The last few weeks, I have looked through other’s books. I was invited to look through Rabbi Zvi Dershowitz’s extensive library. Our beloved emeritus rabbi of blessed memory possessed quite a collection of seforim and contemporary wisdom. As Rabbi David Wolpe nears retirement, I have also been gifted the opportunity to look and take from his impressive study. Subjects include: Talmud, Jewish ethics, poetry, psychology, history, prayer, Shabbat, and rabbinic reflections; the list goes on and on.
When you quote another scholar’s ideas, we use the phrase “bshem omro.” We share this teaching in giving credit to its owner. Gleaning insights from a previous book’s owner is different. In using the books, I won’t be directly quoting their teachings.
However, I will be indirectly gaining inspiration, knowing these books were ones that helped shape the mentors I revere.
The books I hold in my hands were held in theirs. Through the various stages of their rabbinate, personal and professional lives, these were the books that helped them grow. How meaningful that I will share in that connection.
Rabbi Yehuda HaChassid once wrote, “One should not write in a holy book that it is theirs. Rather, they should write their name without writing it is theirs.” Meaning, a holy book does not merely belong to just one person. We are entrusted with a gift of knowledge for a short amount of time. It is our obligation to pour that holiness out in the world. Book by book, we all are equal owners of God’s lessons.
My library will be an amalgamation of my teachers and rabbis. May their insight and guidance jump off the pages. As I hear their messages embedded within and share my own Torah with the congregation and beyond…I hope to make them proud.
In partnership with The Jewish Journal, you can also find Rabbi Guzik’s blog post HERE.