I redirected (with uncontainable exuberance) and asked, "Can you pick us up en route to the book sale?"
David responded, "Just be prepared for long lines and a pretty crazy scene. I'm expecting to make some significant purchases."
And so it was, with two empty suitcases in tow that I prepared to make my own "significant purchases." Encountering an expansive room filled with tens of thousands of Jewish books, with so many different people, leafing through pages, considering their purchases, and ultimately giving a home to these tomes of Jewish knowledge was heartwarming and nourishing. An hour and a half later, my suitcases were filled to capacity, my bank account was a bit lighter, and the smile on my face stretched from ear to ear.
One of my purchases was a five-volume English-Hebrew edition of Sefer Ha-Chinuch (The Book of Mitzvah Education), a book of questionable (or rather disputed/unclear) authorship from the late 13th century. The author based his work on the writings of three distinct authors:
Rabbi Isaac ben Jacob Alfasi The "Rif" 1013-1103
Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon The "Rambam"/Maimonides 1135-1204
Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman The "Ramban"/Nachmanides 1194-c1270
The author of Sefer Ha-Chinuch credits these authors for their distinct efforts in clarifying the words of the Talmudic sages and determining the 613 mitzvot (commandments) found in the Torah and seeks to organize these mitzvot by the weekly parashiot (Torah readings) so they can be easily located, referenced, and understood. The author says, "Perhaps as a result, the young will become more interested in them, giving their attention to them on Sabbaths and Festival days, and will turn back from going wild in the street of the cities, to be enlightened by the light of [eternal] life." Or as the back of the volume suggests simply, the author wrote the text, "to introduce his growing son to the 613 mitzvot, in the order of the Torah's weekly parashiot, and to inspire the young boy to study further." Or, as the vice-principal of my middle school said every morning, "Have a great day, stay out of trouble, and let's learn something."
As of Wednesday, February 12, I've decided to take on a new learning project. My religious friends would say "b'li neder" (without the formal effect of a vow), that im yirtzeh Hashem (Gd willing) I'll have the opportunity to learn one mitzvah a day for the next 613 days. Siri, on my iPhone, tells me that if I manage this course of learning accordingly, I'll conclude on Sunday, October 18, 2015 (not that Jewish learning ever concludes!).
From time-to-time, I'll endeavor to post comments and reflections on my learning here on my website. I'm pleased to report that I've now engaged in learning the first two mitzvot -- (1) the mitzvah of procreation (which sparked a very interesting conversation at our teenager's program at Temple Avodat Shalom last night), and (2) the mitzvah of circumcision.
I invite you to join me on this journey of Jewish learning. Together, we can make these "significant purchases," become "purchases of significance."
 Sefer Ha-Chinnuch: The Book of Mitzvah Education, Translation and Notes by Charles Wengrov. Volume I: Genesis and Exodus, Mitzvot 1-114, p. 5.
 Ibid., back cover.