1: Excerpt from David Frishman’s “Three Who Ate,” 1929.
David Frishman (1859-1922) was a Hebrew and Yiddish writer, editor, critic, translator, and poet who wrote lyrical, sentimental fiction with didactic messages. As an editor and a literary critic, he hoped to see a body of Hebrew literature emerge that was on par with other Western European literatures. In his story “Three Who Ate,” the Rabbi of a synagogue in a town in which a plague has spread insists that his congregation eat on Yom Kippur in order to maintain their strength and not fall victim to the plague. The Rabbi eats in front of the congregation, in violation of Jewish ritual practice, in order to demonstrate to his congregation the importance of their breaking ritual law in order to save their own lives.
Suggested Activity: Have your students discuss the following questions: When is it a virtue to break a law (religious or otherwise)? Why do you think the Rav is weeping? Why does he refer to eating on Yom Kippur as “suffering”? Why do you think the Rav had to eat before his congregation would eat? Why did this act make such an impression on the narrator? Can you think of a moment in your own life when leaders or role models have acted in a way that was heroic or self-sacrificing? What impression did this make on you? How is eating on Yom Kippur related to the idea of religious tradition in this excerpt? Have your students compare this act of eating on Yom Kippur to the other instances depicted in this kit.
David Frishman, “Three Who Ate,” trans. Helena Frank in Yiddish Tales, Translated by Helena Frank. (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1912), 269-278.