Jewish-Christian Contact in Fiction of the Shtetl.

In much of history there has always been the presence of a battle between Christianity and Judaism. Because of this battle and the potential threat of conforming to Christian beliefs, there were people that began to take sides and form opinions based on this matter. Thus there was an arising of fictional stories founded on Jewish-Christian contact. In "Zaidlus the Pope", and "On Account of a Hat," Singer and Aleichem take sides and formulate their opinions into these fictional stories. .

In Zaidlus the Pope, we meet a man named Zeidel Cohen who is led astray by the devil and tricked into becoming a pope. Zeidel was quite an impressing man with an impeccable genealogy that stretched back to King David. "He was also the greatest scholar in the whole province of Lublin. At the age of five he had studied the Gemara and the Commentaries; at seven he memorized the Laws of Marriage and Divorce; at nine, He had preached a sermon, quoting from so many books that even the oldest among the scholars were confounded." He was a very learned Jew who loved to read volumes of books, "sucking into his lungs the dust from ancient pages.".

But in all of Zeidel's knowledge and wisdom, the devil was able to figure out his one human weakness: haughtiness. Zeidel had much more vanity than the Law permits a scholar to have and in turn he is coerced by the devil and made to believe that he is too smart for the people in his town. He forced Zeidel to extort himself far above and beyond the Law and God, and convinced that the only way to live a happy life one where everyone will be on your level, he told him to convert to Christianity. He does this by pointing out all the characteristics of the Gentiles saying, "The Gentiles are the antithesis of the Jews. Since their God is a man, a man can be a God to them. Gentiles admire greatness of any kind and love the men who possess it: men of great pity or great cruelty, great builders or great destroyers, great virgins or great harlots, great sages or great fools, great rulers or great rebels, great believers or great infidels.