THE GOD OF VENGEANCE
lies your child. Even if you yourself are a sinner, here lies a pure daughter of yours, a virtuous child." But as it is, what is left me on earth? I myself am a sinner. I leave behind me sinful offspring. And so passes sin from generation to generation.
Don't speak like that. A Jew must not utter such things. Trust in the Lord, and say "The past is dead and gone."
Don't try to console me, Rebbi. I know that it's too late. Sin encircles me and mine like a rope around a person's neck. God wouldn't have it. But I ask you, Rebbi, why wouldn't He have it? What harm would it have done Him if I, Yekel Tchaftchovitch, should have been raised from the mire into which I have fallen? (He goes into Rifkele's room, carries out the Sacred Parchment, raises it aloft and speaks.) You, Holy Scroll, I know, — you are a great God! For you are our Lord! I, Yekel Tchaftchovitch, have sinned. (Beats his breast with his closed fist.) My sins. . . my sins. . . Work a miracle, — send down a pillar of fire to consume me. On this very spot, where I now stand! Open up the earth at my feet and let it swallow me! But shield my daughter. Send her back to me as pure and innocent as when she left. I know. . . to You everything is pos-
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