Malmesbury, 11 May, 1902

To my dearest wife, Taube Kretzmar, may she live in good fortune, and to my dear children, my sons David and Noah, and my daughters Leah and Freda, may they grow up in wealth and comfort.


Dearest wife, I have received your letter of the fourth of Nissan (11 April). I thank the Lord that He has granted you good health, and when He grants good health, all else will follow.

I thank you very much for the news in your area, but I believe that there is something. I asked you what was going on with Gita’s sons-in-law in Simberg and also in Arminishai. You wrote me about one only and you are quiet about the second one and this makes me more inquisitive. Maybe so and so, I don’t know but nevertheless you can write to me and I will read it in silence (? big secret ?).


Write me where David is going to cheder. It would be best if you handed him over to a good cheder in the town and that he should be able to be competent in Tanach as is necessary. This is the first thing – most important – and then to see to teach in writing, that is in Hebrew especially, as this is the first. And I don’t know what to say about teaching him Russian. It may be that it would be a waste of paper and energy to spend time on it. Who knows what the Lord will provide? Perhaps it is necessary to learn another language. Therefore, I would prefer for him to learn Torah [i], Nevi'im and Ketuvim and to be at home in it, and also to write Hebrew, and when into Gemorah we will see what the Lord has in mind. Provisionally this is my wish. May the Lord help us and further may He help us more for myself and for the children, so that we can make good Jews and human beings. They should be useful for themselves and the world and not remain dark Peruvians, no good to themselves nor to wife and family and for the world. But the Lord is merciful, He can improve the whole community as well as the individual, amen. Further, I have no news to write today. With God’s help I will send you money. I have more courage now and I find more to write about. For today, this will be enough. Be happy and healthy according to the wish of your faithful husband, who wishes you everything of the best, Tuvye Kretzmar


To my son David, le Yakum Getzel, my eyes were opened when I saw your dear letter and my soul was very pleased with it. Is this the voice of my son, who speaks to me in Hebrew? And this is your letter? It is true that you have not yet risen to spiritual heights, but this is the work of your fingers. I thank God for His mercy that you are progressing so well since I have been separated from you, my darling, and to you it is said ‘my heart is yearning for the face of God, who endows a man with wisdom , and if you look for wisdom you shall find it’.


‘Because in the shade of wisdom is also the shade of money’. And in knowledge you will excel, and now, my son, it is time to gather wisdom and knowledge which one never forgets all one’s life. Even if you don’t understand everything that you study now, you will comprehend it in later years. Therefore, you must listen to your parents and your teachers, who will guide you to the sources of wisdom and knowledge in order that you should succeed in everything you do later on. Therefore, my son, be strong and courageous to excel in your studies and to write me a letter every week at the same time as your mother writes, and I will also send you an answer to every letter you send me in Hebrew, and so you will learn to write Hebrew correctly in order to make me happy. From me, your father who hopes that you will fulfil my wishes, Tuvye Kretzmar


Notes:

[i] Tanakh is an acronym of the first Hebrew letter of each of the Hebrew bible’s three traditional divisions: Torah (‘Teaching’, also known as the Five Books of Moses), Nevi'im (’Prophets’) and Ketuvim (’Writings’)—hence TaNaKh.

© Kaplan Centre
Letters courtesy of Phil Kretzmar