The cemetery of the village of Chelm is located on the outskirts of Chelm, and in turn the outskirts of Chelm are located where the cemetery is. Thanks to this fortunate coincidence, when you go to the outskirts of Chelm, you necessarily go to the cemetery and when you go to the cemetery you must necessarily go to the outskirts of Chelm. This is a very convenient situation because, those villagers in Chelm who have the bad luck to die, are ashamed to say they are dead, and in this way they can always say that they have gone to live on the outskirts.

And this situation is not only convenient for the deceased, but it is also useful to the wise men of Chelm on this particular occasion. Because, when their neighbors see them stone-faced parading all together through the main streets at nightfall and ask them where they are going, they respond “to the outskirts”. 

They have obviously done their homework, that is to say, they have spent the day listening to Mordekai read passages from the Kabbalah related to death, until they have find the most convenient one to use it as a conjuration.

When they arrive at the cemetery, it is night and they lit the oil lamps they carry. They open the iron fence and, with a chill, penetrate the sacred enclosure. Lifting their lamps, they scrutinize the hodgepodge of headstones scattered throughout the cemetery in search of any anomaly, such as a ghost or, say, a pink elephant. But they don’t see anything out of the ordinary.

“Look!”, Chatzkel exclaims illuminating a headstone with his lamp. This is Rabbi Eliyahu Ba’al Shem’s grave! I know because the image of the golem he created is inscribed in it. 

“Please don’t talk about golems right now!”, Feivel says. “I’m just scared enough as it is.”

“Let’s focus on our task!”, Evron orders, “We have not come here for sightseeing. Who among you should learn the kabalistic text to recite?”

All the accusing fingers coincide in pointing to Feivel, who reacts with amazement:

“Me? I-I-I just said I had a good memory. But nobody told me to memorize anything.” 

Evron rises his arms in despair. 

“So, what do we do now?”, Dudel asks. 

“It is best to leave” Fishel suggests, “We’ll be back when this schlemiel has memorized the text.” 

“If Mordekai had agreed to come, he could have read it from the book itself”, Dovid regrets.

“And if Rabbi Eliyahu Ba’al Shem were alive, he could have helped since he was a great kabbalist”, Chatzkel observes.

“And if my grandmother had balls, she’d be my grandfather”, Elijah responds resorting to an old Yiddish proverb.

Evron jumps: “Don’t use foul language! Remember that we are in a sacred place.” And then adressing Feivel: “You say you have a good memory. So, you will be in charge of reciting the spell.” 

“What spell?” 

“The spell to free the souls of the dead.” 

“The souls of who?!”

“Go!”, Evron hurries him, “You can start!”

Everyone gathers in a semicircle around Feivel, who babbles some unintelligible phrases and ends with a loud “Amen”.

Then, a white figure appears at the furthest end of the cemetery.

“Oy gevalt!!”

Everyone runs away and doesn’t stop until they reach Chelm.

This is a non-profit blog whose purpose is to raise funds for children in need. So if you want to make a donation in exchange for this story, click on this link to UNICEF. I really appreciate it!

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