Andre Schwarz-Bart

Switching from Hasidut to fiction, one of the reasons for great interest about the Lamed Vanickim stems from a book (mentioned in the Gershom Scholem post) written by Andre Schwarz-Bart “The Last of the Just.” Even if you read my blog and hopefully my eventual book, I highly recommend Schwarz-Bart’s novel.

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The book was originally written in French in 1959 and has since been translated into English. Schwarz-Bart was born in 1928 “to a family of Polish Jews who arrived in France in 1924.” By 1941 he was alone after his entire family was rounded up by Nazis. After the war he worked many jobs but loved writing. “He wrote five different versions of ‘The Last of the Just’ before he was satisfied to have it published.”

The book itself follows the Levy family lineage through many years beginning with Rabbi Yom Tov Levy and ending with Ernie Levy. The concept is that the Lamed Vavnick gene was passed down through the family and survives even through many hardships endured. Eventually the gene runs into the brutality of the Holocaust.

While the novel itself is labeled fiction and certainly the hardships of these individuals were evident due to Schwarz-Bart’s real life experience, the brilliance of the book draws great questions to whether anything was true. In the post to follow I will focus on two of the many characters in the lineage and label them Lamed Vavnickim for the simple reason that their stories are rooted in our legend and we know of them as much as we know of many of our great Lamed Vavnickim.