the. Never Complaining Saint
"He neved calculated how many comes in a voice that is almost
as he hands the deeds to the advo-
pounds' burden go to a groschen, gentle:
cate, "Read, but make haste!"
how many times he fell on an er-
"Gentlemen! He was silent! I
The whole hall goes round and rand worth a dreier; how many will be silent, too!"
round in Bontzye's eyes, there Is a times he nearly panted out his soul
There is a hush
rushing in his ears. And through going after his pay; he never cal- sounds in front a new, soft, trem-
the rushing he hears more and culated the • difference between bling voice:
more clearly the voice of the ad- other people's lot and his — he
Bontzye, my child," it speaks
vocate, speaking sweetly as a kept silent.
like a harp, "my dear child Bon-
"And he never insisted loudly tzye!"
on his pay; he stood in the door-
And Bontzye's heart melts with-
By Isaac Loeb Perez
him like the dress made for a way like a beggar, with a dog-like in him. Now he would lift up his
Down here, in this world, Bon- Shofar sounded through all the slender figure by the hand of an pleading in his eyes — Come again eyes, but they are blinded with
later! and he went like a shadow tears; he never felt such sweet
tzye Shweig's death made no im- seven heavens: Bontzye Shweig artist-tailor."
to come again later, and beg for
pression at all. Ask anyone you has left the earth! The largest
"What is he talking about?" his wage more humbly than before. emotion before. "My child!" "My
Bontzye!" — no one, since his
like who Bontzye was, how he lived, angels with the broadest wings wondered Bontzye, and he heard
"He kept silent even when they mother died, had spoken to him
and what he died of; whether of flew about and told one another: an impatient voice break in with:
cheated him of part, or threw in a with such words in such a voice.
heart failure, or whether his Bontzye Shweig is to take his seat
"No similes, please!"
"My child," continued the presid-
strength gave out, or whether his in the Heavenly Academy! In
"He never," continued the advo- false coin.
back broke under a heavy load. Paradise there was a noise and a cate, "was heard to complain of
"He took everything in silence." ing judge, "you have suffered and
and they won't k n o w. Perhaps, joyful tumult: Bontzye Shweig! either God or man; there was
"They mean me after all," kept silent; there is no whole limb,
Just fancy! Bontzye Shweig!
no whole bone in your body, with-
after all, he died of hunger.
never a flash of hatred in his eye; thought Bontzye.
out a scar, without a wound, not a
Little child-angels with sparkling he never lifted it with a claim on
If a tram-car horse had fallen
* * *
fibre of your soul that has not
dead, there would have been more eyes, gold thread-work wings, and heaven."
"Once," continued the advocate,
excitement. It would have been silver slippers, ran delightedly to
Still Bontzye does not under- after a sip of water, "a change bled — and you kept silent.
"There they did not understand.
mentioned in the papers, and hun- meet him. The rustle of the wings, stand, and once again the hard came into his life: there came fly-
dreds of people would have crowd- that tap-tap of the little slippers, voice interrupts: "No rhetoric, ing along a carriage on rubber Perhaps you yourself did not know
that you might have cried out, and
ed round to look at the dead ani- and the merry laughter of the please!"
tires drawn by two runaway horses.
mal — even the spot where the fresh rosy mouths, filled all the
"Job gave way — this one was The driver already lay some dis- that at your cry the walls of
Jeficho would have shaken and
heavens and reached to the Throne more unfortunate —
accident took place.
tance off on the pavement with a fallen. You yourself knew nothing
"Facts, dry facts!"
But the tramway horse would of Glory, and God Himself knew
cracked skull. The terrified horses of your hidden power.
"When he was a week old, he foamed at the mouth, sparks shot
receive less attention if there were that Bontzye Shweig was coming.
* * *
as many horses as men — a thou- - Abraham, our father, stood in was circumcised . . ."
from their hoofs, their eves shone I
world your silence
like fiery lamps on a winter's
"The Mohel who circumcised night — and in the carriage, more was not understood, but that is
Bontzye lived quietly and died out with a hearty greeting, and a
, the world of delusion; in the world
him did not know his work — "
dead than alive, sat a man.
quietly. He passed through our sweet smile lit up his old face.
1 of truth you will receive your re-
world like a shadow.
"And Bontzye stopped the horses. ward.
- No wine was drunk at Bontzye's heaven?
And the man he had saved was a
"The Heavenly Court will not
Two angels are pushing a golden cate went on, "even when his charitable Jew, who was not un- ; judg e you; the Heavenly Court
circumcision, - no healths were pro-
posed, and he made no beautiful arm-chair into Paradise for Bon.
not pass sentence on you;
step-mother at thirteen years old
speech when he was confirmed. He tzye Shweig.
"He put the dead man's whip they will not apportion you a re-
lived like a little dun-colored grain
What flashed so brightly?
"Can they mean me after all?" into Bontzye's hands, and Bontzye ward. Take what you will! Every-
of sand on the sea-shore, among
became a coachman. More than thing is yours!"
They were carrying past a gold thought Bontzye.
millions of his kind; and when the crown set with precious stones —
that — he was provided with a
Bontzye looks up for the first
wind lifted him and blew him over all for Bontzye Shweig.
wife, and more still — with a child. time. He is dazzled; everything
to the other side of the sea, nobody
"And Bontzye kept silent!" shines and flashes and streams
"She grudged him every mouth-
"Before the decision of the
"Me, they mean me!" Bontzye , with light
Heavenly Court has been given?" ful — stale, mouldy bread, ten-
* * *
"Take?" he asks shyly.
assured himself again, and yet had
When he was alive, the mud in
not the courage to give a glance ' "Yes, really!" answers the pre-
the street preserved no impression
siding judge with decision; "really,
"Keep to the subject," ordered at the Heavenly Court.
"0," reply the angels, "that will
of his feet; after his death, the
I tell you, everything is yours;
wind overturned the little board
everything in heaven belongs to
* * *
on his grave. The grave-digger's prosecutor won't say a word
"He kept silent also when his you. Because all that shines and
"She grudged him everything but
wife found it a long way off from against Bontzye Shweig. The case
protector became bankrupt and did sparkles is only the reflection of
the spot, and boiled a potful of
Just consider: Bontzye Shweig!
blue body showed through the not pay him his wages. your hidden goodness, a reflection
potatoes over it. Three days after
"He kept silent when his wife of your soul. .You only take of
* * *
holes in his torn and fusty clothes.
that, the grave-digger had for-
ran away from him, leaving him what is yours."
gotten where he had laid him.
"Taki?" asks Bontzye again, this
a child at the breast.
If Bontzye had been given a Bontzye in mid-air and played him he had to chop wood for her, bare-
"He was silent also fifteen years time in a firmer -voice. .
tombstone, then, in a hundred
"Taki! taki! taki!" they answer
later, when the child had grown
years or so, an antiquarian might had shaken him by the hand like were too young and too weak, the up and was strong _enough to him from all sides.
have found it, and the name "Bon- an old- comrade; when he heard logs too thick, the hatchet too throw him out of the house."
"Well, if it is so," Bontzye
tzye Shweig" would have echoed that a chair stood waiting for him blunt. More than once he nearly
"Me, they mean me!" Now he "I would like to have -every day,
once again in our air.
for breakfast, a hot roll with fresh
is sure of it.
A shadow! His likeness remained for his head, and that not a word once his feet were nearly frost-
photographed in nobody's brain, would be lost over his case before bitten, but he kept silent even to
The court- and -the angels-looked
angelic advocate once more in a
in nobody's heart; not a trace of the Heavenly Court — Bontzye, his father."
"To that drunkard?" laughs the still softer and sadder voice, "when down, a little ashamed; the prose-
"No kith, no kin!" He lived and frightened to speak. His heart accuser, and Bontzye feels cold in the same philanthropist paid all cutor laughed.
his creditors their due but him —
sank with terror. He is sure it is every limb.
"He never even complained to and even when (riding once again Explore Talmudic Era
Had it not been for the human all a dream, or else simply a mis-
his father," finished up the advo- in a carriage with rubber tires and 1 .
commotion, some one might have take.
fiery horses) he knocked Bontzye I! Pook by Israeli
heard Bontzye's spine snap under
JERUSALEM (JTA) — A 400-
and drove over him.
its load; had the world been less
"He kept silent. He did not even page volume throwing new light on
busy, some one might have re- was picking up money off the tinued, "no playmates, nor school,
no teaching of any kind — never tell the police who had done for the history of the Jews in Israel
m a r k e d that Bontzye (also a floor — there 'were whole heaps
and Babylonia in the period of Tal-
human being) went about with of it — and then he woke to find a whole garment — never a free him."
* * *
mud, written by M. A. Tenenblatt,
two extinguished eyes and fearfully
"He kept silent even in the hos- former head of the Jewish Tele-
"Facts, please!" reminded the
hollow cheeks; that even when he than once people had smiled at
; graphic Agency in Israel until his
pital, where one may cry out.
had no load on his shoulders, his him and given him a friendly word president.
"He kept silent when the doctor retirement in 1958, was published
"He kept silent even later, when
head drooped earthward as though, and then turned away and spit
his father seized him by the hair would not come- to his bedside here by Dvir, one of the most pro-
while yet alive, he were looking for out.
in a fit of drunkenness, and flung without being paid fifteen kopeks, minent publishing houses in the
his grave. Were there as few men
as tramway horses, some one might And now he dared not raise his him out into the street on a snowy and when the attendant demanded _country.
Tenenblatt retired in 1958 from
perhaps have asked: What has eyes, lest the dream should van- winter's night. He quietly picked another five — for changing his
the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and
ish, lest he should wake up in himself up out of the snow and linen.
happened to Bontzye?
"He kept silent in the death- the Israel News -Agency, a JTA
* * *
some cave full of snakes and ran whither his feet carried him. I
affiliate. to devote himself to writ-
— silent in death.
When they carried Bontzye into
"Not a word against God; not a ing books. He continues to serve
the hospital, his corner in the un- afraid to move, lest he should be however hungry he might be, he
as a member of the board of direc-
word against men!
derground lodging was soon filled recognized and flung into the pit. only begged with his eyes.
tors of the Israel News Agency.
"It was a wild, wet night in
He trembles and does not hear
— there were ten of his like wait-
The book, written in Hebrew,.tra-
ing for it, and they put it up to the angels' compliments, does not spring time, when he reached the
Once more Bontzye trembled all ces the various developments in
auction among themselves. When see how they dance around him, great town; he fell like a drop
they carried him from the hospital makes no answer to the greeting into the ocean, and yet he passed over, he knew that after the advo- Jewish life in the Babylonian per-
iod, including the attitude of- the
bed to the dead-house, there were of Abraham, our father, and — that same night under arrest. He cate comes the prosecutor. Who
Jewish schcilars in Babylonia to
twenty poor sick persons waiting when he is led into the presence kept silent and never asked why, knows what he will say?
those in Eretz Israel. He not only
for the bed. When he had been
did tremendous research, but went
taken out of the dead-house, they not even wish it "good morning!" looked about for the hardest work. nothing of his life.
Even in the other world he for- into personal discussions of the sub-
He is beside himself with terror, And he kept silent. Harder than
brought in twenty bodies from un-
der a building that had fallen in. and his fright increases when he the work itself was the finding of got every moment what had hap- ject with present - day modern tal-
pened in the one before. The advo- mudic scholars.
Who knows how long he will rest happens to notice the floor of the it — and he kept silent.
The book was acclaimed by the
"Bathed in a cold sweat, crushed cate had recalled everything to his
in his grave? Who knows how Heavenly Courthouse; it is all ala-
many are waiting for the little baster set with diamonds. "And together under heavy loads, his mind. Who knows what the prose- Israeli press.
Tenenblatt was among the first
my feet standing on it!" He is empty stomach convulsed withcutor will not remind him of?
plot of ground?
! "Gentlemen," begins the prose- staff members of the JTA when
A quiet birth, a quiet life. a paralyzed. "Who knows what rich hunger — he kept silent.
"Bespattered with mud, spat at, cutor, in a voice biting and acid it was established 50 years ago. He
quiet death, and a quieter burial. man, what rabbi, what saint they
driven with his load off the pave- as vinegar — but he breaks off. i acted as JTA corespondent in Vi-
* * *
take me for — he will come
But it was not so in the other and that will be the end of me!" ment and into the street among ! "Gentlemen," he begins again, enna for many years and was later
His terror is such, he never even the cabs, carts, and tramways, but his voice is milder, and a sec- transferred to London, prior to be-
world. There Bontzye's death made
coming the head of the Jerusalem
time he breaks off.
I hears the president call out: "The looking death in the eyes every and
a great impression.
The blast of the great Messianic
Editors Note: It has recently been announced that a play for
voices and music based on the I. L. Perez story of Bontzye Shweig has ,
been prepared under the title "The Last Judgment" by Cantor Samuel
Rosenbaum of Rochester. The music for this interesting 'musical;
drama has been written by the eminent musicologist, Lazar Weiner.!
In view of the renewed interest in the Perez story, The Jewish News
presents it anew. It is reproduced from "Stories and Pictures" by
Perez, translated by Helena Frank and published by the Jewish Publi-
cation Society of America. The story is being reprinted by special ar-
rangement with the Jewish Publication Society.