Page 85 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 38

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7 5
around him. Again the view implied here is that man should
accept the world and share in its duties. And a Jew’s duty is to
study the T o rah and the sacred books. The same force tha t drove
the narra to r to Leipzig in the first place, i.e. the wish to study with
Rabbi Yonathan, is once again in operation , and it now puts an
end to his deathlike isolation and brings him back to the world of
the living.
Because o f the symbolic quality o f the story and in view o f the
fact that some o f its chapters appeared after World War II, one
gets the feeling tha t the period of World War I chosen by Agnon
is but a mask. He seems to be coming to terms in this work with the
finality o f his hometown’s destruction du r ing the Holocaust.
The four stories in
Lifnim Min Hahoma,
which for the ir most
par t have never been published, center around the theme of
wandering. I t is the forever wandering Jew that one meets in
Kissuy Hadam
(The Covering o f the Blood), in which the story
covers three continents: Europe, America, and Israel. In
(The Foot-Stool and the Th rone) the human soul is
pictured as wandering in heaven before en tering this world. And
Le’ahar Haseudah
(After the Meal) it is seen wandering back
towards heaven after life runs its course. Similarly, the first story
which gives the volume its name, tells about the n a r ra to r ’s wan­
derings within the walls o f the old city o f Jerusalem.
Kissuy Hadam
is o f special interest because it attempts to deal
openly with the problem o f the Holocaust. The story is recoun ted
by a hurdy-gurdy man with a wooden leg named Hillel, who walks
about with a pa r ro t and a monkey. He unfolds his life’s adven­
tures from the high point he reached when he was o rdained as a
rabbi down to his p resen t condition. He tells about his military
service du ring World War I; his stay du r ing World War II in
America where he worked as a shohet and lost his leg; and his
becoming the teacher of an elderly American Jew who helped
him go to Israel and also gave him a sum o f money with which to
help Holocaust survivors from the dono r ’s hometown in Europe.
It turns out to be a more difficult task than expected because
survivors are hard to come by. In Israel he meets Adolph the
sergeant with whom he served in the army and who once saved his
life. Adolph is seen walking with the hurdy-gurdy , the pa rro t and