Onto the murder.
If you’ve finished the book (and I hope that you have by now because I’m going to ruin it if you haven’t) we must talk about the murder(s).
After Saul is arrested Malka and Sara take the notes about Shoshanna and Rivka’s murders to Rebekah. There had been talk earlier in the book about the death of Rivka’s daughter but up until now it was just blown off as accidental. Given the brutal death of Rivka were you surprised that the two deaths were connected?
Before Malka hands over the evidence it is important to her to explain why her community is so protective and insular when it comes to policing (it is not the first time that Dahl has a character convey this).
We know that to survive we must rely on one another, we must support and protect our fellow Jews. We do not do this because we do not believe that sin should be punished. We do this because the strength of the community is vital to our survival. (page 249)
Malka wants Rebekah to understand – do you? If one does come from such a community can an outsider truly learn about the deep-rooted fears from being told?
Do you think that, given the nature of the crimes, Shomrim should have investigated further? Were they protecting the community? Do you think that there connection with the Mendolssohns clouded their judgement? Do you think that they suspected Miriam’s responsibility, or do you think that they were covering for Aron?
While Aron was not primarily responsible for the death of his daughter or his wife he did suspect how dangerous Miriam was. While he may have to live with his culpability, what if anything do you think his punishment should be?
When Malka brings the information she says,” I do not wish to invite scrutiny by people who do not respect our way of life, but the secrets have to stop. The community can heal, but individual people, boys and girls, they cannot.”
Can a community heal when wounds like murder, infanticide, etc. are hidden? Do you think any community can truly police itself? Can a police force that doesn’t understand the inner workings of such a community fairly oversee them?