(published in 1945
in Yiddish as "Gimpl tam")
(in Singer's collection
the Fool and Other Stories [(1957])
Bashevis Singer (July 24, 1904 - July 24, 1991)
Translated by Saul Bellow
and published in Partisan Review in 1953
I am Gimpel the fool. I don't think myself a fool. On the contrary. But
that's what folks call me. They gave me the name while I was still in school.
I had seven names in all: imbecile, donkey, flax-head, dope, glump, ninny,
and fool. The last name stuck. What did my foolishness consist of? I was
easy to take in. They said, "Gimpel, you know the rabbi's wife has been
brought to childbed?" So I skipped school. Well, it turned out to be a
lie. How was I supposed to know? She hadn't had a big belly. But I never
looked at her belly. Was that really so foolish? The gang laughed and hee-hawed,
stomped and danced and chanted a good-night prayer. And instead of the
raisins they give when a woman's lying in, they stuffed my hand full of
goat turds. I was no weakling. If I slapped someone he'd see all the way
to Cracow. But I'm really not a slugger by nature. I think to myself: Let
it pass. So they take advantage of me.
I was coming home from school and heard a dog barking. I'm not afraid of
dogs, but of course I never want to start up with them. One of them may
be mad, and if he bites there's not a Tartar in the world who can help
you. So I made tracks. Then I looked around and saw the whole market place
wild with laughter. It was no dog at all but Wolf-Leib the Thief. How was
I supposed to know it was he? It sounded like a howling bitch.
When the pranksters and leg-pullers found that I was easy to fool, every
one of them tried his luck with me. "Gimpel the Czar is coming to Frampol;
Gimpel, the moon fell down in Turbeen; Gimpel, little Hodel Furpiece found
a treasure behind the bathhouse." And I like a golem believed everyone.
In the first place, everything is possible, as it is written in the Wisdom
of the Fathers, I've forgotten just how. Second, I had to believe when
the whole town came down on me! If I ever dared to say, "Ah, you're kidding!"
there was trouble. People got angry. 'What do you mean! You want to call
everyone a liar?" What was I to do? I believed them, and I hope at least
that did them some good.
I was an orphan. My grandfather who brought me up was already bent toward
the grave. So they turned me over to a baker, and what a time they gave
me there! Every woman or girl who came to bake a batch of noodles had to
fool me at least once. "Gimpel, there's a fair in heaven; Gimpel, the rabbi
gave birth to a calf in the seventh month; Gimpel, a cow flew over the
roof and laid brass eggs." A student from the yeshiva came once to buy
a roll, and he said, "You, Gimpel, while you stand here scraping with your
baker's shovel the Messiah has come. The dead have arisen." "What do you
mean?" I said. 'I heard no one blowing the ram's horn!" He said, "Are you
deaf?' And all began to cry, 'We heard it, we heard!' Then in came Rietze
the Candle-dipper and called out in her hoarse voice, "Gimpel, your father
and mother have stood up from the grave. They're looking for you.'
To tell the truth, I knew very well that nothing of the sort had happened,
but all the same, as folks were talking, I threw on my wool vest and went
out. Maybe something had happened. What did I stand to lose by looking?
Well, what a cat music went up! And then I took a vow to believe nothing
more. But that was no go either. They confused me so that I didn't know
the big end from the small.
I went to the rabbi to get some advice. He said, "It is written, better
to be a fool all your days than for one hour to be evil. You are not a
fool. They are the fools. For he who causes his neighbor to feel shame
loses Paradise himself." Nevertheless the rabbi's daughter took me in.
As I left the rabbinical court she said, "Have you kissed the wall yet?"
I said, "No; what for?" She answered, "It's the law; you've got to do it
after every visit." Well, there didn't seem to be any harm in it. And she
burst out laughing. It was a fine trick. She put one over on me, all right.
I wanted to go off to another town, but then everyone got busy matchmaking,
and they were after me so they nearly tore my coat tails off. They talked
at me and talked until I got water on the ear. She was no chaste maiden,
but they told me she was virgin pure. She had a limp, and they said it
was deliberate, from coyness. She had a bastard, and they told, me the
child was her little brother. I cried, "You're wasting your time. I'll
never marry that whore." But they said indignantly, 'What a way to talk!
Aren't you ashamed of yourself? We can take you to the rabbi and have you
fined for giving her a bad name.' I saw then that I wouldn't escape them
so easily and I thought: They're set on making me their butt. But when
you're married the husband's the master, and if that's all right with her
it's agreeable to me too. Besides, you can't pass through life unscathed,
nor expect to.
I went to her clay house, which was built on the sand, and the whole gang
hollering and chorusing, came after me. They acted like bear-baiters. When
we came to the well they stopped all the same. They were afraid to start
anything with Elka. Her mouth would open as if it were on a hinge, and
she had a fierce tongue. I entered the house. Lines were strung from wall
to wall and clothes were drying. Barefoot she stood by the tub, doing the
wash. She was dressed in a worn hand-me-down gown of plush. She had her
hair put up in braids and pinned across her head. It took my breath away,
almost, the reek of it all.
Evidently she knew who I was. She took a look at me and said, "Look who's
here! He's come, the drip. Grab a seat."
I told her all; I denied nothing. "Tell me the truth," I said, "are you
really a virgin; and is that mischievous Yechiel actually your little brother?
Don't be deceitful with me, for I'm an orphan."
"I'm an orphan myself," she answered, "and whoever tries to twist you up,
may the end of his nose take a twist. But don't let them think they can
take advantage of me. I want a dowry of fifty guilders, and let them take
up a collection besides. Otherwise they can kiss my you-know-what." She
was very plainspoken. I said, "It's the bride and not the groom who gives
a dowry." Then she said, "Don't bargain with me. Either a flat 'yes' or
a flat 'no' -- Go back where you came from."
I thought: No bread will ever be baked from this dough. But ours is not
a poor town. They consented to everything and proceeded with the wedding.
It so happened that there was a dysentery epidemic at the time. The ceremony
was held at the cemetery gates, near the little corpse-washing hut. The
fellows got drunk. While the marriage contract was being drawn up I heard
the most pious high rabbi ask, "Is the bride a widow or a divorced woman?"
And the sexton's wife answered for her, "Both a widow and divorced." It
was a black moment for me. But what was I to do, run away from under the
There was singing and dancing. An old granny danced opposite me, hugging
a braided white chalah.' The master of revels made a 'God 'a mercy' in
memory of the bride's parents. The schoolboys threw burrs, as on Tishe
b'Av fast day. There were a lot of gifts after the sermon: a noodle board,
a kneading trough, a bucket, brooms, ladies, household articles galore.
Then I took a look and saw two strapping young men carrying a crib. "What
do we need this for?" I asked. So they said, "Don't rack your brains about
it. It's all right, it'll come in handy." I realized I was going to be
rooked. Take it another way though, what did I stand to lose? I reflected:
I'll see what comes of it. A whole town can't go altogether crazy.
At night I came where my wife lay, but she wouldn't let me in. "Say, look
here, is this what they married us for?" I said. And she said, "My monthly
has come." "But yesterday they took you to the ritual bath, and that's
afterward, isn't it supposed to be?" "Today isn't yesterday," said she,
'and yesterday's not today. You can beat it if you don't like it." In short,
Not four months later she was in childbed. The townsfolk hid their laughter
with their knuckles. But what could I do? She suffered intolerable pains
and clawed at the walls. "Gimpel," she cried, "I'm going. Forgive me!"
The house filled with women. They were boiling pans of water. The screams
rose to the welkin.
The thing to do was to go the House of Prayer to repeat Psalms, and that
was what I did.
The townsfolk liked that, all right. I stood in a corner saying Psalms
and prayers, and they shook their heads at me. "Pray, pray!" they told
me. "Prayer never made any woman pregnant." One of the congregation put
a straw to my mouth and said, "Hay for the cows." There was something to
that too, by God!
She gave birth to a boy. Friday at the synagogue the sexton stood up before
the Ark, pounded on the reading table, and announced, "The wealthy Reb
Gimpel invites the congregation. to a feast in honor of the birth of a
son." The whole House of Prayer rang with laughter. My face was flaming.
But there was nothing I could do. After all, I was the one responsible
for the circumcision honors and rituals.
Half the town came running. You couldn't wedge another soul in. Women brought
peppered chickpeas, and there was a keg of beer from the tavern. I ate
and drank as much as anyone, and they all congratulated me. Then there
was a circumcision, and I named the boy after my father, may he rest in
peace. When all were gone and I was left with my wife alone, she thrust
her head through the bed-curtain and called me to her.
"Gimpel," said she, "why are you silent? Has your ship gone and sunk?"
"What shall I say?' I answered. 'A fine thing you've done to me! If my
mother had known of it she'd have died a second time."
She said, "Are you crazy, or what?'
"How can you make such a fool," I said, "of one who should be the lord
"What's the matter with you?" she said. "What have you taken it into your
head to imagine?"
I saw that I must speak bluntly and openly. "Do you think this is the way
to use an orphan?' I said. "You have borne a bastard."
She answered, "Drive this foolishness out of your head. The child is yours."
"How can he be mine?" I argued. "He was born seventeen weeks after the
She told me then that he was premature. I said, 'Isn't he a little too
premature?" She said, she had had a grandmother who carried just as short
a time and she resembled this grandmother of hers as one drop of water
does another. She swore to it with such oaths that you would have believed
a peasant at the fair if he had used them. To tell the plain truth, I didn't
believe her; but when I talked it over next day with the schoolmaster he
told me that the very same thing had happened to Adam and Eve. Two they
went up to bed, and four they descended.
"There isn't a woman in the world who is not the granddaughter of Eve,"
That was how it was; they argued me dumb. But then, who really knows how
such things are?
I began to forget my sorrow. I loved the child madly, and he loved me too.
As soon as he saw me he'd wave his little hands and want me to pick him
up, and when he was colicky I was the only one who could pacify him. I
bought him a little bone teething ring and a little gilded cap. He was
forever catching the evil eye from some one, and then I had to run to get
one of those abracadabras for him that would get him out of it. I worked
like an ox. You know how expenses go up when there's an infant in
the house. I don't want to he about it; I didn't dislike Elka either, for
that matter. She swore at me and cursed, and I couldn't get enough of her.
What strength she had! One of her looks could rob you of the power of speech.
And her orations! Pitch and sulphur, that's what they were full of, and
yet somehow also full of charm. I adored her every word. She gave me bloody
In the evening I brought her a white loaf as well as a dark one, and also
poppyseed rolls I baked myself. I thieved because of her and swiped everything
I could lay hands on: macaroons, raisins, almonds, cakes. I hope I may
be forgiven for stealing from the Saturday pots the women left to warm
in the baker's oven. I would take out scraps of meat, a chunk of pudding,
a chicken leg or head, a piece of tripe, whatever I could nip quickly.
She ate and became fat and handsome.
I had to sleep away from home all during the week, at the bakery. On Friday
nights when I got home she always made an excuse of some sort. Either she
had heartburn, or a stitch in the side, or hiccups, or headaches. You know
what women's excuses are. I had a bitter time of it. It was rough. To add
to it, this little brother of hers, the bastard, was growing bigger. He'd
put lumps on me, and when I wanted to hit back she'd open her mouth and
curse so powerfully I saw a green haze floating before my eyes. Ten times
a day she threatened to divorce me. Another man in my place would have
taken French leave and disappeared. But I'm the type that bears it and
says nothing. What's one to do? Shoulders are from God, and burdens too.
One night there was a calamity in the bakery; the oven burst, and we almost
had a fire. There was nothing to do but go home, so I went home. Let me,
I thought, also taste the joy of sleeping in bed in midweek. I didn't want
to wake the sleeping mite and tiptoed into the house. Coming in, it seemed
to me that I heard not the snoring of one but, as it were, a double snore,
one a thin enough snore and the other like the snoring of a slaughtered
ox. Oh, I didn't like that! I didn't like it at all. I went up to the bed,
and things suddenly turned black. Next to Elka lay a man's form. Another
in my place would have made an uproar, and enough noise to rouse the whole
town, but the thought occurred to me that I might wake the child. A little
thing like that -- why frighten a little swallow, I thought. All right
then, I went back to the bakery and stretched out on a sack of flour and
till morning I never shut an eye. I shivered as if I had had malaria. "Enough
of being a donkey," I said to myself. "Gimpel isn't going to be a sucker
all his life. There's a limit even to the foolishness of a fool like Gimpel."
In the morning I went to the rabbi to get advice, and it made a great commotion
in the town. They sent the beadle for Elka right away. She came, carrying
the child. And what do you think she did? She denied it, denied everything,
bone and stone! "He's out of his head," she said. "I know nothing of dreams
or divinations." They yelled at her, warned her, hammered on the table,
but she stuck to her guns: it was a false accusation, she said.
The butchers and the horse-traders took her part. One of the lads from
the slaughterhouse came by and said to me, "We've got our eye on you, you're
a marked man." Meanwhile the child started to bear down and soiled itself.
In the rabbinical court there was an Ark of the Covenant, and they couldn't
allow that, so they sent Elka away.
I said to the rabbi, "What shall I do?" "You must divorce her at once,"
"And what if she refuses?" I asked.
He said, "You must serve the divorce. That's all you'll have to do."
I said, "Well, all right, Rabbi. Let me think about it."
"There's nothing to think about," said he. "You mustn't remain under the
same roof with her."
"And if I want to see the child?" I asked. "Let her go, the harlot," said
he, "and her brood of bastards with her."
The verdict he gave was that I mustn't even cross her threshold -- never
again, as long as I should live.
During the day it didn't bother me so much. I thought: It was bound to
happen, the abscess had to burst. But at night when I stretched out upon
the sacks I felt it all very bitterly. A longing took me, for her and for
the child. I wanted to be angry, but that's my misfortune exactly, I don't
have it in me to be really angry. In the first place -- this was how my
thoughts went -- there's bound to be a slip sometimes. You can't live without
errors. Probably that lad who was with her led her on and gave her presents
and what not, and women are often long on hair and short on sense, and
so he got around her. And then since she denies it so, maybe I was only
seeing things? Hallucinations do happen. You see a figure or a mannikin
or something, but when you come up closer it's nothing, there's not a thing
there. And if that's so, I'm doing her an injustice. And when I got so
far in my thoughts I started to weep. I sobbed so that I wet the flour
where I lay. In the morning I went to the rabbi and told him that I had
made a mistake. The rabbi wrote on with his quill, and he said that if
that were so he would have to reconsider the whole case. Until he had finished
I wasn't to go near my wife, but I might send her bread and money by messenger.
Nine months passed before all the rabbis could come to an agreement. Letters
went back and forth. I hadn't realized that there could be so much erudition
about a matter like this.
Meanwhile Elka gave birth to still another child, a girl this time. On
the Sabbath I went to the synagogue and invoked a blessing on her. They
called me up to the Torah, and I named the child for my mother-in-law --
may she rest in peace. The louts and loudmouths of the town who came into
the bakery gave me a going over. All Frampol refreshed its spirits because
of my trouble and grief. However, I resolved that I would always believe
what I was told. What's the good of not believing? Today it's your wife
you don't believe; tomorrow it's God Himself you won't take stock in.
By an apprentice who was her neighbor I sent her daily a corn or a wheat
loaf, or a piece of pastry, rolls or bagels, or, when I got the chance,
a slab of pudding, a slice of honeycake, or wedding strude -- whatever
came my way. The apprentice was a goodhearted lad, and more than once he
added something on his own. He had formerly annoyed me a lot, plucking
my nose and digging me in the ribs, but when he started to be a visitor
to my house he became kind of friendly. "Hey, you, Gimpel," he said to
me, "you have a very decent little wife and two fine kids. You don't deserve
"But the things people say about her," I said.
"Well, they have long tongues," he said, "and nothing to do with them but
babble. Ignore it as you ignore the cold of last winter."
One day the rabbi sent for me and said, "Are you certain, Gimpel, that
you were wrong about your wife?"
I said, "I'm certain."
"Why, but look here! You yourself saw it."
"It must have been a shadow," I said.
"The shadow of what?"
"Just one of the beams, I think."
"You can go home then. You owe thanks to the Yanover rabbi. He found an
obscure reference in Maimonides that favored you."
I seized the rabbi's hand and kissed it.
I wanted to run home immediately. It's no small thing to be separated for
so long a time from wife and child. Then I reflected: I'd better go back
to work now, and go home in the evening. I said nothing to anyone, although
as far as my heart was concerned it was like one of the Holy Days. The
women teased and twitted me as they did every day, but my thought was:
Go on, with your loose talk. The truth is out, like the oil upon the water.
Maimonides says it's right, and therefore it is right!
At night, when I had covered the dough to let it rise, I took my share
of bread and a little sack of flour and started homeward. The moon was
full and the stars were glistening, something to terrify the soul. I hurried
onward, and before me darted a long shadow. It was winter, and a fresh
snow had fallen. I had a mind to sing, but it was growing late and I didn't
want to wake the householders. Then I felt like whistling, but I remembered
that you don't whistle at night because it brings the demons out. So I
was silent and walked as fast as I could.
Dogs in the Christian yards barked at me when I passed, but I thought:
Bark your teeth out! What are you but mere dogs? Whereas I am a man, the
husband of a fine wife, the father of promising children.
As I approached the house my heart started to pound as though it were the
heart of a criminal. I felt no fear, but my heart went thump! thump! Well,
no drawing back. I quietly lifted the latch and went in. Elka was asleep.
I looked at the infant's cradle. The shutter was closed, but the moon forced
its way through the cracks. I saw the newborn child's face and loved it
as soon as I saw it -- immediately -- each tiny bone.
Then I came nearer to the bed. And what did I see but the apprentice lying
there beside Elka. The moon went out all at once. It was utterly black,
and I trembled. My teeth chattered. The bread fell from my hands, and my
wife waked and said, "Who is that, ah?"
I muttered, "It's me."
"Gimpel?" she asked. "How come you're here? I thought it was forbidden."
"The rabbi said," I answered and shook as with a fever.
"Listen to me, Gimpel," she said, "go out to the shed and see if the goat's
all right. It seems she's been sick." I have forgotten to say that we had
a goat. When I heard she was unwell I went into the yard. The nanny goat
was a good little creature. I had a nearly human feeling for her.
With hesitant steps I went up to the shed and opened the door. The goat
stood there on her four feet. I felt her everywhere, drew her by the horns,
examined her udders, and found nothing wrong. She had probably eaten too
much bark. "Good night, little goat," I said. "Keep well." And the little
beast answered with a "Maa" as though to thank me for the good will.
I went back. The apprentice had vanished. "Where," I asked, "is the lad?"
"What lad?" my wife answered.
'What do you mean?" I said. "The apprentice. You were sleeping with him."
"The things I have dreamed this night and the night before," she said,
"may they come true and lay you low, body and soul! An evil spirit has
taken root in you and dazzles your sight." She screamed out, "You hateful
creature! You moon calf! You spook! You uncouth man! Get out, or I'll scream
all Frampol out of bed!"
Before I could move, her brother sprang out from behind the oven and struck
me a blow on the back of the head. I thought he had broken my neck. I felt
that something about me was deeply wrong, and I said, "Don't make a scandal.
All that's needed now is that people should accuse me of raising spooks
and dybbuks." For that was what she had meant. "No one will touch bread
of my baking."
In short, I somehow calmed her.
"Well," she said, "that's enough. Lie down, and be shattered by wheels."
Next morning I called the apprentice aside. "Listen here, brother!" I said.
And so on and so forth. "What do you say?'" He stared at me as though I
had dropped from the roof or something.
"I swear," he said, "you'd better go to an herb doctor or some healer.
I'm afraid you have a screw loose, but I'll hush it up for you." And that's
how the thing stood.
To make a long story short, I lived twenty years with my wife. She bore
me six children, four daughters and two sons. All kinds of things happened,
but I neither saw nor heard. I believed, and that's all. The rabbi recently
said to me, "Belief in itself is beneficial. It is written that a good
man lives by his faith."
Suddenly my wife took sick. It began with a trifle, a little growth upon
the breast. But she evidently was not destined to live long; she had no
years. I spent a fortune on her. I have forgotten to say that by this time
I had a bakery of my own and in Frampol was considered to be something
of a rich man. Daily the healer came, and every witch doctor in the neighborhood
was brought. They decided to use leeches, and after that to try cupping.
They even called a doctor from Lublin, but it was too late. Before she
died she called me to her bed and said, "Forgive me, Gimpel."
I said, "What is there to forgive? You have been a good and faithful wife."
"Woe, Gimpel!" she said. "It was ugly how I deceived you all these years.
I want to go clean to my Maker, and so I have to tell you that the children
are not yours."
If I had been clouted on the head with a piece of wood it couldn't have
bewildered me more.
"Whose are they?' I asked. "I don't know," she said. 'There were a lot
... but they're not yours." And as she spoke she tossed her head to the
side, her eyes turned glassy, and it was all up with Elka. On her whitened
lips there remained a smile.
I imagined that, dead as she was, she was saying, "I deceived Gimpel. That
was the meaning of my brief life."
One night, when the period of mourning was done, as I lay dreaming on the
flour sacks, there came the Spirit of Evil himself and said to me, "Gimpel,
why do you sleep?"
I said, "What should I be doing? Eating kreplach?"
"The whole world deceives you," he said, "and you ought to deceive the
world in your turn."
"How can I deceive the world?" I asked him.
He answered, "You might accumulate a bucket of urine every day and at night
pour it into the dough. Let the sages of Frampol eat filth."
"What about the judgment in the world to come?" I said.
"There is no world to come," he said. "They've sold you a bill of goods
and talked you into believing you carried a cat in your belly. What nonsense!"
"Well then," I said, "and is there a God?"
He answered, 'There is no God either."
"What," I said, "is there, then?"
"A thick mire."
He stood before my eyes with a goatish beard and horn, long-toothed, and
with a tail. Hearing such words, I wanted to snatch him by the tail, but
I tumbled from the flour sacks and nearly broke a rib. Then it happened
that I had to answer the call of nature, and, passing, I saw the risen
dough, which seemed to say to me, "Do it!" In brief, I let myself be persuaded.
At dawn the apprentice came. We kneaded the bread, scattered caraway seeds
on it, and set it to bake. Then the apprentice went away, and I was left
sitting in the little trench by the oven, on a pile of rags. Well, Gimpel,
I thought, you've revenged yourself on them for all the shame they've put
on you. Outside the frost glittered, but it was warm beside the oven. The
flames heated my face. I bent my head and fell into a doze.
I saw in a dream, at once, Elka in her shroud. She called to me, "What
have you done, Gimpel?"
I said to her, "It's all your fault," and started to cry.
"You fool!" she said. "You fool! Because I was false is everything false
too? I never deceived anyone but myself. I'm paying for it all, Gimpel.
They spare you nothing here."
I looked at her face. It was black; I was startled and waked, and remained
sitting dumb. I sensed that everything hung in the balance. A false step
now and I'd lose Eternal Life. But God gave me His help. I seized the long
shovel and took out the loaves, carried them into the yard, and started
to dig a hole in the frozen earth.
My apprentice came back as I was doing it. "What are you doing, boss?"
he said, and grew pale as a corpse.
"I know what I'm doing," I said, and I buried it all before his very eyes.
Then I went home, took my hoard from its hiding place, and divided it among
the children. "I saw your mother tonight," I said. "She's turning black,
They were so astounded they couldn't speak a word.
"Be well," I said, "and forget that such a one as Gimpel ever existed."
I put on my short coat, a pair of boots, took the bag that held my prayer
shawl in one hand, my stock in the other, and kissed the mezzuzah. When
people saw me in the street they were greatly surprised.
"Where are you going?" they said.
I answered, "Into the world." And so I departed from Frampol. I wandered
over the land, and good people did not neglect me. After many years I became
old and white; I heard a great deal, many lies and falsehoods, but the
longer I lived the more I understood that there were really no lies. Whatever
doesn't really happen is dreamed at night. It happens to one if it doesn't
happen to another, tomorrow if not today, or a century hence if not next
year. What difference can it make? Often I heard tales of which I said,
"Now this is a thing that cannot happen." But before a year had elapsed
I heard that it actually had come to pass somewhere.
Going from place to place, eating at strange tables, it often happens that
I spin yarns -- improbable things that could never have happened -- about
devils, magicians, windmills, and the like. The children run after me,
calling, "Grandfather, tell us a story." Sometimes they ask for particular
stories, and I try to please them. A fat young boy once said to me, "Grandfather,
it's the same story you told us before." The little rogue, he was right.
So it is with dreams too. It is many years since I left Frampol, but as
soon as I shut my eyes I am there again. And whom do you think I see? Elka.
She is standing by the washtub, as at our first encounter, but her face
is shining and her eyes are as radiant as the eyes of a saint, and she
speaks outlandish words to me, strange things. When I wake I have forgotten
it all. But while the dream lasts I am comforted. She answers all my queries,
and what comes out is that all is right. I weep and implore, "Let me be
with you." And she consoles me and tells me to be patient. The time is
nearer than it is far. Sometimes she strokes and kisses me and weeps upon
my face. When I awaken I feel her lips and taste the salt of her tears.
No doubt the world is entirely an imaginary world, but it is only once
removed from the true world. At the door of the hovel where I lie, there
stands the plank on which the dead are taken away. The gravedigger Jew
has his spade ready. The grave waits and the worms are hungry; the shrouds
are prepared -- I carry them in my beggar's sack. Another shnorrer is waiting
to inherit my bed of straw. When the time comes I will go joyfully. Whatever
may be there, it will be real, without complication, without ridicule,
without deception. God be praised: there even Gimpel cannot be deceived.