Chapter 43

The old man sat on his porch and looked out across the green fields. Another good harvest coming this fall. And the sun shone on the glossy coats of the fat cattle.

One of his grandchildren came out and handed him a mug of mint tea. He grasped it with both hands and its warmth soothed his fingers’ joints. He looked at his granddaughter and saw her round smooth arms, the bright whites of her long-lashed eyes, her smiling lips. He drew her near and kissed the top of her head, smelling her clean fresh hair. He rejoiced in her rude health. He gave thanks for it.

A year ago a stranger had visited, drawn by his fame, and had asked, nervously, whether it was true what people said, that his sons and daughters had never died but rather had been protected by Hashem, set aside until the temptation was over, then restored to full life and health.

“No,” he had told the stranger. “No, it wasn’t like that.”