At the
same time, we recommend that readers who are comfortable with the
Yiddish alphabet read the story in Yiddish letters at the Onkelos site
(http://shakti.trincoll.edu/~mendele/onkelos.htm).  An English
translation of the story can be found in the Howe and Greenberg
_Treasury of Yiddish Stories_ anthology:  Jonah Rosenfeld,
'Competitors'.  There is no better way to distinguish the special
qualities of Yiddish generally and the particular stylistic turns of an
individual author than by comparing the original with a translation.
Readers have requested that unfamiliar words and expressions be
annotated.  We hope to do so eventually.  -- ed.]

yoyne rozenfeld


tsvey ayzerne betlekh, an opgekrokhener shpigl on a ram, a limene-kestl
far a shafkele, a por benklekh mit oysgedreyte fislekh un a tish vos
hinkt oyf eyn fus, -- dos iz mayn mebl.

a groys moyl, bloye lipn, a kvitshediker kol un nase, tomid trerndike,
eygelekh -- dos iz mayn vayb.

a meydele, a tsenyoriks, a piskele vi oyf shrayflekh, un eygelekh vi bay
a fuksl, un dar iz dos vi a shpendele, un shvistke vi a hindele -- dos iz
mayn tokhter.

un a yingele -- klug vi der tog, dar un trukn vi a matseyve-shtekn --
dos iz mayn zunele, vos zen zet es oys vi a yor finf, ober alt iz dos
zibn yor.

dos drite kind iz alt tsvey yor. groys iz dos vi a vokhenik, ober veynen
veynt es un shrayen shrayt es shoyn gornisht nokh der greys nokh.

a kleyn mentshele, mit a kleyn, shiter berdele, mit kleyne, shvartse
eygelekh -- dos bin ikh, ikh aleyn, ikh -- der man fun der vayb un der
tate fun di dray kinder. vos ikh tu? ikh tu gornisht, ikh tu bloyz dos,
vos mayn vayb darf ton.

gants fri, vi ikh shtey nor oyf, tseleyg ikh a fayer un kokh oyf a
tshaynik vaser. dernokh vek ikh oyf mayn vayb, gib ir oystrinken a gloz
tey un provade zi aroys in mark arayn. dernokh nem ikh zikh ersht tsu
der khevre, tu zey on, vash zey arum un hodeve zey on. ober nisht ale
mol git zikh es mir azoy gring ayn. es treft, az dos pitsl tsegezget
zikh:  s'vil nor tsu der mamen, un der elterer nokh ir. khap ikh dos
pitsl oyf di hent, loyf tsu tsum fentster un heyb on pikn in di shoybn,
klapn in tish, kling in a gloz, knak mit der tsung, un azoy, haltndik
dos pitsl oyf di hent, nem ikh ayn mayn yingele oykh:  ikh shpil zikh
mit im in ferdlekh, a mol iz er der ferd un ikh der kutsher, a mol
farkert. a mol shpil ikh zikh mit im in soldatn. er komandevet mit mir,
ikh mit im:  "kru-om, na-lyevo marsh! az-dva, az-dva!" un az ikh shtil
zey ayn, farbet ikh di betn, ker oys di shtub un shtel tsu varmes. un vi
es vert nor fartik, khap ikh bald un gis arop in a kleyn tepele, makh
reyn a shisl mit a lefl -- un poshol! ikh loyf on an otem (kayn zeyger
iz dokh bay mir nishto, vayzt zikh mir tomed oys, az ikh hob
farshpetikt). un dos harts klapt:  ot ze ikh shoyn di budkelekh un di
taptshanes tsvishn di budkelekh un arum di budkelekh. oyf di taptshanes
lign ongeleygt gantse berg tsibeles mit retekh, burakes mit kroyt,
petrushke mit merelekh, kartoflyes mit khreyn un nokh azelkhe minem
kraytekhtser, bitere un zise, zoyere un vaynike. ot lebn aza taptshan
mit azelkhe shar-yerokes derken ikh shoyn dos vayb mayns.

un s'treft zeyer oft, az azoy loyfndik fargis ikh mir di kapote mit zup,
un ven bamerk ikh es, ven zi git a startshe oys di kelbershe oygn ire
oyf mir un bagegnt mikh mit a shtil ayngehaltenem "brokh".

- vos iz?

- ze nor!...

do her ikh, vi men shtikt zikh shoyn mit gelekhter. eyne a grobe yidene
mit a farbrent gezunt ponim, vos zitst antkegn mayn vayb, vaklt zikh azh
fun eyn zayt in der tsveyter, halt zikh mit beyde hent bay ir boykh --
azoy geshmak lakht zi. mayne tsupt dort hintn fun di fis, fun mayne,

ober nisht ale mol kum ikh op mit ot der tsupenish. es treft nisht
zeltn, az nokh dem vi zi hot mikh dortn hintn genug ongekneypt, khapt zi
ersht a burek baym meydl un varft mir in kop arayn. un az s'endikt zikh
mit dem, dank ikh nokh oykh got. a mol iz zi mir ersht mekayem-psak, ven
zi kumt aheym fun mark, vayl zi dankt dokh got, az zi bakumt a
gelegnhayt zikh tsu tshepen tsu mir. bin ikh, ober, oykh nisht keyn
frumak un entfer ir op, un take keyfl keflayim, un s'dergeyt a mol tsu
an emeser milkhome:  zi mir a shtup, ikh ir a shtoys; zi mir a fayg in
di tseyn arayn; makht zi a gvald un di khevre mit ir tsu glaykh; un ikh
-- puts in droysn aroys oyf ale fis. nor tsu bislekh, nisht bamerkndik
far zikh aleyn, heyb ikh on geyn pamelekher un pamelekher, blayb endlekh
shteyn un kuk fartrakht oyf der erd, oyfn himl, oyf di hayzer, oyf di
mentshn, vos geyen oyf un op.

un azoy vi ikh bin shteyn geblibn aleyn, nisht bamerkndik, azoy fil ikh
nisht, vi ikh loz zikh geyn tsurik, gey mit a shver-ongelodn harts, mit
a fuln kop, gey pamelekh trit bay trit un, tsugekumen tsu mayn shtub,
shtel ikh zikh avek hinter di fentster un kuk, un ze, vi zi, di kleyne
mayne, s'heyst di groyse, di eltste, arbet azoy getray, helft der mamen
irer oyston di kinder un baleygt eyns in bet arayn un dos tsveyte, un
helft der muter aropshlepn di groyse, shvere, shikh fun di fis, un ikh
trakht mir, az dos vakst a konkurentin mayne. un s'iz in ir tsu
derkenen, az zi iz zeyer tsufridn, vos ikh bin in shtub nishto; un ikh
ze, az zi staret zikh tsu bavayzn far der muter, az m'kon zikh bageyn on
mir oykh. un ven dos fayer vert oysgeloshn, grob ikh ayn dos ponem in a
shoyb un kuk. ikh ze gornisht un dokh ze ikh (in gedank), vi es ligt a
froy, mit ir tsuzamen ligt a kleyn kind, tsufusns ligt a meydl fun a yor
tsen, un in tsveytn bet ligt der man irer, a foyler hunt, epes a min
toygenikhts, vos toyg nisht -- nisht tsu got un nisht tsu layt. un lebn
im ligt zayns, un irs, zeyers a yingele, -- ale dare un kleyninke,
khotsh knet zey tsunoyf un makh fun zey eyn mentsh a rekhtn.

ikh ver mid tsu shteyn hintern fentster, drey oys dos ponem tsum droysn,
bloz breyt op fun zikh un khap a kuk tsu di shtern. fartrakht zikh oyf
zey un vil shtark epes derzen dort. der himl vert tsu mir nenter un
nenter, un ot, dakht zikh mir, bin ikh shoyn lebn im, un ikh kuk shoyn
nisht oyfn himl aroyf, nor oyf der erd arop. shoyn gor mayse groyser
mentsh. ober vi ikh kum nor in shtub arayn, ver ikh mit a mol tsekrimt;
mir dakht zikh, az ikh bakum a kleyn, shmol moyl, un vi a kleyn narish
ganevl shar ikh zikh tsu tsum broyt un es mit groys apetit. az mayn vayb
hot, ober, aza gringn shlof, -- zi derhert bald un heybt mikh on bashitn
mit shvartse kloles. ikh gey tsu tsu ir un zog ir tsu, az mer vet es
shoyn bay mir nisht trefn un az ikh vel zikh oyffirn gut un fayn. zi
vert antshvign -- moykhl, heyst dos. tu ikh zikh shoyn oys un ganve zikh
pamelekh arayn tsu ir in bet. zi makht zikh gepeygert, un ikh zikh --
keleyode:  vos art dos mikh?  -- zol zi meynen, az zi nart mikh... un
ot azoy, shleferdikerheyt, hob ikh shoyn dray kinder mit ir. mir
shteyen oyf broygeze, glaykh mir veysn beyde fun gornisht.

eyn mol, donershtik in der fri, hob ikh tsugeshtelt a top vaser un gey,
vi geveyntlekh, tsu mayn tokhter un vil ir onheybn tseflekhtn di hor,
tsugreytn tsum tsvogn. plutsling git zi a shprung op vi a hoz un blaybt
shteyn antkegn mir mit a royt-ongeblozn ponem. ikh freg zi:  vos iz dos?
entfert zi mir nisht. git oyf mir a beyzn kuk un blozt zikh nokh mer on.
freg ikh zi vider:  vos iz dos? entfert zi vider nisht.

- vilst zikh nisht tsvogn? -- freg ikh.

- ikh darf nisht, du zolst mikh tsvogn, -- entfert zi mir mit an
aropgeloztn kop un shpilt zikh mit ire finger.

- vos heyst?

- ikh kon zikh shoyn aleyn tsvogn!

- vilst nisht, ikh zol dir tsvogn?

- neyn!

- far vos?

- ikh kon shoyn aleyn tsvogn.

meyle, iz nisht getantst. nisht -- iz nisht. gey ikh shoyn tsu der plite
un ze, es zol zikh gikher onvaremen dos vaser, ikh zol oystsvogn di
tsvey klenere khevre. un az es hot zikh shoyn ongevaremt dos vaser, gey
ikh tsu tsu mayn yingele un heyb im on oyston. nor zi shpringt vi fun
der erd aroys, git im a khap bay a hentl un rayst im avek fun mir.

- vos heyst dos?

zi halt im baym hentl un entfert nisht.

- vos heyst dos?!

zi entfert nisht.

gey ikh tsu un vil im nemen, halt zi im un zogt unter der noz:

- ikh vel im aleyn tsvogn.

- nays! vos heyst du, du vest im tsvogn?

mir iz shoyn arayn epes in der noz.  ikh shlep s'yingl un zi halt im.

ikh batrakht zi a por minut un freg:

- vos epes plutsling iz dir arayn in kop zikh aleyn tsvogn un im tsvogn?

- s'a rakhmones oyf der mamen -- entfert zi mir.

- vos a rakhmones oyf der mamen?

- s'a rakhmones oyf der mamen.  zi horevet un darf dir gebn esn.

- nu?

- un az ikh vel zikh aleyn tsvogn un onton yankelen mit mindelen, vestu
konen geyn epes fardinen.

- vos?

zi entfert nisht.

- du vest onton yankelen mit mindelen? zey gebn esn, tsuroymen di shtub?

- a vazhne mitsotse!  un du vest konen geyn fardinen!

shoyn! es iz shoyn bay ir gor keyn metsie nisht! vos ikh mordeve zikh on
a gantsn tog. vos ikh arbet! di kleyne rayst mir tsen mol a tog di bord
oys. ikh ver heyzerik, eyder ikh farvig zi. zogt zi gor az es iz gor
keyn metsie nisht. fardinen shikt zi mikh! heyst dos, do fardin ikh mir
mayn esn nisht. an umzister eser bin ikh! un zi vil farnemen mayn
shtele. un vos vel ikh ton, vuhin zol ikh geyn? far a nyanke saydn? far
a nyanke! oyf vos den toyg ikh? ober neyn, ikh vel dos nisht derlozn!
vos heyst, aza shnek zol mikh traybn fun shtub? zi vet gikher avekgeyn
fun danen, eyder ikh. dortn, vu es geyt shoyn vegn parnose, vegn broyt,
vel ikh mir shoyn nisht lozn shpayen in der kashe. oyf toyt un lebn vel
ikh geyn!

- kum nor aher!  ver hot dos dir geheysn zogn?  di mame?

- neyn, aleyn!

- aleyn?

- ikh zog, aleyn.

- vos heyst aleyn?  aleyn zogstu dos?  di mame hot dos dir nisht geheysn

- neyn!

- neyn??

- neyn!

- heyst dos, zogstu dos aleyn?

- aleyn!  di mame hot dos mir nisht geheysn zogn!

- heyst dos, vilstu mikh aroystraybn fun shtub?

entfert zi nisht.

ikh khap zi on baym tsop:

- du veyst, zog ikh, az ikh bin dir a tate?

zi pruvt zikh aroysraysn.

- du veyst, zog ikh ir, az ikh bin dir a tate? un a tate -- vos er vil,
kon er ton mit zayn kind, afile teytn dikh. du veyst, az a tate iz
mekhuyev tsu shtrofn zayn kind, un oyb s'geyt nisht in rekhtn veg, meg
er dos afile hargenen, veyst?!

vayzt oys, az ikh hob shtark geshrien, vayl dos kind hot zikh
oyfgekhapt. zi hot zikh gegebn a ris oys fun mayne hent, iz tsu tsum
kind un es genumen farvign un tsuzingen mit dem lidl, vos ikh zing es.
do bin ikh shoyn gor fun di keylem aroys. vos far a rekht hot zi tsu
farvign dos kind mit mayns a lidl, a lidl vos ikh hob es aleyn
oysgeklert? oyb azoy... ikh bin mit feste trit tsugegangen tsum vigl, zi
gegebn a shtoys op un aleyn genumen farvign dos kind:

oy lyu-lyu, meydele,
di mame vet dikh makhn a kleydele,
der tate vet dir vashn dos kepele,
di mame vet dir brengen an epele,
farmakh, farmakh di eygelekh,
di mame vet dir brengen beygelekh,
oy lyu-lyu, un lyu-lyu.

nishkoshe, zi vet, dakht zikh mir, oyslebn ale ire yorn un zi vet azoy
nisht farvign a kind, vi ikh.

- megst geyn fun danen! -- shist zi plutsling oys -- ikh kon aleyn
farvign dos kind!

e-e-e, ot vu es halt shoyn! nu, oyb azoy, vel ikh zikh shoyn mit dir
oprekhenen! ikh khap arop dem pasik fun di hoyzn un mit ale koykhes --
ibern kop, ibern ponem, iber der pleytse, na, na, na, vest visn, vi azoy
tsu zayn an azes-ponem antkegn a tatn, vest visn! vest visn! vest mikh
shoyn hobn tsu gedenken! vest mikh shoyn hobn tsu gedenken.

di tsvey klenere khevre hobn zikh tsekvitshet, oyf ir kukndik, un dos
hot shoyn mikh gor fun geduld aroysgebrakht:  ikh bin geshprungen fun
eynem tsum tsveytn un geharget, vifl es iz nor arayn. nokh dem hob ikh
zikh aleyn ongehoybn tsupn bay der bord. ikh bin tsugegangen tsum
fentster, zikh ongeshpart mit di elnboygns un hob zikh tseveynt.

far nakht, ven di muter iz gekumen, zaynen zey zi bald bafaln un yederer
bazunder hot oyf zayn loshn ongehoybn dertseyln, vi azoy ikh hob zey
geshlogn, un hobn zikh fun dos nay tseveynt. dos oysherndik, hot zi
zikh, dos vayb mayns, vi a klots a zets gegebn oyfn bet, avekgeshtelt di
elnboygns oyf di kni un oyf di hent ongeshpart dem kop, un hot fun tsayt
tsu tsayt oyf mir gevorfn a bitern kuk, fun velkhn es iz mir yedes mol
farkilt gevorn dos blut.

- vos vet zayn der sof?  -- hot zi plutsling a freg geton, oyfheybndik
dem kop mit di ful ongegosenen oygn, vi di kaluzhes.

ikh hob geshvign.

- vos vet zayn? freg ikh dikh...

vos hob ikh ir gekont entfern?

- du veyst, az m'darf dikh opshikn in meshugoim-hoyz?

ikh hob ir davke gevolt fregn:  far vos halt zi dos mikh far a
meshugenem? eyn mol shlogt a tate kinder?

- ikh bet dikh:  ikh hob dikh aza tsayt oysgehaltn, gegebn esn un
trinken, kleyder un shikh. shoyn elf yor nokh undzer khasene! di gantse
tsayt hostu afile oyf keyn eyn varmes nisht fardint. ikh bin azoy
shvakh, azoy tsebrokhn, koym vos di neshome halt zikh in mir. vos hostu
zikh ongeleygt oyf mir? nisht genug, vos ikh darf hodeven di kinder,
darf ikh nokh dir gebn esn? vu-zhe iz dos gehert gevorn?

- mir hobn zikh azh trern in di oygn geshtelt. ikh hob zi nokh keyn mol
azoy nisht gehert reydn!

- mirele, -- hob ikh zikh bay ir gebetn:  -- zi hot mikh azoy baleydikt,
zi hot mikh getribn fun shtub. ikh bin dokh a tate, s'tut dokh mir vey
dos harts! an eygn kind traybt dem tatn fun shtub. nu, vu iz dos gehert
gevorn? nu, zog du aleyn!

- vos-zhe far a mansbil zitst in der heym un kukt aroys, dos vayb zol im
gebn esn?

- dos hostu ir geheysn zogn?

zi hot mikh ongekukt, kentik -- nisht farshtanen, vos ikh freg ir.

- dos hostu ir geheysn mir traybn fun shtub?

shvaygt zi mit shvaygenish, ziftst mit zifenish un kukt oyf mir mit aza
kukn, az s'glivert in mir dos blut.

- dos hostu ir geheysn aleyn tsvogn di kinder? zi kon den tsvogn di
kinder? zi kon den afile a minut haltn dos kind in di hent?

- ikh kon beser fun im!  -- shrayt oys di kleyne.

- o, vi lang krenkstu, du khatsufe du! du konst nor zayn a sheygets
akegn tatn!

- un er kon zi nor shlogn!

- nu, yo, a? zitst? es art dikh nisht, dernokh vet zi dir reydn antkegn.
lomir zen, du zolst tsugeyn ir gebn etlekhe petsh.

- ikh bet dikh, zolst avekgeyn fun mir!  herst? -- shrayt oys mayn

un mit dem hot zikh geendikt. zi hot a por mol opgeziftst un zikh
geleygt shlofn.

un ikh bin vayter geblibn oyf mayn shtele. di kleyne loz ikh tsum kind
nisht tsu. un in shtub loz ikh zi oykh gornisht ton. afile zikh aleyn
tsvogn loz ikh zi nisht. un ven ikh kem zi, rays ikh ir oys ale hor fun

* * *

danken got! ikh hob zikh shoyn oyf a shtik tsayt gevornt:  mayn
oyskuk iz geven, mayn vayb zol hobn a kleyns, demolt volt ikh shoyn gor
keyn moyre nisht gehat far mayn konkurentke. ikh ze dokh shoyn, az zi
vil mikh patren fun der shtub. zi hot zikh afile aroysgeredt, far vos:
a tsaygn kleydl, vil zi, zol ir di muter makhn, hot ir muter mistame
gezogt, az zi kon ir nisht makhn, farshteyt zi, aza kleyne, az dos iz
iber mir. zi veyst:  ven zi blaybt aleyn in shtub, muz ir shoyn di muter
makhn a kleydl. nu-nu, vil zi dos mikh aroysshtupn. un ikh hob bay zikh
take shtark moyre gehat, az dos vet zikh ir sof-kol-sof ayngebn. nor
itst -- ver hert zi? mayn vayb trogt arum aza pitsl, vet zi shoyn nisht
konen geyn, ikh hob zikh gefleyst dertsu.... mir iz dos genug shver
ongekumen. zi hot mikh getribn fun zikh.  "du shleper, du! nokh kinder
vilstu onplodzen oyf mayn kop!"  -- hot zi mir ale mol gezogt,
tsunoyfdreyendik zikh in tsenen. nor vi azoy es zol nisht hobn
forgekumen -- ikh bin itst takef. afile antkegn mayn vayb fil ikh zikh
shoyn oykh groys. ikh greys zikh, ven zi shteyt antkegn mir mitn
shpitsikn baykhl. ikh fil, az ikh bin a man un zi -- mayn vayb.

fun groys fargenign gey ikh mir yedn oyf-der-nakht nokh vetshere
shpatsirn. ikh farleyg mir di hent arunter, shtel aroys mayn boykh (mir
dakht zikh, az ikh hob a groysn boykh) un gey pamelekh mit kurtsinke
tritelekh, azoy:  eyns, tsvey, eyns, tsvey. mikh art nisht:  s'meg geyn
a regn, a shney, s'meg zayn a levone-nakht. mir iz alts eyns. un khotsh
es iz afile kalt, dokh nem ikh arop dos hitl un loz oyf mayn kop luft.
ikh hob im nisht faynt, mayn kop:  er iz nisht keyn nar, er farshteyt a

nokhn shpatsir gey ikh mir arayn in shtub. gey nisht oyf di
shpits-finger, nor mit feste trit shpan ikh arayn, shtel zikh avek in
mitn shtub un batrakht mayn bisl farmegn:  eyns, tsvey, dray:  ven nisht
ikh, voltn di dray mentshelekh nisht geven. di dray mentshelekh, vos
lign itst un shlofn, zaynen mayne, mayne eygene, mayn blut un fleysh. di
dray mentshelekh zaynen ikh. ikh bin -- zey. un dos vayb mayns iz oykh
mayn, zi gehert nisht tsu keynem, nor tsu mir. dortn, bay ir ineveynik
in boykh, ligt a shtikl ikh. zaynen mir in eynem? eyns, tsvey, dray; dos
vayb -- iz fir:  bay ir dos kind -- iz finf:  mit mir -- zeks. bin ikh
zeks un di zeks bin ikh. ikh farnem ot di gantse shtub, ot ver ikh
bin!!! hot-zhe mir a gute nakht!

* * *

ikh gey opgerisn, ikh klayb zikh shoyn a lengere tsayt tsu zogn mayn
vayb, zi zol mir epes vos makhn:  vayl itst iz di beste tsayt, un tomer
loz ikh durkh ot di tsayt, iz farfaln. ober ikh leyg es op fun eyn mol
oyfn andern un di tsayt loyft. ot-ot, a lyade tog falt zi arayn in bet
un demolt vet shoyn zayn shpet. azoy lang un azoy breyt, biz ikh hob
zikh in eynem a tog farshvorn, az haynt in ovnt muz ikh ir dos zogn.

bald vi zi iz arayngekumen, hob ikh fun ir aropgekhapt dos laybl, dos
opgetreyselt fun shney. ikh meg zogn, az der grester kavalir vet azoy
nisht geyn arum zayn fraylin, vi ikh arum mayn vayb in dem ovnt. nor
gezogt hob ikh nokh alts nisht, khotsh nem un shnayd di tsung. nor ven
zi hot ongehoybn zikh oyston oyf leygn zikh shlofn, bin ikh tsugegangen
tsu ir un zikh avekgeshtelt vi a soldat, un nokhn opshteyn a por minut
hob ikh ir oyf shtum-loshn mit eyn mol gegebn a vayz mayn hoylekh fun
kop biz di fis. zi hot oyf mir a tamevatn kuk geton. meyle, ze ikh
shoyn, az zi farshteyt mikh nisht. shtey ikh nokh a por minut un gib ir
vayter a vayz, gib ikh a beyg on tsu mayne fis un gey aruf mit di hent
tsum kop. kukt zi vayter. heyb ikh ir shoyn on bislekhvayz tsu vayzn:
ikh gib a heyb oyf eyn fus, vayz ikh ir eyn shukh, nokh dem -- dem
tsveytn:  nokh dem hob ikh ir gegebn a vayz di hoyzn fun fornt un bald
gemakht boyu besholem un gevizn fun hintn:  nokh dem hob ikh ir gegebn a
vayz eyn elnboygn, a tsveytn, vi zey kukn fun di arbl aroys.

- vos hostu zikh avekgeshtelt vi a glomp far di oygn?  -- fregt mikh mit
a mol mayn vayb.

ikh shvayg.

- du bist geleymt gevorn?

ikh rir zikh nisht fun ort.

dos kleyne kind tseveynt zikh plutsling fun shlof, ikh mit mayn
konkurentke gibn zikh beyde a varf tsum vigl, nor zi hot es frier
farkhapt un es ongehoybn tsu farvign. shtey ikh shoyn nisht aher un
nisht ahin. ikh veys vos nisht frier tsu ton. un do ze ikh, vi zi
farvigt dos kind oysgetseykhnt, vi zi volt shoyn fun tsen yor a mame
geven. ikh loyf tsu tsum vigl, khap aroys dos kind, khotsh es darf nokh
gor shlofn:  nor zi, di kleyne, git dos a ris aroys un loyft tsu mit dem
tsu der mamen. makh ikh a shvayg, glaykh es art mikh nisht, gey tsu oyf
mayn frierdikn postn un shtel zikh avek.

- vi azoy haltstu dos kind? -- hob ikh plutsling ongeshrien oyf mayn
konkurentke, khotsh zi hot dos gehaltn beser fun mir.

- s'iz nisht dayn eysek!  -- entfert zi mir.

a khutspe!

- vos heyst, nisht mayn eysek? du dreyst oys dem kind di hentlekh.

- zol dir nisht arn!

- vos heyst, es zol mir nisht arn? ikh bin dokh a tate?

- nu-nu?... -- entfert zi mir ongelodn.

- vos, nu-nu? Mindele, tokhter, kum tsu mir.

- vos vilstu? vos tshepestu zikh tsum meydl?  -- fregt mir mayn vayb

- vos heyst, vos ikh vil? zi dreyt oys dem kind di hentlekh, ikh bin
dokh a tate, s'tut mir vey dos harts!

- ober zol dos dir nisht arn!

- vos heyst?

- du vest nisht avekgeyn?!

- gib a kuk, vi azoy ikh gey!

- du vest nisht avekgeyn fun mayne oygn?

- nu, gib a kuk...

- on mir volt shoyn merer mitsve!  -- ruft zikh op mayn konkurentke --
ikh hob nisht keyn pitsl kleydl oyf zikh.

aza min sotn!

- far vos geystu nisht horeven?

- gib a kuk, vi azoy ikh gey!

- ikh bet dikh, du zolst avekgeyn fun mayne oygn!

ikh shtey.

zi makht keyn sakh taynes nisht, kayklt zikh tsu tsu der vant, khapt
arop di katshelke un heybt zi oyf iber mayn kop.

di kinder hobn gemakht a gevald, di konkurentke mayne hot zikh, vi es
vayzt oys, dershrokn un aroysgelozt dos kind fun di hent. a-a, gut!...
ikh hob fargesn on dem vayb mit der katshelke, ikh bin tsugeshprungen
tsum meydl, zi ongekhapt bay di hor, geshlept vi a tsoyg iber der
gantser podloge un zi gebukhet in di pleytses, vifl es iz nor in ir
arayn, un derbay vi a getrayer foter geshrien:  na, na, vest visn, vi
tsu haltn a kind! vest visn!

es iz gevorn a kvitsheray, azoy vi in a mark tsvishn khazeyrim. di
kleyne mit der groyser zaynen gelegn oyf der podloge un gerisn zikh mit
ale koykhes. dos yingele mayns hot ayngegrobn dos ponem in kleydl arayn
un hot ahin-tsu arayngeshrien. un zi, dos vayb mayns iz geshtanen vi a
leymener goylem un hot gornisht gevust vos tsu ton:  tsi zol zi oyfheybn
dos kleyne kind fun der podloge? tsi zol zi aynshtiln dos? tsi zol zi
tsugeyn tsu yener? zi hot gekukt mit tsvey vilde oygn. plutsling hot zi
zikh tseveynt un zikh ongehoybn raysn di hor fun kop, un ikh, meynendik,
az zi iz fun di gedanken arop, hob gemakht a gvald, bin tsugelofn tsum
fentster un mit ale finger ongehoybn poykn, men zol zikh tsunoyfloyfn.

* * *

mayn glik hot lang nisht ongehaltn:  dos kind hot in dray khadoshem arum
nokhn geboyrn vern farlozt di likhtike velt. yo, dos ershte mol, vos ikh
hob ot di naye yetsire derzen, hot mir glaykh a tykhke geton dos harts,
az mayn glik vet lang nisht onhaltn, vayl s'iz geboyrn gevorn a greyts
tsu shtarbn.

der bris iz geven in a khoydesh arum nokhn geboyrn. di konkurentke mayne
hot zikh gemiest tsu dem tsutsurirn derfar, vos es iz nisht geven
gemalet. di altitshke mayne hot zikh a por mol in tog arayngekhapt dos
ontsuzeygn, khotsh ale kinder hobn fun keyn brust nisht gevust, khuts di
akht teg in kimpet, un shpeter hob ikh zey ale oysgekhovet mit a soske.

vi gliklekh bin ikh oyfn bris geven! ver iz demolt geven glaykh tsu mir.
hent hobn zikh tsu mir geshtrekt fun ale zaytn:  "lekhayim, bal bris!
lekhayim, bal bris!" ikh hob gefilt az ikh leb, az ikh farnem epes oyf a
shtikl ort in lebn. nor nisht oyf lang iz geven mayn glik. nokhn bris iz
dem kind nokh erger gevorn. es kon zayn, az ven nisht zi, di konkurentke
mayne, volt es efsher geven geklepet nokh a halb yor, hot zi, ober, dem
kind mekatser geven di yorn. zi hot ale mol geripet mit der tir, tsi zi
hot es badarft, tsi nisht, un zi iz gornisht iberrasht geven, ven ikh
fleg ir ale mol zogn:  "khatsufe, du vilst avekpatren dos kind." neyn,
zi hot gornisht oysbahaltn un flegt mir opentfern:

- nu, az yo, ver hot moyre far dir?

di gantse tsayt bin ikh nor arum dem gegangen:  keyner hot zikh afile
tsu dem nisht tsugerirt. es hot take geeklt fun dem, a farzeenish iz es
geven. dos peneml a langs, an ongetsoygns, -- hot es oysgezen vi a
zoyere, tsekvetshte ugerke. keyn loyt fleysh hot dos oyf zikh nisht
gehat, nor a hoyt iz es nokhgehangen, vi a baytl. az ikh hob es gehaltn,
zaynen di finger mayne gekrokhn in layb arayn, -- ikh hob es gemuzt
haltn nor in a kishn.

nor in der nakht, ven es iz geshtorbn, hot es bay mir gor an ander kheyn
bakumen. do hob ikh shoyn nisht gezen far zikh keyn kind, nor a groysn
mentsh, vos farshteyt un veyst alts. un geveyntlekh hob ikh shoyn derfar
moyre gekrogn. shteyendik lebn kind, hob ikh getsitert, es zol nisht
trefn mayne gedanken. mir hot zikh gedakht, az ot itst veyst es alts, --
veyst, az ikh hob es nokh mer nisht gekont onkukn, vi ale do in shtub.

ale zaynen geshlofn, der zeyger hot badarft zeyn arum dray. in droysn iz
a fintstere nakht geven. a shreklekher vint hot in fentster gefayft un
hot ale mol gevorfn gantse lyapukhes shney in di shoybn.

tsu der ksise hob ikh a likhtl ongetsundn un glaykh es in ponem gekukt.
es iz zikh gants ruik gelegn, nor dos hertsl hot zikh bay dem shtark
gehoybn. di eygelekh hot es gehaltn laykht farmakht, nor a minut farn
toyt hobn zey zikh mit a mol an efn gegebn, azelkhe reyne, shvartse
oygn, un hobn zikh glaykh oyf mir avekgeshtelt.  "zay mir moykhl!"  --
hob ikh tsu dem gezogt. un azoy vi ikh hob es aroysgeredt, hobn zikh bay
im di oygn vi mit a pare ibergetsoygn, un azoy zeynen zey ofn geblibn.

ikh hob dos mesl mit a shvartsn shal tsugedekt, tsukopns hob ikh dos
likhtl tsugeklept un aleyn hob ikh mit shvere trit ongehoybn arumshpanen
iber der shtub mit an aropgeloztn kop.

mit a mol hot mir fardrosn:  far vos kumt mir eynem aleyn zikh
arumdreyen arum mes? ikh bin glaykh tsugegangen tsu mayn vayb, ir
gegebn a shtorkh un gezogt:  "shtey oyf! dos kind iz geshtorbn!" zi hot
zikh vi a tsemishte oyfgekhapt. nokh dem bin ikh tsugegangen un
oyfgevekt mayn konkurentke un oysgeshrien:  "shtey oyf, dayn bruder iz

di muter hot opgedekt dos kind un hot zikh deroyf shtil tseveynt. di
kleyne hot oysgevalyet di oygn un getsitert far kelt. ikh hob zikh
avekgeshtelt fundervaytns, gekukt oyf zey beydn un geshmeykhlt. dernokh
bin ikh tsugegangen tsu mayn konkorentke, ongenumen zi far a hant,
aroysgefirt in mitn shtub un aleyn bin ikh oyf hinter-fislekh opgegangen
fun ir, zikh avekgeshtelt antkegn un ongehoybn tsu plesken mit di hent
un tsu zingen, zi zol geyn a tentsl.

mayne hot oysgeshrien:

- bist fun zinen arop?!

- ikh bin nisht arop fun zinen! dos hot zi dos kind gepatert. dos kind
volt gelebt, ven zi kilt dos nisht tsu.

- vos heyst?

- vos heyst?  vos zol dos heysn?  zi hot umishne gelozt ofn di tir.

ikh hob vayter ongehoybn tsu zingen un tsu plesken.

- yidn, gvald!  er iz fun zinen arop.  vos iz dos far a plesken?  -- hot
mayn vayb a tsetumlte gegvaldevet.

- umishne!  umishne!  zol dos kind hern.  zol dos visn, ver es iz zayn
malekhamoves.  ven nisht zi, volt es gelebt!

ikh bin tsugegangen tsum kind un gezogt:  "zolst visn, Hershl, az dayn
shvester Malke iz goyrem in dayn toyt. zi iz dayn malekhamoves. ikh,
dayn foter, Meyer BeRebe Yitskhok, zog dir on, du zolst nisht shvaygn
oyf dayn fritsaytikn toyt!"

do iz gevorn a gvald, punkt vi der mes volt shoyn gehat oyfgeshtanen un
zikh genumen tsu der arbet. di muter iz aroyfgefaln oyfn kind un hot
zikh getreyslt mitn gantsn kerper, getupet mit di fis un hot derbay epes
geredt. di kleyne iz vi a meshugene arumgeshprungen iber der shtub un
gegvaldevet. di tsvey kleyne kinder hobn zikh oyfgekhapt fun shlof un
oykh ongehoybn ritshen. ikh bin shoyn gor tsedult gevorn. ikh bin a por
minut geshtanen un hob nisht gevust, vos mit mir tut zikh. un azoy nisht
visndik, hob ikh ongehoybn pakeven mayn bisl vesh. ayngepakevet zikh,
bin ikh tsugegangen tsum geshtorbenem kind un gezogt:  "hob a likhtikn
ganeydn, mayn tayerer zun! du zolst shteyn un betn far dayn oremen tatn,
vos lozt zikh itst avek in der velt arayn"...

dernokh hob ikh genumen dos pekl untern orem un mit a kuk zikh opgezegnt
mit di tsvey klenere kinder. ikh bin pamelekh fun shtub aroys un avek in
der shvartser velt arayn...

[Proofread by Noyekh Miller and Leonard Prager].

End of _The Mendele Review_ 04.018

Leonard Prager, editor

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