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eBook The Book of Delight and Other Papers
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Author:  
Publisher:  Varda Books
Original Publisher:  The Jewish Publication Society
Published:  2001
Language:  English
Pages:   323


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ISBN: 1-59045-185-6




About the Book -- The Book of Delight and Other Papers

The book contains eight chapters of an absorbing text, including The Book of Delight, A Visit to Hebron, Medieval Mayfaring, and Marriages Are Made in Heaven. The chapters of this book were almost all spoken addresses. As these speeches seemed to give pleasure to those who heard them, the author published them in the hope that they might provide passing entertainment also to those who would like to read them. The author has not changed the nature of these speeches, as it seemed to him that to convert them into formal essays would be to rob them of attraction they possess.

About the Book

Contents

  1. “The Book of Delight”

  2. A Visit to Hebron

  3. The Solace of Books

  4. Medieval Wayfaring

  5. The Fox's Heart

  6. “Marriages Are Made in Heaven”

  7. Hebrew Love Songs

  8. A Handful of Curiosities

  1. George Eliot and Solomon Hebrew

  2. How Milton Pronounced Hebrew

  3. The Cambridge Platonists

  4. The Anglo-Jewish Yiddish Literary Society

  5. The Mystics and Saints of India

  6. Lost Purim Joys

  7. Jews and Letters

  8. The Shape of Matzoh

Notes

Index


An Excerpt from the Book -- The Book of Delight and Other Papers

THE CITY OF ENAN

This was the signal for the party to retire to rest.

Next day the wayfarers reach Enan's own city, the place he had all along desired Joseph to see. He shows Joseph his house; but the latter replies, “I crave food, not sight-seeing.” “Surely,” says Enan, “the more hurry the less speed.” At last the table is spread; the cloth is ragged, the dishes contain unleavened bread, such as there is not pleasure in eating, and there is a dish of herbs and vinegar. Then ensues a long wrangle, displaying much medical knowledge, on the psychology of herbs and vegetables, on the eating of flesh, much and fast. Enan makes sarcastic remarks on Joseph's rapacious appetite. He tells Joseph, he must not eat this or that. A joint lamb is brought on the table, Enan says the head is bad, and the feet, and the flesh, and the fat; so that Joseph has no alternative but to eat it all. “I fear that what happened to the king, will befall thee,” said Enan. “Let me feed first,” said Joseph; “then you can tell me what happened to the king.”

THE PRINCESS AND THE ROSE

A gardener came to his garden in the winter. It was the month of Tebet, and he found some roses in flower. He rejoiced at seeing them; and he plucked them, and put them on a precious dish, carried them to the king, and placed them before him. The king was surprised, and the flowers were goodly in his sight; and he gave the gardener one hundred pieces of gold. Then said the king in his heart, “To-day we will make merry, and have feast.” All his servants and faithful ministers were invited to rejoice over the joy of roses. And he sent for his only daughter, then with child; and she stretched forth her hand to take a rose, and a serpent that lay in the dish leapt at her and startled her, and she died before night.

QUESTION AND ANSWER

But Joseph's appetite was not to be stayed by such tales as this. So Enan tells him of the “Lean Fox and the Hole”; but in vain. “Open not thy mouth to Satan,” says Joseph. “I fear for my appetite, that it become smaller” and he goes on eating.

Now Enan tries another track: he will question him, and put him through his paces. But Joseph yawns and protests that he has eaten too much to keep his eyes open.

“How canst thou sleep,” said Enan, “when thou hast eaten everything, fresh and stale? As I live, thou shalt not seek thy bed until I test thy wisdom – until I prove whether all this provender has entered the stomach of a wise man or a fool.”

Then follows an extraordinary string of anatomical, medical, scientific, and Talmudic questions about the optic nerves; the teeth; why a man lowers his head when thinking over things he has never known, but raises his head when thinking over what he once knew but has forgotten; the physiology of the digestive organs, the physiology of laughter; why a boy eats more than a man; why it is harder to ascend a hill than to go down; why snow is white; why babies have no teeth; why children's first set of teeth fall out; why saddest tears are saltiest; why sea water is heavier than fresh; why hail descends in summer; why the sages said that bastards are mostly clever. To these questions, which Enan pours out in a stream, Joseph readily gives answers. But now Enan is hoist with his own petard.


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