Page 202 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
and my gaze fell upon an aperture in the wall, below the ceiling. I
asked the girl whether she had also cleaned out this area.
Expressing disgust she replied: “You will find there only cobwebs
and dirty scraps o f paper, so I did not touch them.” At my request
she brought a ladder. I climbed up and reached into the aper­
ture. Amidst the dirt and cobwebs I felt a wad o f old pages, rolled
up like a ball. I examined it, and what a happy surprise: it was
Sefer ha-Vikuah,
o f which only a few copies were extant. After
finding the book, the transaction was brief. At first I obtained a
loan o f the book for a large surety. While descending the stairs, I
was overtaken by the polite young girl who informed me:
“Grandfather is prepared to sell you the book for the money you
deposited.” There was thus added to my library a very rare and
interesting book due to the mediation o f Yehonatan Lapin.
A NECESSARY QUAL ITY
The quality o f alertness is characteristic o f the enthusiastic bib­
liophile who will not be put o f f by obstacles. Even danger to life
does not always frighten him. I will relate an incident that took
place at the end o f the British rule, during the riots and clashes in
Jerusalem. One morning I was visited by the bookseller Gavriel
Griv who told me: “The situation in the Old City has worsened,
and a certain Jewish street has been evacuated. But in one o f the
deserted houses there is a magnificent valuable library.” I
inquired briefly: “Will you accompany me there?” To which he
replied: “ I f you will pay me well.”
The following afternoon we met with the owner, a respected
Sephardic rabbi, and asked him to join us to view his treasures.
The rabbi refused because o f the danger, but handed us a key
and said: “Good luck, and as to price we will come to terms.” We
traversed the way to the library without incident; the area was
deserted and neither Arab nor Jew was to be seen. We opened the
heavy door and stood amazed in a vast hall whose walls were cov­
ered by bookshelves. When we examined the books we found
them to consist mostly o f works o f halakhah and Kabbalah. I
checked them quickly and any which appeared valuable I placed
in my briefcase. We were both on edge and rushed through our
task so as to be able to leave while it was still light. I opened the
door and stood in dismay. There awaited us a dense Arab mob
consisting mainly o f angry young men. The moment was a crucial