But as the months progressed, so did Shifra’s frantic behavior. She would only wear clothing that was blue, said to be an unpleasant color to demons. Noise was also a good safeguard. So bells and clappers sounded incessantly in the home.
Heshie thought it was a waste of time to study the Holy Book. Until he was transported to the time of Judah the Maccabee…
In the little shtetl of Vaysechvoos, a wise stranger passes through and confounds the local rabbi.
Leah’s dreams about the shtetl always came true. Except once.
When the junk dealer’s goods appeared to be magically restored, the good citizens of Vaysechvoos was sure Messiah was at the door!
Gittel, everyone in Vaysechvoos agreed, was a true beauty. Besides this she was bright, vivacious and as innocent as freshly fallen snow. Why, one glance from her deep, smiling brown eyes was enough to melt the heart of any yeshiva bocher. But that was not to be. One day Gittel disappeared. Her mother, Frumah-Ruchel, had […]
For those who lived in the little shtetl of Vaysechvoos, no event of the year brought as much joyous anticipation as the first seder night. Each house was made spotless and bright. For the days leading up to the holiday, all chometz was removed and all the special Pesach dishes and utensils were brought out. […]
All were astir; the Gaon of Vilna was coming to Vaysechvoos! He would be staying in their modest village for one night on his way to Minsk. Who could have imagined that such a prince among Jews would want to visit this muddy little place?” marveled Lazar the Milkman. “Such a wise and holy man […]
When it came to a knowledge of gematria, no one in Vaysechvoos was as skilled as Mendel the Merchant. His father, Yossel, had taught him from early childhood how important it was to have an understanding of the numerical value of the alef bais. Reb Yossel explained to the boy, Mendel, my son, do you […]
Settling a legal dispute in the shtetl of Vaysechvoos is no easy thing. After all, the czar had made sure that Jews were prohibited from the civil court system, and that was probably a good thing, since what kind of justice would a Jew find in the czar’s Russia? But disputes occurred, even in Vaysechvoos, […]
The people of Vaysechvoos were too poor to own pets, but they had a problem and to solve that problem, they welcomed a few stray cats into the shtetl. You see, a multitude of mice had taken up residence there. But the appearance of the cats had hordes of mice trembling and turning on their […]
In Vaysechvoos, as for Jews everywhere, Pesach was a very special occasion. Each house was made spotless and bright. All chometz was removed and all the special Passover dishes and utensils were brought out. The families eagerly awaited the celebration with its lengthy and elaborate telling of the Exodus story. The youngest sons spent hours […]
Vaysechvoos is a fictitious village in 19th century czarist Russia. Stories from Vaysechvoos often appear in our 21st century publication Issues. This story is typical of the kinds of tales Jewish authors wrote once upon a time. This is not an endorsement of kabbalah, just of Jewish shtetl tales. So in the spirit of the […]
The tiny, one-room house was dark and musty. Narrow sunbeams poked through the cracks around a small draped window, and near the bed a solitary wick flickered in a little bowl of oil. Ruchelah lay in her bed. She had been infirmed for years, barely able to move or sit up, much less stand or […]
It was evening in Vaysechvoos. Young Perchik stared and stared at the sky. The vastness of the black and white speckled blanket that stretched beyond his home was more than even his eleven-year-old imagination could comprehend. Mama, Mama, what are stars?” asked Perchik as he burst into the kitchen where his mother was cleaning the […]
The pogroms in the province were occurring with more frequency, and a friendly gentile let the villagers know that Vaysechvoos was on the list for one of these destructive demonstrations.” “What did we do to deserve such a thing?” cried Zlata the butcher’s wife. Feivel the Tanner waved his arms heavenward and moaned, “It’s not […]
Beryl the Milkman imagined he was the most unfortunate man in all of Vaysechvoos. Certainly,” he concluded, “I’m the loneliest.” And the townspeople agreed. Skinny as a beanpole, Beryl was shy and withdrawn. He was an orphan, and the only creatures with which he conversed were a few milk cows he inherited from his father. […]
The ladies of Vaysechvoos, like women in the shtetlach throughout the Czar’s land, had little education. They were, of course, taught those things necessary to make a home for their families: clothes-making, cooking, cleaning and so on. They were taught to obey the precepts of the rabbis: the taking out of a small portion of […]
Even though the shtetl of Vaysechvoos was little, it was not without a reputation. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the little shtetl had garnered quite the lack of a reputation. It wasn’t that people had never heard of Vaysechvoos. In fact, it was Vaysechvoos’ ordinariness for which it was most […]
This can’t really be happening, can it? “I don’t understand!” “Is this a joke? How can this be, it’s crazy, I tell you!” The people of Vaysechvoos had seen some strange things before, but this, this could definitely be called the strangest happening yet, and right around the holiday, no less! What could it mean? […]
Mama, look!! That man is wearing magic suspenders!” “Shah! You know it is forbidden to think such things! We’ll hear nothing of magic or sorcery, Leybush, or you’ll have to answer to your father.” “But Mama,” Leybush protested, “if it’s not mag…(the boy caught himself) if the suspenders are not that thing I’m forbidden to […]
As far as most people in Vaysechvoos were concerned, Reuven Meyerov had every reason to be happy. To begin with, he was handsome, so handsome that the shidduch, for him was Golda the matchmaker’s dream. After all, what young woman in the village would have refused Reuven as her match? Not only was he a […]
In the little shtetl of Vaysechvoos, a young man was hurrying home to prepare for Rosh Hashanah when he was accosted by two hooligans, beaten and robbed and left in the alley he had used for a shortcut. He was angry with the forces that ordained that life should be what it is, so he […]
It was spring in Vaysechvoos, but you wouldn’t know it from the bleak expressions on the faces of the townspeople. Rumor had it that a pogrom had taken place at a shtetl not too far away and that the Cossacks might be heading in the direction of Vaysechvoos. What would the czar’s men want with […]
Nobody in Vaysechvoos could remember why they thought Chaya was crazy; they just did. Perhaps it was because she rarely left her house—the only time anyone ever saw her was at shul or on an occasional walk alone—or because she hardly ever said a word to anybody, or because nobody really knew anything about her […]
The citizens of Vaysechvoos were not known for their artistic achievements. But then, among our Jewish people, the precept against the making of images didn’t exactly encourage masterpiece painters. Besides, there was not really anything to see around the shtetl that would inspire the aesthetic sense, unless you thought mud and dust to be beautiful! […]