There were many theories about the demise of Chaika that were bantered about in Vaysechvoos. Chaika the Wise was very old. How old, no one knew. But there was no one living who could remember her as a young person, even those who were now in their eighties and nineties.
Hammel the bookseller had a problem! It was not a big problem, compared to the lot of his older brother Shloyme, whose three unmarried daughters were, you should pardon the expression, as ugly as freshly plucked chickens. No, Hammel's problem was a small one, almost insignificant you could argue, in light of all the other problems in the universe. Hammel was sure he was losing his eyesight. He was ashamed to admit it, but he knew it was true because he was making mistakes at the book shop. Just the other day he had gone to look for one book, but had handed his customer another.
Mysterious things always seemed to be happening in Vaysechvoos: a cow might stop giving milk or a bird might plummet from the sky for no apparent reason. Can you imagine, a seemingly healthy bird dropping dead in front of you. Stranger things yet were known to have happened--like the time the three thousand finely crafted tiles arranged in neat stacks presented themselves right next to the rabbi's house. Or the time that all of the cobbler's leather was found spread out on the synagogue floor. Of course, such things did not happen every day, just often enough to remind people that there are demons, dibbuks, evil spirits and specters of all sorts, lurking about unseen, but not unknown.
It was a little too big for a babushka and a little too small for a waist sash. The dark brown, ancient pattern against the lighter background seemed like something the Turks might have designed. The repeated lines and angular letters looked, at first glance, like the heathenish language. Yet upon closer inspection, the word Baruch" appeared to be woven into the pattern, again and again. The scarf commanded a certain respect from all of the villagers. They called it "the scarf of blessing."
The great, great, great grandson of the famous Maggid of Dubnow, Baruch, was making a trip to Vaysechvoos. It was said of this holy orator that what he had to say was so wise, so brilliant, that even the gentiles came to hear him and quoted him in their books.
Lebye Bialok squinted at the envelope for the hundredth time since it had arrived in Vaysechvoos. He squinted till his eyes watered, but he still could not make out who had sent the mysterious letter.
Hanukkah, the feast of dedication, was approaching and all the children of Vaysechvoos were excited. All, that is, but one.
Everyone who lived in the little town of Vaysechvoos would agree that Yakov the shammes was a simple man, a man of few words. A widower for over twenty years, he lived in a humble one room dwelling behind the synagogue. His little room contained a bed with high wooden posts and a chair which wobbled and squeaked whenever Yakov sat down on it. The walls of his room were bare except for a shelf which held a few well worn books on the Holy Land--the place most Jews in Vaysechvoos only dreamed of seeing. The books were Yakov's only possession, apart from the portrait of his deceased wife which sat in a frame on the table at his bedside.
The Klauvitch family had, for as long as many could remember, been the principal milk dispensers in the shtetl of Vaysechvoos. Menachem Klauvitch owned a nice dairy herd, and each day he would take the milk cans and go to the homes of the villagers. It was a hard life and Menachem was not a well man. One day, his health got the better of him and he took very ill. As Fruma Klauvitch tended to her ailing husband, their son Yaacov began taking the wagon out himself.
Every town had its beggars, and the little shtetl of Vaysechvoos was no exception. As a matter of fact, in Vaysechvoos, being a beggar was considered as respectable an occupation as any other. In a way, those who were in need felt they had permission from the Lord Almighty to go door to door and make their collections. After all," they reasoned, "those who serve as our benefactors will be accumulating good deeds and will be rewarded in the world to come."
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.
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. The families eagerly awaited the gathering 'round the table and the lengthy and elaborate telling of the Pesach story. The youngest sons spent hours in practice, chanting the mah nishtana with feeling and expertise. The girls helped their mothers with preparations for the delicious Pesach meal. And so it was in each home in Vaysechvoos as Pesach approached.
In the little shtetl of Vaysechvoos, a Jew was hurrying home from his business to prepare for Rosh Hashanah when he was accosted by two hooligans, beaten and robbed.
In the little shtetl of Vaysechvoos, there lived a Gaon. Everyone called him Rabbi Ben Reuben, but he wasn't the rabbi that the synagogue hired, nor was he the rabbi who taught the children. As he himself explained, Some are rabbis to lead congregations. Some are rabbis to slaughter animals. Others are rabbis to teach children. And some are rabbis to be judges. I shall be none of those kinds of rabbis. Instead, I'll be a rabbi to study and to know so that I find the key to all wisdom. That central truth, when it is discovered, will bring down the Shechinah to dwell with men."