Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/67

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45
THE SYNAGOGUE.

So spake the preacher, and concluded his parables from the Talmud with the one (well known to readers of the New Testament, here slightly altered) on the laborers in the vineyard, and the one of those prudent and foolish ones who awaited the coming of the Saviour. He mingled amusing anecdotes with his sermon, raising thereby an involuntary laugh among his audience. The church and its servants did not then stand in their present frosty and oracular relation to the lay members. The Jewish Church especially, which both could and must offer all things to all men, did not refrain from godly jokes. An amused expression of interest spread over the faces of all when the Rabbi concluded; here and there men turned to their neighbors, and gave vent to their approval by gestures or exclamations. There are some Jews not sufficiently objective to abstract their attention from self enough to measure everything, even the words of their teacher, by the measure of the revealed law or their own reason. To these, therefore, it was no pleasure to hear yet another discourse; for now a man of compact figure and polished worldly address had taken the deserted place of Rabbi Saul Morteira.

It was that man of incomparable precocity and universality of genius, who, already a Rabbi in his eighteenth year, afterwards physician and statesman, had entered into controversy with Hugo