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Larry Gopnik (Character)
from A Serious Man (2009)
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Rabbi Nachtner: You know Lee Sussman.
Larry Gopnik: Doctor Sussman? I think I - yeah.
Rabbi Nachtner: Did he ever tell you about the goy's teeth?
Larry Gopnik: No... I- What goy?
Rabbi Nachtner: So... Lee is at work one day; you know he has the orthodontic practice there at Great Bear. He's making a plaster mold - it's for corrective bridge work - in the mouth of one of his patients, Russell Kraus. The mold dries and Lee is examining it one day before fabricating an appliance. He notices something unusual. There appears to be something engraved on the inside of the patient's lower incisors. He vav shin yud ayin nun yud. "Hwshy 'ny". "Help me, save me". This in a goy's mouth, Larry. He calls the goy back on the pretense of needing additional measurements for the appliance. "How are you? Noticed any other problems with your teeth?" No. There it is. "Hwshy 'ny". "Help me". Son of a gun. Sussman goes home. Can Sussman eat? Sussman can't eat. Can Sussman sleep? Sussman can't sleep. Sussman looks at the molds of his other patients, goy and Jew alike, seeking other messages. He finds none. He looks in his own mouth. Nothing. He looks in his wife's mouth. Nothing. But Sussman is an educated man. Not the world's greatest sage, maybe, no Rabbi Marshak, but he knows a thing or two from the Zohar and the Caballah. He knows that every Hebrew letter has its numeric equivalent. 8-4-5-4-4-7-3. Seven digits... a phone number, maybe? "Hello? Do you know a goy named Kraus, Russell Kraus?" Who? "Where have I called? The Red Owl in Bloomington. Thanks so much." He goes. It's a Red Owl. Groceries; what have you. Sussman goes home. What does it mean? He has to find out if he is ever to sleep again. He goes to see... the Rabbi Nachtner. He comes in, he sits right where you're sitting right now. "What does it mean, Rabbi? Is it a sign from Hashem, 'Help me'? I, Sussman, should be doing something to help this goy? Doing what? The teeth don't say. Or maybe I'm supposed to help people generally, lead a more righteous life? Is the answer in Caballah? In Torah? Or is there even a question? Tell me, Rabbi, what can such a sign mean?"
[pause as the Rabbi drinks his tea]
Larry Gopnik: So what did you tell him?
Rabbi Nachtner: Sussman?
Larry Gopnik: Yes!
Rabbi Nachtner: Is it... relevant?
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