Uncle Lev

The lesson of one life.


Years of rage had built up inside me, because of the uncontrollability of life. I was young and healthy enough not to believe in God, but I did anyway, so that I could judge and punish him for making my life so hard. Uncle Lev’s belief in God died in 1944, six months before he was liberated, and one minute after he had found out that his wife and daughter had gone up in smoke at Mauthausen. I asked him one day, out of my own frustration, how he managed to live with this for so long without being consumed with rage or depression, and he answered me: “Well, Velvel (my Yiddish nickname), I made everything that happened in my life, necessary.” “But I don’t understand, uncle Lev,” I replied impatiently. He took his time to think it out a little more for my sake, and spoke again: “By learning to love who I was today, I made yesterday necessary.” I responded slowly in my befuddlement, and finally uttered a dismissive “oh, ok.” Seeing my annoyance, uncle Lev resumed with even more patience, “you see, Velvel, most people live their present trying to make up for their past, thinking that’s the only way to be happy in the future. I live my present as if it had been earned by my past, and that left me free to choose my happiness, never mind the future. The future always brings what it brings.” Uncle Lev died several years later, sometime in April of 1991. I was too young to understand then, but I understand him now.

© shywolf 2023
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critique and comments welcome.
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I am so glad to see you posting your work these days. Well worth a read each time




You’re welcome my friend 🙂


A great story and a great philosophy, but difficult to read because it’s all in one paragraph. Did you intend this? I wondered as it adds nothing to the tale.


No, it doesn’t detract from it mate it just makes it slightly more difficult to read. I recently read The Vicar of Wakefield, an old story, and the whole book is writ in this fashion.


As a Jew, it was not difficult for me to understand the emotional content. However, I could not get myself around the fact that he loses God and then finds a God-like philosophy. Edit this; it needs it. Start a new paragraph with ‘I asked him one day…’ Separate the dialogue on different lines and separate dialogue from narrative too. ‘Several years later’ can be translated as 9, 10, 12 or even 15 but certainly not 47 years! That rates a ‘many years later.’ But there is no question that I was moved by this very wonderful character, Uncle Lev… Read more »

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