Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

2 Av 5763 - July 31, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

Yerusholayim of Yesteryear
Locust Eggs by the Poundn

by Yisca Shimony

Things grew worse. R' Moishe found out that R' Nesanel, his askon-partner, was ill. And he wasn't the only one. The plague of typhus hit the starving people. "It is no wonder, with no food, no water to spare for minimal cleanliness." Hard as they all tried to help one another, many died from the epidemic and the Chevra Kadisha was busy all day burying the dead.

People hoped that autumn would end the plague, that the new year would bring a new mazel. Instead, a locust pestilence hit the land. Precious blades of grass were devoured by the pests, grass that people had learned they could cook into a nourishing soup called chubeiza.

The Turkish government decided that it was necessary to recuit people to collect locust eggs and destroy them. But these insects tend to hide their eggs deep in the desert sands where, protected, they could hatch from the hot sun. Hatch they did, to form a new cloud of locust in a continuous process. Locusts, old and new, wrought havoc to everything green and edible.

The extermination of the locust eggs was imperative. Whoever walked the street was seized and drafted to collect the eggs. This was a hard, tedious task, under the blazing heat of the desert sun, but the luckless captives, weak, hungry and thirsty, were forced to do as they were bidden and dig, dig, dig.

People sought a way of release from the egg collection; they were able to buy their way out and a new commodity found its way to the black market -- locust eggs, sold by the pound. People sold their furniture and possessions to free themselves from being enlisted to the impossible task of collecting locust eggs.

The cold weather dawned again and eventually, the remainders of the locusts left the land. However, the poor, hungry and sick people walked about like shadows, fearing what would befall them next.


Abba Shimony paused in his tale. It was time for maariv and he rushed off to shul. Right after havdola, the girls begged him to finish the story.

"There is not much to tell," said Father. "The British came into Yerusholayim in Kislev of 5678."


"Yanky iz gekummen," Keila called out one morning to her husband, R' Moshe, as she stood by the window.

"Who is `Yanky'?" he wondered. "And why is she so happy?"

In those years, people did not differentiate between Anglo- Saxon Americans and Britishers, both being completely foreign. And so, the British received the nickname of Yankee, much as it irked them.

"Gradually things improved," Abba Shimony concluded, "but it was a slow, tedious process, as the whole world was aching and bleeding."

Interestingly enough, now the sparse, meager fare of the belt- tightening austerity looked fine to everyone.


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