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Tevye the Dairyman

Tevye the Dairyman

by Sholem Aleichem

Power Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

"I am living here, but it must remain between us." […]

"You're here illegally," I said, "and you're out in the open in the Yehupetz market square?" […]

"You obviously aren't acquainted with Yehupetz regulations. Come, I'll tell you what it means to be a resident and not a resident." And he gave me a long, drawn-out account of how you go crazy trying to get a permit to live there. (3.18-20)

So, yeah, check this out. Back at the turn of the twentieth century, Russian citizens didn't have the right to just go ahead and live wherever they wanted. Instead, if they wanted to move from wherever they were born, they'd have to get government permits to let them resettle. However hard this was for Christians, it was way more difficult for Jews, who were actively kept from moving to the more prosperous town and cities and were kept as segregated as possible in their shtetl communities. You know, the easier to find/harass/kill them.

Quote #2

[…] an angry Lazer-Wolf [the butcher] came in, furious at the shochet, the ritual slaughterer. He had ruined him. He had declared an ox that was the size of an oak to be unkosher, after finding a tiny scar on the animal's lung the size of a pinhead—may he have a stroke, may he sink into the earth! (4.10)

Here, an example of religion beating money in what amounts to a heavy-duty game of rock-paper-scissors, except actually government, money, and religion.

Quote #3

How is it written—Man is but dust and dust is all that remains of him—a man is weaker than a fly and stronger than iron. That describes me perfectly! (5.1)

Hmm, wonder which parts of himself Tevye would describe as weaker than a fly?

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