Identity, Religion

הגויה של תשעה באב

MarGavriel points us to a little Agnon story. A story appropriate for the season:

סיפר לי ר’ אהרן פריימן ז”ל משמו של ר’ אליהו פלנסר ז”ל. ר’ איציק אייכל וחבריו מצאו להם נכרית אחת שבישלה להם לתשעה באב. שבאותו הדור קשה היה ליהודי בברלין למצוא תבשיל בתשעה באב. היו קוראים לאותה נוכרית הגויה של תשעה באב. Aaron Freiman, of blessed memory, told me the following in the name of Elijah Palnser, of blessed memory. Itzik Eichel and his friends found themselves a certain gentile woman who would cook for them on the Ninth of Av. For in those days, it was difficult for a Jew in Berlin to find food on the Ninth of Av. They used to call that gentile woman “di tishebov goyte”.
ערב תשעה באב באו והודיעו לר’ איציק אייכל שהגויה של תשעה באב מתה. אמר להם לחבריו, חברי בואו ואומר לכם, אי אפשר שבין היום למחר נמצא ערלית אחרת שתבשל לנו לתשעה באב, אם כן מאחר שמתה הגויה של תשעה באב נתענה בתשעה באב זה עם כל ישראל על חורבן ירושלים. One year, on the eve of the Ninth of Av, Itzik Eichel was informed that the Tishebov Goyte had died. He said to his friends: “My friends, come and let me tell you something. Between today and tomorrow, it is not going to be possible for us to find another gentile woman who will cook for us on the Ninth of Av. Since this is so, for the Tishebov Goyte has died, let us fast on the Ninth of Av this year, and mourn, together with all Israel, over the destruction of Jerusalem.

תכריך של סיפורים, ע’ 159
trans. MarGavriel
It seems to me interesting that the non-Jewish woman is in the role of Jerusalem.
I wonder – what do you make of this? Especially those of you who have studied Agnon in college and so forth. It is so short that it cannot be so simple, it seems to me, but I do not have literary-analysis tools to explore it.

7 thoughts on “הגויה של תשעה באב

  1. The Goyim loom large, and sinister, during tishebov.
    How did you do that parallel hebrew-english text thing?

  2. boymlpisher – with a table like this:
    <table style=”border-spacing: 10px”>
    <td style=”direction:rtl; text-align:right;”>עברית</td>

  3. I keep staring at this name “אייכל” and thinking about it.
    If one strips it of its matres lecciones, one ends up with “אכל” a root related to food and eating.
    The story’s speaker uses the word “נכרית” to speak of the gentile cook, but when Eichel himself refers to her it is as “ערלית,” calling attention to the covenant which the gentile is outside of.
    Eichel and his friends are separating themselves from the community, not mourning when Israel mourns, until their hands are forced. Do I see the title “Rav” in front of Eichel’s name? Is this a story of early Reformers, I wonder?

  4. This story also recalls the mourner’s comfort: may the Presence comfort you together with all who mourn for Zion and Jerusalem. So these folks were in their personal mourning, but found comfort by joining with Clal Yisrael.
    Another thought: this could be seen as a classic story of Hazara Biteshuva: Eichel gets these alienated Jews to use their personal process to find a “way in” to normative Jewish practice.

  5. Another thought: The best rationale I have heard in recent years was from a young secular Israeli about 10 years ago.
    He said: “I hope that in 2000 years, Jews are still remembering the Shoah. That is why I think it is important to remember the destruction of the Temple, which was a catastrophe of a similar magnitude for the Jews of the time as the Shoah was in the mid-20th century.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.