Photo Credit: Courtesy of Rabbi Maroof
Some of the author’s seforim packaged and ready to ship to buyers.

Since my youth, I’ve been a lover and avid collector of sefarim and books. No other worldly possession has ever meant much of anything to me. I vividly recall the first summer job I held at the age of 15 – I saved up all of my earnings to purchase a Shas, the first major acquisition in what would prove to be a project spanning more than a quarter of a century. Over the course of about three decades, I accumulated a rich and diverse library of approximately 6,500 volumes.

Typically, three to four rooms of my family’s residence have been entirely dedicated to housing (or, more accurately, overflowing with) books, with additional “unauthorized” piles forming on tables, chairs, ledges, and other random pieces of furniture in the kitchen, hallway and dining room. A small beit midrash or kollel could have assembled in my home and would not have wanted for any major sefer in Torah, Talmud, halacha or hashkafa, and would have been the beneficiary of quite a number of lesser known volumes as well.


Relocating from place to place with such a large library in tow was never a simple matter. First of all, any home we chose had to provide not just sufficient space for our growing family, but enough room to accommodate thousands of books. The last three times that we moved, literally 50 percent of the cost was for the packing and shipment of the sefarim – hundreds and hundreds of boxes of them, equal in weight and dimension to all the rest of our belongings, combined.

Over 22 years of marriage, my wife and I (now with six children, b”H) have moved a total of ten times. (Sometimes because, in my capacity as a pulpit rabbi, I accepted a position in a totally new area. Other times, even within the same neighborhood, we found and settled in a place that was a longer walk from the synagogue, and only later identified and moved into a more convenient one.) Before every one of those moves, the question of downsizing has been raised – it would save so much money, time and effort to carry fewer books from house to house! But I always said that I would never give up a single sefer, a repository of infinite value, for the mere material benefit of cutting relocation expenses. I often qualified this statement by adding that I might be willing to part with some of my collection of treasures if I had to in order to make aliyah to Israel, but not for any other reason. Meanwhile, my collection continued to grow at what seemed like an exponential rate…

A few weeks ago, my family and I finally realized our lifelong dream of aliyah. Although Baruch Hashem we are blessed to have relocated to a relatively spacious penthouse in Carmei Gat, Israel, there is simply no comparison between an Israeli apartment and an American house. After meticulous calculations (and some fudging and stretching on my part) it became clear that I would have to dispense with about two-thirds of my library in order for the arrangement to work. Therefore, several months ago, I commenced downsizing from 6,500 books to approximately 2,500 volumes (give or take a few). This has been my own personal “lech-lecha” experience – leaving behind a comfortable and pleasant material life, a wonderful and doting community and a hefty chunk of my only treasured possessions in the world, my sefarim and books, in order to resettle in the Holy Land.

After carefully formulating criteria to decide what to keep and what to give away or sell (and with profound thanks to the online and digital platforms that allow me to access sefarim I could no longer keep), I commenced what proved to be a very difficult and heart-wrenching process. Selling English Judaica on eBay was easy enough; I could even go so far as to say that gifting sefarim to students and relatives was a pleasure. But this still left me with thousands of volumes that were in danger of remaining homeless. I honestly had no idea where to turn with such an immense trove of sefarim. I couldn’t imagine who would be willing or able to take them off my hands.

Eventually, it dawned on me that I was already a member of a Facebook group established by Rabbi Pesach Sommer devoted to buying, selling and swapping Jewish books. Mostly I had been a passive spectator there and occasionally a buyer, but never considered being a seller. Yet within just a few days I was not just a seller but a “Top Seller,” having listed hundreds of sefarim on the page, many of which had multiple volumes. I was deeply gratified to see the excitement with which my books were purchased almost the moment I posted them, and I became a regular at the post office as I shipped package after package out to the fortunate new owners of what had been my most cherished possessions. It took three months of feverish selling to trim my library to the target number of 2,500.

Generally speaking, sellers on the Facebook page simply post a one-line description of the volume for sale, accompanied by a price. I approached this differently, providing for many of the books a lengthy and detailed review that explained the content and importance of the particular sefer and what it meant to me personally. My occasionally gushing tributes were cathartic expressions of the deep emotional connection I had to the inanimate companions I’d accumulated and bonded with over the past 30 years. I felt as if I were writing a personal love note to each book as I bid it farewell, reminding myself why it was so special to me for so long, and struggling to manage the sting of the loss, the sight of my once “legendary” and well-curated library melting away, set by set, tome by tome.

Here’s one example:

This five-volume set is a collection of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s explanations of the commentary of Rashi on the Torah. These sefarim are literally treasures and I never imagined I would be parting with them. The depth of the Rebbe’s analyses of the nuances in Rashi’s words, and the methodical approach he takes to interpreting them, will take your breath away. Once you have learned these sefarim, you’ll never look at Rashi the same way again.

The Facebook group made an otherwise incredibly painful process much more manageable. Engaging with fellow sefarim-lovers, witnessing their excitement as they discussed or purchased my books, and knowing that my treasured possessions would end up in homes where they would be appreciated and loved and learned – all of this was a tremendous source of comfort to me at a difficult time.

Like all challenging experiences, this process offered me an opportunity for soul-searching and growth, compelling me to reflect upon my priorities both in learning and in life. Most importantly, it helped me internalize the value of relocating to and living in Eretz Yisrael, the vision and the mitzvah that justified the sacrifice.


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Rabbi Joshua Maroof received semicha from Yeshiva Bnei Torah in Far Rockaway, NY, and has a Masters in Educational Psychology from CUNY. For seven years prior to making aliyah, he served as one of the rabbis of the Mashadi Community in Great Neck, NY, and as head of their Sephardic Bet Midrash. He currently resides in Carmei Gat, Israel, with his wife Elana and their six children. His lectures, shiurim and writings can be found online at