Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/62

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SPINOZA.

simply built interior of the building was beautifully ornamented. At the upper end, on the side towards the east, where once the holy temple of Jerusalem stood, towards which the Jew turns to pray, the tables on which were engraved the ten commandments were supported by two stone lions. They stood above the sacred ark, and around it, in a half circle, almond and lemon trees bloomed in ornamental pots. For yearly, since they had been driven out of their Spanish home, they sent to the Catholic Peninsula for trees planted in the earth from which they had sprung, wherewith to decorate the synagogue, that for some few hours they might dream themselves back into the well-known plains.

The long opening prayer, spoken aloud by the choir-leader, gave all leisure enough for observation; but when at last the "Statutes of Israel" (Deut. vi. 5) began, all joined in with a loud voice. It was by no means harmonious; the whole building echoed with the wild war-cry,—for what was it but a war-cry, with which they had conquered life and death a thousand times?—"Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord!" The soul of each would enter by force the impenetrable first cause of the existence of God. Baruch, too, closed his eyelids fast, and clasped his hands, his nerves thrilling in ecstasy, his whole consciousness, with its longings towards that other world, drawn upward to the rays concentrated in that one point of light