ISRAELJune/July 2022

Mazel & Mishagoss: Exploring Men from Fiddler on the Roof as Potential Husbands


By Stephanie Lewis

It’s June and wedding season! So, let’s examine Motel the Tailor, Perchick, Fyedka, (and even Lazar Wolf the Butcher!) to see what kind of a match they’d make. I promise next month we’ll scrutinize Tevye’s three daughters for potential wife material. Ready? Let’s jump right in, starting with the nebbish, messy-haired, bespectacled mensch.

Poor, timid, skinny Motel (yet such a nice Jewish boy!) hardly stands a chance being heard at a cocktail party. That meek little voice, he’ll always be a somewhat emasculated stitcher, but there’s hope he’ll find courage. When his future wife insists he take out the trash, he’ll assert himself, inquiring “Why?” After the explanation, of course he’ll still empty the garbage, but he’ll have learned something from it. As for taking risks? Bravery is in his future. From stepping over the boundary line at his wedding to dance with his own wife, to entering a public women’s restroom to help his future toddler daughter use the potty. Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, God has made Motel a (confident!) man todaaaaay! He also got him a Singer sewing machine.

Now Perchick is Motel’s opposite, in that he’s already fierce, fiery, and free. Especially for a guy with “chick” in his name. Perchick manages to be this sexy revolutionary dude, dragging his mate far from the home she loves, just to turn the world upside-down. All the while oblivious that his love song (during the 2nd act) bored audiences so much, it ended up on the cutting room floor in the movie version. This doesn’t stop Perchick from boasting about his Torah knowledge, which will prompt his future wife to murmur, “A Rabbi who congratulates himself has a congregation of one.” You’ll also find him teaching youngsters to never trust an employer and ranting that money is the world’s worst curse. But heaven help his marriage proposal. It’s a political question? Pleeeease! So I see Perchick growing far more aware, much more modest, and extremely thoughtful. Meaning when his wife sings, “Helpless now, I stand with him, watching older dreams go dim,” he’ll at least think to flip on the kitchen lights.

Fyedka, Fyedka, oh where to begin? First of all, nothing good can be said for a boy who coaxes a Jewish girl to run off and get married in a church. On the other hand, he generously shares his books. But like Perchick, this wild gentile is also a braggart. He’ll introduce himself as a pleasant fellow, charming, honest, ambitious, quite bright, and very modest. (You’re fooling nobody, Fyedka!) On the other hand … is he rugged looking? Check! Does he have a hot body? Check! A veracious reader? Check! A devilish twinkle in his eye? Check! On the other hand… is he best buddies with violent oppressors who’re bent on destroying our Jewish ways? Also check! But on the other hand… No! No! No! There is NO other hand! This is where your Fyedka interest should end. I don’t care how rebellious you are — a bird could love a fish, but where would they build a home together?? (Answer that in an email to me.)

We’re going to skip over Tevye because he’s already taken. But as promised, we’ll now analyze Lazar Wolf The Butcher, for any redeeming spousal qualities. Yes, yes. Marry Lazar and you’ll surely never know hunger. However, be prepared that his dead wife (Fruma Sara) will come from the other side, (during a bad dream) and take you by the throat and oy, oy, oy … don’t even think about wearing her pearls. Pearls! Pearls!! Seriously, you shouldn’t expect too much in the romance department with this old shlepper. He can’t even do the bottle dance for you. Or build one long staircase just going up, and one even longer coming down, plus one more leading nowhere, just for show. Also, rumor has it that he’ll beat you every night, but only when he’s sober, so you’re alright! Sorry, that’s simply not true and I don’t know what came over me imparting such lashon hara. Bottom line, the butcher is good friend material, which translates to: you can have a fine conversation with him, if you talk about kidneys and livers. Double oy!


1000 Words: Mia Raskin

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