Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/63

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41
THE SYNAGOGUE.

where it found itself in God. With upturned glance, as in the writings of the wise of old, he saw all the dangers of the waters of death before his eyes, that he would so readily have gone through for his faith in the unity of his God. His whole soul, thus elevated, felt refreshed as with heavenly dew.

The first prayer was ended; the folding doors of the sacred ark were opened on a glistening array of rolls of the law bound in cloth of gold, and ornamented with gold plate and jewels, that drew all eyes to the holy place, where the three most prominent men of the congregation read alternately the names of the towns and lands in which faithful Jews had suffered a martyr's death; the most worthy of these martyrs were enumerated and read out at the conclusion of the death-roll of the preceding year. Rachel Spinoza was among the first of these; her name was said with a blessing, and the pious legacies mentioned, which she had left for prizes in the Talmud school, "Crown of the Law." Baruch looked sadly at his father; for with the sacred memory of his mother was mingled the enigmatical mention of her Moorish origin.

The sacred ark was again closed, and Rabbi Isaak Aboab advanced to the altar in the midst of the synagogue. He was a thin little man, marked with small-pox, with a high forehead and prominent gray eyes, and a red beard on cheek and chin.