Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another

The Frozen Rabbi: Week 1, Part 3

What’s the best way to thaw a holy man?

Print Email
Illustration by Paul Rogers

“Papa!” cried Salo in terror.

In no particular hurry, Yosl trudged over to find out what his son was squawking about this time. “Gevalt,” he exclaimed upon seeing the thing the boy had accidentally discovered, “it’s the rebbe!” Shaken to the core, Yosl slapped his own face to collect himself, then rounded up the other boys (his own was too slow) and dispatched them to the Chasids’ study house with the news. The rebbe’s disciples came running, arriving breathless to find that Yosl Cholera had already set about excavating their long-lost leader. The ice mensch, his jaw working like a whiskered feedbag as he labored, was dragging a large block of ice containing the rebbe onto the shore of the lake with his rope and grappling hook.

Then the Prodigy lay before them on a mound of snow, and his gathered disciples, puffing like steam engines, were at a total loss as to what to do next. It was surely a blessing to have their tzaddik back in their midst again, apparently intact even if frozen stiff, but what now? In former days it was the rebbe himself to whom they would have applied for advice, but he was unavailable for comment. There were the texts of holy writ to consult, though even the most sedulous scholars among them—those who prescribed what portions of Torah one should consider during intercourse, or whether it was permitted to pee in the snow on Shabbos (which was tantamount to plowing, which was work, and so forbidden)—even they knew of no passages pertaining to the current quandary. Then one of their number, Fishel Ostrov, the shovel-bearded yeast vendor, proposed that they light torches to thaw the holy man on the spot. His theory was that Rabbi Eliezer, during his raptures, was proof against the depredations of time and the elements, and that once the ice was melted, he would be restored to them in all his prior vitality. There was a thoughtful buzzing among them until a wiser head prevailed.

“Know-it-all,” accused Berel Hogshead, the teamster, insisting that the risk was too great, since, once thawed, the rebbe might begin to putrefy and his bones become—God forbid—food for the worms. Better they should put him somewhere for safekeeping, so that at least he would remain in one piece until he chose to burst forth from his repose of his own accord. More buzzing in the affirmative as Yosl King of Cholera, neither Chasid nor mitnagid but simple opportunist, stepped forward in his capacity as proprietor of the Boibicz icehouse: “Your honors, for a nominal fee . . .”

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.

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

Jesus Ponderosa says:

Brilliant. Wild. Numinous. It’s like James Joyce’s avatar shares a pastrami on rye with Isaac Bashevis Singer’s golem at the Second Avenue Deli. More, Mr. Stern, more.

Mary Teresa says:

The language here is so evocative, and so humorous! I am on the edge of my seat!

Josh R. says:

Are you really doing this for 9 weeks?

Sara says:

Really enjoying this, and I love that you’re posting an installment every day. Now I know what readers must have felt like in the days of Dickens and George Eliot.

Sheila says:

Shades of Isaac Bashevis Singer!
I’m really enjoying the serialization, the gradual amusing unveiling of the story. Thank you, Mr. Stern.

[url=]casino[/url] [url=]casino online[/url] [url=]adult toys[/url] [url=]casino bonus[/url] [url=]SMS[/url]

Im not going to say what everyone else has already said, but I do desire to comment on your understanding of the topic. Youre truly well-informed. I cant believe just how much of this I just wasnt aware of. Thank you for bringing far more information to this topic for me. Im really grateful and genuinely impressed.


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

The Frozen Rabbi: Week 1, Part 3

What’s the best way to thaw a holy man?
More on Tablet:

Wolf Blitzer Explores His Jewish Roots

By David Meir Grossman — CNN host visits Yad Vashem and Auschwitz for the network’s ‘Roots’ series