“This is a beautiful phrase. Let’s stop here to reflect”, Evron propose, and immediately Mordekai takes advantage of the break to go outside.
“Why every time I say stop, does this guy run away? I don’t get it.”
Dudel ventures an answer: “He must be nuts. You know: knowing how to read doesn’t make you wise. The world is full of idiots who can read. But that’s not the point. The point is to understand what you read.”
“Very well put, Dudel.”
Evron reiterates his proposal: “So, let’s try to understand this sentence: ‘Within the most hidden, a dark flame issued forth’.”
“I guess it has to refer to something. But who knows what!”
“I agree. There is a meaning there, in the most hidden. I feel it!”
“Perhaps the dark flame is a symbol”, Dovid suggests.
“You mean a symbol of something?”, Feivel asks.
“Why? I wonder why a symbol must necessarily be a symbol of something. Why can’t it be a symbol of anything? Why can’t it simply be a symbol?”
“A symbol can have its own existence beyond its symbolism. Is that what you mean?”
“Yeah, we mustn’t underestimate symbols. My aunt Rifka, may she rest in peace, escaped to Paris with a symbol.”
“It must have been a terrible blow to your family.”
“At first you don’t lend credence to it. It’s like my sister was going to marry a question mark. Or an asterisk. It’s incomprehensible.”
“People do a lot of nonsense for love. A relative of my father ran away with a Torah who quintupled his age. A Torah that had belonged to his great-great grandmother!”
“Well, at least the Torah was Jewish. Your relative did not have to change religion. Instead, my aunt Rifka abandoned Judaism and became a symbolist.”
“What the hell is that?”
“A sect led by a goy called Mallarmé.”
Then Dovid and Feivel realize that the others are staring at them.
“What? Ah, we have deviated from the theme, right?”
It is Evron who answers: “Not only have we deviated from the theme but we’ve moved away from the theme at such speed that we have already lost sight of the theme altogether. Does anyone remember the theme?” Suddenly, Evron becomes infuriated: “Does anyone have any idea what we are talking about? If that damned boy didn’t cut and run every time I say ‘stop’, now he could reread the phrase and so we would know what the hell we are talking about! ”
Dovid looks out the window and calls out Mordekai.
“He is gone. I don’t see him.”
Elijah states: “I’ll tell you what we should do. We should fire the reader and hire a ‘miracle worker’ rabbi instead. ”
“A miracle worker rabbi?! I would settle for a rabbi! ”
Then Fishel declares: “By the way, I wonder what happened to Rabbi Sirkis? It has been more than three years since he went out to get some air and has not yet returned. I start to be worried.”
“You are a schlemiel! Do you still really trust his return?”
“You mean he has run away?”
“Speaking of runaways (Evron interrupts), Pesha says that we cannot continue to run away from the cemetery every time we are gonna conjure the dead.”
“Did you tell her about the ghost?”
“She asked what we expected to find in a cemetery full of restless spirits. A matchmaker?”
“I won’t go back to that place unless it’s inside a wooden coffin”, Feivel states.
“We’ve got to go back. Our women demand it. We must remind the dead to go to the Light. In addition, Fishel has already learned the spell.”
“By the way, have you noticed that the ghost only appears when Mordekai is absent?”, Chatzkel casually asks.
Once a year, Chatzkel comes up with a brilliant intuition like this. This year he had not come up with any yet, and since the departing of the year is approaching, no one is surprised that he has come up with one now. What does seem inexplicable is that everyone has caught the hint immediately. It is as if a spark of intelligence has unexpectedly crossed the place.
Unfortunately for them, a bit earlier the same spark has reached Mordekai who, anticipating events, has skedaddled. But not before appropriating the money from the town hall coffers.
After this, the wise men of Chelm have unanimously decided to hire a “miracle worker” rabbi. No matter if he cannot read. They even consider it preferable. After all, Kabbalah is a wisdom of oral tradition.