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Section:  Avodah   Category: Olam HaTorah
The Fine Art Of Book Binding
The seforim published today are incredible in their clarity, readability, organization, and extras in the back.  Beautiful new sets of Shas, Shulchan Aruch, Tur and Medrashim, and a new Mikraos Gedolos Chumash every week.  The new Mishna Brura give you a craving to open it up and start learning.  The only thing left to reach the final frontier of seforim is, seforim that you just open and they learn themselves while you do something else.

Why then am I not getting any smarter from using these seforim?  Another question I have about these seforim is why does the binding come apart so fast, and why does it not open all the way so that I can see the words close to the binding, and why does the cover come apart so fast, and why do pages turn by themselves if I don't hold them down with the heaviest item I can find on my desk, and why and why and why?

Yesterday while trying to find someone who can put a leather cover on a book that I want to give as a special gift, I stumbled upon the answer to all the above questions.  A printer directed me to a shop that specializes in high end book covers.  I had already priced out one place by telephone and I thought the quote was rather expensive.  So after seeing this shop's nice work and asking for the price, I almost fell off my chair when he quoted me a price even five times higher, which was obviously way out my league.

Usually I keep quiet and just move on but this time I had to ask.  I was then treated by the proprietor to a long lecture on the fine art of book binding and shown around the shop.  It was a real eye opener.  When book binding is done right you don't have any of the problems I mentioned above.  And the binding lasts in pristine condition for decades, not days.  He explained to me that most book binders today skip most of the elaborate steps needed for quality book binding.  Although his price seemed outrageous, if you add up the hours of laborious work put into a single book and the quality of materials used, it turns out to be a good deal.

But our generation is not trained to pay for quality.  We take everything mass produced in the cheapest fastest possible way and to a degree we just accept the fact that things don't last very long.  The lesson I learned is that a good book needs a good cover to last.  We can be exposed to all the quality content in easily digestible formats but if the cover is not good, it will soon make its way to the trash heap.

How do you get a quality cover?  Not by sound bytes, not by sporadic learning.  Learning is not only about quality time it is about quantity time.  It about toil and sweat the old fashioned way.  Sure we can have a summary of the daf and a summary of the summary.  We can squeeze 6 blatt into and hour shiur and if you give us 22 minutes we will give you the parsha.  That is all fine, after you have already worked hard to acquire it.  But you can't nourish your soul on magical vitamins alone.  You need real food.   Real meat.

Then there is the Yiras Shamayim factor.  The gemara in Shabbos (31b) says that someone who has torah without Yiras Shamayim, has the keys to the room but not to the house so he cannot get in.  Sounds a little like a book without a cover.  Torah Lishma and good middos.  Bitachon and emuna.  Learning for the sake of doing.  Seeking a practical message in the torah we learn, as the Ramban says.  These are all manifestations of Yiras Shamayim.  This will produce a good old fashioned cover.

So while we shouldn't judge a book by its cover, we still need a good, sturdy, carefully bound cover if we want the book to have a lasting impression.
RELATED ARTICLES:book binding  Torah  Yiras Shamayim

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