T here is much talk about books at this time of the year.

We are concerned about the “three seforim opened on Rosh Hashanah,” and worried about making sure our names are inscribed in the right book.

I, too, am very absorbed with seforim. My love of books drives me to acquire rare and out-of-print volumes as I struggle to create original and inspirational derashos.

Yet the stresses and responsibilities that take up my already limited learning time become crushing this time of year.

Halachic queries and shalom bayis conflicts — which seem to erupt annually during the High-Holiday season — not only leave me with minimal time; they also drain me. Hours spent listening to the pain of others take a spiritual and emotional toll. To my personal chagrin, I sometimes fall into a state of discouragement and, even, cynicism. It was precisely as these feelings were reaching a crescendo that Hashem decided to send me relief and solace.

And very appropriately for this time of the year, the balm He sent me was in the form of a book.

It wasn’t the contents of the book that brought me comfort — I openly admit that I haven’t read even one page of the precious volume. Nevertheless, the book was a Heaven-sent remedy that restored and reinvigorated me.



A few weeks ago I received a large manila envelope that contained a book.

I was not particularly excited at the arrival as I often receive unsolicited books, which my already overcrowded bookshelves cannot accommodate. Seforim such as what to do when Asarah B’Teves falls on Erev Shabbos in 2021 in Melbourne, which, notwithstanding their important Torah content, will probably not get too much use by a rabbi in Passaic in 2017.

My daughter opened the envelope, and we were mystified by the book that emerged, a used, dog-eared, discarded library copy of an obscure English translation of a commentary on the siddur.

Our puzzlement dissipated as soon as I opened the book.

On the inside of the cover was a dedication plate that contained the logo of the yeshivah I attended in Brooklyn years ago. The inscription read: “This book is presented in memory of Ida Rubin, grandmother of Ron Eisenman.” The book had been dedicated (unbeknown to me) by my parents — almost half a century before — in honor of my deceased grandmother.

A handwritten note accompanying the book read: “Recently I visited the $1 table outside Pinter’s book store on 14th Ave… I came across the enclosed book that I thought you would appreciate. I have no personal connection with you, but I have read many of your articles and have gained much chizuk!”

I was overwhelmed with emotion.

Here was a person I had never met, and yet, he sent me a sefer just because he realized I would appreciate it.

When I tracked down my secret benefactor, he asked to remain anonymous.

Suffice it to say, if there ever was a life-changing book that uplifted me and affirmed my feelings of love and connection to our people, it was this book.

Although the sefer had been officially discarded, it motivated me to discard my negativity and cynicism, and it infused me with a sense of hope and love of our people in a more meaningful and memorable way than the latest self-help best seller ever could. My feelings of connection, affinity, and love for His people had been restored. My burden was lightened.

The book made me realize that the smallest things in life are often the most momentous.

As I lovingly gazed at the inscription and absorbed the chesed done for me, a tear rolled down my cheek, even as a smile returned to my face. (Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 677)