Quote

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

Av 5779
From the place where we are right
Flowers will never grow
In the spring.

The place where we are right
Is hard and trampled
Like a yard.

But doubts and loves
Dig up the world
Like a mole, a plow.
And a whisper will be heard in the place
Where the ruined
House once stood.

Tammuz 5779
Do not boast of tomorrow,
For you do not know what the day will bring.
Let the mouth of another praise you, not yours, 
The lips of a stranger, not your own.
A stone has weight, sand is heavy, 
But a fool’s vexation outweighs them both.
There is the cruelty of fury, the overflowing of anger, 
But who can withstand jealousy?
Open reproof is better than concealed love.
Wounds by a loved one are long lasting; 
The kisses of an enemy are profuse.
Proverbs 27

Sivan 5779
After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, love, and so on — have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear — what remains? Nature remains; to bring out from their torpid recesses, the affinities of a man or woman with the open air, the trees, fields, the changes of seasons — the sun by day and the stars of heaven by night.

Iyyar 5779
If you want to learn how to be happy, you have to know what is sadness first.
Etgar Keret

Nisan 5779
Either the world is coming together,
or else the world is falling apart —
     here — now — along these letters,
     against the walls of every heart.

Today, tomorrow, within its weather,
the end or beginning’s about to start —
     the world impossibly coming together
     or very possibly falling apart.

Now the lovers’ mouths are open —
maybe the miracle’s about to start:
     the world within us coming together,
     because all around us it’s falling apart.

Even as they speak, he wonders,
even as the fear departs:
     Is that the world coming together?
     Can they keep it from falling apart?

The image, gradually, is growing sharper;
now the sound is like a dart:
     It seemed their world was coming together,
     but in fact it was falling apart.

That’s the nightmare, that’s the terror,
that’s the Isaac of this art —
     which sees that the world might come together
     if only we’re willing to take it apart.

The dream, the lure, is the prayer’s answer,
which can’t be plotted on any chart —
     as we know the world that’s coming together
     without our knowing is falling apart.
Peter Cole, Song of the Shattering Vessels

Adar II 5779
For those who don’t get it, claims that Israel “hypnotizes” the world, or that it uses money to bend others to its will, or that its American supporters “push for allegiance to a foreign country,” repackage falsehoods commonly used against Jews for centuries. People can debate the case for Israel on the merits, but those who support the state should not have to face allegations that their sympathies have been purchased, or their brains hijacked, or their loyalties divided.
Bret Stephens

Adar I 5779
In life, as Hasidism understands and proclaims it, there is, accordingly, no essential distinction between sacred and profane spaces, between sacred and profane times, between sacred and profane actions, between sacred and profane conversations. At each place, in each hour, in each act, in each speech the holy can blossom forth.
Martin Buber

Shevat 5779
     Nearly every book has the same architecture — cover, spine, pages — but you open them onto worlds and gifts far beyond what paper and ink are, and on the inside they are every shape and power. Some books are toolkits you take up to fix things, from the most practical to the most mysterious, from your house to your heart, or to make things, from cakes to ships. Some books are wings. Some are horses that run away with you. Some are parties to which you are invited, full of friends who are there even when you have no friends. In some books you meet one remarkable person; in others a whole group or even a culture. Some books are medicine, bitter but clarifying. Some books are puzzles, mazes, tangles, jungles. Some long books are journeys, and at the end you are not the same person you were at the beginning. Some are handheld lights you can shine on almost anything.
     The books of my childhood were bricks, not for throwing but for building. I piled the books around me for protection and withdrew inside their battlements, building a tower in which I escaped my unhappy circumstances. There I lived for many years, in love with books, taking refuge in books, learning from books a strange data-rich out-of-date version of what it means to be human. Books gave me refuge. Or I built refuge out of them, out of these books that were both bricks and magical spells, protective spells I spun around myself. They can be doorways and ships and fortresses for anyone who loves them.
     And I grew up to write books, as I’d hoped, so I know that each of them is a gift a writer made for strangers, a gift I’ve given a few times and received so many times, every day since I was six.
Rebecca Solnit

Tevet 5779
I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us. That is my belief.

Kislev 5779
One of the major problems of our time is religious intolerance.  A deep recognition and study of the different voices of the Bible, and the many ideas that it inspired in the development of Judaism, may help to bring about an atmosphere of diversity and tolerance. By exposing and understanding the pluralistic character of the Bible, we can recognize that there is a place for, and significance to, the kind of debate in which the other view may also be a reflection of divine truth.
Israel Knohl, The Divine Symphony: The Bible's Many Voices

Heshvan 5779
There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.

Tishrei 5779
Father Mother God, thank You for Your
     presence during the hard and mean days.
     For then we have You to lean upon.
Thank You for Your presence during the
     bright and sunny days, for then we can
     share that which we have with those who
     have less.
And thank You for Your presence during the
     Holy Days, for then we are able to
     celebrate You and our families
     and our friends.
For those who have no voice, we ask You
     to speak.
For those who feel unworthy, we ask You
     to pour Your love out in waterfalls of
     tenderness.
For those who live in pain, we ask You to
     bathe them in the river of Your healing.
For those who are lonely, we ask You to keep
     them company.
For those who are depressed, we ask You to
     shower upon them the light of hope.
Dear Creator, You, the borderless sea of
     substance, we ask you to give all the
     world that which we need most--Peace.
Amen.
Maya Angelou

Elul 5778
I would like to beg of you, dear friend, as well as I can, to have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart.  Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language.  Do not now look for the answers.  They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them.  It is a question of experiencing everything.  At present you need to live the question.  Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.  Perhaps you are indeed carrying within yourself the potential to visualize, to design, and to create for yourself an utterly satisfying, joyful, and pure lifestyle.  Discipline yourself to attain it, but accept that which comes to you with deep trust, as long as it comes from your own will, from your own inner need, accept it, and do not hate anything.
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet