34. The Angel Who Descended to Put the World in Order (IFA 19910)
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34 The Angel Who Descended to Put the World in Order T O L D B Y F O R T U N A B U Ñ U E L T O K O K H AVA H F I B I S God was angry about what was going on down below. People were crazy, wicked, and cruel. Everything you can name. He was very angry. He wanted to send someone to fix things up. An angel came to Him, and He told him, “Go down there and see what’s going on. Put some order into that mess.” The angel went down in the guise of an ordinary* person. He went down and entered a commercial building and rented an office and became a rug merchant. He began by renting a gorgeous office, everything deluxe. Everyone came to offer him good wishes: “How can we help you?” “I’ll manage on my own, thank you,” he said. One day he said, “Let’s go visit the other neighbor. Let’s go visit and drink a cup of coffee with him.” They went to visit the third neighbor. They went in, and he greeted them warmly. Coffee and cookies. He showed them great honor, and they chatted for an hour. He had two candlesticks on the sideboard. When the angel left, he put them in his pocket. “What are you doing?” his companion said to him. “The host was very cordial to us, and you’re stealing his candlesticks?” “Keep quiet.” Then they went to another neighbor. He didn’t receive them cordially, not at all nicely. They sat and drank coffee and quickly left. On their way out, the angel put the candlesticks down there. “What are you doing?” asked his companion. “Have you no sense? The fellow who treated us well, his candlesticks you took. And this fellow, who wasn’t nice to us, you gave him the candlesticks.” They talked and talked on the way. The angel was looking for a certain address. He saw a woman with two children—an infant and a child of * The Hebrew is “ezrahi” (civilian), reflecting the informant’s socialization in Israel and the distinction between soldiers and civilians in other contexts. 233  234  Folktales of the Jews: Volume 1 three or four—next to the bridge. He said to the woman, “Let me have the child to show us the address.” He gave her a few pennies, and the child came with them. At the other end of the bridge, the angel took the child and hurled him into the water. “Have you gone mad?” said the man. “The child and the mother did you a favor, and you threw him into the water?” “It will be all right,” he answered. “I’ll explain it all later.” They kept on walking. “Come, I’ll take you to a cave.” They saw lots of lamps burning there. “These are the souls of everyone,” he said. “One burns more and one burns high and one burns low. This belongs to the neighbor, and this is the other one’s.” “Where is mine?” he asked. “Here it is,” the angel said. “It’s about to go out.” “I’ll add oil.” “No. It’s only up to here, your soul.” “Oy, why?” said the man. Then they left the cave. “Come,” the angel said to him, “now I want to tell you that the place where I stole the candlesticks—he was a good man. He was a righteous man. He bought the candlesticks from a thief, and the one they were stolen from used to curse all the time, and the curses were settling on that good man. The other man is wicked. I gave him the candlesticks so the curses would fall on him.” “What about the boy you threw into the water?” “If he had grown up this boy would have been an enemy of the state. A robber, a liar, a murderer—all the evils in the world. It was better that he died before he could grow up to this. “And you have completed your allotted time. A few more days, and you will die.” He bid him farewell and disappeared. 34 / The Angel Who Descended  235  COMMENTARY FOR TALE 34 (IFA 19910) Told by Fortuna Buñuel from Istanbul to Kokhavah Fibis, in 1994 in Petah.Tikvah , Israel. Cultural, Historical, and Literary Background Knowingly or unknowingly, the narrator composes her story out of fragments, episodes, and narrative...