Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/167

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145
THE CABBALIST

Rabbi Aboab's Sara was! I was always afraid she would be bewitched, and nearly a year ago her face went as black as a coal, and instead of speaking clearly and pleasantly, she shrieked out such words as one never heard in this world from a girl of fifteen, and wrung her hands as if she had the gout. Every one said she was bewitched and had a spirit. No doctor or apothecary could do any good. Rabbi Isaak wept and prayed the whole night long, so that he might have softened a stone in the wall. Since the misfortune befell him he has fasted from one Sabbath to another; he only takes soup and a couple of figs every night. Yesterday he went to the Mikwe,[1] and dipped nine times; when he went home he put on his winding sheet, had his chair brought from the synagogue, and his daughter placed in it; four men had to carry her and bind her in it, the spirit struggled so. When all the people had gone out he fastened Psalm cxxx. to all the doors and windows in the house, and forbade them to admit any one that night, however they might beg and pray; no one must attempt to open a door or window on pain of death. God forbid! Then he built up sacred books round the chair as high as Sara, and took a clean un-notched slaughtering-knife, and went nine times round Sara with it; then, as she had a loud

  1. Bath for purification.