The Loves of Judith/Meir Shalev/D/E/I

The Loves of Judith or Four Meals by Meir Shalev

Wortschatz auf Deutsch und Italienisch/Vocabolario anche in tedesco e italiano – vedi sotto-

The Loves of Judith or Four Meals by Meir Shalev an israeli writer and cousin of Zeruya Shalev. Zayde, which means „grandfather“, is the narrator of this compelling, if  a bit crazy story. It is written, for me at least, breathtaking prose. The story  takes mainly place between the first and the second world war in Palestine. Through the eyes of Zayde we are shown the repetitiveness of village life. He makes us observe our human nature  and nature such as the behaviour of crows real close. The mysterious Judith who comes to the Valley after her husband  has taken their daughter to America. She works for Moshe Rabinovich, a widower, who is still looking for his childhood braid. She  brings up his children Naomi and Oded and lives in the cowshed  together, especially with Rachel the androgynous cow which she, Judith protects as ifit was her daughter . This Judith is Zayde’s mother.



qu. che ti prende il fiatto


der Witwer

il vedovo


die Krähe

il corvo


der Kuhstall

la stalle delle mucche

What’s a braid?


Judith not only attracts Moshe but also Jacob Sheinfeld the canary tender, who is married to the most beautiful woman in the village, who finally lives him because of his infatuation for Judith and the rich, cunning and rough cattle dealer Globermann with whom Judith drinks Grappa on a regular basis despite the fact the he continuously tries to convince Moshe to sell him the useless cow which doesn’t give any milk. Moshe eventually sells it when Judith is absent but when she comes back and realizes what has happened she goes and gets her beloved cow back due to which Zayde is born in the first place.

We ,however, do not know who the boy’s father is; he seems to be a bit alike all three men in question. Judith dies untimely and all three men take care of him as if  he was theirs.

I would like to cite some sentences from the book so that you can get an idea of this writer style and the book’s content. I especially love Jacob’s speeches while he is preparing the delicious food for Zayde .





canary tender

Kanarienvogel Pfleger

una persona che si occupa di canarini

cattle dealer


commerciante di animali





zu früh

troppo tardi

What’s a compelling story?


During the third meal Jacob says: “it’s important to do many things together. To work with two pots and a skillet together on the stove, cause that way you use the time good.” “Not just in the kitchen,” he added later. “People think time goes just with them and just for them. But at the same time that you’re milking the cows in the village, in the meantime the grapefruits on the tree are turning ripe, and the laundry on the clothesline is drying, and somebody’s soul is leaving him really slow.

And while you’re sleeping the earthwormes are working in the ground, and the clouds are slowly sailing in the sky, and a child is growing in his mother’s belly, and somebody in America is riding on a train to another woman. And in summer, real slow, the fruit on the roof dries. So know, Zayde, at the same time that one apricot is drying itself out, a bird has time to lay eggs,

to grow chicks, and to look for a new bridegroom. I read in the paper the Allies are attacking on all fronts. I liked that a lot. At the same time and on all kinds of fronts, all the Allies are attacking all together. Just imagine, if every one of them would start only after the other one got through till today, the war would still be going on.”

What’s a skillet?






die Wäsche

il buccato


der Bräutigam

lo sposo


das Dach

il tetto

When Zayde was studying zoology in Jerusalem she said:

“The laboratories of Terra Sanct and the Russian Compound bored me. Out the window I saw the crows gathering and hatching eggs in the thick pine trees, and my soul yearned to climb up and peep into their nests instead of into the preparations placed under my microscope.

“I hate their microscopes, “ she said to Naomi. Everything I need to know can be seen with an eye.”

What’s the meaning of yearn?[audio]

to be bored

gelangweilt sein

essere annoiato

to gather

sich versammeln


to peep

kurz schauen


to hatch eggs

Eier brüten

covare le uova

pine tree

die Pinie/Kiefer

il pino


There is also Jacob’s Italian worker and master of imitation, an escaped prisoner of war,who teaches him everything about the three important activities- COOKING, SEWING and DANCING-whose knowledge is a must,  if he wants to win Judith.  He tells Jacob and us the reader not only how to prepare  Zabaione but he teaches him/us everything about the tango.

“Numbers come from the brain, and the brain, don’t forget, isn’t good for the tango. A waltz is a dance for the brain, a one-step is for the brain, a Charleston is also a dance for the brain, for the stupid brain, but still for the brain, Even our tarantella is for the brain. But the tango that says touch, a tango is a dance for here, here…….

And all of a sudden the POW’s body moved like a broad quiet flash, and he was standing behind his student, his blacksmith’s chest clinging to the back of Jacob’s neck, the strong belly to his back, the big hands to his ribs, and from there he slipped down hard to Jacob’s waist and to the bulging bones of the loins, and above them he slipped to the sensitive, scared inside of his thighs. “Here,” He said. That’sthe tango. To touch.”

What’s the meaning of SEW?[audio


das Hirn

il cervello


der Schmied

il fabbro







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