Only Yesterday

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

CHAPTER ELEVEN
Inside Jerusalem

1

A covenant is made with every city that stamps its seal on its inhabitants, especially the city of God, most exquisite of all cities, where the Shekhina never moves away from it. And even if the Shekhina is hidden and covered, there are times and seasons when even the most simple son of Israel who was blessed to dwell in Jerusalem will sense it, each to the degree of his sensibilities and to his merit and to the light of grace that illuminates his soul, and by virtue of the suffering he has suffered in the Land and that he accepted with love and did not complain.

All the time Isaac lived Outside the Land, he kept the Sabbath and laid Tefillin and prayed every day, as taught by the precept of men. When he ascended to the Land of Israel, he hung his Tefillin on a peg and lifted the other Commandments off his neck, he didn't keep the Sabbath and he didn't pray. When the fear of his father was lifted from him, the fear of his Father in Heaven was also lifted from him. Isaac was young, and hadn't pondered much and made no calculations with his Creator, like most of our comrades in those days. When he ascended to Jerusalem, he started changing. Sometimes on his own initiative and sometimes because of others, for instance when he worked with the Jerusalem painters and the time came for afternoon prayer and the painters stood up to pray, he also stopped work and prayed with them. And if he ate with them a piece of bread as tiny as an olive, he would join the prayer and say grace after his meal.


2

Isaac's fellow painters invited Isaac to all the celebrations in their homes. Those people, who flay their flesh to make a wretched living

-267-

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