Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Empty seat

I went on Tuesday to listen to a talk on Maimonides. Even at 10$ the seat, the place is packed, almost sold out.
The speaker is the author of a new book on Maimonides, a disappointingly small book that I looked at before the talk. The talk starts on a light note as he proceeds to tell a joke, mixing happily Yiddish and English. Late comers are still pouring in. There is an empty seat in the row right before us, sightly on the left. A man, about 60 year old, wearing what looks like a biker's vest with light reflectors on the sleeves, starts entering the row to go sit on the empty seat.
He is almost there when the woman to the left of the seat, realizing where the man is going, shakes her head and motions him to turn around. "The seat is taken" she says, adding the obvious "I'm still waiting for the person to come". The man nods and makes his way back to the alley. I see him sitting on the stairs of the amphitheater, right next to my row. It looks uncomfortable.
The seat stays empty during the two hours of the talk on how the compassion and direct relation that Maimonides had for his patients are so apparent in his writings.
I see the woman nodding with approval and admiration. She is clearly enthralled by the thought of someone from the 12th century being devoted and open to his fellow human beings.


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