One of the great rabbis of the time once happened to engage Rabbi Nechemiah Ginzburg, a chassid of the Tzemach Tzedek (R’ Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch, 1789-1866), in a halachic discussion. The rabbi was amazed by Rabbi Nechemiah’s knowledge and genius, and even more amazed to learn that his conversant was an anonymous merchant from the town of Dubrovna. “I have met the greatest scholars of our time,” he exclaimed, “and I can personally attest that few of them are as knowledgeable and brilliant as yourself. How is it that your name is not known among the Torah scholars of our generation?”

“In our town,” replied Rabbi Nechemiah, “there is a man who deals in rare and precious books. Once he visited the home of a sage and was amazed by the wealth of books on the sage’s bookshelves. ‘How is it,’ he wondered, ‘that no one has ever heard of your library? People come from far and wide to examine my wares, but my entire collection is not a tenth of the size and value of yours!’

“You collect books to sell them to the world,’ replied the sage, ‘so all the world knows about them. My books are for myself.”

Adapted from the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe by Yanki Tauber


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