Page 24 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

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in two months, and the bound codices once every quarter. Arrange thy library
in fair order, so as to avoid wearying thyself in searching for the book thou
needest. Always know the case and the chest where the book should be. A good
plan would be to set in each compartment a written list of the books therein
contained. If, then, thou art looking for a book, thou canst see from the list the
exact shelf it occupies without disarranging all the books in the search for one.
And cast thine eye frequendy over the catalogue so as to remember what books
are in thy library. . . .
Never refuse to lend books to anyone who has not the means to purchase
books for himself, but only act thus to those who can be trusted to return the
volumes. Thou knowest what our sages said in the Talmud, on the text:
“Wealth and riches are in his house; and his merit endureth for ever.” But,
“Withhold not good from him to whom it is due,” and take particular care o f
thy books. Cover the bookcases with rugs of fine quality; and preserve them
from damp and mice, and from all manner of injury, for thy books are thy good
treasure. If thou lendest a volume, make a memorandum before it leaves thy
house, and when it is returned draw thy pen over the entry. Every Passover and
Tabernacles call in all books out on loan.
Similarly, about 1400, the grammarian, chronicler, and wit,
Profiat Duran, gave advice to the intelligent student in the intro­
duction to his Hebrew grammar
Maaseh Ephod.
Use works which
are brief or systematic, he said—advice which would be fatal to
many authors of the present day, especially in view of his further
injunction to the reader to keep to one book at a time.
But he goes on with a really memorable piece of advice. Use
only books that are beautifully written, on good paper, and well
and handsomely bound. Read in a pretty, well-furnished room, and
let your eye rest on beautiful objects the whilst, so that you will be
brought to love what you read. What an advanced oudook for a
provincial student of five centuries ago! It is only in our own day
that schools and libraries have begun to catch up with this medieval
Jewish point of view.