Chapter Five - A Pact of Eternal Love
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's happened!" said the young man as he paced to the street lamp and examined his pocket watch. "What could have happened that she hasn't come yet? Could it have been a dream I dreamt? A dream that even when I wake I will be satisfied by her likeness [Ps. 17:15]. A dream that I will never wake from and forever continue in my slumber? If it isn't a dream, why hasn't she come yet? Is it possible for a maiden like her to lie?" As he spoke he examined his watch a second time, then said, "The hour is seven and I thought the midnight watch had already arrived. So time stretches out for a man who waits and feels hope kindled inside him, because all his inner being is focused on this point. Then the minutes seem like hours to him. But what if he fears that she was fabricating from the start? Can he hope even then? And if he hopes, that hope will consume his insides like a worm." So spoke the young man to his soul, and he paced about, looking off in every direction. At a distance she appeared to him as a black form, and thousands of thoughts rose all at once in his heart he as went forward with strong steps as. When the two of them met he stopped in his place and said in a quiet voice, "Finalia."
The surprised maiden stood in her place and examined the face of the speaker, then she cried, "Victor. I hadn't hoped to find you here because I was so late after the appointed time, but it's not my fault. What time does your watch say now?"
"Is it truly seven? Then I am a full hour late for our appointment."
"Don't fear my dear, you will bear no heavy sin for that. It is the nature of man that if he waits for something, it will afterwards be for him even more beloved and cherished."
Finalia looked at him with amusement, but also in complaint, and said, "Do you imagine that this is why I was late?"
"God forbid I should think so," said Victor, realizing he must weigh his words on a scale [Is. 40:12], "Didn't I say it only as a general principle? But from my great exultation I forgot to greet you properly. How are you, my dear?"
"I am well," she answered, "And how are you?"
"I'm fine," said Victor, "But I have no peace, because my heart and my tranquility were suddenly stolen from me as one. Yet I cannot make myself ask the robber to return her spoils to me."
"And if this robber returned the spoils that she stole, then the hero would be compelled to return the plunder he carried away," said the maiden, fixing her beautiful eyes on the speaker. Victor couldn't answer her, but gazed at her face enraptured by her great cleverness. So they walked and conversed until they arrived at a mansion with a tall tree planted before each window. Between every two trees was a wooden bench where the inhabitants of the house would refresh themselves during the summer.
"Be seated, my dear," said Victor, "The inhabitants of the house won't interrupt us."
Finalia sat down, and Victor sat himself near her. She set aside a little of the veil from her face to inhale the breeze, and she wiped a bit of perspiration from her forehead with a white kerchief. Victor lifted up his eyes and gazed at her, but he didn't say a thing. After a few minutes he broke the silence and said, "Please, dear, cheer me with your sweet words. Open your mouth and let your words give light [Ps. 119:130].
The maiden cast her eyes down to the earth and said, "When they wish to examine the power of a lodestone, those who investigate nature pass silver before it, but it doesn't attract. They pass gold before it, but it doesn't attract, nor sapphire does it pull toward itself. But when they pass iron and diamonds before it, then these investigators will know its strength. Only iron will it attract to itself. Not silver, gold, nor precious stones, so the wise investigators cannot use this means to separate between them."
Victor's face shone on hearing the wise heart of the maiden. He wanted to hug her in his arms, but he restrained himself and remained in his place, and he said, "Let me answer your hypothesis. The magnet doesn't attract silver or gold because they aren't of its kind, but iron and magnets are of the same substance, so when one meets the other, it will be quickly attracted and inseparable. But which of us is the magnet?"
"Do you have to ask?" said the maiden in complaint.
"Forgive me, gentle one," he said, "You are correct in your judgement."
"I will not forgive you," she said. When she looked at him she saw he was a little dismayed, so she went on, with a giggle, "I will not forgive you because I'm not angry at you."
Victor rose from his place and said, "Now, my dear, I can read your face like a book. Pray, listen to me. Let the two of us establish a pact, before the Lord. An eternal pact of love, that will not be broken nor forgotten to our last day. The good Lord will be our witness, and he will guide [Ps. 3:6] the generations to come."
Finalia rose from her place, and the two of them swore an oath before the Lord. A holy silence reigned between these two lovers, with neither of them wishing to break the sanctity of this moment. They stood gazing at each other, then Victor took Finalia's hand in his own right hand, and she sat back in her place.
"Tell me now, my dearest, who ventured to delay your arrival, and I will have my revenge from him."
"Behold, I will tell you, but not in order for you to take revenge, because it is hateful to me to take revenge even on a mortal enemy. Yesterday a Galacian Chassid came to us, and his name was Zevchiel the Matchmaker. He said to my father that a very rich man of the Galacian Hassidim desired me, but I said that I knew this man and despised him greatly. Today he came in person to speak with my father, and my father sent him to me. If only you could have seen my face when I was forced to talk with him. That was a bad hour that I won't forget for the rest of my life."
"And what did he say?"
"He laid before me a bag of money and said, 'Please be agreeable and take this from me.' 'And what will I do with it?' I asked. 'You find 5000 Liras here. Take it and do with it whatever you see fit.' 'And how can I take money from you for no reason?' I asked him. 'Please take it,' he said, 'And buy yourself the choicest jewels. Fasten them around your neck, and that will be my wages.' 'Presents are hateful to me,' I said, 'Therefore I can't accept anything from you.' He stood for a few moments and afterwards he said, 'Know that I intend to buy your love, only I don't know what it will cost. My fortune is very great and I will lay it all at your feet to do with as you please.' Then I grew angry at his foolishness, because he had come and stood to glorify himself in his riches. I answered him, 'Know that with milk you can hunt only mice.' 'I hope to hunt also doves,' he answered, and left."
"Why didn't you let yourself be persuaded by him?" asked Victor. "Isn't a great fortune like fortresses and towers [Is. 32:14] to those who posses it? From a distance I would have pleasure in seeing you adorned in sapphires and diamonds on the parapets."
"Victor!" cried the maiden in high feelings and pride. "Shall I compare the words of your mouth to the thoughts of your heart? Just a moment ago the two of us swore an oath in the name of the Lord, and I am certain your heart felt like mine. At that moment I felt in my breast a holy feeling, and I thought that it was an obligation for each of us to sacrifice his very life for the other on the altar of love. How can you cause my soul to languish without cause?"
The fastest artist's brush or writer's pen couldn't fully describe the glory of her face as she spoke. Her beauty is known to us, her intelligence and her fine speech added further splendor to this. The pleasant evening that cheered all bodies of the creation added further favor, and the purity of her heart and uprightness of her character completed her beauty, so she appeared as a daughter of the heavens.
Victor was taken aback by this vision and retreated, then said, "Forgive me, my dear, that I dared to say such words. You have spoken correctly, my dear. My life and my soul I would sacrifice on the altar of our love. You are my pure dove, a seal of perfection [Ez. 28:12]. Every beauty is portrayed [Ez. 23:14] in your face. May the Lord bring about the time that I can be satisfied by your image while waking as I have now in a dream. These moments have seemed to me as a dream, a vision of the night. In a little while we will part, so pray tell me what was the end of the matter with the Galacian."
"He went out from my presence, but didn't leave my father's house until seven o'clock. The whole time I was unable to leave the house, and that's why I was late for the appointment but not for the date," Finalia laughed. "But what time does your watch have now? I imagine it must have reached the ninth hour."
Victor laughed when he examined his watch and said, "You're a little off," and showed her.
"The time is midnight!" Finalia said looking at it, then she rose from her place. "Get up now, please, and we will go."
Victor got up and they walked to her father's house, and he said, "I request that on the Sabbath at three in the afternoon we will see each other again."
"Let it be as you say," she replied, and they parted.