Who Moshe The Beadle Is And Why Does Wiesel Begin The Story With Him?

Updated 30 September, 2023
Moishe the Beadle was Eliezer’s teacher in the religious studies and his role model at the beginning of the novel. Moishe was also one of the Jews successful in escaping death after his deportation. Although he recounted his stories to the other Jews in town, they didn’t believe him.
Detailed answer:

Moishe the Beadle, a minor character in Elie Wiesel’s Night, proved to unexpectedly have significance in the book. He was a poor foreign Jew who resided in Sighet, a Transylvanian town in modern-day Romania. The townspeople of Sighet, composed of Jews, helped those who were underprivileged but they didn’t necessarily develop a fondness for them. However, in the case of Moishe the Beadle, despite the fact that he lived in dire poverty, the townspeople liked him. His incredible awkwardness coupled with his timidness and reserved personality brought joy to people. This was due in part to his actions which never troubled anyone.
Wiesel first describes him in favorable terms; “he was poor and lived in utter penury…while [the town] did help the needy, they did not particularly like them. Moishe the Beadle was the exception. He stayed out of people’s way. His presence bothered no one”. However, after fulfilling his prophecy, he is described as “only wanting pity…and was imagining things. Others flatly said that he had gone mad”.
Moishe the Beadle was Elie’s mentor in studying Kabbalah. Together Moishe and Elie would read for hours on end for many days. In the course of that time, Elie became convinced that Moishe would help him enter eternity, into that time when question and answer become one. At first, Elie is optimistic about life, reality to him is like that of any child. One day all foreign Jews in Sighet and that included Moishe were expelled. They were crammed into cattle cars and sent away to Poland. Moishe fled from death. He only returned to Sighet to express his death so that people could ready themselves while there was still time. He wanted to come back to warn people but no one listened to him. On the seventh day of Passover was when the curtain rose, Germans arrested the leaders of the Jewish community. From that moment on everything happened abruptly. Elie and his family along with the Jewish community were put in ghettos.

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