A philosophical novel, set in 1812, in which the story of a man's expanding knowledge of the world and his relationship to it is told with great dignity and reverence. Ezra, a scholarly Russian Jew, is dedicated by his grandfather to the study of the Talmud. Yet from the time of his early marriage to Leah and his residence in his father-in-law's house in Kolodna, he wages a battle to soften the chain which binds him to mankind into links through which a constant rekindling of the spirit might flow. Ezra, however, had refused consummation, symbolically at first with his bride of the flesh; later with the needs of his Kolodna people. But flight to a starvation and pestilence-ridden community to the south only brings him back to Kolodna. There he becomes davan in a rabbinical court, finally accepts the desperate need of the people who insist on attributing supernatural powers to him, but rejects the temporary sacrifice of a Messiah for the long road of leading the people back into themselves and to their own strength. A rich, full canvas glowing with the restless spirit of humanity, set against the bloody Napoleonic wars. An impressive achievement, but slow sales unless the critics push it.