Only Yesterday

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

CHAPTER SIXTEEN
The Old and the Young

1

All the time Isaac was on the ship with the old man, they weren't close to one another because of their differences of opinion and their different concerns, for one ascended to build the Land and the other ascended to dig himself a grave. When they met years later in Jerusalem, the two of them were drawn to each other. Needless to say Isaac, for he was alone and forlorn and longed for the company of human beings, but so was the old man who sat inside his house among his close relations. If they had met right after they had ascended, they would have behaved as they behaved on the sea, but time, which makes close people distant, brings distant people close. With time, Isaac had changed some of his opinions, and so did Reb Moyshe Amram. Reb Moyshe Amram had thought the whole Land of Israel was made of synagogues and study houses and all its inhabitants were Godly scholars. In the end, most of those here are idle and quarrelsome, and they make of the Land a farce. And if there are people whose intentions are all for the sake of God, like his son-inlaw Fayesh, not every good intention legitimates every act.

And another reason. All the time Reb Moyshe Amram lived outside the Land and stole an hour to study Torah, his Torah would revive him. When he was blessed to dwell in Jerusalem, and to sit all the days before the Book, the Torah lost its taste. He started paying heed to people's conversations. At first he was amazed at their talk, then they began shrinking in his eyes. And in the end he was disgusted with them. Needless to say, he disliked their bans and excommunications, but also the clandestine dealings of the Distribution, which is the main support of Jerusalem and the secrets of the

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