"And does lack of modern lights constitute ignorance?" went on Raphael, disregarding the interruption. He began walking up and down, and thrashing the air with his arms. Hitherto he had remained comparatively quiet, dominated by Strelitski's superior restlessness. "I cannot help thinking there is a profound lesson in the Bible story of the oxen who, unguided, bore safely the Ark of the Covenant.
When Joseph Strelitski's father was sent to Siberia, he took his nine-year old boy with him in infringement of the law which prohibits exiles from taking children above five years of age. The police authorities, however, raised no objection, and they permitted Joseph to attend the public school at Kansk, Yeniseisk province, where the Strelitski family resided.
Raphael felt a vague unreasoning resentment rising in him, mingled with distress at Strelitski's discomposure. "No; I don't know that there is any particular reason why I want to know," answered his friend slowly. "She was a member of my congregation.
Strelitski's marriage, to the growing willingness of the younger generation to marry out of Judaism. The table discerned in inter-marriage the beginning of the end. "But why postpone the inevitable?" asked Sidney calmly. "What is this mania for keeping up an effete ism? Are we to cripple our lives for the sake of a word? It's all romantic fudge, the idea of perpetual isolation.
Perhaps one could help her." "I'm sorry, I really know nothing, nothing at all," said Raphael gravely. "I wish I did. Is there any particular reason why you want to know?" As he spoke, a strange suspicion that was half an apprehension came into his head. He had been looking the whole time at Strelitski's face with his usual unobservant gaze, just seeing it was gloomy.
We are both students. Why should we not live together as students, too?" A swift wave of surprise traversed Strelitski's face, and his eyes grew soft. For an instant the one solitary soul visibly yearned towards the other; he hesitated. "Do not think I am too old," said the great scholar, trembling all over. "I know it is the young who chum together, but still I am a student.
After meals he retired quickly to his business or his sleeping-den, which was across the road. Bessie loved Daniel Hyams, but she was a woman and Strelitski's neutrality piqued her. Even to-day it is possible he might not have spoken to Gabriel Hamburg if his other neighbor had not been Bessie. Gabriel Hamburg was glad to talk to the youth, the outlines of whose English history were known to him.
But Strelitski's face had grown dusky with a gradual flush and a deepening gloom; his black eyebrows were knit and his lips set together and his eyes full of sullen ire. He suspected a snare to assist him. He shook his head. "Thank you," he said slowly. "But I prefer to live alone."
Gabriel Hamburg looked on throughout with something like a smile on his shrivelled features. Once while Joseph Strelitski was holding forth he blew his nose violently. Perhaps he had taken too large a pinch of snuff. But not a word did the great scholar speak. Mendel Hyams was another silent member. But he wept openly under Strelitski's harangue.
"You read all that into me, as you read your modern thought into the old naïve books." "I read what is in you. Your soul is in the right, whatever your brain says." He went on, almost to echo Strelitski's words, "Selfishness is the only real atheism; aspiration, unselfishness, the only real religion. In the language of our Hillel, this is the text of the Law; the rest is commentary.