Nehemyah

An exclusive English translation of the 2020 Sapir Prize-shortlisted novel about a man's search for the reputed messiah Sabbatai Tzvi.

Nehemyah Cohen is a renowned talmid chochem, a trickster and a sworn wanderer. With six fingers in his one hand, a serious desire for books and a dubious moral backbone, he goes on a journey, to the messiah who has recently appeared and is soon to fall: Sabbatai Zevi.

Nehemyah invites readers to one of the most turbulent periods in Jewish history, 17th century Eastern Europe, not through the point of view of its most well-known protagonists but through a myriad of marginal characters: talmid chochems, burglars, miraculously healed people, wandering groups of actors, Jewish, Muslim and Christian visionaries and dreamers, who join Nehemyah on his journey by foot, wagons and rickety ships in Europe’s vast landscapes, from Poland to Constantinople.

 

At the exact moment the midwife grabbed hold of the newborn’s feet, the sun reached a point in the sky from which its light struck the row of burnished pans hanging on the wall and reflected back on the white sheets. The house was filled with a bright glow. The midwife squinted against the brightness; when she opened them again she was so startled she shrieked and plopped the newborn on the bed. “In the name of God and all the spirits,” the midwife panted, “the boy has six fingers.” Pesili, the mother, was roused from her stupor. She blinked and looked from the crying baby on her bed to the midwife. She reached toward the child, held him in her lap and counted the fingers of his left hand twice. Then, she embraced him.

The times were good to the children of Jacob: the goys were at each other’s throats, but for the Jews war was just a distant murmur. The world of Torah flourished across Poland. Every village opened a beit midrash and the more affluent towns even had a kloyz where the brightest scholars met to wave their fingers at each other over the minutiae of Jewish lore. The father of the boy, Rabbi Gavriel Cohen, had neither learning nor pedigree: his own mother and father were apple vendors in Gliniany, as were their parents before them; even his great grandfather sold apples. However, the head of the kloyz cared little for merit or ancestry and took in Rabbi Gavriel out of pity and gave him a seat among the great sages and scholars. Though they were getting old — Rabbi Gavriel’s beard was streaked with grey and Pesili’s knees were touched with rheumatism — God blessed them with progeny. “Nothing to worry about. What’s an extra finger?” Pesili said to her husband. And yet, they worried.

In the neighboring town of Polonnoye there was a great kabbalist, Rabbi Shimshon of Ostropoli. Day and night he sat facing the corner of his house, they said, and devoted himself to the Torah with great zeal. No one dared disturb Rabbi Shimshon in his studies. But Rabbi Gavriel and Pesili were not just anyone: Sime, Rabbi Shimshon’s barren wife, was Pesili’s only sister. Rabbi Gavriel, his face stiff, took the first wagon to Polonnoye where he found Rabbi Shimshon wearing tallis and tefillin rocking back and forth over a book, his eyes glazed over in rapture. It took an hour for Rabbi Gavriel to muster the courage to interrupt the rabbi’s meditations and tell him of his plight. Rabbi Shimshon thought and pondered and then turned and started taking books off the shelves. He listed the names of the good angels and balanced them against the bad, then queried, examined and cross-examined every name from every angle; he recited holy verses and turned them on their heads, calculated the numerical value of each letter and reversed it, intoned the names of God and transposed them. Finally, he raised his head and said: “There’s a solution. The great sage, the divine kabbalist, the most ancient Rabbi Eliyahu of Chelm will return tonight to his home after a long journey. Go to Chelm, find him, ask him to be the mohel at your son’s bris and redemption will come.”

Rabbi Gavriel did not waste any time: he thanked Rabbi Shimshon, stepped out, climbed unto a wagon and headed straight to Chelm. Just like Rabbi Shimshon had said, he found the aged kabbalist in his home, shoes still dusty from the road. Rabbi Eliyahu listened to Rabbi Gavriel’s story and promised to go to Gliniany in eight days to officiate at the boy’s bris.

 

For eight days, Pesili and Rabbi Gavriel neither slept nor ate. Pesili fretted over the baby all day long, made faces at him the way mothers do, fondling his fingers, counting and recounting them and blowing her nose. After a while she began to like him. His cheeks were very chubby and his forehead would sometimes grow a delightful furrow, as if some unfathomable problem had occurred to him. She showered him with kisses and tears, and then cried and kissed him some more. Meanwhile, Rabbi Gavriel went about the village with his eyes fixed on the ground. The people of Gliniany treated him as they would a bereaved man: they offered him brief condolences when he came along and clucked their tongues behind his back after he had gone; they brought food to his home: hardboiled eggs and lentils, the food of grief.

On the night before the bris, Rabbi Shimshon and Sime arrived but there was no trace of Rabbi Eliyahu. After the Maariv prayer at the synagogue, Gavriel invited the village children to come to his home and say shma at the baby’s crib; they waited for two long hours but the children, who were terrified of evil spirits, never came. Rabbi Gavriel, Rabbi Shimshon, Pesili and Sime recited the prayer themselves.

Pesili went to bed with a bitter heart, Sime went to bed with a jealous one; Rabbi Shimshon read, rocking over his book, until he fell asleep standing up, his heart full of God’s names; only Rabbi Gavriel didn’t sleep at all and stood all night over the baby’s crib, reading aloud the Kfar Tarsha portion from the holy Zohar to ward off demons.

The next morning, Rabbi Gavriel walked silently through the dark streets with his kabbalist brother-in-law with nothing on his mind but the kugel that will be served at the reception. When they entered the synagogue, who did they see if not Rabbi Eliyahu ba’al shem of Chelm and his servant boy, holding in his arms an eight-days-old baby. Rabbi Gavriel ran up to the ancient sage. “Your son was swapped by the devil,” the sage said. “This is your real son, and today we will enter him into the covenant of Abraham our father. Mazel Tov.”

What had happened was as follows. When the rabbi arrived at the outskirts of Gliniyani the previous evening, he came upon one-hundred-thousand witches, men and women, fire shooting from their mouths and flames dancing around them, and in their midst was an innocent baby boy. The rabbi immediately grabbed his bag and took out seven knives, seven sticks of wood, seven shoes and two loaves of bread. He stuck one knife in each shoe, then took off his own shoes and asked his boy to pour some water on his hands and washed them twice. Then he pressed the thumb of his right hand against the pinky of his left and said: By the glory and power of the holy and mighty Name, with no harm to the babe, I hereby reverse the spell of these men and women,

Baruch shem k’vod malchuto l’olam va-ed, u-l’olamei ad shem zichro baruch hu ve-baruch shemo la-ad, Blessed be His Name, Whose Glorious Kingdom is for ever and ever, for ever and ever is His Name blessed.

The witches immediately perished and Rabbi Eliyahu ba’al shem returned the baby to his mother and father in Gliniyani.

Shaking, Rabbi Gavriel gingerly took the child, held him close and whispered, “My son, my son.” Fearful thoughts coursed through his heart, but they fizzled and evaporated by the time Pesili arrived with her son in her arms, making funny faces at him the way mothers do. Beaming, Rabbi Gavriel presented Pesili with their real child.

“Who’s that there?” Pesili frowned. But Rabbi Eliyahu ba’al shem came up to her and intoned the holy name,

SHAMSHAYAHU

Suddenly, it was as plain as day that what Pesili was holding to her bosom was nothing but a lump of hay and mud. Pesili dropped the dirty lump and took the living boy from Rabbi Gavriel.

The baby furrowed his brow at her. Pesili looked at him closely and was gripped by a strange, unnamable sensation. The boy blinked and cried. Pesili said, “I’ll nurse him and then we’ll enter him in the covenant of Abraham our father.” She went into the little chamber behind the Torah ark to nurse. She kissed and fondled the child, who latched on to her bosom tightly. A hint of perplexity lingered in Pesili’s eyes as she wiped a smudge off from the baby’s ear with her pinky. When she felt for the five fingers of his left hand, one after the other, she sighed in relief. When Sime came to tell her the family was waiting, Pesili asked for a few more minutes so she could also ease the fullness of her left breast.

The guests were milling outside, waiting, when a piercing scream sounded from the little chamber, followed by the loud cries of the baby. When they charged inside, Pesili was wailing, “Right, left, what do I care,” she wailed. “Give me back my baby, the one I had before.” It turned out that Pesili had discovered, after moving the baby from her right breast to her left, that the extra finger hadn’t vanished when the baby was rescued from the evil spirits, but just moved to the baby’s right hand.

Rabbi Eliyahu ba’al shem was confounded, Rabbi Shimshon of Ostropoli was also confounded and so was Rabbi Gavriel, while Pesili was on the brink of a nervous breakdown. No one knew what to do. Finally, Rabbi Gavriel stood up, faced the crowd and said, “For many years we have been praying for viable seed. Now, it has been given us. We will bring this child into Abraham’s fold and will raise him to a life of Torah, marriage and good deeds. Rabbi Shimshon will be the godfather, Rabbi Eliyahu will be the mohel.”

Everyone took their places. The newborn was named Nehemyah, since, as Rabbi Shimshon said, Nehemyah was equal to the sum of the name of God with the word Elohim plus one. In his numbers system, Rabbi Shimshon said, giving Rabbi Eliyahu a sidelong glance, you can always add or subtract one with no harm done to anyone. Being generally guileless, not quick-witted and having a lot on his mind to boot, Rabbi Gavriel did not notice the hidden edge of the rabbi’s words, but Rabbi Eliyahu understood the insult and said nothing.

*

And the child Nehemyah grew on and was in favor both with God and with men. He was smart, talkative and limber. His eyes were quick and intelligent and his hands unusually skillful, as if the extra finger made them nimbler. Whatever doubts remained in Pesili’s mind were driven out by her newfound happiness. Still, every once in a while, when the boy made some wisecrack well beyond his years, Pesili’s face clouded with misgivings.

Pesili had recuperated from her ordeal, but her husband had not. Rabbi Gavriel, who had always been a simple, trusting man, first to arrive at the synagogue for prayer, was changed. Sleep evaded him and he would spend days and nights in a mute, half-waking state until he would collapse for a few hours just before dawn. He could no longer find the strength to go to the kloyz and sway over the gemora, and so he left to sell apples in the market of Gliniany like his ancestors before him. Slowly, the Torah faded in his mind and the Talmud drew out of his reach. For a while he tried to just read a little of the Chumash every night, but after a verse or two the letters would start dancing in front of his eyes.

Evil rumors spread. People said that it wasn’t just Gavriel’s son, his sleep and his studies that were plagued by demons, but his apples, too. Business dwindled, until finally Rabbi Gavriel, Pesili and young Nehemyah were forced to leave Gliniyani and moved to a small shack east of Polonnoye, not far from the famous mark on the ground where the Jesuit church had stood until it sank into the earth when the great Maharsha rabbi died.

The Polonnoye market was bigger than Gliniyani’s and bustling with goys, and Rabbi Gavriel made a good business buying apples in the village for cheap and selling them at a markup in the city. He slept only once a week, every Thursday, when he would go to his brother-in-law, Rabbi Shimshon. He and two scholars, Rabbi Yakov Koppel Zaslaver and Rabbi Yitzhak the nephew of Rabbi Yechiel Michel of Nemirov, would listen as the kabbalist of Ostropoli recited a page from the Zohar. When Rabbi Yakov Koppel and Rabbi Yitzhak left, their faces were lit like coals, but Rabbi Gavriel would stay behind, asleep in his chair, his face resting on his beard. Rabbi Shimshon was glad he had that gift to give to his poor brother-in-law.

While Rabbi Gavriel’s learning was fading away, a flame was burning in his son. Young Nehemyah poured over the gemorah and poskim, The Mordechai and The Shulchan Aruch; before the evening prayers he would peruse the Holy Zohar and whenever he could find a study partner, they would debate each other in the tradition of the pilpul. Shining, wonderful, exquisite truth was what Nehemyah sought, and he wanted to imbibe it straight from the mouths that spoke it. Though he wasn’t of age yet he went to take the entrance exam for the yeshiva of Rabbi Yoel Sirkis, the author of the Bayit Chadash, commonly known as the Bach. He studied until he was fit to burst. The yeshiva was in Krakow, and when Nehemyah jumped off the wagon of the milkman, in whose hands his mother had entrusted him, he stood amazed, brushing the six fingers of his right hand over his hairless chin.

The examination was brief and brutal. Afterwards, the youngest of the staff, Rabbi Shabse Katz, the author of Siftei Kohen, commonly known as the Shakh, showed Nehemyah to the door and told him to wait for the milkman in the synagogue outside. Nehemyah sat on an empty bench and stared in disdain at the Torah ark.

A beggar with long sidelocks approached him, but Nehemyah flicked him away like a bothersome fly. Undeterred, the beggar asked, “Rejected?”. Nehemyah nodded, his eyes narrow. “You came to be examined by the Bach?” the beggar said. “Who do you think you are?” he threw his head back and roared in mirthless laughter.

Nehemyah lowered his eyes and looked at his hands: right, left, and right again. He stood and pushed the beggar away. The beggar stumbled and his coins fell clinking on the floor. Nehemyah ran out like a bolt of lightning, away from the Jewish ghetto, away from the worried milkman and from glorious Krakow and jumped in the back of a hay wagon headed home to Polonnoye.

**
5408 was the year of Chmiel, may his name be blotted out, a time of troubles for the people of Israel in Poland, Volhynia and Ukraine. Nehemyah was still warming the back benches in the great synagogue of Polonnoye, evading matchmakers and learning Torah. An abscess of pride was swelling within him: his plan was to delve into his books until he was ready to go back to Krakow and retake the exams, this time with the Shakh, as the Bach had passed away in the intervening years. But after the holiday of Shvuos, haggard Jews started coming in from the east, bearing terrible news of Ukrainian hordes who destroyed everything and killed everyone in their path, and of the Tatars who followed them, raping and pillaging whatever was left.

It was in the great synagogue, along with three hundred others, including Nehemyah’s uncle, Rabbi Shimshon, may God avenge his blood, that Rabbi Gavriel, wearing his tefillin and tallis, was murdered by the Tatars. It was in her kitchen, while she was cooking tzimmes, that Nehemyah’s mother Pesili was killed, may the memory of the righteous and holy be a blessing for the life of the world to come.

Nehemyah was hiding in the yard when a large black Cossack dog passed by and noticed him. The dog tilted its head to the right in curiosity and Nehemyah tilted his head to the left in response. The dog understood, winked at Nehemyah with its wise eyes, trotted to the other end of the yard and barked loudly. A goy came by to see what the ruckus was about and Nehemyah used the opportunity to sneak out and flee to the woods.

Like an animal, he wandered the wilds, picking roots and berries, believing himself to be the last remaining Jew in the entire world. After a day or two the meagre remainder of the once glorious Jewish community of Polonnoye began trickling into the woods. Nehemyah looked among them for familiar faces and after three days he found Sime, his aunt, Rabbi Shimshon’s widow. “Nehemyah,” Sime said and fell crying into his arms. Exhausted, she sat down on the ground and gestured at her womb. “Twenty years we’ve waited,” she finally managed to say.

Nehemyah and Sime decided to flee to Lemberg, a great fortified city; the marauders would never dare attack it, they thought. For three weeks, the two made their way west, taking sideroads and walking under the cover of darkness. They walked slowly, so as not to upset Sime’s growing womb; in daytime, they rested far from the road and on the Sabbath, they sheltered with merciful Jews they met along the way. But just as they reached Lemberg, the city shut its gates for fear of the approaching Tatar army.

It was the first rain in the month of Elul, and Nehemyah and his pregnant aunt ran in the mud alongside the city’s walls as the dark shadow of the Tatar cavalry in the distance drew nearer and nearer. Exhausted, Sime stopped and threw up by the river next to a ramshackle hut. The hut belonged to a tax collector, a righteous goy. He beckoned from his window and took them into his home. He fed them and sheltered them for long months. It was there that Sime gave birth and where shortly after she joined her ancestors.

The siege showed no signs of abetting, but the newborn had to be nursed. Seized with courage, Nehemyah asked the goy for the clothes of his son, who was a junior monk. He shaved his head, took the baby and got on a wagon that went across the front line. They arrived safely at a small village, far from the war, where it was said that the goys protected the Jews from the cruel legions of Chmiel.

When he and the uncircumcised orphan arrived at Komarno, Nehemyah was twenty years old. Twenty, the age when the sages say a man is supposed to pursue his calling. Many refugees came to the village, sleeping in the synagogue and eating what the Jewish community had to give them. Every morning, Fruma, the miller’s daughter, a slender, righteous girl, brought the survivors hot soup, murmuring in consolation that Chmiel stood for Coming Hither Messiah to Israel Ere Long. When she saw the young monk coming in through the synagogue’s doors with a baby in his arms, she said, a tiny baby like you should have milk, not soup. She held the baby and would not let it go. I’ll take you to my mother’s house, she said. She looked up at Nehemyah, who lowered his eyes and looked at his hands: right, left, and right again. He raised his eyes, took off his monk’s cloak and followed Fruma.

1.

“We’ll just be a minute,” Nehemyah shouted. The skies overhead were gray and a bothersome rain drizzled while Nehemyah and his cousin Shiml bent down in the field. The rain made the nettles wet and drenched the passengers waiting in the wagon on the side of the road to Lemberg. Nehemyah stood up, pulled the muddy glove off his right hand, ran his six fingers through his beard and observed the three full sacks with satisfaction. Berl ,the wagon driver, swore loudly. “Let’s go,” he said and nodded at the passengers behind him. “I’m supposed to bring this holy scion here to his tate.”

The holy scion, Rabbi Yeshaia Mokhiah, the rabbi of Komarno, threw an impatient look at Nehemyah. His long-faced wife rearranged the wool blanket over the legs of their five children, who were staring wide-eyed at Nehemyah and Shiml.

The youngest sniveled. “I don’t want to dress up as Mordkhe,” he whined, “I want Haman!” He shook the blanket off and threw his cap at his father.

Rabbi Yeshaia took the boy and rocked him on his knee. “Come, come, Velvele,” he said, “Haman was an evil man, he wanted to kill all the Jews just like Chmiel, may his name be blotted out, just like Pharaoh. You want to be bad and to be hanged from a tree?”

“Yes, bad,” the boy cried and stomped his feet, “I want bad and a tree.”

The rabbi put the boy back in his seat and told Berl, “This is too much, let’s go.” “Come on!” Berl yelled at Nehemyah, who was loading the sacks on the wagon. Shiml climbed on top and helped his uncle up. The nag, smelling the fresh nettles, snorted and turned its head away.

Rabbi Yeshaia Mokhiah Segal was the son of the rabbi of Inner Lemberg, the greatest living rabbi left in Poland after the horrors of Chmiel. His fame was due to his book, the Turei Zahav: just as it was known that no Jew could walk four cubits without the Shulchan Aruch, so it was agreed that without the Turei Zahav no Jew could even begin to grasp the Shulchan Aruch itself. He also had pedigree on his mother’s side: his mother’s father was the very same Bach of Krakow. But Rabbi Yeshaia’s stature was not just thanks to his ancestors, as he had become famous for his chastising sermons, which earned him his epithet: Mokhiah, the chastiser. But whenever he faced Nehemyah, Rabbi Yeshaia would invariably get bewildered and tongue-tied.

Berl smacked his lips and pulled the reins. The wagon rolled on and the grey fields receded into the distance. It was not long before they reached the first Jewish homes on the outskirts of Lemberg, and then the bustling streets, the rivulets of filth and the busy market of the Jewish neighborhood itself.

“This is as far as I go,” Berl said and spat on the ground. “For Inner Lemberg, you’ll have to walk.”

“Can’t you take us to my father’s house? It’s just a few minutes away,” Rabbi Yeshaia said.

“If that’s what you want, sure, but first I have to go get a drink,” Berl answered and walked off.

“Let’s wait,” the rabbi’s wife said. “Velvele’s asleep and it’s not raining anymore.” She hugged the sleeping boy and sat up in her seat. Her suspicious eyes settled on Nehemyah. He looked away, nodded at Shiml, who jumped off and slunk away to an alley.

The wagon was standing on the side of the marketplace: a potbellied Jew was cracking open a gourd at a stall while three heavy women were badgering him; hobbled chickens waddled and fell; two Jews were squabbling, their fingers raised in each other’s face; a light-haired girl was picking up apples that had fallen from her basket, snatching them away from a greedy goat.

Nehemyah slowly climbed down the wagon, unloaded the sacks, and then went and stood in the center of the marketplace. He cleared his throat. Cries sounded: “It’s Nehemyah ba’al shem, Nehemyah the miracle worker is here.” From his seat on the wagon, Rabbi Yeshaia looked in perplexity as a crowd gathered around Nehemyah.

Nehemyah began speaking in a sing-song voice: “The year of redemption is at hand, the year of redemption is at hand. Messiah is in Constantinople, but my sons, where are they? Cheating, gossiping, fornicating with goys. Messiah is at the door and my sons do not repent. Tear your clothes! Put on sackcloth and sit in ashes! Pray and beg for mercy! Messiah is come!”

The three heavy women left the gourd-man and joined the growing circle around Nehemyah; the two quarrelers also stopped to listen.

Nehemyah continued: “The greatest sages in the world, the Ramban, the Holy Ari, the Maharsha may his memory protect us, Rabbi Eliyahu ba’al shem may the memory of the righteous be a blessing, all of them had tried-and-true charms for salvation.

“Hear me and listen: Rabbi Eliyahu had in his possession a notebook. The notebook was saved by a Jew during the terrors and it found its way to me. And this is what the notebook of Rabbi Eliyahu says: Put a nettle on your skin, between the cloth and the flesh, and say the Hodu la-Shem five times, five times say it, and the nettle will cleanse your soul when our Messiah, Shabsai Tzvi, comes.”

Shiml broke through the crowd to the front and said, “But Rabbi Nehemyah, we want to be saved, we say the tehillim night and day, but where would we find nettles? You can’t find one nettle in all of Lemberg! What will become of our souls?”
The crowd grew larger, the goat stopped chewing on the apples and tilted its head to listen.

“No nettles?” Nehemyah said in disbelief.

Shiml continued, crying: “Oy vey, rabbi, what will become of us when Messiah comes and we have no nettles? The pious picked the fields clean and now there’s none left for us.” Shiml fell on his knees, weeping.

Nehemyah smiled at him. He was proud of his cousin. But his stomach clenched in shame thinking of the boy’s martyred father.

“Don’t worry, my Jewish brother,” Nehemyah said and glanced quickly at the wagon. “I have just arrived from Komarno and it just so happens that I have a few little bunches; not a lot, just two or three small handfuls of nettles that I picked for my own use.”

“How much?” Shiml stood up and said, hope shining in his eyes.

“Two groschen, my friend. Put the nettles under your shirt, say Hodu la-Shem five times and your soul will be clean and bright for our King Messiah.”

Even the birds were silent as all eyes followed Shiml. He drew two groschen out of his pocket and put it timidly in Nehemyah’s open palm. Even the fowl stood still as Nehemyah took the coins, reached into the sack, pulled out a bunch of nettles and carefully laid it in Shiml’s hands.

Somewhere in the distance an ox roared.

The spell was broken. The crowds thronged Nehemyah like alley cats over a tray of leftovers; crying women and boys, young girls and old men enveloped him in a flurry of mud, hands, coins and adoration.

Out of the corner of his eye Nehemyah saw Rabbi Yeshaia staring in horror; the rabbi’s wife and their five children were standing up in their seats to get a better look. The eldest was staring in fascination with her finger up her nose. Rabbi Yeshaia’s wife glanced at her daughter and pulled her finger out with a deft motion. She redirected her ice-cold eyes at the spectacle.

His pockets full of coins, Nehemyah started making his way back to the wagon through the crowd, shouting as he walked: “And if anyone here is worried about having thalers with crosses on them when Messiah comes, your concern is completely justified. If you wish, I can exchange them for five groschen a piece, five groschen a piece. It’s worth it, trust me.”

Nehemyah quickly collected the silver thalers and handed out groschen before jumping into the wagon. Berl stepped out of the tavern and took the reins. “The rabbi’s house in Old Lemberg, by the Golden Rose, right?” he said, reeking of schnapps.

“Yes,” Rabbi Yeshaia confirmed.

Shiml reappeared, jumped onto the back of the wagon, straightened his coat, whistled happily and beamed at Nehemyah, who patted his knee and started counting the day’s earnings.

“And you, Rabbi Nehemyah?” Berl shouted.

“We’re also going to the rabbi,” Nehemyah said. “I have a question I need to ask him.”

Berl raised the whip over the skinny nag’s back. As the wagon started moving, Rabbi Yeshaia shook his head, the shameful spectacle still alive in his mind. “Rabbi Nehemyah,” he finally said.

“Yes, rebbe,” Nehemyah said.

Rabbi Yeshaia didn’t know what to say. “Rabbi Nehemyah,” he said again, uncertainly.

“Is the boy still asleep, rebbe?”

Rabbi Yeshaia, nodded slowly and said, defeated, “Shma Yisroel.”

Nehemyah carefully folded the three empty sacks, laid them down on the bottom of the wagon and ran his six fingers through his beard. “The people of Israel, Rabbi Yeshaia,” he said. “The people of Israel want redemption. Messiah is come.”

 

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