A Tale of Wealth, Corruption, and Small-Town Jewish Mores

June 17 2016

In a short story by the great Hebrew author S.Y. Agnon, an unspecified member of the Rothschild family—proverbially wealthy Jewish bankers—finds himself in a small shtetl for the Sabbath. Here Rothschild (as he is called throughout) encounters “the Patron,” the head of the local Jewish community of whose own riches the townspeople are in awe. The following passage describes the Patron’s grand entrance into the synagogue during Friday-night prayers:

Rothschild saw that the sun had set yet no one had started reciting the prayers for welcoming the Sabbath. He looked at his watch, he looked at the window, and he looked at the schedule on the wall. Rothschild asked, “The time to welcome the Sabbath has arrived, why aren’t we reciting the prayers?” They responded, “We are waiting for the Patron to arrive in synagogue, for we do not pray until he arrives, but he’ll surely arrive soon, since the sexton has already gone to get him.”

As they were talking the door opened and in walked the sexton, who called out, “Sha-a-a!” informing one and all that the Patron was about to enter. Everyone answered, “The Patron is coming! The Patron is coming!”

Rothschild raised his eyes and saw a corpulent man, as wide around the middle as he was tall, dressed in silks and sables, with his face set toward the east.

The Patron reached the eastern wall at the front of the synagogue and sat in his place, all the while puffing and panting from his walk.

The prayer leader approached him, bowed, and asked, “What does your honor think? May we welcome the Sabbath?” The Patron nodded yes. The prayer leader retreated, with his face toward the Patron and his backside to the congregation, ascended the platform, wrapped himself in a tallit, and began the prayers.

After the prayers everyone pushed and shoved to approach the Patron, bow to him with awe and reverence, and wish him a Shabbat Shalom, while he nodded his head in affirmation as if to say the same.

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More about: Arts & Culture, Hebrew literature, Jewish literature, Rothschilds, S. Y. Agnon, Shtetl

Terror Returns to Israel

Nov. 28 2022

On Wednesday, a double bombing in Jerusalem left two dead, and many others injured—an attack the likes of which has not been seen since 2016. In a Jenin hospital, meanwhile, armed Palestinians removed an Israeli who had been injured in a car accident, reportedly murdering him in the process, and held his body hostage for two days. All this comes as a year that has seen numerous stabbings, shootings, and other terrorist attacks is drawing to a close. Yaakov Lappin comments:

Unlike the individual or small groups of terrorists who, acting on radical ideology and incitement to violence, picked up a gun, a knife, or embarked on a car-ramming attack, this time a better organized terrorist cell detonated two bombs—apparently by remote control—at bus stops in the capital. Police and the Shin Bet have exhausted their immediate physical searches, and the hunt for the perpetrators will now move to the intelligence front.

It is too soon to know who, or which organization, conducted the attack, but it is possible to note that in recent years, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) has taken a lead in remote-control-bombing terrorism. Last week, a car bomb that likely contained explosives detonated by remote control was discovered by the Israel Defense Forces in Samaria, after it caught fire prematurely. In August 2019, a PFLP cell detonated a remote-control bomb in Dolev, seventeen miles northwest of Jerusalem, killing a seventeen-year-old Israeli girl and seriously wounding her father and brother. Members of that terror cell were later arrested.

With the Palestinian Authority (PA) losing its grip in parts of Samaria to armed terror gangs, and the image of the PA at an all-time low among Palestinians, in no small part due to corruption, nepotism, and its violation of human rights . . . the current situation does not look promising.

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More about: Israeli Security, Jerusalem, Palestinian terror