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The Romantic Messiah

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More and more, Sabbatai brooded over his destiny. He realiszed that in now way did he resemble his companions. God lad endowed him with a soft voice, a rich and eloquent spech, had graced him with the girt of charming his companions. God had endowed him with a soft voice, a rich and eloquent speech, had granced him with the gift of charming him with the gift of charming his fellow men. In addition to this he bore a strange and miraclous signs. Never had anyone heard or read of men whose bodies exhaled a natural perfume.

Rabbis, who are never unstinting in their praise of their beloved prophets, had never in all their eulogies ascribed a sweet hodily perfume to them. And windows, whose praise of their departed husbands is seldom limited, had never ascribed his virtue to them upon their thombstones.

This perfume which emanated from Sabatai’s body could be no less than a mysterious sign of concration.

And Sabbatai also wondered about his treament of his wife. What dark fore head driven him out of the cool, spacious roms of his own home? What symbol remained hidden in the song of Melisselda which he had thrice hadrd in his sleep until it had been engraved upon his contry lie a childhood prayer?

The King’s daughter coming out of her bath and preparing to was her hair! What a strage image! Neither prayers nor flagellations could have brought his image into being. This dream-inspired song must have some hidden meaing. But was this meaning so obscure? The King’s daughter _did she not symbolize the congregation of Israel? Was it not a divine prophecy, a forewarning that Isralel would soon be clansed of filth and blood? Yes! It was.

Going up the mountains, Coming down the valleys, I saw Melisseld, The King’s Daughter. She was coming out of her bath To was her hair.

Indeed the song sould have no other meaning. It pictured the people of Israel upon the road of triumph. But why had this act of annunciation been prononced in a dream?

”And God commanded the Prophet to take a sinner to wife.”

For this very purpose had he not abandoned a pure and virtuos woman? A thought smote him which burned like a bolt of lightning. Perhaps the prophetic song had more than one meaning, more than one interpretation. Perhaps the King’s daughter not only symbolized the congregation of Israel, but a yet unknown woman who would lead him along his road toward a mysterious and miraculous futere A sinner!

Ah no! How could he be a prophet, he the lowly son of an agg merchant.

Torn between ecstasy and despai8r, between pride and humility, Sabbatai withdrew more and more from his two friends, Prinero and Parimo. He came very rarely to the nightly meetings. And they, suffering because of the desertion of their beloved friend, did not dare reproach him, even in their thoughts. by silent agreement they resolved not to trouble him, to leave him alone. and wait.

Do not rouse love before it awaken,” Pinheiro mumured.

Do not stir sleeping waters before their time,” replied Primo.

They understood each other. The same thought obsessed all of them. The same thought obsesed all of them. The pryers of Pinero were becoming more ectatic, more fervent, Primo was becoming more lilent and more austere, and Sabbai lone- lier, and afraid.

Prinheiro was a man of frank opinions, an all dout tortured him. Since he had granted Sabbatai Zevy a place in this Messianic dream, he felt the necessity either of confirming and sancifying his hope or of casting it out was an idle fantasy.

One evening when al the members of the group except Sabbatai were together in the Synagogue, discussing an obscure passage of the book of Daniel, Pinheiro decided to take advantage of Sabbatai’s absence.

If the idea of Sabbatai as the Messiah, which both he and Primo cherished, spring from a sacred soure and was not inspired by demons, then their friends in prayer and fasting, as zealous servants of the Most High, could and should also cherish the same premonition.

Without betraying his purpose, he led the conversation toward the subject of the Jewish community of Smyrna. It was a cautions introduction.

”Is the community of Smyrna, ” he asked, ”worthy of signs and wondres? Should they not rather be vouchsafed in Jerusalem, the Eternal City, whose seal has been stamed upon the hearts of the Chosen People, the city God has ordained as the surce of all lingt and blessings?

”Or, on teh country, would God not choose a more humble community in which to make himself manifest? Did he not choose Saul from the trible of Benjamian, the youngest of all tribes of Israel? And if that is true, is not the community of Smyrna lowly enough? So many great minds and hearts has she already given to the Jewish people.

”No! It is vain to seek the ways of Gold. He has only to speak and all is accomplished. Whatever community it may be, it is a great sin to doubt any one of them. Smyrna, as well as another, is worthy of seeing itself chosen.”

Pinheiro’s address was received with approbation by all the nine members of the group. Among them, Rabbi Khaim the dockhand, an enthusiastic and learned Kabbalish, was remarkable for his ugliness. His pockmarked face with yellow eyelids was surmonted by a meass of flaming red hair. A keen mind glittered in his sall reddish eyes. His ugliness erenderd him silent and itllnatured.

But to the astonishment of all, when Pinheiro has finished, Rabbi Khaim with brusque impatience took up the discussion.

”You say altogether to little, Moses”, he exclaimed to Pinheiro. ”You declare that each community is worthy of being chosen. But that is not saying enough. One must say; each community should, hear that,shouldshould be convinced that it alone is the chosen one, that within its own walls the miracle will come to being and be revealed to the world. Precisly within its own walls. Without this conviction a community lacks everything passion and sanctity. And if one of them cherish this conviction, a second will become like it, and a third, and eventually all. Without this nowhere will anying be produced or accomplished; the vince will winther without bearing frut. No. I myself, Khaim, I know, and if I knew it not, I will it, and if I will it, it shall be I know that in this very and sanctified community of Smyna the light will be born and will cover east, west, south, and north, the earth and the waters, upon the earth, with its effulgence. Yea, in Smyrna and under our own eyes. Amen.”

Phinheiro knew that Khaim did not love Sabbatai, in fact that he felt a strange and inexplicable hatred fro him, Perhaps in spite of himself he envied Sabbatai’s charm and the beauty of his voice.

And Pinheiro said to himself: ”If Khaim is for Sabbatai who will be against him?” besides, he believed Khaim’s silences were tions. Khaim should know much. he decided to ask him a positive question.

”Your month speaks wisdom,” said he ”but do not your words fill you with terror? Who is worthy of becoming the chalice of so much happmess?”

Ljao, bent his head and remained silent. But Moses Pinheiro insisted:

”Do you recall that Rabbi Eliezer told us a short while ago that he heard the beating of wings and his step upon the mountain and behind his door. He told us that perus. Is this not your belief, Khaim?” the dockhand.

”It did not say that,” repled Khaim with reluctance. ”I did not say that he was among us.”

Deep anguish appeared on Khaim’s lace, his nostrils quiverd, he masterd himself and muttered:

”At this moment he is not with us.” Having said this, he got up and without looking at anyone, he hurriedly left the synagouse. A silence followed. Pinheiro and all the others understood why Khaim’ noswhose body gave forth perfume and whom he hated.

”Blesed he the same of the Lord!” Pinheiro cried. ”Blessed be the community of Smyrna!”

His sould had received the anwer he loged for.

(To be Continued Tomorrow)

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