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Mendy Kaminker
Mendy Kaminker

Why buying another book is a good thing

COVID-19 is turning 2!

Do we say Mazal Tov? I would rather say good riddance already!

Yes, it’s true; the first cases were officially reported in Wuhan two years ago.

Within a short time, the world changed. Lockdowns, quarantines, toilet paper shortages. You name it.

And… Zooms. Lots of Zooms.

Come to think of it, Zoom was actually one of the good things about this pandemic. When we felt all isolated and alone (and when my kids were about to start climbing on walls!) it provided us with the ability to easily connect with our loved ones, with our communities and workplaces.

It also gave us a unique glimpse into the lives of our friends and colleagues. It’s almost as if we received an invitation to go into their homes!

Don’t tell them, but when I join a Zoom, I often like to zoom in the screen of the speakers. To look at the desks, to check the pictures on the wall. So often, you learn a lot about people just by looking at their workspace.

The bookshelves, of course, are telling a big part of the story. A shelf filled with books tells you that you are interacting with a scholarly person who has a passion for knowledge.

Having a lot of books can also have a positive impact on children. According to an article published in the Smithsonian Magazine in 2018, “exposure to large home libraries may have a long-term impact on proficiency in three key areas”.

Many years before this study, the Rebbe emphasized the importance of books. In 1974, he even called for a special campaign, titled “Bayit Molei Seforim” (“a house full of holy books”). The campaign encourages Jews everywhere to purchase holy books for their own libraries, as well as establish communal libraries.

In the Rebbe’s perspective, books are not just a combination of ink and paper; they are almost living organisms, breathing and impacting the environment around them. Having holy books close to us will bring more holiness to our lives.

And although we live in the digital age, when books are easily available at our fingertips, there is still nothing like the actual book on the shelf, and the holiness it emanates.

There is a beautiful tradition, initiated by the Rebbe in 1987, to purchase Jewish books around this time of the year.

[The tradition started after a legal victory over the future of the Chabad library in Brooklyn. Some claimed the library – which contains 250,000 books, many rare manuscripts and artifacts – was the private property of the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe and should be divided by his heirs. The Rebbe insisted the library belongs to the community, and on the 5th of Tevet 5747, the court agreed with that assertion. You can read more about this day by clicking here].

I like this tradition a lot. Every year, I spend some time researching, reading and deciding which books to add to my library. We encourage our children to do the same and purchase books for their own budding libraries.

And I wholeheartedly recommend joining this tradition!

May we “lovingly comprehend and perceive, listen, learn and teach, observe, perform and maintain all the words of the teaching in Your Torah” (from the morning prayers).

About the Author
Rabbi Mendy Kaminker is the Chabad Rabbi of Hackensack, and an editorial member of Chabad.org.
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