Only Yesterday

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

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN
A Light Conversation

1

After Isaac parted from the people of Eyn Ganim, he strolled at the edge of the settlement, thinking about everything he had seen and heard. And it seemed to him that he had already seen and heard such things. Where had he seen and where had he heard? For, from the day they had laid the cornerstone of that workers' settlement until now, he hadn't been there. He recalled one of those stories they tell about his ancestor Reb Yudel Hasid, who, once in his wanderings to collect money for dowries, wandered into a village and spent a Sabbath with one of the Thirty-Six Just Men, on whom the world stands. And Isaac started thinking about the things they tell about that hidden saint. That hidden saint dug mud for the daughters of Israel to plaster the ground of their houses in honor of the Sabbath, and on the Sabbath he would speak nothing but the Holy Tongue, and would not call his residence a home, for the residence of a man in the false world is not a home. And when Isaac contemplated those things, he smiled and said, And I, Isaac, descendant of Rabbi Yudel Hasid, spent a weekday not with a hidden saint, but with a host of hidden saints on whom the world stands, and even on weekdays they speak the Holy Tongue, and they dig pits for manure to improve the earth of the Land of Israel. And as for their homes, homes built by the hands of their residents certainly deserve to be called homes.

And thus Isaac thought and walked until he came to the barn. That was the barn where we would sit into the night. Isaac was in good spirits, like a man strolling for his own pleasure. He began singing one of those songs they used to sing in the barn at night.

-176-

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