Only Yesterday

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

CHAPTER ONE
Leaves Isaac and Returns to Balak

1

Whenever Balak appeared in the neighborhoods of the Jews, they hurled stones at him, when he moved away from them, they cast false charges at him. There was not one mouth that did not throw mud at him and not one newspaper that did not blacken his name. The newspapers were filled with nothing but the misfortunes of Balak. Havatselet called him a heathen and heretic, who behaves insolently and goes bareheaded with the letters of the Holy Tongue on his skin. And Ha-Or, which was lavish in his praise at first for the same reason, because he went bareheaded, changed its opinion about him for the worse, and suspected him of a touch of hypocrisy, because he moved away from the neighborhoods of the Jews for he feared Havatselet. Harsher than both of them was Ha-Herut, which reprinted the words of both Havatselet and Ha-Or, but added, Why do Havatselet and Ha-Or turn their eyes away from that event? Because they get hushmoney.

When the Jerusalem newspapers reached Jaffa, Jaffa thought that dog was a parable, like Mendele's horse and other stories of livestock and animals and birds which a person reads for pleasure, and if he's intelligent, he applies his intelligence to the moral. The people of Jaffa, who are all intelligent, applied their intelligence to that, but they didn't know who they were against. This one says, There's something to this; and that one says, We have to derive the implicit from the explicit. But what is explicit here no one explained. Meanwhile, opinions were divided, and there were as many opinions as there were inhabitants of the city.

-485-

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