Page 193 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 11 (1952-1952)

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187
DWORKIN ----YEHOASH AT HIS WORK
Whereas during the week his books and papers would be con-
centrated around the area of his desk, on the Sabbath the rooms
between which he walked back and forth would have open books
on all the chairs and tables. This presented a problem at meal-
times since one of the rooms was our dining-room. We often ate
at a half-spread table, with the other half covered by books.
Reading at table was frowned upon. Mother insisted upon it in
order to force my father to relax while at his meals. Nevertheless,
his eyes would stray longingly in the direction of the open volumes
and whenever he would catch Mother’s eye upon him he would
grin like a boy caught at the cookie-jar.
I
do not ever remember my father’s dropping a book. I t was
characteristic of him that he never set one down at the edge of
a table; there was always the accompanying gesture of pushing
it back to a safe place. Torn pages were immediately taped.
Dog-earing a book was an arch crime.
In order to facilitate his work — and to save every precious
moment — Yehoash always replaced his reference books in the
same places on his book-shelves or table. I have seen him, many
a time, with hisveyes riveted on his manuscript, reach his hand
out blindly and, without even checking to see whether he had
picked up the correct book, open it to the required page.
Since he could not possibly buy all the books required for his
work, various individuals and libraries loaned him valuable and
rare volumes. These were assigned to special shelves in his case
and were handled with even greater reverence than was accorded
his own volumes. Each time a book was borrowed, my father
pointed it out carefully to Mother and me, with the admonition
to remember that so-and-so had loaned it to him.
Curiously enough, despite the meticulousness and exactitude
he displayed in his work, once outside the walls of his home
Yehoash was forgetful and absent-minded. He was constantly
losing canes, getting off at the wrong subway-stations and leaving
behind him whatever parcels he happened to be carrying. During
the years when he worked at his Bible translation he was possessed
by fear that, during his and Mother’s absence from the house,
fire might break out and consume the manuscript. For this
reason he acquired the habit of carrying a copy of it about with
him in a dispatch-case whenever we were all away from home.
But after seeing the number of things he managed to lose,
Mother took over complete charge of the case. I t was a common
sight to see Yehoash and his wife walking, he with his cane and
she with the heavy case. Mother felt that security of mind was
far better than chivalry, and accustomed herself to the occa-
sionally raised eyebrows and amused smiles of passersby.