I have this thing about selling back books. Some (admittedly ridiculous) part of me feels like selling them somehow removes the deposited knowledge from my brain. And yet, as an avid reader, I always forced myself to go through a biannual purge of my bookshelf. I don’t want to think about the results if I didn’t. The TV show Hoarders comes to mind.
As you might imagine, over the course of ten years, I have managed to acquire quite a few books about Judaism. I’d estimate around 100. Many of them were various authors’ attempts at a Judaism 101 text, and thus redundant after the second or third purchase. But there were also texts on Jewish prayers. Jewish history. Jewish philosophy. And even after my tenth Judaism 101 purchase, I was always amazed to see how this author’s presentation of the Jewish calendar, or this one’s explanation of a ritual object just made so much more sense.
These were always too precious for me to consider as candidates for the purge. They represented some sense of Jewish authenticity and Jewish identity for me, I suppose. I may not know an answer to a question, but chances are I could locate one shortly! I’m dedicated, can’t you see? I’m taking this process seriously! I love books!
I’m moving soon. In an effort to make that task as easy as possible, I’ve set myself tasks for each weekend. Today’s was one of many looming purges. When I looked at my bookcase though, I knew I felt differently about my Jewish library today.
I knew it was time to take off my training wheels. I’ve been coasting confidently for a year now. I am a Jew. I don’t need to prove that to anyone, but especially not to myself. I’ve marked Jewish time and kept Jewish space. It was a bittersweet realization and recognition of how far I’ve come.
I’ve culled my library. What remains are reference books, siddurim, and a few favorites I couldn’t bear to part with. The rest were toted off to Half-Priced books. And I didn’t even hesitate when dropping them off.
Today I learned that a decade of Jewish education is worth $42.