Only Yesterday

By S. Y. Agnon; Barbara Harshav | Go to book overview

PROLOGUE

1

Like all our brethren of the Second Aliya, the bearers of our Salvation, Isaac Kumer left his country and his homeland and his city and ascended to the Land of Israel to build it from its destruction and to be rebuilt by it. From the day our comrade Isaac knew his mind, not a day went by that he didn't think about it. A blessed dwelling place was his image of the whole Land of Israel and its inhabitants blessed by God. Its villages hidden in the shade of vineyards and olive groves, the fields enveloped in grains and the orchard trees crowned with fruit, the valleys yielding flowers and the forest trees swaying; the whole firmament is sky blue and all the houses are filled with rejoicing. By day they plow and sow and plant and reap and gather and pick, threshing wheat and pressing wine, and at eventide they sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, his wife and his sons and daughters sitting with him, happy at their work and rejoicing in their sitting, and they reminisce about the days of yore Outside the Land, like people who in happy times recall days of woe, and enjoy the good twice over. A man of imagination was Isaac, what his heart desired, his imagination would conjure up for him.

The days of his youth departed in his yearning for the Land of Israel. Some of Isaac's friends had already taken wives and opened shops for themselves, and they're distinguished in the eyes of folks and are invited to all public events. When they enter the bank, the clerk sits them down on a chair; when they come to a government office, the dignitaries return their greetings. And others of Isaac's friends are at the university studying all manner of wisdom that sustains those who possess it and magnifies their honor. While Isaac

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