Some of the legends made a strong appeal to my mind and impressed themselves on my memory, but it was only in later years-in my Liberal phase-that I grasped their full humanitarian import. Commenting on the Biblical account of the creation of Adam, the Talmud declares: “ God created Adam; He did not create a Jew, or Egyptian, or Greek, or
Roman: He just created Adam, that is, a man, a human being, and He took the bits of clay thereto from all the four comers of the earth, so that man should feel everywhere at home.” Or another legend from the Midrash, an old Talmudic commentary on the Bible: “When the children of Israel went out of Egypt and passed unscathed through the Red Sea, the Egyptians pursued them, but the waves returned and beat over their heads, and the Egyptians perished in the Red Sea. Then the children of Israel sang a song of praise to the Lord, their deliverer; and the angels looked down from the heavens and rejoiced also; but when they looked up to the Lord they were filled with wonder at His sight, for the Lord was shedding tears. And the angels asked Him why he was so sad, and the Lord replied, How can I rejoice when so many of my creatures perished in the sea?” I could have gone on for ever reading and selecting those legends, which, however, my teachers skipped as secondary matter or dis turbing digressions from the main theme. More and more I took refuge in the Prophets and Jewish
mystics, and intermittently in ardent prayer, which on two occasions-at the opening of the Ark of the Law on the eve of New Year and Day of Atonement-flamed up with an intense glow, dissolving my whole being into an ethereal, radiant stream, which seemed to pass through my expanding heart and merge in the fulness of All. My perennial feeling of loneliness and transience vanished, as if it had never been. Though the spiritual elation lasted only for moments, the afterglow kept me joyful during all these three holy days.