“Shall I compose an idyll of the Land of Israel for him? And the other one said, That I leave to the poets and the tourists and I ask you all, are you the only ones sufering? Aren’t there people here who came before us, and if we tell all the troubles that befell them, time would run out. They came to a wilderness, a place of harsh malaria, and gangs of highwaymen, and harsh laws and evil governors. If they built themselves houses, the king’s oficials came and destroyed them. If they sowed, their neighbors came and threw their beasts on the grain. If they drove them out, they went to cry to the government that the Jews attacked them….
“But they didn’t despair and they endured all the troubles and they maintained the Yishuv through their suering and turned the deserts of the Land of Israel into homes and vineyards and fields. And as he mentioned their sufering, he told of their heroism….Thus they sat and told tales about afflictions and tales about heroism,….It is small our Land, and how great are its troubles. And since they were tell about the settlements, they told about their founders. And as they were telling, they were amazed at themselves that they hadn’t noticed the hoerism of those founders before now.
“How Isaac loved that hour when he sat in the Land of Israel in the presence of laborers of the Land of Israel who were telling of the building of the Land o Israel. The Land of Israel was acquired with sufering, and he who loves the Land of Israel and lovingly accepts her suffering, is privileged to see her being built.”
Shai Agnon, Only Yesterday, completed in 1943, published first in 1945.