Swedish royal china glistened on the table of honor, which stretched like a runway down the center of the regal hall. On each side of the main banquet table, radiating out like spokes on a wheel, were smaller tables that sparkled the same way. In fact, if you stood at the head of any dining table and looked to its end, you would see that every place setting was identical, as if the organizers had measured the precise distance between every crystal wine glass and every porcelain plate.
Shai Agnon, the first Hebrew writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, gazed down at the splendid sight from atop the polished marble stairway. In a few moments, he marveled, I'll sit among princes and kings. He closed his eyes and drifted into a distant world that had shadowed him since his youth. In his mind's eye, he saw King David sitting in his magnificent palace in Jerusalem. A blast of trumpets stirred Agnon from his reverie, but as he watched Swedish King Gustaf VI Adolf descend into the hall and sit down, the author wondered from which world the fanfare had come. An ancient blessing sprang naturally to Agnon's lips: "Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has given of Your glory to a king of flesh and blood."
A humble man throughout his life, Agnon once described himself as "an individual to whom God gave an author's pen." During his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Agnon told the audience that he received his inspiration from Judaism's "sacred scriptures, from which I learned to combine letters."