August 11, 2009

People of the Book

Books are a wonder of creation which never ceases to expand and amaze. They are full of new and exciting information and there is always one out there for whatever mood you're in. When I was younger I remember my mother telling me that one of her greatest pleasures in life as a child was to curl up in bed on a rainy day with a cookie and a good book. I don't have trouble believing that since I have experienced that same wonderful pleasure myself- and it's not limited to bad weather days or to when you have some cookies lying around. Every day can be a book day. I personally find that Shabbos is the best day to sit down and lose yourself in a book or sefer. Put yourself in a comfortable environment and just read. Prepare ahead of time for moments where you will have to pass the time, like sitting at the DMV or a the doctors office, by bringing that new book you haven't had time for yet or the newest edition of Mishpacha Magazine. If you doubt that there is a book out there that could interest you try walking into a large bookstore like Eichlers in Brooklyn or Shanky's in Yerushalayim, take a step back and you will be amazed at the never ending line of row after row of bookshelves piled high with books. Go to the Library of Congress and see how many categories of books exist within those walls. Humanity does not lack for reading material. Food, maybe, but not books!

My young brother has a book called The Very Best Gift by Genendel Krohn. It's a cute book that describes the giving of the Torah in a fun to read rhyme. I have made an observation about the Torah which has led me to believe why it is the very best gift. It never ends! I get overwhelmed walking into a Rav's house and seeing how many seforim line the walls. To imagine that one person could learn through those thin pages and thick books in a lifetime, and that's just referring to the books that were on those particular shelves! There is a book that was on the NY Times Bestsellers List called The Know-It-All by A.J. Jacobs, which is the quest of one man (the author) to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. One certainly views that as a great accomplishment- it's one of the most comprehensive lists of knowledge in the secular world. However, the Encyclopedia is but a drop in the sea compared to how many seforim currently available (and still growing) we have access to and that are being learned. The Gemara alone is tremendous in size and there have been uncountable numbers of commentaries written since then. Only a work such as the Torah, which is from the Hand of our G-d who is infinite, could give forth such a stream of knowledge which is still growing. Hafoch Ba V'Hafoch Ba D'Kula Ba- turn it (the Torah) and turn it for everything is within it. The quantity of knowledge out there shouldn't intimidate, rather it should excite because you know that there will always be something waiting for you to dig right into.

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