Have you ever met a rabbi who didn't like to give advice? Probably not. And Rabbi Hai Gaon, the celebrated head of a famous Jewish academy in 11th century Iraq, was no exception. This is what he said-
Three possessions should you prize: a field, a friend, and a book.
Now, Rabbi Hai Gaon lived to the ripe old age of 99-quite an achievement for someone living in the Middle Ages. So the man probably knew what he was talking about.
We are instructed to prize our field because it is the source of our livelihood. We are told to cherish a friend, because he or she provides the emotional support we crave. And we are taught to value a book, not as a substitute for actual experience, but because a book allows us to expand vicariously our encounters with the world, with other human beings and with the mysteries of existence
When faced with the modern day temptations of television and computer, we might also be guided by the wisdom of another noted Jewish philosopher, Groucho Marks--
I find television to be very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go in the other room and read a book.
Just this year, AJU assumed responsibility for the Los Angeles Jewish Community Library. We accepted this responsibility because we see, as part of our institutional mission, the promotion of the Jewish book. Each November we host the Los Angeles Celebration of Jewish Books Week, and we have already launched the campaign for our new expanded Ostrow Library at AJU. Every month we also host literary events in the Ostrow Library through our Whizin Center for Adult Education.
Please join us at any of these events.
Who knows? You might find a good book or even a friend. We make no guarantees about finding a field, but two out of three is not bad!