The young ascetic, Dovber, thin-bearded faster, comes at the end of many journeys to the home of Mr. Israel, famed wonderworker and the Great Master of the Secret Name, spoken of in many towns in the corridors of the Yiddlepriestlings, those silly black dressed shadow race sojourning in the secret pockets and corners of Great Lithwa-Polania –
Dovber, with his double-barrelled bear name, had studied hard the secret writings of the Lion Luria, learned the Twelve Sephiroth, and the secret paths between them, and of how the divine light had shattered the vessels and breathed life into the world — had learned of the sparks that flitted through the universe like fireflies or glowworms (when you gotta glow, you gotta glow), learned that in secret places, soft pockets, where tree and man and beast can sing in special harmonic song the fireflies would gather and allow themselves to be caught and put in new glass jars, sent over from the glassworks in Far Germania — Dovber had learned these things, forsaking distractions like food and drink, turning to ancient liturgy in holy tongues, ancient tall law books and hornbooks, explaining the secret sacred law of the many worlds — and yet the sparks alluded him.
No man living now knows the secret fire that caused Dovber to push open the thin wooden door of his little home and go out into the marketplace to speak, to flow, to cant ecclessial — Dovber was a poor man, but rich in spirit, and perhaps, those who heard his discursions were moved to reach into their pockets and throw the preacher a touch of gold —
The words, the speeches — fire like Isaiah, sinners in the hands of an angry God, visions of a material hell, did not know that death had undone so many, the secrets of the Grey Pit, where shades mingle in famine, unable to eat, to think, to remember, holding only loss in their hearts and no love — this vision of a cold hell he spun out in the marketplace for the wretched and the rich, who gathered around to gawk and stare and take their evening entertainment from this preacherpriest — Yidpriestkids and Oilheader Slavlings alike came to watch thin Dovber in threadbare white shirt — and yet, the gold, the gifts, the promises of food for Dovber’s thin sad-sallow wife and the little pink mewling that didn’t have strength to cry — the gold was not enough for them —
Long into the night, long after the gray wife had given up her daydreams of a young man lusty in her bed touching, the Preacher would stay up, praying, shaking, refusing food, refusing drink, trying to picture the shattered spheres, trying to repair them by force and singleness —
But the spheres were not repaired.
And then, in the marketplace, where the Maggid went to tell the stories of those long nights, he heard of another, of the Wonderworker.
So, hearing these tales on Mondays and Thursdays, when the Holy Script of the Yidlings were recited, young Dovber, thin and weak, set to questing for the Wonderworker and began the long journey through tall mountains, dark forests, strange cities and black nights.