He took little interest in the subtle disquisitions of the Rabbis, which added their burden to his cross of secular learning. He wrestled but perfunctorily with the theses of the Bible commentators, for Moses Ansell was so absorbed in translating and enjoying the intellectual tangles, that Solomon had scarce more to do than to play the part of chorus. He was fortunate in that his father could not afford to send him to a Chedar, an insanitary institution that made Jacob a dull boy by cutting off his play-time and his oxygen, and delivering him over to the leathery mercies of an unintelligently learned zealot, scrupulously unclean.
The literature and history Solomon really cared for was not of the Jews. It was the history of Daredevil Dick and his congeners whose surprising adventures, second-hand, in ink-stained sheets, were bartered to him for buttons, which shows the advantages of not having a soul above such. These deeds of derring-do (usually starting in a __school-room period in which teachers were thankfully accepted as created by Providence for the sport of schoolboys) Solomon conned at all hours, concealing them under his locker when he was supposed to be studying the Irish question from an atlas, and even hiding them between the leaves of his dog-eared Prayer-book for use during the morning service. The only harm they did him was that inflicted through the medium of the educational rod, when his surreptitious readings were discovered and his treasures thrown to the flames amid tears copious enough to extinguish them.
“The Torah is greater than the priesthood and than royalty, seeing that royalty demands thirty qualifications, the priesthood twenty-four, while the Torah is acquired by forty-eight. And these are they: By audible study; by distinct pronunciation; by understanding and discernment of the heart; by awe, reverence, meekness, cheerfulness; by ministering to the sages; by attaching oneself to colleagues; by discussion with disciples; by sedateness; by knowledge of the Scripture and of the Mishnah; by moderation in business, in intercourse with the world, in pleasure, in sleep, in conversation, in laughter; by long suffering; by a good heart; by faith in the wise; by resignation under chastisement; by recognizing one’s place, rejoicing in one’s portion, putting a fence to one’s words, claiming no merit for oneself; by being beloved, loving the All-present, loving mankind, loving just courses, rectitude and reproof; by keeping oneself far from honors, not boasting of one’s learning, nor delighting in giving decisions; by bearing the yoke with one’s fellow, judging him favorably and leading him to truth and peace; by being composed in one’s study; by asking and answering, hearing and adding thereto (by one’s own reflection), by learning with the object of teaching and learning with the object of practising, by