Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/61

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CHAPTER IV.

THE SYNAGOGUE.

A LIGHT mist Still hung over the streets of Amsterdam; the golden letters of the words בית יעקּב (the House of Jacob) over the door of the synagogue on the town wall shone but dimly, but already a great many men and women crowded through the seven columns that adorned the vestibule of the synagogue. Baruch, his father, and the stranger were there. On entering the inner door, each stepped before one of the two huge marble basins that stood beside each door-post, turned on the brass tap and washed his hands. Baruch observed the rule of the Talmud, to wash the right hand first. Then they descended the three steps. Every synagogue must be below ground, for it is written: "Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord!" (Ps. cxxx. 1.) Each one of those present placed over his shoulders a large woollen cloth, with three blue stripes at the ends, and tassels hanging from the four corners; the most pious, Baruch among them, covered their hats with it. "How lovely are thy tents, O Jacob! thy dwellings, O Israel!" sang a well-trained choir of boys; and here these words did not sound ironical, for the