By Leonard Unger
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These last have obliterated Jewish Poland, Tishevitz included, with its demon world. A lone survivor, the narrator is being forced into retirement. " Still he is a Jewish devil and shares the Jewish sorrow. "There are no more Jews, no more demons. . We have also been annihilated," he cries. " No gory detail shows as Singer again mourns the holocaust's victims. He also departs from his rule of offering "neither judge, nor judgment" in his tales. " If things were not bad enough, his narrator laments wryly, he and his fellow demons are being displaced as corrupters of Jews—by Yiddish writers whose stories adulterate traditional beliefs and values.
God does occasionally have the last word. Even so, He first extends man's patience and loyalty before displacing Satan to reveal His own holy plan. In The Slave (1962), Singer's best novel, Satan's final victory repeatedly seems imminent. Returning to the infamous Chmielnicki massacres, Singer drops both his chatty tale-spinner and malicious demon-narrator; he tells instead an old-fashioned tale of devoted lovers who withstand crushing societal pressures to achieve what Susan Sontag terms a "tearfully satisfying" reunion-in-death.
For the family of Rabbi Pinchos Menachem Singer life in the Warsaw ghetto a halfcentury ago was hardly dull. A frantic, bizarre array of butchers and bakers, drifters and tearful women, criminals and saints shuffled through their modest Krochmalna Street apartment, atop a reeking, garbage-strewn stairway. There Rabbi Singer conducted his rabbinical court, the Beth Din. Rooted in Jewish tradition, the court combined synagogue, law court, and psychoanalyst's consulting room. Isaac Singer recalls it was for him "the celestial council of justice, God's judgment .