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Word Count: 505
The Last of the Just Andre Schwarz-Barts compelling novel chronicles the pain and suffering of the Levy family over eight centuries Each new generation includes a Lamed Vavnik or Just Man who must bear all of the suffering of the world in his heart The Just Men exemplify for their co-religionists the ideal of patient submission to the constant harassment of a world in turmoil How is the duty of a Just Man a microcosmic reflection of the fate of the Jewish people as a wholeIn many ways the Levys see the role of the Jews in this world as a selfless and sacrificial one In order to lessen the pain of others they must heft an enormous heavy burden of misery A great deal of their willingness to accept this burden however springs from their eternal hope that God will eventually allow them to pass into the promised landO God the Just Man Ernie Levy said to himself as bloody tears of pity streamed from his eyes again O Lord we went forth like this thousands of years ago We walked across arid deserts and the blood- red Sea in a flood of salt bitter tears We are very old We are still walking Oh let us arrive finally Page 372The promise of eventually reaching paradise is adequate justification for many Jews to accept their role as the worlds scapegoatsHowever the life of a Lamed Vavnik is an even more demanding endeavor a Just Man must bear his torment as an individual for the Lamed Vavnik have no comrades with whom they may share their anguish Often a Just Man may go through life in almost total anonymity -- receiving no recognition for his stoic endurance And the Just Men are not offered the incentive of reward for their thankless suffering only Gods consolation to ease the weight on their soulsAndre Schwarz-Bart portrays the Lamed Vavnik as a hereditary position at once great
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