For the week ending 6 June 2009 / 13 Sivan 5769

Returning Books to Shelves

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Question: In the Beit Midrash in which I learn Torah there is a sign by the shelves containing the sefarim urging users of those volumes to return them to their shelves after use. Sometimes I consult a volume for a brief reference and returning it immediately would briefly interrupt my learning session with my partner. What is the right thing to do?

Answer: The volume which you are looking at as a reference may well be the only one of its kind in the Beit Midrash and someone else may be looking for it while you are holding on to it until your learning session is over. The sacrifice of your momentary loss of learning time cannot compare with the loss of time incurred by someone also walking around the Beit Midrash to locate the sefer you are holding on to after you have finished using it.

The signs you refer to are meant to instruct you to immediately return the sefer after use and there is no rationalization for failing to comply.

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