Describe Moshe the Beadle from Night.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Moche' the Beadle is the first character we are introduced to in Elie Wiesel's "Night."  He was the janitor, or the man who did everything, at the Hasidic synagogue.  Physically, he is described by Elie on page 1:

"Physically he was as awkward as a clown.  He made people smile, with his waif-like timidity. I loved his great, dreaming eyes, their gaze lost in the distance."

He was very poor but still liked by everyone. He did not have shoes. He dressed and lived humbly. He sang a lot but didn't speak much.  He had a way of making himself "insignificant.  As Elie states, he did not embarrass anyone and they were not uncomfortable in his presence.  He was Elie's first teacher of the Hasidic traditions because Elie's father told him to read the Talmud instead of studying Hasidic dogma.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I think that Moshe would have to be described as someone who does not look as if there is an immediate command of respect.  He is described as "physically awkward."  I always envision him to look as if he has been cast out of society. His look of an outsider would be enhanced with clothes that are not form fitting or representative of the upper echelon of wealth.  Wiesel uses the descriptive term of "poor barefoot of Sighet"  to enhance this.  Moshe looks this way and this is reflected in the lack of power he has in the village. He is tolerated in the village and his appearance would reflect this level of tolerance as opposed to full fledged acceptance.

It is evident that Moshe is not fully respected because he is not taken seriously.  His words of warning are greeted with scorn by the villagers.  They reject him and discredit him.  In this, his physical appearance matches the emotional reaction he receives from the villagers.  It is here in which Wiesel's description matches what he receives as one of the first examples of dehumanization that is such a part of the narrative.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on