Only Yesterday

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

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE
With His First Comrades

1

Tranquility settled on the city and its houses settled into tranquility. And the people inside the houses are a quiet nation, secure in its God. Every house shines and every window stretches out peace to you. And between the thorns of the towers, the moon shines. The local stones are reconciled with you and the trees in the field wave their leaves. And a very faint voice rises from the earth, and you follow the voice. And here comes a caravan of Ishmaelites with their camels bearing the goods of the Land of Israel. And you imagine you are walking with them until they return you to your father.

But there are nights when Isaac doesn't find peace, not at home and not outside. He goes into his house, and the walls of the house press him. He goes outside, and heaven and earth join together to grieve him. If the moon is shining, he sheds his heart inside him. If it isn't shining, the world is dark for him.

Like most single people, who have a hard time living alone, he goes to the People's Center. Even Adam, the First Man, who lounged in the Garden of Eden with ministering angels standing before him and roasting meat for him and filtering wine for him, the Holy-One-Blessed-Be-He said it is not good that the man should be alone, and that applies even more to someone who doesn't have ministering angels standing before him. Isaac goes to the People's Center to soothe his mind a bit in the company of human beings.

Some lavish heaps of praise on the People's Center, as a gathering place for the educated people of the city, seekers of knowledge, and supporters of the renaissance of Israel; and others are complaining and say, A People's Center should be it, and it isn't. The weekly

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