Cape Town, 27 February, 1901, sedrah mishpatim
To my dearest wife, Taube Kretzmar, and to my dear children David and Noah, and my daughters Leah and Freda, may they all live and grow up in wealth and comfort.
Dearest wife, I have safely received your letter of the 4th January. I am very pleased and thank God for His mercy in granting us health. May He always grant us health and prosperity, as this is the best article at any time and especially in bad times it is necessary to have some luck, and this He will certainly grant us – ‘God is good to all who have faith in Him and all who depend on Him’. You have detailed for me in your letter all your needs to make for yourself and the children as regards clothes and shoes. Usually, from your side, you have to write it out, but I think that for myself I already know it before you have written it, because as you know the whole of my journeying to Africa is not to provide me with luxuries and about sending money. I would certainly like to see as much as possible, but what can you do if it cannot be done.
One needs luck and we have suffered enough in Russia and torn apart. ‘So in Africa one makes money’ – but once you have arrived in Africa you are greeted with curses and excuses. An excuse: The war – it is a bad time for many people – it will all pass. It will get better but when? In the meantime, the war has only started, but it is escalating, and in Russia business has improved. Usually, we have to hope that God will improve things, as nothing happens without some purpose. Artisans in Cape Town are making heaps of money. So Yitzchak the gesser(?) remains at home when people are coming here who have no suitable trade, but I imagine that is how He wanted it. Let it be as He wants it. Usually, one has to have a little experience, and until you have gone through it you don’t know what the world is like. What is the value of philosophy if stupidity succeeds.
I reckon that if I had undertaken to endure life in Riga and to be at first a glazier and not be ashamed, as we have done here, it is possible that I would have remained a citizen of Riga, and if one can be in Riga, one can also make a living, even better than now in Africa. As the relatives advised my brother Yitzchak to come to Riga and to be a glazier at first until they would be able to get him citizen rights in Riga, I myself at one time I would have become no more a chacham, and so it was better to go to Africa, and then indeed Africa was better than today. And so it happened. So may God grant that it should be better as it is one cannot choose anything. The Leader of the World deals out to everybody his share. One has to be satisfied and hope for the best because God’s help is like the twinkle of the eyes. I hope to send you some money next week. Please God that you may enjoy it in good health – one must not lose hope. A thing that most people are longing for, and which will ultimately materialise, is peace, and if the Lord will have mercy and bring peace, His blessing will also come, amen.
My dear wife, I ask you not to be despondent as I seem to be decrying Africa at this time. There will be better times and things will be better, and one will be able to earn a pound easier than Russia, and when one already has it, one knows what to do with it. But today ‘yachne is not a bride’ (reference to a shadchan introducing a chossen to a kalle and nothing comes of it). And it’s no wonder because all the bridegrooms are in the army, so alas she has to wait. But when peace comes, yachne will become a kalle, and we will be the machatonim. And I hope still to be able to dance with the kalle, and I believe that you will not begrudge it for me. And after all our suffering, we will have some comfort and will be l’Yehudimfor the Jews (part of quotation of the Book of Esther re: Purim). I close my writing, I am TG well and happy, may God grant the same from you and the children – be heartily greeted and kissed from me, your ever loving and true husband, who wishes you much luck and to enjoy everything together, Tuvye Kretzmar
I greet cordially my parents, my father Yehuda Leib Kretzmar, and my chaste and modest mother Beile, and my brother Yaacov, and my sisters, Hinda and Chana, and my brother-in-law Moishe Schochet, and his wife, who is my sister, and their children, and also to my mother-in-law, the chaste and modest Neche, and my brother-in-law, Aaron Morris, and my sister-in-law, Chana Reza, may you all live in happiness and wealth, in peace and in comfort, as is the wish of your son and brother, brother-in-law with a full heart, from me, Moishe Morris.
Address c/o M Rubin, 87 Primrose Street, Cape Town.