Cape Town, 14 February, 1901, Hebrew sedrah beshalech

To my dearest wife, Taube Kretzmar, Be well and live in much good fortune. And to my dear children, may they live and grow up in wealth and comfort.


Dearest wife, I have received your letters - although it did not arrive at its regular time as we had to wait two weeks for your letter, and when the third week came, there were two letters which were posted at the same time, possibly there were no stamps in Shimberg [i] so you had to wait two weeks – but whatever happened it’s finished. In the meantime, I have also not written for two weeks, not because I wanted to take revenge on you, but when you don’t get mail from home your mood becomes despondent and you don’t feel like picking up the pen. So two weeks passed and no letters received, and none were written. And today I have received two letters in one envelope – one of 8 December and one 14 December. May the good Lord be thanked for His mercy granting you good health as this is the most important at most times. May God grant His mercy in all respects. From my side, I can inform you that I am in good health TG and in good spirits, may the Almighty grant that I may hear the same news from you and the children. I thank you heartily for your writing of the news that you have written me. As we know that nothing lasts forever, according to the Posek ki lo kulom ghosen, but when you see it in  practise, it is more pleasant, and whatever happens is over.


May the Lord just have mercy and show His help because He is ‘merciful and good to everybody’, and I put my faith in Him in the hope of klal Yisrael, who wait every moment for his salvation. Because times are very bad. Whereas we are hoping every day that the war should end, on the contrary it is becoming more intense every day. In the yishuv, in an area there are places where you are not allowed to travel and to buy or sell goods – so who suffers are brothers who used to travel around on the farms and trade with eggs and chickens and grain, cattle and sheep, wool, feathers, and various fruits, and earn and made a living from this. Like the Kremers, who used to travel around with merchandise and used to lend thousands of roubles – now everyone is confined to the city, everyone in his place. So one can understand how things are. Therefore, it would be time for God to help klal yisrael, and in klal I would be included.


Further about money – I am surprised that I have not heard about the £4 sterling which I have sent with Rubin. So I’ll hang on until I hear from you about this money, and then I will, with the help of God, send out more money, as much as will be possible. In the meantime, we must be patient as Africa is not as it was, as a son wrote to his father: It is going well with me, and in every letter he writes that it is getting better and better. So much so that they are beginning to build a church. Usually, the father was very bitter because what kind of a good thing can it be when they build a church? But the father could not help himself. But afterwards the son began to write that it is going worse and worse, until he wrote that it is worse than death – because they started to build a shul. The meaning of that is understood. In the beginning, he was the only Jew amongst many gentiles, and they needed a church, so it was good. But later on, there arrived more Jews so it became worse. And in time there were so many that they started to build a shul – so it became altogether bad.


And this is how it is today in Cape Town and Africa, when everyone was running to Johannesburg and Pretoria and the whole of Africa was big enough, for when anybody arrived anywhere he was free to do anything he wanted. But now that they are running away from Johannesburg and they come to Cape Town and now more are still in the city from the country, more communities are being established as we also already have a Chasidic minyan. So you can understand how business is. But we must be patient. When we hear the ex-Johannesburgers are licking their lips even today over their lost paradise, so we must wait until the flaming sword is removed which stands in front of t he gate – then once again all will be well. Amen.


Dearest wife, I am very sad that you have not received any mail for three weeks, as one understands full well what it means not to receive letters on time. But sadly I can do nothing about it, The first two weeks passed in waiting and the third week there was a  mistake because we thought that the boat would carry the letters as ususal, but maybe if they were not well bound…( missing page)


From me, your ever loving Tuvye Kretzmar


I greet cordially my dear parents, my father Yehuda Leib and my chaste and modest mother Beile, and my brothers and sisters, Hinda and Chana, I greet them all and bless them – from me, your son and brother, who wishes you all the best, Tuvye Kretzmar


I greet my brother-in-law Moishe Schochet and his wife, who is my sister, and their children, my brother-in-law Aaron and my sister-in-law Chana Reza, may you all live in good health and pleasure as is the wish of one who loves you, Tuvye Kretzmar


Notes:

[i] Shimberg, (Skaistkalne in Lithiunia) is 13 miles NNW from Birzh.

© Kaplan Centre
Letters courtesy of Phil Kretzmar