At the end of Isaac Bashevis Singer's short story "Dr Beeber", the titular character says this:

'I believe in all superstitions.'
'You're right. Rationalism is the worst disease of the human species. Reason will reverse evolution. Homo sapiens will become so clever that he won't know how to breed, to eat, or go to the toilet. He'll even have to learn how to die.'
Dr Beeber laughed and snorted, exposing a mouthful of blackish teeth. 'What I'm afraid of really,' he said, 'is that Saltsche may decide to forgive me.'
(translation by the author and Elaine Gottlieb)

Saltsche is Dr Beeber's wife, who kicked him out after he blew all of her money on gambling. Why is he so afraid of being forgiven here?

1 Answer 1


Dr. Beeber was miserable in his marriage. She provides everything for him, but she wants him to produce, and forces food and entertainment on him. With her kicking him out, he's free to once more embrace his free and hedonistic ways. If she forgives him, he might return to his gilded cage.

"We get along too well. But what good does it do me? She's trying to make me into an immortal. Tsutsik, those illusions are too remote from me. What if I do publish another book? Who's waiting for it? Only today I found an essay I wrote about Schleiermacher. Who care about Schleiermacher? Until dinnertime she keeps me imprisoned. After dinner, I have to lie down for an hour to digest the food. The cook is an Eigth Wonder. She prepares delicacies I can't resist. I stuff myself until I'm unable to budge. There's another feast in the evening. After supper, Saltsche wants to go somewhere — the movies, the theater, the opera. She has innumerable relatives who keep coming here and inviting us to return the visit. My family also rose from the dead. They sit and babble banalities all night. I told you, didn't I, Saltsche was an old maid — a kosher virgin. Now she wants to make up for lost time. None of this is for me. I long for some kind of adventure. She won't let me answer the phone; she's afraid I'll be robbed of my time for contemplation." Dr. Beeber laughed and grunted at the same time.

"Things will straighten out," I said.

"How? Every day I have to report my progress. She reads every word I write. Already, she's got in touch with a publisher, and God knows what. When a woman begins to run a man's life, he's lost. I'm so enslaved I began a little affair with the maid."


"... Actually, the life I was leading almost destroyed me. Who can be with a woman twenty-four hours a day? I was used to being alone. A bachelor can have a dozen mistresses and still remain his own man. Tsutsik, never get married. Run from it as from a fire..."

This relates to his earlier comment about rationalism in that rationally, a secure life is what every human being aspires to, but in his case, he feels he will lose his true nature in that domestic bliss.

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