Friday, October 17, 2008


From KAATERSKILL FALLS by Allegra Goodman, Page 70

“Isaac,” Elizabeth asks that night in bed, “how are you so content? I try, but…
He smiles at her in the dark. She can make out the shape of his quick smile, the curve of his cheek, the parting of lips. “How are you so patient?” she asks. “Tell me.”

“Just habit,” he whispers. “It’s only habit."

“Tell me how,” she says. “So I won’t want things.”

“I couldn’t teach you that,” he tells her.

He has had his disappointments. Because he wasn’t a particular favorite of the Rav, and had no distinguished relatives, he didn’t get a stipend from the yeshiva to continue his studies. No one wanted him to leave, but his family didn’t have the money to support him for so long. And yet, for all of this, Elizabeth can see that his private learning outside the yeshiva sustains him. He doesn’t want a second purpose. His life is all one. His books are part of him. Truly, his books quench his thirst; he is more than satisfied, while Elizabeth’s reading only whets her appetite, fills her with confused longings for change and new experiences. She sighs. Too often reading makes her feel incomplete, impatient.

“Here’s the trick.” He kisses her. “You have to want what you have.”

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