Only Yesterday

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

CHAPTER THREE
Isaac Buys Himself a Bed

1

That house where Isaac found himself an apartment was called the house of the convert, after the owner who changed his religion. That convert had a lot of houses, and this was one of them. Every single house he had inherited from his English wife, who immigrated with her daughter from London to dwell in Jerusalem in the city of their Messiah. He was a tall and corpulent man and was something of a writer. Even though he claimed that he himself believed in polytheism, he didn't believe that there was even one person in Israel who would believe that. And if a Jew came to him to convert, he would ask him why he wanted to change his religion. If the Jew told him he was poor and had no means of support, he would give him money and add travel expenses for him to go to London and convert again and get double the money. But if the Jew told him that he wanted to change his religion out of conviction, he gave him a good scolding and told him to get out and tell it to the Gentiles, I don't believe you. That's what he used to tell us to endear himself to us, and he told the Gentiles something else to endear himself to them. Since he had despaired of finding favor in the eyes of God, he wanted to find favor in the eyes of man. But anyone from whom the Omnipotent does not take pleasure, people do not take pleasure. The Children of Israel because he denied his people and his God, and the Christians because they didn't believe in his loyalty. Since pious people refrain from dwelling in the house of a convert, he had to rent apartments cheaply and could not insist that his tenants pay him a year's rent when they moved in, as was the custom in Jerusalem.

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