Thursday, Apr 11, 2024

My Take On The News

 

Adar Sheni Is Almost Here, But Joy Is Scarce

Adar Sheni is just a few days away, and Purim will be here in a little more than two weeks. Chazal tell us that we must increase our joy when Adar arrives, but it is not easy at all to feel joy in Eretz Yisroel today, when we are constantly receiving news of our Jewish brethren being murdered by terrorists and of soldiers meeting their deaths in Gaza, and while the entire Torah world seems to be at the center of a fierce maelstrom of incitement and animosity, with the draft deferment for yeshiva bochurim solidly in the crosshairs of hostile elements once again.

Last Friday afternoon, there was another tragic incident in the Gaza Strip, when a group of soldiers entered a booby-trapped building in Khan Yunis and inadvertently set off the explosives. Three of the soldiers were killed and fourteen were wounded; five of the injured soldiers were left in critical condition. The three fatalities were Dolev Malka, a 19-year-old soldier from the settlement of Shlomi on Israel’s northern border; Afik Tery, who was also 19 years old and hailed from Rechovot; and Yinon Yitzchak, a 20-year-old soldier from Mitzpeh Ramon. These three fatalities have brought the number of soldiers killed since the beginning of the war in Gaza to 583.

In other distressing news, there was a terror attack at the same gas station in the community of Eli where a terrorist murdered four people—Elisha Antman, Ofer Feierman, Nachman Shmuel Mordof, and Harel Masoud—eight months ago, outside the Chummus Eliyohu restaurant. This time, the terrorist killed two people who were pumping gas.

Another major issue this past week was the cancellation of road work that was scheduled to take place on Shabbos. Since the work was postponed due to pressure form the religious parties, there was an immediate wave of incitement and accusations of extortion and other forms of misconduct. Of course, that is in addition to the ongoing incitement against bnei yeshivos, with many voices clamoring for them to be inducted immediately into the army. Last week this newspaper featured my article on the subject on the front page. This week, I cover the subsequent developments in a separate article.

Finally, in other news, the statewide municipal elections have come and gone but some of the residual impact still remains with us, as will be discussed below. And in other political news, Benny Gantz is currently visiting Washington. Gantz flew out of the country on motzoei Shabbos, defying an order from Prime Minister Netanyahu to refrain from making the trip. This was quite a show of temerity, since there is an ironclad rule in Israel that prohibits a government minister to hold a diplomatic meeting of any kind without the approval of the prime minister. Gantz received a nice welcome in Washington, but there is only one purpose to his trip: to weaken Netanyahu and his religious allies in the government.

Terror at the Gas Station

The two victims of the terror attack at the gas station in Eli on Thursday night were identified as Yitzchok Zeiger, aged 57, and Uriah Hartum, who was sixteen and a half years old. Zeiger had given the younger man a ride, and the two were in his car together when the terrorist shot at them. Zeiger was a resident of Shavei Shomron and was known as a longstanding and highly dedicated volunteer for ZAKA. Hartum, who lives in Dolev, was survived by his parents, Gadi and Naama, and by five siblings. His parents commented, “Uriah was a pure and upstanding young man. We had the privilege of raising a child who was righteous and holy.”

The terrorist surprised his two victims by opening fire on them while they were in the process of filling up their gas tank. Yitzchok Zeiger managed to draw his gun to return fire, but he was killed by the terrorist before he could do so. News of the tragedy reached his family members while they were attending a communal seudas havraah on the last day of shiva for their neighbor, Neriah Balta, who was killed in Gaza. Unfortunately, the community had no respite between the tragedies.

The Shomron Regional Council paid tribute to Zeiger by releasing the following statement: “Yitzchok was a man of chessed who volunteered for Magen Dovid Adom, Yedidim, the police, ZAKA, and the firefighting service. He was active for causes relating to Eretz Yisroel, he always made sure to join organized trips to Kever Yosef, and he regularly offered rides to others.” Yossi Dagan, the chairman of the Shomron Regional Council, a resident of Shavei Shomron, and a friend of Yitzchok, said, “He was a dear friend who loved people. My heart cannot assimilate the loss of two neighbors in less than a week. When I went to tell Shlomit the awful news, she said, ‘Yitzchok is there. I see his car on television; he is tending to the wounded.’ His wife was certain that if he was there, he was surely treating injured people as he always did. Unfortunately, I had to inform her that he had been murdered. We must gather our strength, and we will win this together.”

Yisroel Gantz, chairman of the Binyomin Regional Council, responded to Uriah’s death: “A young boy was killed solely because he was a Jew who lived in Eretz Yisroel. We will not allow Uriah’s blood to have been spilled today in vain. We will grow stronger and our roots will strike deeper for his sake. We hope that the government and the army will fight back against the cruel enemy until they are destroyed. The entire area of Binyomin supports his precious family at this difficult time and offers its condolences to the community of Dolev.”

The murderer was identified as Muhammad Manasra. The terrorist drove up to the gas station from the direction of Ramallah in a stolen car, whose yellow license plate made it possible for him to enter the gas station easily. When he spotted Zeiger’s car, he quickly shot its two occupants to death. Aviad Gizbar, one of the owners of the restaurant located at the gas station who had returned to Eli on a break from reserve duty in Khan Yunis, reacted quickly and managed to shoot and kill the terrorist. Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi visited the site of the terror attack and praised Gizbar for his heroic actions.

A Fathers Noble Soul

I cannot help but quote the father of Elisha Yehonasan Lober Hy”d, a resident of Yitzhar who was killed in the southern Gaza Strip about three months ago, on the 13th of Teves/December 25, 2023. Lober was a popular full-time kollel member who was highly admired in his community. He was survived by his wife and his son Nachman, who was ten months old at the time of his father’s death. Last week, his second son was born.

Chaggai Lober, the soldier’s bereaved father, announced the simcha with a message that could emanate only from a Jewish heart: “With boundless joy, we announce the birth of a son to Yehonasan Hy”d and to his wife Aviya, tibadeil l’chaim, a brother to sweet little Nachman. At this time, we ask of you, Am Yisroel, not to think about what is lacking. Do not think about the fact that this child has no father, that there is no one to lift him on his shoulders or to dance with him on Simchas Torah. Do not think about the fact that he will have no father at his bar mitzvah, that he will have no one to accompany him to avos u’bonim programs, that he will not have his father at his chuppah, or that he will not have anyone to take him on a fun trip. Think about what there is, not about what is missing. There is a sweet little child in the world now, who will carry on Yehonasan’s legacy. There is someone in the world for us to love, someone who will remember and remind us of him, and someone who will recite Kaddish for him. There is a continuation, and there is growth and hope for this incredible nation.”

Chaggai Lober’s message moved everyone who read it. He continued, “Our enemies, who thirst for Jewish blood, have a custom of handing out sweets when a Jewish child is murdered by their impure hands. Those inhuman creatures rejoice when a Jewish soul is removed from the world. Let us learn from them; let the light take a lesson from the darkness. My fellow Jews, buy sweets and hand them out to anyone you see in the streets, in your homes, and in your schools. Follow the Jewish custom of mishloach manos by handing out treats… A Jewish child has been born. Does the world hear this? Does Am Yisroel hear this? There is a new sweet Jewish baby in the world, and he will grow up to be part of a single, united nation that embraces him. As the Gemara states in Maseches Taanis, ‘Yaakov Avinu did not die; just as his descendants are still alive, he is still alive.’ Yehonasan lives on and Am Yisroel lives on. Just as he embraced his first son, he will certainly embrace his second son from above.”

Connected to Reality

There is a small group of people who have recently been vociferously accusing the chareidi community of being detached from reality and the rest of society. Their gripe is that while the rest of the country has been focused on the war in Gaza, the chareidim have been working on boosting their parties in the municipal elections throughout the country as if the war did not exist. Personally, I have several objections to that criticism. First, I see no benefit in castigating the chareidi community for this in any event. And if some people have been obsessing over the elections, these critics seem to have been hyper-focused on something else—namely, this self-flagellation. In addition, our rabbonim have taught us that the elections impact the most important areas of religious life; working to promote the chareidi parties’ success is therefore part and parcel of sustaining Torah learning. The elections are a very important cause, not a trivial matter that does not deserve our attention. Furthermore, the elections were merely a temporary distraction, which held the community’s attention for only a short period of time.

But even putting all those factors aside, this reaction was overblown. There may have been some people who were kept busy with the election, but the cream of chareidi society remained immersed in Torah learning. I personally had the opportunity to converse with a number of bochurim and yungeleit whose immersion in Torah is so complete that they hadn’t even heard the names of the candidates in their local elections. These are pious young men who do not even glance at the bulletin boards in their shuls; they scrupulously refrain from diverting their thoughts from Torah at any time. Most of the chareidi populace has been increasing its Torah learning and davening for the sake of amassing zechuyos for the soldiers in Gaza; they have not been involved in other matters.

On that note, we have just reached the end of the period of Shovavim. During this time, I had the opportunity to observe many people who were focused on spiritual growth. I visited Zichron Moshe one Friday and attended a tikkun performed by the famed tzaddik Rav Gamliel Rabinovich. The room was very crowded, and the atmosphere was intense. Rav Gamliel was surrounded by elderly men of outstanding tzidkus, men who have no dealings with the material world and have never even tasted sin, yet who shed copious tears over their spiritual failings. If anyone thinks that such men are detached from reality, they are sorely mistaken. These people are more closely connected to the true reality than anyone in the world. In a nutshell, it is high time for the chareidi community to cease this unnecessary self-flagellation.

Looking Toward the Future

Now that the municipal elections are over, it is time to return to routine. The religious community in Israel has seen its fair share of internal disputes, anger, and affronts during the course of the campaigns, but it is over now. Chazal tell us that the world’s existence is preserved by a person who maintains his silence during a quarrel. It is time to put the infighting of the past behind us and to get to work.

There is much that remains to be done in every city, moshav, and settlement throughout Israel. We have been through a period that was hair-raising at times, when we learned that there are still people within the religious community who feel that those who are not part of their particular circles are somehow less deserving, and that there are things that are permissible for them yet forbidden to others. We saw many odious advertisements and public announcements during this election period, and the vitriol and invective were anathema to many of us. Abhorrent attitudes were sometimes expressed during the period before this election, but it is time to move on. Let us put the past behind us and turn toward the future, understanding that our responsibility is to expand the borders of kedusha, to create a kiddush Hashem, to bring glory to the Torah, and to continue the spiritual revolution in Israel as a single united community.

Rav Shach once worked hard on an effort and failed. He returned to his learning as if nothing had happened. One of the people came to see him and saw him learning at his table. He said to him, “Aren’t you upset over what happened?” Rav Shach responded that, “The Torah tells us after Avrohom Avinu failed to save the people of Sodom from destruction, ‘And Avrohom returned to his place.’ He had carried out his duty and done what was expected of him, and the result was irrelevant; it was time for him to return to his avodah. The same is true of us. We have fulfilled our obligation, and now it is time to return to learning.” That is a message that we would all do well to remember as the elections recede into the past.

There was one benefit, though, from the recent elections. We all remember that in the previous municipal election, the true ratio of the religious communities in Yerushalayim was revealed. When the Litvish community won twice as many seats on the city council as the chassidish sector, we discovered that the Litvish sector in the city was actually far more powerful than had always been presumed. For many years, it was presumed that the population in Yerushalayim was evenly split between the two communities, and Agudas Yisroel and Degel HaTorah therefore shared their representation on the council equally. That notion was debunked by the outcome of the municipal election five years ago.

In this year’s municipal election, the chassidish and Litvish parties ran on separate tickets in Bnei Brak as well, to make the same determination as to which community is larger. Once again, this election proved that the communities are not evenly balanced after all, as Degel HaTorah won ten seats on the municipal council while the chassidim received six. In previous years, the same sixteen seats were divided equally between the two groups. The Sephardic community likewise proved its strength during this election.

The Ups and Downs of the Municipal Elections

Hashem performed many great chassodim for the religious community in this round of municipal elections, and while every party suffered some minor defeats, they also achieved great victories. Let me explain.

There are usually two chareidi parties in every municipality in Eretz Yisroel: Agudas Yisroel, which almost always runs together with Degel HaTorah on the same list, thus uniting the chassidish and Litvish communities, and Shas, which represents the Sephardic community. This time, however, things were different. In some places, the chassidish and Litvish parties ran separately, and in some cities the chassidish party split into a number of factions: Ger, Belz, Vizhnitz, and Shlomei Emunim (the party headed by Meir Porush that represents the smaller chassidish communities). In Beit Shemesh, Shmuel Greenberg ran for mayor on behalf of Degel HaTorah and received the support of most of the chassidim, but many chassidish communities decided to support Moshe Abutbul instead, who was running for office on behalf of Shas.

In Elad, the Vizhnitz community supported Yehuda Butbol, the Shas party’s candidate for the office of mayor, while the Litvish community supported Yisroel Porush, who was running on behalf of Shlomei Emunim. There were new divisions and mergers in almost every city, and even the dati leumi community experienced an internal split, with Smotrich’s party, Religious Zionism, and Itamar Ben-Gvir’s party, Otzma Yehudit, running on separate tickets. Each of these two parties likewise gained ground in various cities while losing traction in others.

The elections are now over, and every party can point to a reason for celebration in at least one place in Israel, along with a setback elsewhere. For instance, the Gerrer chassidus can take pleasure in the fact that a Gerrer chossid is now mayor of Bnei Brak; on the other hand, the Gerrer faction lost some ground in the election for the Bnei Brak city council. Ger also managed to bring about significant change in the city of Arad, where the previous mayor, a member of Yesh Atid who was hostile to chareidim, was unseated and replaced by a man with a kippah serugah. Shlomei Emunim can also celebrate their achievement in Beitar Illit, where Meir Rubinstein was reelected as mayor of the city. On the other hand, Yisroel Porush, the incumbent mayor and another representative of Shlomei Emunim, lost the election in Elad to the Shas candidate Yehuda Butbol.

Degel HaTorah, for its part, lost ground in several cities, including Petach Tikvah, but a member of the party was elected as the new mayor of Rechasim, defeating the Shas candidate by a margin of a mere 80 votes. The mayors of Modiin Illit and Telz Stone, who ran unopposed in the election, are likewise members of the party. In Beit Shemesh, Degel HaTorah achieved a measure of success as well; the party’s candidate for mayor will be facing the incumbent mayor, Aliza Bloch, in a runoff election after receiving the greatest number of votes in the first round. Moshe Abutbul, meanwhile, is out of the runningafter coming in third.

The Shas party seems to have suffered a defeat in Rechasim, where it lost the office of mayor to Yitzchok Reich of Degel HaTorah. On the other hand, Shas is still the largest party in the city, a status that it enjoys in Telz Stone as well. And while the Shas party’s candidate for mayor of Bnei Brak, Health Minister Uriel Bosso, did not win the election, the party managed to pull off an impressive showing in the election for the municipal council.

Beit Shemesh to Return to the Polls

Meanwhile, the residents of Beit Shemesh are tensely preparing for the runoff election. A second round of voting is usually scheduled to be held two weeks after the first, but it was moved up by two days this year due to the Arab fast of Ramadan. The voting will therefore take place this Sunday. Unlike the day of the first election, this will not be an official vacation day, which often leads to lower voter turnout. But the big question now is whether Shas and Ger will decide to support Shmuel Greenberg over Aliza Bloch.

Greenberg is a chareidi candidate while Bloch represents the national religious community. Greenberg has already promised good positions to his supporters, which seems to leave nothing for him to offer Shas and Ger. Bloch, on the other hand, is willing to give up every position—deputy mayor, assistant mayor, chairman of the planning committee, and so forth—to anyone who supports her.

Ger and Shas can point to the city of Givat Zeev, which was the subject of an article in this newspaper two weeks ago. The election in Givat Zeev saw a chareidi candidate, Chaggai Chayut, facing off against a candidate from the dati leumi community, Avi Asraf. The other chareidim supported Chayut, but Degel HaTorah chose to support Asraf, who ultimately won the election. Now, why did Degel HaTorah support a dati leumi candidate, which was done with the blessing of its national leadership? The answer seems to be that Asraf promised to provide all the necessary religious services for the community, which is a very significant factor. This may prove to be a precedent for Beit Shemesh: If Bloch promises to provide every religious need, that can give these parties a reason to support her over Greenberg. In any event, all eyes are presently on Beit Shemesh, which seems to be the city of the future for the chareidi community’s housing needs. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

A Chareidi Mayor in Tzefas

In another interesting development, the city of Tzefas has elected a chareidi mayor by the name of Yossi Kakon. Kakon is a Sephardi who worked until recently in the local council in Rechasim, under Yitzchok Reich, who served as head of the council on behalf of Degel HaTorah. Reich encouraged Kakon to run for election in Tzefas, and the chareidi community in the city rallied around him. This was a change from the events of previous elections, when there were splits within the chareidi community. The lesson seems fairly obvious: When the community is united, it is possible to elect a chareidi mayor. And as I have written in recent weeks, the identity of the mayor in any given locality can make a world of difference.

A similar development occurred in Teveria. Although the new mayor of Teveria, Yitzchok Naveh, isn’t chareidi, he was supported by the entire chareidi community, and his opponent, Ron Kobi, finally received the resounding defeat that he richly deserved.

Then there is the city of Arad, which I mentioned earlier. In the period leading up to the election, the Gerrer community of Arad worked quietly with Yair Maayan, a member of the dati leumi community who served not long ago as director-general of the Yerushalayim city council and who ultimately won the election. By working behind the scenes, they managed to lull the incumbent, Ben-Chamu, into complacency. On the day after the election, Ben-Chamu discovered that he hadn’t made enough of an effort to retain his office and had been unseated by Maayan. This illustrates the fact that it is sometimes better to work behind the scenes and to avoid attracting undue attention. The outgoing mayor is a member of Yesh Atid, which means that his defeat is a significant blow to Yair Lapid.

Lapid suffered another loss in Tel Aviv, where his candidate, Orna Barbivai, was defeated by Ron Chuldai. This was a stinging loss for Lapid, who had thrown all of his weight into her bid for election. Barbivai even resigned from the Knesset to run in the local election and was certain that she would win. In fact, the polls also predicted that she would defeat the incumbent, but the war seems to have shifted the atmosphere in favor of Chuldai, who is approaching the age of eighty.

A Religious Majority in Yerushalayim

Let me tell you what happened in Mazkeret Batya, where the chareidi community has never had a representative on the local council. After this election, for the first time, the community will have a single seat on the council. What brought about this change? The answer, quite simply, is Lev L’Achim. The veteran kiruv organization has worked hard in the community, producing enough baalei teshuvah to account for a full mandate in the local election. That is an illustration of the colossal impact of Lev L’Achim throughout the country.

Meanwhile, the religious communities will now have a majority on the city council of Yerushalayim, as sixteen of the 31 members of the council are religious. Degel HaTorah and Shas each received six seats on the council in this election, while Agudas Yisroel received three mandates once again. The Likud party, under Moshe Lion, holds two mandates, while the Religious Zionism party has two mandates as well, and Aryeh King, Noam, and HaPeleg have each received one mandate. The remaining seats were divided between two secular parties. Amusingly, there were even some members of the national religious community who bemoaned the fact that the city of Yerushalayim had been “sold” to the chareidim, citing the two mandates of the Likud party as “evidence” that the secular right has dwindled. What is amusing about this is the fact that the Likud party has never received more than two mandates in Yerushalayim, even as far back as the period of Ehud Olmert. But when someone wants to sow division and incitement, they rarely pay attention to the facts.

In most of the cities in the country, the mayoral candidates supported by the chareidi community were elected. This, of course, is very important, since there are chareidim everywhere in the country, from Kiryat Gat, Netivot, and Ofakim in the south to Nof Hagalil, Carmiel, and Haifa in the north. There are some cities where a second election will be held, such as Haifa and Kiryat Gat, and the chareidi community will take enormous interest in the outcome of those elections. In the city of Rechovot, the previous mayor, who was chareidi but always ran independently, was defeated in this election. We give thanks to the Master of the Universe for all that He has given us, and we must realize that the time has come to put our differences aside and get to work.

Water Cannons: A Case Study in Double Standards

On Sunday, a headline in Haaretz reported tersely, “Thousands called for the release of the hostages and new elections; a water cannon was deployed in Tel Aviv, and nineteen people were arrested.” Headlines such as these are designed to create bias in the reader, shaping his perception of the events in a certain way. The headline demands further scrutiny. What does it mean when it states that thousands of people demanded the hostages’ release and new elections? Was it a demonstration on behalf of the hostages, against the government, or both? And why does the writer seem appalled by the use of a water cannon against the demonstrators? After all, it is almost a daily occurrence in Yerushalayim!

A similar headline appeared on the same day in Yediot Acharonot, which likewise decried the use of the water cannon against the demonstrators on Rechov Kaplan. The story makes it seem that the cannon was used in violation of the orders of the police commanders. Well, perhaps such measures are meant to be used only in protests against the cover-up of Ahuvya Sandak’s murder, or demonstrations held by Ethiopian community, or, of course, any chareidi protest of any kind. These headlines therefore exhibit a mix of political bias, hypocrisy, and prejudice.

The water cannon has featured ignominiously in the news for other reasons in recent times. Three weeks ago, there was a demonstration in Yerushalayim against an attempt by the police to perform an autopsy on the body of a young boy. A cannon spraying notorious skunk water was brought to the scene to suppress the demonstration, and the foul-smelling liquid was sprayed into numerous private homes. Bochurim in Yeshivas Rashi, who were learning in their bais medrash during the protest, returned to their apartments that evening to find that the stench of the skunk water had permeated the air and they had suffered thousands of shekels worth of property damage. Their linens, clothes, shoes, suits, and hats had been soaked with the foul-smelling water and were effectively ruined. Who will pay for this damage? MK Avrohom Betzalel brought up the issue in an urgent motion for the agenda (which was approved as urgent) that was seconded by numerous other Knesset members.

“To my great chagrin, Mr. Minister, we are witnessing unending violence against protestors and people who are completely innocent of any crime,” Betzalel said when he presented his motion. “On February 6, there was a protest in Yerushalayim on Rechov Bar Ilan, and the police made appalling use of a water cannon that contained skunk water rather than ordinary water. This caused tremendous distress for the local residents, people who had done nothing wrong and are now suffering from the unbearable odor. Yeshivas Rashi is located nearby, and the skunk water penetrated the yeshiva’s rooms and caused damage to many people’s property. There was a similar protest in Beit Shemesh at the same time, and there is a video that shows police officers beating people and pulling the peyos of a protestor. Mr. Minister, I cannot believe that we are seeing these sights in the year 2024…. I would expect compensation to be paid to all the people who were harmed….”

Minister Ben-Gvir commented in his response, “It is indeed not acceptable for there to be one rule in Kaplan, where this isn’t done, and another rule elsewhere.” He added that attacks on chareidi protestors have diminished significantly since he received his portfolio. However, Avrohom Betzalel was not ready to let him get off so easily.

“Mr. Minister,” he said, “I insist that you and the commissioner of the police force halt this phenomenon once and for all, because it is a disgrace. I know that you are accomplishing a lot in office, but we are still seeing the police acting with brutality against protestors and other innocent people over and over. It must stop.”

Kishka Confusion

On Thursdays, I attend a shiur on the Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh. The shiur is conducted in an atmosphere of great seriousness, without idle chatter or talk about any other matters, even the elections. At the end of the shiur the other week, however, the participants began speaking among themselves.

One man turned to another and asked, “Do you think the ratio is going to be six to three again?” As I mentioned, this is the new division of seats on the city council between Degel HaTorah and Agudas Yisroel.

“Forget that,” the other man said. “I am still shocked by the Ohr Hachaim.”

“By what he wrote about the golus?” the first man asked.

“Exactly.” The second participant proceeded to quote the Ohr Hachaim’s words: “This is why the golus has been prolonged, for as long as the people are not involved in Torah and mitzvos, there is no desire to redeem a nation of idlers who are not learning Torah.”

The conversation meandered from one topic to another, until one of the two men finally said, “To be honest, I am also shocked by the kishka.”

“The kishka?” his friend repeated.

“Yes. It is much blander than usual.”

Perhaps I should have mentioned that the host of the shiur prepares a large pot of delectable cholent for the participants every week. The host happened to overhear this comment and interjected, “I’ll tell you a secret: I accidentally bought a box of kishka that was kosher for Pesach. It was labeled free of kitniyos and gebrochts, but I didn’t notice that while I was in the store. What should I have done with it? Should I have thrown it out?”

Suddenly, an anguished cry echoed from somewhere at the end of the table. “Oy vey!” one of the men exclaimed, in the tone of someone who had experienced a catastrophe.

The host looked at him quizzically. “What’s the matter?” he demanded. “You ate kishka that was a little less tasty than usual? It isn’t something to cry about!”

The distraught participant, an erudite and righteous yungerman who is known for his ascetic nature, seemed to be on the verge of collapse. He was visibly pained by something about the situation, which seemed highly uncharacteristic for a man who never gave a thought to such prosaic matters. “That’s not the reason that I am upset,” he finally managed to say.

“Then what is it?” the host asked.

“I said mezonos on the kishka!” the yungerman exclaimed.

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