Only Yesterday

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

CHAPTER FIVE
He Goes to Shifra

1

Even before Isaac reached Jerusalem, Jaffa was uprooted from his heart, and all the things he had seen there vanished as if they had never been real. And when he reached Jerusalem, his soul woke up and his heart began to beat. In this city, every hour has something of the life of the World-to-Come. He wiped the dust of Jerusalem out of his eyes and the Holy City was revealed to him as it is revealed to those who love it. He recalled something the painter Bloykof had said to him, Come, let us embrace one another that we are graced to dwell in Jerusalem, and Isaac wiped a tear from his eyes and rented a seat in a wagon. He went to the inn of Shoel Hirshl, as he had done the first time he had ascended, but now he went on his own. Every inn is good and bad. The inn of Shoel Hirshl has a special advantage, that it embraces its guests.

There were no guests in the inn. Not even Shoel Hirshl or his sons and daughters were there. The sons and daughters weren't there because they had bickered and left, and Shoel Hirshl wasn't there because he had gone across the Jordan. Shoel Hirshl loved business and couldn't sit idle. Now that the inn was empty, he had joined the Lulav merchants and went with them across the Jordan to bring Lulavs.

What were those Lulavs? Across the Jordan, along the Dead Sea, on the way to Kir-Moab, between the mountains and in the mountains, you find little groves of palms. The palms grow by themselves and the Bedouins don't tend them, since they don't bear fruit. Once a Jew from Jerusalem went to Kir-Moab to get wheat. He cut some palm branches and brought them to Jerusalem. The people of

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