Bread Givers

by: Anzia Yezierska

Reb Smolinsky

Characters Reb Smolinsky

Having spent his entire life wrapped up in the study of the Torah and other holy books, Reb Smolinsky lives in his own private world of religious study, a world that is sometimes highly incompatible with the one in which the rest of his family lives. His days and nights are focused on the promise of heaven and offering charitable contributions to others, making him unable to see that on Earth, a man needs to make sure his own children are fed before he gives to strangers. In the holy works, men are good and kind, and they value the importance of study; he attempts to translate this awareness to a world where people don’t care what your excuses are for not paying them and try to cheat you on business deals. Even more damaging to himself and those around him is the fact that in his world of words, Reb Smolinsky is incredibly knowledgeable. He mistakenly believes this means that he is equally knowledgeable in the outside world, and he makes potentially foolish decisions without feeling the need to consult his much more sensible wife. If his decisions prove to have been poorly made, Reb Smolinsky refuses to admit this to himself and will allow the decision to degrade further rather than to confess that he might have been wrong.