Deciding on a name is really the least of my concerns. After raising six children, I don’t know if I’m ready to start over again, even with the help of the kibbutz. Maybe it’s time to consult with a higher authority. Pardon me while I step outside for a minute.
I carried my shovel and bucket outside and looked heavenward.
“Dear Lord, I know when I was in Anatevka, I didn’t ask for much, but why is that the prayer You chose to answer. I’m in Palestine now. I’m supposed to have a more direct line to You. You used to speak to the prophets and our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. You haven’t spoken to anyone in a long time — so far as I know. Don’t You miss having a little conversation? Moses couldn’t even speak that well and You talked to him. I know, You’re afraid we won’t have anything to talk about. Don’t worry, we can just chat for a while, then You can go back to taking care of the rest of the universe.”
“After two thousand years, we Jews are coming home and one day we will have a Jewish state like David and Solomon. You spoke to them too. Are You waiting for the new king? I know, I know. I talk too much as it is. You don’t need to say anything. I’ll talk enough for the two of us.”
“You blessed me with six daughters and I thank You every day for them. Would it be too much to ask that the baby be a boy? He doesn’t have to be really tall, but that would be nice. He doesn’t have to be very strong, but that would be fine. He doesn’t have to be smart, but that would be wonderful. He doesn’t. . . . I would be happy no matter what You bless us with.”
“Could You at least give me a hint? Don’t be shy, just chime right in when You’re ready.”
“Are You sure You’re not lonely? I am. Our family should be together, not spread across the world. What purpose does that serve? Aren’t families supposed to stay together to serve You? Poor Hodel spent all those years freezing in Siberia with a man she thought was the mashiach and then had to endure his murder. And Tzeitl, with the nearsighted tailor. He’s a good man, but I’ve never understood what she sees in him. And . . . well, You know who. Wherever she is, watch over her.”
You see how the sky is growing darker. The thunder and lightning announce God’s arrival, like it did to Moses on Sinai. This is it. God is going to speak to me at last. I knew if I had faith this time would come.
“I am ready to hear Thy word and do Thy will.”
Wait, I must be on holy ground, I’d better take off my boots.
I dropped my shovel and removed my boots.
“What are you doing, Tevye?” Oren hollered.
I continued to look to the sky as the torrent began.
“Come in out of the rain before you catch cold.”
“I’m waiting to hear the voice of God,” I shouted back.
“What do you mean I have the voice of a clod? You’re the clod, standing barefoot in the rain.”
Suddenly, a bell began to chime.
This is it.
“It’s time for lunch, Tevye.”
The ringing stopped as the rain grew heavier. Oren gave me a disgusted wave and ran for the dining room.
I stood waiting, but heard nothing. When I looked down, I saw that my feet were ankle-deep in mud.
I picked up my shoes and shovel. Just as I was about to lift the bucket of dung, it overflowed.
I looked heavenward, “We’ll talk again tomorrow.”
This excerpt is from Mitchell Bard’s novel, After Anatevka – Tevya Goes to Palestine available now in paperback and on Kindle.