Page 18 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 22

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12
J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
Books are engaging companions—at times blithe and jocose,
at times surly and morose; now amiable and lively, now critical
and troublesome. Some weep, some laugh; some amuse, some
accuse. There are books that have so much to give that we
embrace them ardently; others, like ships that pass in the night,
strike up a chance acquaintance and are soon forgotten. There
are books that dispense the accumulated wisdom of the ages and
become immortal. We cling to them as talismans that elevate us
beyond the narrow circumference of our mundane existential
span. They help us to comprehend the inscription over the
library door of an Egyptian king: “Medicines for the soul.”
A declaration by Charles Lamb will, I believe, serve as a final
thought: “I own I am disposed to say grace upon twenty other
occasions in the course of the day, besides my dinner. I want
a form for setting out on a pleasant walk, for a friendly meeting,
for a resolved problem, for spiritual repasts, for books, a grace
before Milton, before Shakespeare, a devotional exercise proper
to be read before the Faerie Queen.”