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Isaac Bashevis Singer on Shabbat

Isaac Bashevis Singer on Shabbat

The Friday evening meal was over, but the candles were still burning in the silver candlesticks. A cricket chirped behind the stove, and the wick in the lamp made a slight sucking sound as it drew up the kerosene. On the covered table stood a crystal decanter with wine and a silver benediction cup, an engraving of the Wailing Wall upon it; near them lay a bread knife with a mother-of-pearl handle and a challah napkin, embroidered in golden thread.

The master of the house, still young, had blue eyes and a small yellow beard. His Sabbath caftan was not made of satin, as was the custom with the Hasidim, but of silk. He also wore a crisp collar around his neck and a ribbon that served as a tie. The mistress wore a dress with a design of arabesques and a blond wig adorned with combs. She had the face of a young girl: round, without a wrinkle, with a small nose and light-colored eyes.

Outside, the snow lay in great drifts, gleaming under the full moon. The frost was forever trying to paint a tree, a flower, a palm leaf, or a bush upon the windowpanes, but in the warmth of the room the patterns quickly melted away.

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