July 23, 2007

The Laws of Books

A man is obliged to be very careful as to the respect due to books, for by not acting thus he is behaving offensively to his fellow-man, whose brain has produced these books.

Nor shall he ever think the time spent upon attending to books wasted; and even if he finds a book so full of errors as that correction of them would be useless, he shall not destroy the book, but place it in some out-of-the-way corner.

One must be careful not to keep his books in the same receptacle with food, for fear of the mice nibbling them both.

Nor shall a man write any accounts upon the pages of a book or scribble anything on any part of it.

If one is unable to press the leaves of a book together in order to fasten the clasp, he shall not place his knees upon it to force it to close.

If a father dies, and leaves a dog and a book to his sons, one of the children shall not say to the other, "You take the dog and I'll have the book," for what a disgraceful contrast are these two objects! *

If one wishes to take a nap, he must first cover his books up, and not recline upon them.

If a book has fallen to the ground, and at the same time some money or a sumptuous garment has fallen also, he shall first pick up the book.

If a fire breaks out in his house, he shall first rescue his books, and then his other property.

--Rabbi Judahben Samuel Sir Leon Chassid, Book of the Pious
... the year 1190 !

*But what do you do if the dog bites the book? You take the words right out of his mouth!