She adds another aspect to her mourning — the fact that her husband feels as if he is not enough
They are gone. A predawn goodbye, an embrace as they step up into the carriage, a promise to Shneur that she will write daily to his wife, so that she receives post while he is traveling, a promise extracted from Becca that she will write weekly, a neigh of the horses, a grumble from the driver, the slam of a carriage door, and the trot of hooves on the cobblestones.
Finally, the creak of the front door as they close it behind them. Shneur and Becca are continuing on their journey, and she is left alone, to mourn all the words they did not have time to say.
Ernst puts on the kettle and hands her a steaming cup of tea. He heaps sugar into it, as if this is the only power he has to sweeten the farewell. As if the look in his eyes is not enough. She takes it and smiles at him, but adds another aspect to her mourning—the fact that her husband feels as if he is not enough.
Professor Heidelberg is not at his desk. When Felix walks in to the study, a fat wad of papers in his hands, ready for his tutorial, a different professor is hunched over a book, pen in hand.
The man looks up: he is slight, with a white beard that ends in a point, wears a monocle in his left eye, and sports a large, old-fashioned purple bow tie, flopping around on his white shirt.
The man holds out his hand and Felix leans forwards to take it; it is bony and dry and slightly cold. The man pops the monocle from his eye and looks up at Felix.
“I will be taking the place of Professor Heidelberg today.” He reaches out and gives a slight nod, gesturing that Felix hand over his work. Felix sets it before him.
“Rational Man or Religious Man,” the professor reads.
Felix nods. “Indeed.”
He skips the first three pages, and then leans in, his lips moving silently as he reads.
At length, he looks up. “An attempt to find a rational basis for religion.”
Felix nods. “Yes.”
“The implication being that if you can prove religion rationally, then you can justify the service of an ultimately unknowable G-d. For by His nature, G-d is unknowable. Otherwise, He wouldn’t be G-d, but simply a more powerful and wise version of man. An extended man, if you please.”
“Indeed.” He is confident in his thesis. He has discussed it numerous times with Professor Heidelberg; not to mention his fellow students in the coffee room cum debate house on Moravská Street.
The professor folds his hands together and sits in silence, staring at Felix.
Felix’s fingers begin to trace the whorls of the armrest. Suddenly self-conscious, he drops his hand to his side, and feels along the stitching of the upholstery.
Who is this man, anyway?
(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 678)
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