Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/171

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149
THE CABBALIST.

initiated might form a community of the wise. The next day, Thursday, he went to Rabbi Aboab. He was a man in what is called the prime of life, of stalwart figure; his many fasts had not much injured him, for he looked in excellent condition; his round face and ruddy cheeks, his black beard falling to his breast, might have been called handsome, and were only disfigured by a large wart over his left eye, which wagged merrily when he spoke, and above all when he laughed.

Baruch was cordially received, but when he brought forward his request the Rabbi replied roundly:

"No, that cannot be; do you not know that Rabbi Salomo ben Adereth has forbidden under penalty of excommunication that any one should be introduced to the study of the Cabbala before his twenty-fifth year?"

Baruch warmly entreated him.

"Do you know too," the Rabbi continued, "that if you have—God forbid it!—the slightest worldly motive in the study of the Cabbala; if merely an incongruous thought mixes therein, your own life and the lives of all belonging to you are in some inexplicable danger? Can you trust yourself? Dare you face the risk? Will you?"

"I will," answered Baruch in a firm voice.

Without another word the Rabbi took Baruch's left hand in his, and studied the fine lines marked