Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/173

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151
THE CABBALIST.

Stone steps of the bath. "Out of the depths I cry unto thee, O Lord! He hears me afar off, O my God!" he cried with all his strength, and his voice echoed weirdly from the depths of the well. Baruch shuddered to hear in the quiet night a soul crying to God, as it were, from the depths of the earth, for redemption and resurrection. The Rabbi placed the lantern on the lowest step of the bath, and threw himself with a splash into the water. At this sign Baruch laid himself down at the edge of the well, and nine times, whenever the Rabbi raised his head from the water and again dived, he cried "Koscher" (pure) into the illuminated vault.

The Rabbi came out again half dressed and with his head covered; his long beard, still dripping, and his lank matted hair gave his usually homely face a wild appearance. He gave Baruch a little book in which a prayer was written; the names of the angels therein must not be pronounced by lip or tongue on pain of death, but only repeated in thought. Baruch trembled with fear as he descended the dark pit, his knees gave way, but he took courage, and sprang lightly into the water. The Rabbi then undertook the same service that Baruch had performed for him; he too called the word of purification nine times across the well.

Without another word they left the Mikwe.

When they entered the street, lighted by the pale rays of the moon, Rabbi Aboab stood suddenly still,