M'gilath S'darim‎ > ‎Chapters‎ > ‎

Chapter 17

When our delegates brought us the news of these concessions, we were full of joy. We distributed our eight remaining scrolls among eight houses, which we designated houses of worship; and were exceeding glad that we could read the Law and no longer had to wander about to serve God. And though we were not allowed more than ten in a house, we did not count young men, women, or children as of the number. We were also glad that the Royal decree restored to us the remains of our old Synagogue. There was calm in the town of Úsov.

But the gentiles of the town began to annoy us. They pried into our houses of worship to see that we did not assemble more than ten in one house. When they found more, they wrote scurrilous letters against us to the District Commissioner in Olomouc, saying that we broke the King’s commands. For four or five years they plagued us with their sudden intrusions during our prayers, and often had us brought to Olomouc to defend ourselves against their charges. We pleaded that some of those over and above the number ten were women and children, who, according to our law, do not count to make up the ten required. Others were the poor who could not afford to maintain their own houses of worship: and who would dare to drive them out? Others, again, were temporary visitors – merchants on their rounds, or tramps, or beggars.

Thus we escaped fines and imprisonment; and after a time, having failed to inflict new punishments on us, the gentiles ceased to annoy us.

The community then began to reduce the number of houses of worship, one by one, from eight to four; and divided the furniture and Scrolls amongst four householders, payers of rates and taxes. And the indigent, unable to keep up separate houses of worship, prayed in private, each in his own home. Only on the days of the reading of the Scrolls were they allowed to come to the designated houses. And we were not disturbed by the gentiles for a considerable time.

Back                        Next