Chapter Seventeen - Henrietta and Finalia
Translation Copyright 2001 by Morris Rosenthal
Translations from Hebrew
Copyright 2001 by Morris Rosenthal
All Rights Reserved
A Righteous Love
By Sarah Faiga Menkin - Published in Hebrew in Vilna 1880
"What has been going on with you, Finalia, my dear friend." The speaker was an eighteen year old maiden, pretty and delicate, whose expensive clothes witnessed that she was a daughter of the wealthy class. She sat on the bench with Finalia. "What's been going on that your feet have been absent so long [Pr. 25:17] from our house, to the point I came to see you? It must be that your happiness, flying on the wings of hope, has taught you forget your beloved friend who you always called sister. But what is this? Why has your face fallen so? Have you become ill?"
Finalia looked into the face of the maiden whom the reader has certainly recognized as Henrietta Goldberg and she said, "My life and soul, my dear, you riddle with me today."
"Riddles?" asked the maiden, and amusement fleeted over her face. "Riddles, you say! Do my lips not speak clearly? The happiness that flies on the wings of hope, you will be dressed in pride and arrogance [Pr. 8:13] and distanced from your friend."
"Pray explain your words to me. I don't understand what happiness you are talking about."
"Isn't everybody saying that the minister Emanual Maranya is in love with you? I saw this myself on the evening of the ball, that he honored you more than any of the other maidens who were invited."
"Were you at the ball?"
"No! But I stood in the street in front of the window, and I could watch as if I were in the house. Therefore, don't hide from me [Jer. 38:14], but cheer the soul of your friend. I see you, my dear friend, as the happiest in the world, because it will happen for you."
"Believe, my dear Henrietta, your assumption is flawed."
"If I believe you, than I will have to say that you treat him with contempt. I ask you, could you find in the whole world a man more honorable and lofty than he?"
"I have found one," Finalia said forcefully, in order to put an end to the conversation she thought burdensome, and she blushed a little.
"If that's the case, my dear, forgive me that I have distressed you. Now tell me everything, and why your countenance has fallen so."
"Believe me, my dear, that this isn't what steals the joy from my face. Rather it's the events that have occurred and will come to pass on my father's house."
"And what is this?" Henrietta asked.
"You don't know about it?"
So she told her all that had befallen them, and the kindness of the minister to them. That if it hadn't been for the minister, her father would already be cut off from the land of the living [Is. 53:8].
"If so, isn't it your obligation to repay him for all of the favors he has done for you?"
"This will never happen," said Finalia. "But tell me, my dear. Why are you also so downcast?"
"Have you not heard of my tragedy?"
"I didn't hear a thing. What is it?'
"My father has bound my with chains to the scum of the earth. Now imagine for yourself my depression when I recall that he will be the guide of my youth. Now I regret that when Yechidiel wanted me, I scorned him. The man my father has designated for me is inferior to Yechidiel, ten steps backwards [Is. 38:8]."
"Pray don't, my dear. Don't say this," said Finalia. "That man Yechidiel gathers his fists [Pr. 30:4] full of the wicked of the land. If he opened his hand and tossed out just a smidgen of them on a city or family, then everyone there would be struck with terrible boils [Job. 2:7] from the soles of their feet to their heads, and they wouldn't be quickly healed."
"How do you know this?"
"How do I know? The disaster that your father has prepared for you comes from him, from the hands of Yechidiel."
The maiden screamed and jumped up from her place. "God in heaven, from Yechidiel? Tell me, how do you know this."
"Verily he told your father that he saw you walking with a youth, one of the young men of Milano. Your father was very frightened and he decided to put an end to your straying."
"My God! My God!" screamed the maiden, "How great is the evil of man."
"He has done even more," said Finalia. "He has made friends with the wicked, and they gather together about the house of my father. What do you say about that?"
"What do I say? I will call all of the Galicians robbers and murders. It is a terrible thing, very bad. Listen now, my dear Finalia, to the thoughts of my heart. The Lord has sorely chastised me [Ps. 118:18] that I am tied to a fool. For now I will do as my father commands, and I will go like a tame sheep to the slaughter, but not for many days will I be held by these insubstantial bonds. I will be free! I will be free forever! Heaven will be my witness [Ps. 89:38] that I am guiltless in the matter, and I won't be made to stand before the throne of judgement because my soul is deserving and pure. But those who lay affliction on their children, they will be forced to go in the shadows. They will serve strange new gods and draw near to them. The will rebel against the true God, and their children will also rebel after them. Therefore they will be forced to seek the wandering, to gather the scattered." So spoke Henrietta, and her face reddened like scarlet, to the point where Finalia became frightened.
"What is happening to you, my dear," she said. "Think about your meditation [Ps. 5:2]. Why does your anger burn like fire? Speak to the Lord about what evil you have found in him. Did He withhold from you favor, a handsome and rare soul with a pure heart, also riches and happiness. But it has almost overtaken you, you are frightened, and you thought to give a prayer to God in heaven. I will not believe that you have spoken these words."
"Will you speak thusly, Finalia? Will your mouth say such words to me as, pray think it over. They will steal my freedom from me. How hard will a man fight for independence and freedom? How many lives are lost in the cause of freedom, and how many suffer uncountable evils just for freedom? How can you say that it has almost overtaken me and I am frightened? But we won't speak further about this. Make your preparations for my wedding day, which will be in another two weeks. Don't refuse me. You will come to be happy with me or to console [Job. 2:11] me for my tragedy, and that kindness will never be forgotten." In love, but not in gladness, each woman took leave of her friend. Henrietta returned sad hearted to her father's house, and Finalia remained in her room depressed.