Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/129

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107
TALMUD AND LATIN.

problems from the many sophistical questions in the text and their numerous commentaries, again to be drawn out in striking syllogisms, etc. In spite of the license of intellectual activity shown on all sides, a certain defined order was unmistakable. The Rabbi listened carefully to all the questions, and then, according as he considered the solution easy or difficult, he called upon this one or that to answer it.

Chisdai, who sat next to the Rabbi's chair, nodded kindly to the younger ones, whose first efforts in dialectic made them timid, with condescending encouragement. He smiled like a general, who, in the anticipation of speedy advancement, claps his subordinate good-naturedly on the shoulder when he has successfully led in some small skirmish. When a pause intervened, he brought two plainly opposed views of the great Maimonides into the field of battle, while against the views here laid down he brought up one of contrary signification from the tractate of Chetuboth, with much circumlocution and cunning. All were silent.

"Now, Baruch, what do you say to that?" asked the Rabbi. Baruch aroused himself as if from a dream, for he had been employed on a very different train of thought.

"Now Baruch, what do you say to what Chisdai advances?" repeated the Rabbi.

"He is perfectly correct," was the quick answer.