Haim Watzman is a Jewish writer who publishes his short stories monthly in The Times of Israel magazine. His story titled Tikun gives the reader unique insight into the mind and heart of a Jewish woman going door to door to share her faith with non-religious people. One aspect of this story that makes it so unique is that it seems to be nothing more than the ramblings of an old Jewish woman. There is barely a break in the story, and no one else speaks except for the narrator, who is this Jewish emissary. As a reader, you can almost hear her voice, rambling on and hardly stopping to take a breath.
One of the first things you notice as a reader is that this narrator is lonely. She’s desperate for someone who will listen to her, who will hear her pain and acknowledge it. Although no other characters or voices come in to the story, the narrator acknowledges that the person she is speaking to is becoming restless and wants to move away from the conversation, yet the narrator rambles on.
In doing so, she ends up telling her story of joy, pain, and sacrifice. Her story is so closely tied to her belief in the Jewish faith and tradition that it would be impossible to separate her life experience from her faith. It gives readers a unique glimpse into the mind of someone who is so thoroughly committed to her faith that she would make the ultimate sacrifice–the love of her life.
The narrator confides in the person she is speaking with, telling her about one of the most painful moments of her lifetime: the narrator was never able to have children. As a reader, you can feel in her voice that this has been an extremely painful experience, as infertility often is for women. However, on top of the pain of not being able to bear children, the narrator also feels the weight of believing that her inability to conceive is God’s judgement upon her.
Although the narrator speaks in a rambling, almost nonchalant tone, the reader can hear and feel the pain and loneliness in her ramblings.
She then explains her decision to request a divorce from a man she was desperately in love with. She truly believes that in asking him for a divorce, she was setting him free to produce children with another woman. Believing that bearing children is an act of obedience to God, the narrator felt deeply that she must free her husband to marry a woman who will produce him children.
And this is exactly what happened.
The narrator leaves the conversation unchanged. She is still lonely and in pain, but she is still convinced that she did the right thing.
The reader, however, leaves the story changed. There is a lingering feeling of both pity and awe that the reader feels for the narrator. In one sense, it is tragic that the narrator gave up a lifetime of love in exchange for a lifetime of loneliness so that her husband could have children with someone else. On the other hand, the reader feels a sense of awe and wonder at a character who believes in something bigger than herself, and who believes it so deeply that she was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to do what she thought would be best for the one she loved.
The story is neither a ridicule of the narrator’s faith, nor is it a proponent of it. One can read this story from a religious or non-religious perspective and come away from it with a tragic sense of awe and wonder at the power a deeply held belief wields in the lives of those who adhere to it.
*Illustration by Avi Katz