Page 112 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 43

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literate people with the depth of pathos that emanates from en­
forced poverty and landlessness. A corollary group of stories are
steeped in foolishness and improbabilities, that vividly illustrate
the absurdity of human aspirations and abilities, in the shtetl, in
the shul, in the homes and hovels of Eastern Europe. It is not the
light, kind imaginings of other cultures, but a broad, bawdy,
earthy humor, based on survival.
The husband and wife went to ask the advice of a rabbi,
who told them, “Marriages are made in heaven. Since Tzipa
is a fool, heaven will surely provide a foolish groom for her.
Just ask around about a youth who’s a bigger fool than your
daughter, and when the two fools marry they’ll be happy
The parents were pleased by this advice. They went to a
matchmaker and told him to find the biggest fool in the
Lublin province for their daughter. . .
The matchmaker found Lemel, an even greater fool than Tzipa.
A series of misadventures ensued after their marriage as unscru­
pulous storekeepers convinced Lemel that eyeglasses would
make him read, that magic potions would make him multiply.
Yes, Lemel and Tzipa were both fools, but they possessed
more love than all the sages. After a while, Lemel bought a
horse and wagon and became a coachman. For this he
didn’t have to know how to read or write. He drove passen­
gers to and from Chelm and everyone liked him for his
punctuality, his friendliness, and for the love he showed his
horse. Tzipa began to have children and bore Lemel six
boys and six girls. The boys took after Tzipa and the girls
after Lemel, but they were all good-natured fools and they
all found mates in Chelm. Lemel and Tzipa lived happily to
a ripe old age, long enough to enjoy a whole tribe of
g randch ild ren , grea t-g randch ild ren , and great-great-
grandchildren. (Singer, 1976, p.97).
In this group are found some of the most beautiful and richly
illustrated of all the Jewish Juvenile volumes. There is a great
discrepancy between those titles written for a specific Jewish