Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/65

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43
THE SYNAGOGUE.

translator of Erira's "Doors of Heaven" here described the joys of everlasting felicity in all their exceeding glory, and praised that doctrine before which the angels bow themselves, and the Universe trembles; he described that absorption of self in the teachings of God and his creation, which, to him whose inmost heart is so absorbed, gives heavenly blessedness even here, and lends power to create and to destroy. With the usual conclusion, that God would soon send his Messiah, and restore Israel to his inheritance, he finished his discourse.

Rabbi Saul Morteira, whose tall, well-covered person we have already encountered on the previous day, advanced next to the altar. "He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth" (Is. xxv. 8), he began in a low voice. "I look round on this assembly, and again a year has thinned its ranks; another year will come, and with it this day of mourning and of rejoicing; and many of us will then have vanished from our places; perhaps I also! 'I also, O Lord! here am I,' I answer, if thou callest to me." With these words the Rabbi beat his breast with both hands till his voice trembled. He spoke at greater length on the suddenness of death, and the grief of the survivors; half-stifled sobs were heard from the trellised gallery of the women, and here and there among the men; only