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Chapter 30

On hearing this, I fell full length at his feet, and, tears streaming from my eyes, I beseeched him to reconsider his verdict – also for the sake of sparing the Duke of Lichtenstein such an affront. I pointed out that the District Commissioner and all the nobles of the land were favourably inclined to the petitions, and begged him to have mercy on us ands put the weight of his influence on our side.

After bidding me to get up from my prostrate position, he said that my entreaties had softened him, and he really thought it too great a burden for us to bear the heavy taxation as well as maintaining many places of worship. And, since Duke Lichtenstein was on our side as well as the District Commissioner, I could rest assured that he, too, would do his best to pilot our petitions through the Tribunal and they would send a favourable report to the Royal Council.

I then left his presence happy and said that the Heart of Nobles lieth in the Hands of God.

After a few days I returned to the Secretary who had served me well with his good counsel, and humbly thanked him for the great favours he had done me. And I ventured to ask him if he could inform me as to the probable course of our petitions before the Tribunal, and when they were likely to be sent to the Royal Council in Vienna. The Secretary told me to come back the following week, when he would be able to tell me what had occurred.

Then he told me that the petitions had come up for discussion by the Tribunal, and the nobleman So-and-so had addressed the assembly in the following terms:- He had reminded the members that Úsov had a very bad record and hardly deserved to have its petitions considered in any but an antagonistic spirit. Nevertheless, there were good reasons why he would advise the assembly to endorse their pleas. First, because Duke Lichtenstein took a great interest in the matter and was, in fact, the author of one of the petitions; and secondly, because the District Commissioner, a man of the greatest integrity in public life, declared that the community was so impoverished by the double expenditure of heavy taxation and keeping up many places of worship, that it could hardly hold out for another year.

Then the Tribunal agreed to allow the petitions, on condition that the definition of a House of Worship be strictly adhered to. The approved report was then sent to the Royal Council in Vienna.

“Now, my friend,” concluded the Secretary, “go home and feel the legitimate pride of having achieved your object.”

I then consulted the secretary as to the advisability of my being present in Vienna when the petitions were awaiting the Royal sanction. To this he replied that since the sovereign never initiates such matters, but always follows her ministers’ advice, and since that advice was entirely favourable to us, there was no reason for me to go to Vienna. For the lower courts all having endorsed the petitions, the supreme court, out of esteem to Duke Lichtenstein, as well as for other reasons, would follow suit.

I then wrote to my brother-in-law, Rabbi Itzik, explaining how matters stood, and that the definitions distinguishing a synagogue from a house of worship were to be taken as emanating from the Tribunal. And I urged him to keep an eye on the matter.

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