Lost your password? Please enter your username or email address. You will receive a link to create a new password via email. Peretz—as the founders of modern Yiddish literature, but for those readers who must encounter them mainly through the rough lens of English translation, they are by no means equally accessible or attractive. Mendele seems permanently locked into his culture, and while translators can give us approximations of his language, they cannot yield enough of his references, allusions, and satiric thrusts to enable an alien reader to understand why he is so highly regarded in the Yiddish world. Sholem Aleichem is a universal genius whose overflow of invention and humor survives almost any translation.
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And the Rebbe of Nemirov, every Friday morning early at Sliches-time, disappeared, melted into thin air! He was not to be found anywhere, either in the synagogue or in the two houses-of-study, or worshipping in some Minyan, and most certainly not at home.
His door stood open, people went in and out as they pleased—no one ever stole anything from the Rebbe—but there was not a soul in the house.
Jews no evil eye! So thought the people. Once, however, there came a Lithuanian—and he laughed! You know the Lithuanian Jews—they rather despise books of devotion, but stuff themselves with the Talmud and the codes. Well, the Lithuanian points out a special bit of the Gemoreh—and hopes it is plain enough: even Moses our Teacher could not ascend into heaven, but remained suspended thirty inches below it—and who, I ask you, is going to argue with a Lithuanian?
He intends to stay there all night to find out where the Rebbe goes, and what he does at Sliches-time. Another in his place would have dozed and slept the time away. Not so a Lithuanian—he learned a whole treatise of the Talmud by heart!
The Rebbe has been awake some time. The Lithuanian has heard him sighing and groaning for a whole hour. Whoever has heard the groaning of the Nemirover Rebbe knows what sorrow for All-Israel, what distress of mind, found voice in every groan. The soul that heard was dissolved in grief.
But the heart of a Lithuanian is of cast-iron. The Lithuanian hears and lies still. The Rebbe lies still, too—the Rebbe, long life to him, upon the bed and the Lithuanian under the bed! After that the Lithuanian hears the beds in the house squeak—the people jump out of them—a Jewish word is spoken now and again—water is poured on the fingers—a door is opened here and there. Then the people leave the house, once more it is quiet and dark, only a very little moonlight comes in through the shutter.
He confessed afterwards, did the Lithuanian, that when he found himself alone with the Rebbe terror took hold of him. He grew cold all over, and the roots of his ear-locks pricked his temples like needles.
An excellent joke, to be left alone with the Rebbe at Sliches-time before dawn! First he does what beseems a Jew. Then he goes to the wardrobe and takes out a packet—which proves to be the dress of a peasant: linen trousers, high boots, a pelisse, a wide felt hat, and a long and broad leather belt studded with brass nails.
The Rebbe puts them on. On his way out the Rebbe steps aside into the kitchen, stoops, takes a hatchet from under a bed, puts it into his belt, and leaves the house. The Lithuanian trembles, but he persists. A fearful, Solemn-Day hush broods over the dark streets, broken not unfrequently by a cry of supplication from some little Minyan, or the moan of some sick person behind a window.
He glides from one to the other, the Lithuanian after him. And the Lithuanian hears the sound of his own heart-beats mingle with the heavy footfall of the Rebbe; but he follows on, and together they emerge from the town. Behind the town stands a little wood. The Rebbe, long life to him, enters it. He walks on thirty or forty paces, and then he stops beside a small tree.
And the Lithuanian, with amaze, sees the Rebbe take his hatchet and strike the tree. He sees the Rebbe strike blow after blow, he hears the tree creak and snap. And the little tree falls, and the Rebbe splits it up into logs, and the logs into splinters. Then he makes a bundle, binds it round with the cord, throws it on his shoulder, replaces the hatchet in his belt, leaves the wood, and goes back into the town.
In one of the back streets he stops beside a poor, tumbledown little house, and taps at the window. The Lithuanian knows it to be the voice of a Jewess, a sick Jewess. And the Rebbe answers again in the Little-Russian speech:. And without further ado he goes in. The Lithuanian steals in behind him, and sees, in the gray light of dawn, a poor room with poor, broken furniture. And you, you have such a great and mighty God, and you do not trust Him!
Then, when the stove was alight, and the wood crackled cheerily, he repeated, more gaily, the second part of Sliches.
He repeated the third part when the fire had burnt itself out, and he shut the stove doors…. And later, when anyone told how the Rebbe early every morning at Sliches-time raised himself and flew up into heaven, the Lithuanian, instead of laughing, added quietly:. About Get on the mailing list.
If Not Higher, by I. Perets Bontsha the Silent pdf. Found at ebookbrowse.
The World of I.L. Peretz
If Not Higher a selfless service story Less. In this story, he focuses on the habit of the Rabbi of Namirov. Similarly, he focuses on selfless services. But a Litvak didn't believe it. He is under the Rabbi's bed the whole night. Then he sold those woods on very cheapest at credit, also helped to burn the fire.
He is also viewed as one of a triumvirate of classical Yiddish writers who laid the cornerstone and ensured the vitality and progress of Yiddish literary culture—the other two of whom were Mendele Moykher Sforim [Sholem Yankev Abramovitch] and Sholem Secunda. For him, Yiddish would not only preserve the past as a foundational source for a revitalized Jewish consciousness, it would be the engine of Jewish existential continuity and identity. He also stood out from that trio, and from other Hebrew and Yiddish writers, by virtue of his relationship with Polish intellectuals and his specific connection to Polish culture—more so than to the Russian cultural influence at play among Haskala-affected Jewry and its writers in other parts of the Czarist Empire. In promoting Jewish culture in place of insular religious life as the prime force of modern Jewish peoplehood and as the ensurer of a viable post-Emancipation Jewish existence, he continued at the same time to identify on certain levels with—and even model some of his ideals on—Polish struggles for national and cultural-national identity and preservation that had served as alternatives to political independence or sovereignty. The religious circles of its Haskala-infused Jewish population had been, historically, on the side of rationally based opposition to Hassidism. His education, which included solid exposure to traditional Judaic learning in his youth—as well as to secular subjects, modern scientific reasoning, and Western knowledge—was mostly private.
If Not Higher
A growing collection of in-depth interviews with people of all ages and backgrounds, whose stories about the legacy and changing nature of Yiddish language and culture offer a rich and complex chronicle of Jewish identity. Marlene Hait, raised in a Yiddish home by survivors of the Holocaust, speaks about I. Peretz's Yiddish story "If Not Higher" and discusses how it has inspired and informed her identity as a Jew. Do you or someone you know have stories to share about the importance of Yiddish language and culture in your life?
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