Moishe the Beadle in Night by Elie Wiesel

Instructor: Liz Breazeale
In Elie Wiesel's ''Night,'' many characters are introduced and play important roles; one of these characters is Moishe the Beadle. In this lesson, learn about Moishe's role in the book and his importance.

Who is Moishe the Beadle?

Moishe the Beadle is a friend of Eliezer, the narrator of Elie Wiesel's Night. The book is at least partially based on Wiesel's own time in Nazi concentration camps during the 1940s. It's still considered one of the best works about the Holocaust and is very widely read around the world.

Moishe the Beadle is an older Jewish man who befriends teenaged Eliezer in Eliezer's hometown of Sighet, part of Transylvania that was occupied by Hungary at the time. Moishe is kind, compassionate, and impoverished. He's also a teacher, and he instructs Eliezer in the rituals and teachings of Kabbalah, a mystical school of thought that branched off from Judaism.

Sighet, which is now called by a new name and is part of Romania
Former Sighet

Moishe the Prophet

Moishe the Beadle is described as a very compassionate, caring man. Although he's poor, he's educated and very knowledgeable about Kabbalah. Moishe is dreamy, awkward, and very quiet. The people of Sighet don't pay him much attention because they see him as insignificant. It seems as though only Eliezer understands Moishe, and the two spend hours upon hours discussing Kabbalah and its teachings.

But Moishe is foreign, which means he is expelled, along with other foreign Jews, from Sighet. The Hungarian police cram them into cattle cars, and just like that, Moishe and the others are gone. The town quickly forgets them - until one day, Eliezer sees Moishe by the entrance to the synagogue. How is this possible?

Moishe quickly relates his sad tale. The Hungarian police turned the cattle cars over to the Gestapo, the German secret police, once the train crossed into Poland. The Jews were then put into trucks and taken into the forest, where they were forced to dig their own mass grave. The Germans then shot each person, including the infants and children. Moishe only escaped because he was shot in the leg and left for dead.

When Moishe returns to Sighet, he spends his time going from person to person, house to house, telling his story and warning the townspeople of the brutality of the Nazis and of the imminent death that is coming their way. But the townspeople laugh him off - oh, Moishe, he's so ridiculous, he says the darndest things - and even Eliezer finds his warnings too 'out there' to believe. The townspeople refuse to listen and refuse to believe that something so awful is coming their way and, as a result, are powerless when the unthinkable begins to happen.

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