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5 The Adventures of Raphael T O L D B Y S I M H. A H M E Y U H. A S L E V Y T O TA M A R A L E X A N D E R TA: Do you want to tell me about the miracle? Who told the story, your grandfather or your grandmother? SMY: My grandfather used to tell it. I was a little girl then. My grandmother used to tell how they published the book of the Meyuh.ases. Everyone would tell what he had heard from his father, from his grandfather. Then they took each story and wrote the book on the Meyuh..ases. TA: I’d like to hear it from you. There was once this pasha in Jerusalem, who was really wicked and hated the Jews. Once he threatened them, “If you don’t give me a large sum of—how do you say, una pecha di paras—a large sum of money.” In those days there were bishliks, a bishlik was four kuartikos, and a kuartiko was a mil. Back then there was the mil. Do you remember it? No, you don’t remember when there were mils. A grush is ten mils. And that was a kuartiko. Every kuartiko was ten mils. And every bishlik is four kuartikos. Four grush.* So they [the Jews] had to bring the bishliks. He demanded that they bring him many bishliks. If not, the Jews would be in big trouble.Yes. In the meantime, he took several Jews and threw them into prison. He arrested them. “If you don’t bring the money, I won’t let them out.” 34 *The narrator is slightly confused in recalling the coinage and currencies under Ottoman rule and in the transition period to the British Mandate in Palestine. But failing memory is not the only source of confusion. At that time both Turkish and European coins circulated in EretzYisra’el with fluctuating rates of exchange. The coins of the British Mandate in Palestine were first placed in circulation on November 1, 1927. In this system, mil was the coin of lowest denomination worth 1 /1000 lira. Grush was the term for ten mils, derived either from the German groschen, a ten-pfennig piece, or the Turkish kurus. The bishlik referred to a five-grush (piasters) coin. A bishlik was one quarter of the mecidiye or 20-grush coin and was also called a kuartiko. What could they do? Where could they get the money? They didn’t even have bread to eat. For the most part, they learned in yeshivot,* you understand, and there was no money coming from abroad, the way dollars do today. They had to support themselves, you understand, there was no welfare, not like today, when there’s social security. They didn’t have that, the poor wretches. So what did they do? The sages got together. “We have to do something,” they agreed. Then the chief rabbi—he was a, Rah.amim Moshe—said to another, “You know what? You must go to Constantinople, however you want to. If you can find volunteers to go with you, that’s fine. Otherwise you’ll have to go alone, because we’re in grave danger.” “But I am not such an important person.” He was a humble man; he was shy. He said: “I am not going.” He [the chief rabbi] said to him: “You must go, for your sake. God will help us. For your sake God will get us out of trouble.” He followed what the chief rabbi said to him and took with him a child, one of his students, as an assistant. They traveled to Constantinople. But he sent word to his host in Constantinople that they were coming from Jerusalem. And indeed they received them very nicely [in Constantinople]. It took them five days to travel from Jerusalem to Constantinople. And his host welcomed him What can I tell you? They received him like a king. He ate and drank and he was received very, very well. During that time, when he was with his host, at night, he dreamt. He dreamt that somebody would die; that there was going to be a plague. In Istanbul there would be a plague. He slept again. And again he dreamt. When it happened a third time, he said: “This is for a reason, it must mean something.” He...


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