Malach ha-mavis is a Yiddish word meaning what?

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mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Devil's Arithmetic is the story of Hannah Stern. Hannah is a twelve year old and wants nothing to do with the past. Hannah is on her way with her parents and brother, to her grandparents house in the Bronx. They are going to celebrate the Passover Seder. Hannah does not want to go, because she tells her mother that all her grandfather does is talk about the past.

Hannah's grandfather, Will, is a survivor of the concentration camps during WWII. Her mother tells Hannah that he lost most of his family in the camps and he needs to talk about it. Hannah doesn't want to hear about the war anymore and can't understand why her grandfather still lives in the past. Hannah is happy that her favorite aunt, Eva, will be there. Hannah is named after one of Eva's good friend that was lost in the war. As the night progresses, Hannah finds herself suddenly being in the past. She finds herself in the house of her great grandmother. Hannah thinks it is a joke, but agrees to play along with it. She soon realizes it is no joke. She ends up in a concentration camp and befriends a girl named, Rivka. She ends up taking the place of Rivka in a gas chamber and is going to die, when she suddenly finds herself back with her family. She now comes to know why her grandfather feels the way he does. She learns that the girl she is named after, is in fact, the girl who saved her aunt Eva. Hannah now realizes why her grandfather yelled at her when she was younger and wrote numbers on her arm. He yelled Malach ha-mavis, which means Angel of Death. 

This is an incredible story about remembering the past, so we can pass it on to future generations. Hannah was able to relive the horrors of what happened to the Jewish people, and that is the greatest gift she could have received.

cburr eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It means Angel of Death.

midnight885 | Student

Malach ha-mavis means Angel of Death

a7x | Student

meaning Angel of death

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The Devil's Arithmetic

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