Only Yesterday

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

CHAPTER NINE
Happy People

1

On the eve of the Sabbath, before dark, Isaac went down to the sea, as the people of Jaffa are wont to do, to bathe in honor of the Sabbath. He found a few of his comrades. Some stood naked and warmed themselves in the sun, and some split the blue waves, this one lay supine and that one lay on his side, this one suddenly disappeared into the mighty waters and floated up again to the surface of the water, and that one grabbed his comrade by the heel as if he wanted to drown him, but his comrade overcame him and rode on his shoulders, and the two of them rose up like a two-headed creature. Meanwhile, a third jumped onto their backs, raising both hands up, as if he were holding up the sun so it wouldn't fall into the sea. Thus they played like Gymnasium students who don't have the yoke of a livelihood on them, for from Friday afternoon until Sunday morning, they were free from work.

Said one to his comrade, It's good that there's the Sabbath in the world, isn't it. Said his comrade, If the Sabbath day is good I don't know, but the eve of the Sabbath is certainly good. Said he, If there were no Sabbath, there would be no Sabbath eve, would there. Said he, Aren't you from the Lida Yeshiva, where they teach Talmud through logic. Said he, And you who didn't learn Talmud, there isn't a trace of logic in your skull, is there.

Between this and that, the sun sank and fell into the sea. The gate of the west turned red and the waves of the sea grew bigger. The sea uttered a sound, and within the sound was silence. The sea brought up foam and the foam covered the tops of the waves, which changed their hues like that world between heaven and earth and

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