The Miracle

The Miracle

A Screenplay by sammy mendel
"

A small girl witnesses a miracle in 19th century Poland.

"

INT. 19TH CENTURY MILL IN POLAND (STAINSBY MILL) - DAY

We see a crude watermill by a river, which reflects shimmering lines of sunlight onto its hunched stone walls. Inside, a middle-aged Jewish man, BENESH, is grinding flour with his teenage son TEVYA. He is dressed in Hasidic clothes, with Tzitzit and a broad-rimmed hat only without his coat or tallit, as the work is heavy and hot. He is short, with broad shoulders and powerful hands, which are far more expressive than his often stumbling words. His son is strikingly different, with lighter skin and a long, graceful body: only his father’s gentleness shows their relationship. BENESH’s young daughter HENA, who is coloured like her father, with impish, slightly hooded eyes, rushes in and with the almost aggressive affection of young girls throws her arms around his waist.

HENA

Tateh! Tateh!

BENESH

What is it, my libling?

HENA

Something has happened by the river!

BENESH

And is it so big you must interrupt me in my work, bubelah?

He pats her head, leaving a faint powder on her hair.

HENA

I was playing by the river, when I saw an old man, wearing the most magnificent clothes! He walked up to the water and dropped a handkerchief in. Then he stepped onto it and it took him across the river! He turned and bowed to me like I was a malka, and disappeared into the forest ...

As she tells her story she can’t help acting it out. Her father and brother are gazing at her, rapt.

BENESH

What did he look like?

HENA

Small and bent over. But such eyes!

BENESH

This is a blessing upon us! My daughter has seen a tzaddik! Tevya, run and tell the Rabbe.

Her brother exits, and her father turns to her in ecstasy.

BENESH

Nu, bubelah, will you show me where it happened?

EXT. FOREST - DAY

HENA and BENESH are walking along a river, HENA slightly ahead with her hand in his. The foliage casts down pillars of light, forming vistas that stretch into the distance.

HENA

I was standing here.

BENESH squats down and gazes at the scene, shaking his head.

BENESH

A blessing. A blessing.

Finally he looks up.

BENESH

But where did he disappear into the forest? There are no trees close to the bank.

HENA

It may have been somewhere else.

BENESH

Ah! Well, we may pass it on the way to the Rabbe’s.

HENA

I am coming too?

BENESH

Of course! The Rabbe will have many questions.

They set off, the trees thinning as they go and the path growing more pronounced. Walking along the bank towards them is an the village gossip, old MRS. KOHN.

MRS. KOHN

I was just on my way to your house to see you! Tevya has told me you saw an angel!

HENA

That’s right, Mrs. Kohn.

MRS. KOHN

A mitzvah, it is a mitzvah upon us all!

She pinches HENA’s cheek in the manner of one unused to handling children.

MRS. KOHN

If only your poor mother had been alive to see this ...

BEN stiffens, his hand tightening on his daughter’s shoulder.

BENESH

Yes, well, we’d better be off --

MRS. KOHN is still studying HENA.

MRS. KOHN

Why you, I wonder? A tzaddik wouldn’t let himself be seen by just anyone.

BENESH

Perhaps the Rabbe will be able to answer that for us.

MRS. KOHN

Of course, of course. Still ...

She wags a finger at HENA.

MRS. KOHN

You’ll have to come round to mine, and tell me all about it!

BEN bows.

BENESH

Shalom, Mrs. Kohn!

MRS. KOHN

Shalom, Benesh. A gutn, Hena.

HENA

Zay gezunt, Mrs. Kohn.

They continue. After a while, HENA pipes up.

HENA

I can’t remember everything, Tateh. What if I should get something wrong?

BENESH

Don’t worry. The Rabbe is a kind and virtuous man, he understands if you make a mistake.

HENA

What if my eyes were tricked? What if I dreamt it?

BENESH stops in the road.

BENESH

Hena, my libling ... do you have something to tell me?

HENA

Please don’t be angry with me ...

A pause.

BENESH

No. I can see what happened. I’m a luftmensch, always feeding your head with stories. Go back to your brother.

HENA

I’m sorry, Tateh!

BENESH

Don’t worry, bubelah. I’ll go and talk to the Rabbe.

He walks on through the forest. Long out of sight, he sits and begins to weep.

BENESH

It is a shanda, a shanda on our family!

 

INT. RABBI’S HOUSE - EARLY EVENING

The RABBI, an ancient man with a pure gaze and a face never far from a smile, opens the door to BENESH.

RABBI

Borekh habo, Ben!

BENESH

Gutn ovnt, Rabbe.

The RABBI walks with him into his study, a large simple room with high windows and carefully stacked books. They both sit down, and the Rabbi looks at him, beaming.

RABBI

Nu, Benesh, Tevya has told me your daughter saw a blessed miracle ...

There is a long pause, while BENESH looks at his hands.

BENESH

Rabbe, I have something to confess. My daughter lied.

There is a shorter pause, before the RABBI smiles sadly and spreads his hands in a half-shrug.

RABBI

But now, you have told the truth.

BENESH

Yes. I’m just a chaim bunkel, Rabbe, and the truth is the most important thing I ever had.

RABBI

You’re a good man, Benesh. No need to look so down, people will understand. Even I, when I was a young boy, was known to tell a tall tale ...

BENESH

I have something else to confess, Rabbe. I was very - very tempted to deceive you.

RABBI

Of course. Who wouldn’t be? You wanted to protect your daughter. Bring honour, even fame, to your family.

BENESH

But who would I be listening to a piece of music, knowing I was a liar?

RABBI

You know what Menachem Mendel said? He said the greatest miracle is to examine oneself without self-delusion.

The RABBI gets up, and BENESH follows him to the door. The RABBI looks at him with crisp blue eyes and smiles.

RABBI

Give my blessings to your family.

BENESH walks down the RABBI’s path, deep in thought. The RABBI watches him leave, then closes the door behind him.

FADE.

© 2012 sammy mendel


Author's Note

sammy mendel
The format is screwy because I pasted it from an old writing program.

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I don't read screenplays often, but this one is lovely.

Posted 7 Years Ago



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Added on January 5, 2012
Last Updated on January 5, 2012

Author

sammy mendel
sammy mendel

London, United Kingdom



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