Only Yesterday

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

CHAPTER TWELVE
Two Friends Will Meet But Mountains Never

1

In those days, Isaac worked in the Hungarian houses in the western part of Jerusalem, near Meah Shearim and Beit Israel, where there are about fifteen big houses with three hundred apartments for the members of the Hungarian Society who live there three years for free, and sometimes more, according to the wish of the donor and the officials who run the Society. All the houses are alike, and each apartment has two rooms and a small corner where the women cook their dishes. And a big yard paved with stones goes between one row of houses and another, and there is the cistern. Just as the houses are all alike so are their tenants. All of them are dignified people who keep the Torah and the Commandments, who serve their Creator with a full belly. And they don't yield to anyone either in earthly matters or in heavenly matters, and they punish any person who is not like them, by persecution and contempt and ostracism and refusing Charity and expulsion.

That day was hot. Isaac was working outside. The sun tossed sparks of fire and the cobblestones of the yard burned like fire. The air turned white like the ashes of a stove when a fire is lit in it, and the gutters and the eaves and the iron bolts of the cisterns and the iron at the stairs of the houses and the brackets and the balconies and everything that sees the sun was ablaze. A smell of cooking and baking and frying wafted from the houses, and the smell went from house to house and from yard to yard and wound up outside, as if everything that was cooked and baked and fried on an ordinary fire came to be cooked and baked and fried on a fire from above. And from the three Yeshivas, from the Yeshiva of Hatam Sofer and the

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