Competitive reading

Rabbi Josephs has an appointment to see his old friend Rabbi Bloom, and Lionel, the synagogue caretaker, kindly agrees to drive him there. When they arrive, Rabbi Bloom is on the phone and asks them to wait in his study.

As soon as they enter the study, Rabbi Josephs walks over to the well-stocked bookcase and begins to look carefully at the many books on display. Suddenly, he pulls a book from the shelf, opens it, scans the pages and goes very pale. Still holding the book, he has to sit down for a moment. When the color comes back to his face, he gets up, kisses the book and puts it back on the shelf. Lionel doesn’t say anything because he doesn’t understand what’s going on.

But then it happens again. Rabbi Josephs takes hold of another book, opens the pages, stares at what he finds and, as before, has to sit down in case he faints. A few moments later, he gets up, kisses the book and replaces it. This time, Lionel decides to ask Rabbi Josephs if everything is OK.

“Rabbi,” Lionel asks, “what was wrong with that book you just put back?”

“Nothing, Lionel, nothing at all,” replies Rabbi Josephs. “Just for a moment there, I thought Rabbi Bloom had another book I didn’t have.”

© david minkoff