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Thought for the Day: Reshelve S'farim After Use

I ran across this really cool and interesting gemara.  (I know, I know... what gemara isn't totally cool and interesting, right?  Take it as poetic license.)    It has everything: theft, court room drama, suspense, and a final surprise ending!  By the time you get to the two dots you're emotionally drained and feeling that kind of deep exhaustion that comes from any hard won victory.  Of course, I really want to shout all about this from the roof tops.  Well... e-shout from my blog, anyway.

Of course, I don't want to do that until I have a really good understanding, so my chavrusa and I sat down to the three or four Tosofoses (Tosofosim?) on the subject.  We felt we had a good chance because each Tosofos was huge; only a small section of the daf was dedicated to gemara and Rashi.  Usually when the tosofos is large you (I, that is) have a better chance because it means Tosofos was feeling chatty that day and put in all the details.  Unfortunately, Tosofos never in his collective wildest dreams expected to be talking to someone like me who doesn't have Shas on his fingertips.  So Tosofos starts out setting up the question by quoting the one line in a complex discussion in another masechta that he needs.

Fortunately (again, for and my ilk), we have a complete set of Art Scroll Shas in the back of the Brisk beis medrash.  Also fortunately, we (being all Briskers and/or k'Vasikiners) keep them in order.  Unfortunately, the one I needed was missing.  I saw the place it should have been... now forlorn and empty.  I scoured the beis medrash; no luck.  My chavrusa took a look; no dice.  I am sure a total of five or more minutes of quality learning time were lost forever.  Dejected, we sat down to move on, but with that uneasy feeling that we hadn't completely gotten p'shat.  Also dejected that I wouldn't be able to write up this awesome gemara.

We finally did find it, by the way.  It was in the lunch room, where I had gone to refill my coffee cup.  Apparently someone had been learning there and then left.  Unconcerned that someone else might need that gemara.  In fact, he may have even felt that he was saving himself precious minutes of having to walk to the shelf to put the gemara back when he would just need it again the next time he chanced by the beid medrash.  Or, he may have felt that if he put it back on the shelf someone else might use it and then it wouldn't be available to him.

Anyway... since we did find the gemara (eventually), I can now write about it.  Or, rather, I could have written about it, but I've run out of time and space for today.

R' Yisrael Salanter, ztz"l, was once asked what was the single most important action one needed to take after learning mussar to be sure the lessons became fixed in his soul and not just relegated to another fleeting feeling of inspiration.  He answered with all seriousness, "Put the sefer back on the shelf."


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