Page 47 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 33

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TARNOR
I
AMERICAN MOTIFS IN HEBREW LITERATURE
37
between him and his brother whom he hasn’t seen since leaving
home. In his distraction, he is easily misled. After a few drinks,
Jacob whiles away the hours with dice and loses his possessions
to the stranger.
The stranger strikes a deal with Jacob: He will be allowed to
keep his possessions as long as he lives if he will agree to sign a
contract guaranteeing to deliver his soul to Satan after death.
This loan of the possessions for the duration of his life on earth
will be interest-free. Jacob succumbs to the stranger’s blandish­
ments until he accidentally discovers the dice had been loaded.
This discovery understandably angers Jacob and now a struggle
takes place between the two until the stranger (by now we all
know that it is obviously Satan), beginning to lose, suddenly
withdraws, leaving limping Jacob on the field of honor with
the recovered but now invalid contract. The preacher drives
home the moral: Far better to have a physical limp than a
spiritual one for which there can be no support or treatment!
At one of the many prayer meetings Lisitsky attended, a shy,
attractive girl who had recently returned from her teacher’s
seminary was honored by the minister. She was invited by him
to offer a prayer. With bowed head and sad voice, she stood
before the congregation:
Our Father in heaven, Noah upon awakening from his drunken
stupor blessed his sons Japheth and Shem, saying: “May the Lord
enlarge Japheth and may he dwell in the tents of Shem” but no
m ention was made of the tents of Cush whose curtains are as dark
as the tents of Kedar. They are old and patched, for they are
dwellings of the lowly—modest dwellings. Yet the poor and the
humble are also children of their Father in heaven and they seek
H is nearness, for He w ill raise them up and in H is glory they will
delight. May it be T hy will, our Father in heaven, to cause Thy
glory to dwell in the tents of Cush. Amen.8
Lisitsky’s agreement with this sentiment is obvious from the
title of his book in which he celebrated the spirit of this suffer­
ing black people. They had now been given spiritual expression
in the sacred-secular, old-new Hebrew language, watershed of
western civilization.
The Indian, the WASP, and the Negro motifs combined to
s
ibid.,
p. 13.