These Books Should be Burned

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Recently I walked into a Judaica store in New York City with my boyfriend. We had to buy some new tanach’s and commentaries. My boyfriend picked out the JPS tanach and put it on the counter to pay. Suddenly the cashier stated “Why are you buying this and not the Artscroll?” We replied that we happen to like the JPS translation and layout better but it seemed that the cashier had something else in mind.

He quickly pointed to the books and said “These books should be burned, they are produced by heretics who violate the yud gimel ikarim (thirteen principles of faith).” He continued on “Are you orthodox? Do you follow the law of the Shulhan Arukh, if you are then you will not buy these books.”


It was hard for me to hold myself back from tackling the old man behind the counter, I started to respond, but the conversation ended with a cool comment “We’ll agree to disagree” and with that we bustled out of the store.

I felt sorry for the old man, how could he be filled with such burning hatred? even in the month of Elul he could not be accepting or even tolerant of his fellow Jews.

Ironically, I also happen to be planning a community wide tanach siyyum for the entire NYU Jewish community. I was told to burn the very book which I was hoping could unite the different denominations on campus.

Perhaps for the communal tanach siyyum, we will use a variation of all tanach’s ever produced.

Posted on September 10, 2008

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7 thoughts on “These Books Should be Burned

  1. Ezekah

    I would’ve complained to the manager of the bookstore. A cashier should not make comments about ANY of your purchases. His boss should be informed that he is losing sales (and customers) for the business.

  2. The Doctor

    Even ignoring the burning god’s name part, the whole idea of burniing books is offensive to me. Even more offensive is the attitude that anything that is not 100% in concordance with this guy’s worldview not only should be ignored [which is certainly an option] but should be destroyed.

    This store clerk would find himself in very fine company in Tehran [not to mention Nuremberg].

    Senseless hatred is sadly never far from us…

  3. matthue

    Since I don’t speak much Yiddish, I Googled “gesheft” (which, it turns out, means “a deal”). But I found this, a poster for a Yiddish action move, which says it much better:

    (but the answer to your question, Matzah, is because you’d be burning God’s name.)

  4. clara1


    I agree about not burning books. I believe it’s a sin against man and G-d even if the books are against my beliefs.


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