Page 73 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 27

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L
e f t w ic h
— B
ashevis
S
inger
in
Y
iddish
L
iterature
67
The Yiddish literary critic Shlomo Bickel finds affinities in
Bashevis’s
Satan in Goray
and his
Family Moskat
and other
works with Peretz’s
Golden Chain.
T o him Rabbi Beinish, who
stands up to
Satan in Goray,
against the departure from ordinary
customary Jewish ways and beliefs and observances, derives as a
figure straight from Rabbi Shlomo in Peretz’s
Golden Chain,
except that in the
Golden Chain
Rabbi Shlomo wants to hasten
the Redemption and has to be restrained, while Rabbi Beinish
stands up to and withstands the Shabbatai Zeviniks who think
they can speed the Days of the Messiah. At the end of his
Satan
in Goray
Bashevis seems to endorse the orthodox Jewish view,
when he says in his closing Author’s Note: “ Let none attempt
to force the Lord. T o end our Pain within the world. The Mes­
siah will come in God's own time. And Satan will die abhorred.
And Lilith will vanish with the night. The Exile end and all
be Light. Amen, Selah.”
Bickel traces Bashevis’s Rabbi Beinish still further back, further
than Peretz’s Rabbi Shlomo and the
Golden Chain,
back to
Bashevis’s own grandfather, the Goray Rabbi, “who has served
both his grandsons, Bashevis and his brother I. J. Singer, as a
living model.”
We could find other resemblances in Bashevis’s work to other
Yiddish writers, certainly to the central figures, the classic Yiddish
writers. For Yiddish literature belongs all together, it is of one
piece, grown from the same roots and the same soil.
There is something reminiscent in the arrival in Goray of
Bashevis’s Shabbatai Zevinik come to preach the Pseudo-Messiah,
bringing all the trouble to the town, and his Gentleman from
Cracow arriving in Frampol, bringing at first prosperity to the
impoverished village, and Satan’s arrival as a rich Danzig
merchant in the village of Peretz’s Monish. “ He has brought piles
of gold in order to trade. Everyone will be rich, and our town
will be made.” And Lilith has come with Satan, as his daughter,
and Ashmedai and Lilith, who keep coming into Bashevis’ stories,
and into much else in Yiddish literature, ensnare Monish, and get
him flown to hell “ on a broomstick,” and Messiah whom Monish
might have brought to earth is again delayed in his coming.
These things belong to Yiddish literature as a whole. “ In the
good old days we had
shedim
in the attics,” said Peretz, “ and
letzim
dancing around in the courtyards, evil spirits in every
old ruin.” Sholem Aleichem has
shedim
and
letzim,
ghosts and
spirits, as Mendele and Peretz have them, as in his story “ The
Enchanted Tailor.” Goldfaden, the “ Father” of the Yiddish
theatre, who was Mendele’s contemporary, has witches and
letzim
in his plays. An-sky’s
Dybbuk
was a great success on the Yiddish