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HEIR TO THE THRONE
Rabbi Yitzchak's greatness. Even the non-Jewish population outside
the ghetto gates eagerly anticipated the arrival of the Jewish rabbi
and the parade that the ghetto was arranging in his honor.
As the women of the ghetto went about their tasks, they also
stopped to exchange stories that had circulated about the rabbi's
wife Sarah. The messengers had described her as a brilliant woman,
respected throughout Spain for her reputation as a marvelous host-
ess, devoted to the Torah and her people.
The women and girls were especially curious about Ghana, Rabbi
Yitzchak's daughter, who was known to be her mother's right hand.
Together, mother and daughter cared for the yeshivah students
who boarded in Cordova. Ghana spent every spare minute at her
studies. Besides her knowledge of Tanacb, she had an ardent inter-
est in the works of the great contemporary Jewish poets, such as
Rabbi Shlomo Ibn Gabirol, Rabbi Moshe Ibn Ezra and Rabbi
Yehudah Halevi. Cordova was famous as the center of poetry,
because the city had once been the capital of the Arab Caliph, who
greatly encouraged the reading and writing of poetry. The songs of
yearning for the geulah were deeply engraved in Ghana's heart.
In Cordova, Chana was much admired. It was known that her
father spent his free time tutoring her in various subjects, particu-
larly Jewish history. Indeed, Rabbi Yitzchak, like everyone else, was
enchanted by Ghana's virtues. Because he had no son, all his hopes
and dreams were vested in his beloved daughter. He instilled in her
an overflowing love for her people and her past.
Not only did Chana possess inner beauty, she also inherited her
father's extraordinary good looks. Her features were so exquisite
that once seen her face was remembered forever. Consequently, her
father carefully protected her from foreign eyes. Whenever she
went outside, she was heavily veiled so that her face never showed
In the meantime, an assembly of the parnassim was called to hear
firsthand the messengers' reports. The messengers described the
tragic condition of Spanish Jewry, as well as their first meeting with
Rabbi Yitzchak. They stressed the magnificent depth of his Torah
wisdom, as well as his patriarchal stature. The parnassim were
When the messengers concluded, Rabbi Zerachiah, the aged
president of the council, rose from his seat and tremulously wiped
away a tear. He began his speech by quoting from Tehillim:
"This is the day Hashem made, let us rejoice and be jubilant in it! I
thank You, dear Father in Heaven, for the great kindness You have
bestowed upon us."
Everyone leaned forward to hear what the elderly president was
"My dear children," he continued. "I have shed many tears over
our situation. For a long time I have had the feeling that soon the
Heavenly Judge would call me to Him, and I was afraid of His
judgment. What would I say when the Heavenly Court demanded of
me in whose care I had entrusted His flock? How could I abandon
His children without providing them with a suitable guide to lead
them in the Torah's ways?"
Rabbi Zerachiah sank back into his chair, completely exhausted.
The room remained utterly silent as he struggled to catch his breath.
Finally, he rose and resumed speaking.
"So I constantly implored our Father in Heaven, using the words
of Moshe Rabbeinu: May Hashem appoint a man for the congrega-
tion. Now I see that Hashem has answered my prayers by sending us
this holy and great man to lead us. We must prepare a festive
reception in honor of our new rabbi. Let it be a grand celebration
that will reaffirm our love and respect for the Torah and our new
"And I," he continued, "will go to the Queen and ask her for
permission to erect a grand arch in honor of the rabbi and his men.
We will not bring our leader into our city by way of the ghetto gates.
We will lead the procession along the fields and gardens. What is
your opinion, rabbosai? Can we be ready by the fifteenth of Shevat"
"Absolutely," they replied in unison. "We will spare no expense
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