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The Frozen Rabbi: Week 10, Part 5

In our final installment, Bernie tastes both disillusionment and the sublime

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Illustration by Paul Rogers

The rabbi rewarded their grateful indulgence with intimate touches, caressing one’s shoulder while pinching another’s cheek, paying special attention to the younger students—such as the ingenue in her red Lycra body stocking, who asked the holy man to please interpret her aura.

“You were in your last life a flower,” croaked old Eliezer, pressing her forehead with bony fingers, “that plucked it the prophet Elijah, may his name be for a blessing, and stuck in his buttonhole.”

The girl turned the color of her costume.

Overcoming his customary reticence, Bernie hailed the rabbi, hoping that once the master set eyes on his erstwhile apprentice he would shake off all his hangers-on. But Rabbi Eliezer merely acknowledged the boy with a nod, then turned back to his admirers.

“Rabbi,” called Bernie, who didn’t like drawing attention to himself, but he was convinced that his predicament called for an urgent audience. “Rabbi, I need some advice.”

The rabbi glanced over his shoulder. “Get why don’t you a pair long pants,” he replied, and upon reflection, “also maybe a haircut.” His sarcasm incited titters among his devotees, who assured him he was a rascal and a scamp. Bernie stood rooted to the spot, cheeks burning, as he watched his mentor borne off on a tide of worshipful women toward a door marked PRIVATE at the far corner of the sanctuary. They were squeezing his pasty flesh (which stayed squeezed) and teasing his sparse hair, the ladies, who appeared to Bernie like devils tormenting a saint—though in this case the saint seemed to be greatly enjoying their petting. Always surprised by the way bits of scripture came back to him now at odd moments, Bernie recalled a verse from Deuteronomy, the one in which Moses says, “Just as I learned without payment, so have you learned from me without payment, and thus you shall teach without payment in the generations to come.” Feeling it was incumbent upon him to remind Rabbi Eliezer of the patriarch’s decree, Bernie charged after the holy man to apprise him accordingly.

“Boychik,” said the rabbi, serene in the midst of the women, “they pay by me only for the time that I lose which I would otherwise devote to earnink a livelihood. As it is written, ‘Torah is the best of merchandise.’ ” Then assuring the boy he would ask if ever he required his advice again, he passed through the doorway along with his entourage.

Mortified, Bernie slouched past the curtain and out the front door of the House of Enlightenment. But on the way home, still crestfallen, he observed the shadow of a day lily shaped like a jester’s cap on the side of a house, and the image propelled him straight into the realm of the sublime.

Check back tomorrow for the next installment of The Frozen Rabbi. Or, to get each day’s installment of The Frozen Rabbi in your inbox, sign up for the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest, and tell your friends.

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Barack Obama says:

We’re having a small gathering at the Kennedy Center and we’d love for you to attend. All we ask is that you drop the Bermudas and get a haircut. xooxxx

Alyssa says:

WAIT…Thats it? i’ve followed this story for ten weeks and that is how you end it. We’ve spent all this time building these wonderful characters and to just fizzle like this. What about his great grandmother, what about the family as a whole? You can’t just jump back and forth between two time periods in a family’s life and leave it with just a disenchanted kid that can focus his orgasm into kabbalic meditation.

Gin says:

And this is your ending? ICK!!! I agree with Alyssa. I want to know what happened to Joshaved. She overcame adversity and transported the Revve to America. How did the saga continue & the Rabbi wind up in the Karp’s freezer? What happened to her twin brothers???

We was robbed!!!

Gabriel Sanders says:

It’s hardly the end of the story — just the end of our excerpt. For the rest you’ll have to read the book:

Cheptzi says:

I enjoyed the series…even though I do agree that the ending left some thing to be desired. I hope Tablet does another one!

lazar says:

that wasn’t the ending you slobbering schlub. the rest is in the printed book– but that might not help you since apparently reading isn’t your forte.

Anonymouse says:

I’ve been following along eagerly and was also disappointed by the abrupt ending.

Gabriel, thanks for pointing out the link to the book.

Tablet eds, it would be helpful if you had made that a little (ok, a lot) clearer at the end of this post. Instead, we get the stock “Check back tomorrow…” line, when clearly, nothing more is happening tomorrow. The series has been promoted as a serialized novel, not a serialized excerpt (so far as I can tell), so it’s a bit confusing.

A great idea though, and I hope to see more of these in the future!

Cecile Margulies says:

How can you leave all of us hanging like this? I eagerly await each installment and you leave us without a resolution to the story. How about finishing it.

Eric says:

I too was very disappointed that the serialization ended so abruptly. If there would have been “truth-in-advertising” from the beginning, we all would have known that this was just an excerpt. The concept is a good idea as a “tease” and I hope you do it again. But in the future be honest with your readers.

Fred Mason says:

If this is the best you can do…don’t do it again…A shandah!

Well, this was an effort worthy of the newfound entrepreneurial spirit of the Boibiczer Prodigy himself. Now I will have to get the book and read the rest of it. So in that sense, a success.

I have to admit disappointment and a feeling that it was not made consistently and constantly clear to the reader that the most we were to expect was an excerpt that left us hanging like this. Nevertheless it was a fun romp and I hope to see more of this in Tablet.

RBL says:

This sucked! Waste of time. This guy is pretentious if he thinks he is an author. Even catering to a friendly audience this was failure and the tablet presentation with as little a 3 paragraphs was a joke.

The poor quality of this story is in sync with the rest of your editorial values and I will probably not visit your site again.

Everything about your sight is a disappointment or a cliché plus your severs are slow!

MOAR says:

Feel a little ripped off. Disillusioned. Kind of like Bernie. Thought we were getting the whole book. Did the editors cancel it? Did Steve Stern? This was really great, didn’t want it to end.

steve stern says:

Dear Readers, sorry for any misunderstanding. You should have been better warned you were reading an excerpt. If acquiring the published book is any hardship, let me know and perhaps we can barter. My heartfelt thanks to those who’ve persevered thus far.

elisheva says:

have dutifully purchased the book and finished it. loved the north of god – one of the best fictions that use the shoah that i’ve read. adore the wedding jester. felt a little shafted by the ending of the frozen rabbi . . . don’t know quite why but glad i read it anyways (maybe felt that jocheved’s character was never ‘finished’ and her son’s character was not really fleshed out as well, or just didn’t connect to him as much??). will continue to count myself a steve stern fan and look forward to the next one!


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The Frozen Rabbi: Week 10, Part 5

In our final installment, Bernie tastes both disillusionment and the sublime
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