Quote

This page offers a monthly quote that I hope you will find inspiring or meaningful, thought provoking or on occasion controversial.

Av 5778
There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest. The Talmud tells us that by saving a single human being, man can save the world. We may be powerless to open all the jails and free all the prisoners, but by declaring our solidarity with one prisoner, we indict all jailers. None of us is in a position to eliminate war, but it is our obligation to denounce it and expose it in all its hideousness. War leaves no victors, only victims.... Mankind needs peace more than ever, for our entire planet, threatened by nuclear war, is in danger of total destruction. A destruction only man can provoke, only man can prevent. Mankind must remember that peace is not God's gift to his creatures, it is our gift to each other.
Elie Wiesel, "Nobel Lecture"

Tammuz 5778
     If he were alive today, the Kotzker [Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk, 1787-1859] would look aghast at the replacement of spirituality by aesthetics, spontaneity by decorum.  Like Kierkegaard, he would vehemently condemn an aesthetic concept of Judaism acted out in customs, ceremonies, sentimental celebrations, and polished oratory, as well as in decorative representations of God in terms of grandiose temples.  He would also reject the reduction of Judaism to an outward compliance with ritual laws, strict observance mingled with dishonesty, the pedantic performance of rituals as a form of opportunism.
     The Kotzker would call upon us to be uneasy about our situation, to feel ashamed of our peace of mind, of our spiritual stagnation.  One's integrity must constantly be examined.  In his view, self-assurance, smug certainty of one's honesty was as objectionable as brazen dishonesty.  A moderately clean heart was like a moderately foul egg.  Lukewarm Judaism would be as effective in purging our character as a lukewarm furnace in melting steel.
Abraham Joshua Heschel, A Passion for Truth

Sivan 5778
The air over Jerusalem is saturated with prayers and dreams
like the air over industrial cities.
It's hard to breathe.

And from time to time a new shipment of history arrives
and the houses and towers are its packing materials.
Later these are discarded and piled up in dumps.

And sometimes candles arrive instead of people,
and then it's quiet.
And sometimes people come instead of candles,
and then there's noise.

And in enclosed gardens heavy with jasmine
foreign consulates,
like wicked brides that have been rejected,
like in wait for their moment.
Yehuda Amichai, "Ecology of Jerusalem"

Iyyar 5778
What is a home?

Home is a place whose walls — borders — are clear and accepted; whose existence is stable, solid, and relaxed; whose inhabitants know its intimate codes; whose relations with its neighbors have been settled. It projects a sense of the future.

And we Israelis, even after 70 years — no matter how many words dripping with patriotic honey will be uttered in the coming days — we are not yet there. We are not yet home. Israel was established so that the Jewish people, who have nearly never felt at-home-in-the-world, would finally have a home. And now, 70 years later, strong Israel may be a fortress, but it is not yet a home.

The solution to the great complexity of Israeli-Palestinian relations can be summed up in one short formula: if the Palestinians don’t have a home, the Israelis won’t have a home either.
David Grossman

Nisan 5778
To sin by silence, when we should protest,
Makes cowards out of men. The human race
Has climbed on protest. Had no voice been raised
Against injustice, ignorance, and lust,
The inquisition yet would serve the law,
And guillotines decide our least disputes.
The few who dare, must speak and speak again
To right the wrongs of many. Speech, thank God,
No vested power in this great day and land
Can gag or throttle. Press and voice may cry
Loud disapproval of existing ills;
May criticise oppression and condemn
The lawlessness of wealth-protecting laws
That let the children and childbearers toil
To purchase ease for idle millionaires.

Therefore I do protest against the boast
Of independence in this mighty land.
Call no chain strong, which holds one rusted link.
Call no land free, that holds one fettered slave.
Until the manacled slim wrists of babes
Are loosed to toss in childish sport and glee,
Until the mother bears no burden, save
The precious one beneath her heart, until
God’s soil is rescued from the clutch of greed
And given back to labor, let no man
Call this the land of freedom.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Adar 5778
Get into the habit of singing a tune. It will give you new life and fill you with joy. Get into the habit of dancing. It will displace depression and dispel hardship.
Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

Shevat 5778
In the future, those who continuously learn will continue to lead. It sounds simple, and yet our systems of education and workforce management are based on the opposite principle of "learn then do". Students learn a profession, workers strive for experience, all to be applied to the next known step in the career ladder. But what happens when those steps aren't known? When everything is a first? When degrees and experience barely matter? To thrive in a future that is unfolding faster than we can imagine it, we must become adept at learning continuously. That's why we believe the future of work is learning.
Heather McGowan and Chris Shipley

Tevet 5778
Forget about likes and dislikes.  They are of no consequence.  Just do what must be done.  This may not be happiness, but it is greatness.
George Bernard Shaw

Kislev 5778
i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
E.E. Cummings

Heshvan 5778
     To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain 'the last best hope of earth' for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.
     We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil. We are the custodians of those ideals at home, and their champion abroad. We have done great good in the world. That leadership has had its costs, but we have become incomparably powerful and wealthy as we did. We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don’t. We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn’t deserve to.
Senator John McCain

Tishrei 5778
Nothing.  You begin as nothing and you will end as
nothing.  And in between — everything, and nothing.  In
between — joy and sorrow, beauty and decay.  Everything
yours to partake of, yours to bear.  Yours to see, to know to
give birth to — and to let go.  None of it yours to have.

Not even you are yours to have.  You belong to a wholeness
so great you cannot even conceive of it.

No, it is not a belonging; nothing owns you.  You are
simply part of it.  You came out of it and you will return to
it.  You do not ever leave it, you are a part of it forever.

And this is your moment to be alive.
Marcia Falk

Elul 5777
The question has always been, is, and will remain our best political weapon.
Edmond Jabes