Polish Jewish Religious Leader
Abraham Joshua Heschel
Polish Jewish Religious Leader
God is hiding in the world. Our task is to let the divine emerge from our deeds.
The Bible is primarily not man's vision of God but God's vision of man. The Bible is not man's theology but God's anthropology.
No religion is an island. We are all involved with one another. Spiritual betrayal on the part of one of us affects the faith of all of us.
It is in deeds that man becomes aware of what his life really is... In his deeds man exposes his immanent as well as his suppressed desires, spelling even that which he cannot apprehend. What he may not dare to think, he often utters in deeds. The heart is revealed in deeds.
The road to the sacred leads through the secular.
It is an inherent weakness of religion not to take offense at the segregation of God, to forget that the true sanctuary has no walls... It has often done more to canonize prejudices than to wrestle for truth; to petrify the sacred than to sanctify the secular. Yet the task of religion is to be a challenge to the stabilization of values.
When faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past; when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion, its message becomes meaningless.
It is customary to blame secular science and anti-religious philosophy for the eclipse of religion in modern society. It would be more honest to blame religion for its own defeats. Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid.
The meaning of the Sabbath is to celebrate time rather than space. Six days a week we live under the tyranny of things of space; on the Sabbath we try to become attuned to holiness in time. It is a day on which we are called upon to share in what is eternal in time, to turn from the results of creation to the mystery of creation; from the world of creation to the creation of the world.
Prayer begins where expression ends... Words can only open the door, and we can only weep on the threshold of our incommunicable thirst after the incomprehensible.
How strange we are in the world, and how presumptuous our doings! Only one response can maintain us: gratefulness for witnessing the wonder, for the gift of our unearned right to serve, to adore, and to fulfill. It is gratefulness which makes the soul great.
Awe is an intuition for the dignity of all things, a realization that things not only are what they are but also stand, however remotely, for something supreme.
The search of reason ends at the shore of the known; on the immense expanse beyond it only the sense of the ineffable can glide. It alone knows the route to that which is remote from experience and understanding.
Remember that there is meaning beyond absurdity. Know that every deed counts, that every word is power... Above all, remember that you must build your life as if it were a work of art.
There are three ascending levels of how one mourns: With tears - that is the lowest. With silence - that is higher. And with a song - that is the highest.
Prayer begins at the edge of emptiness.
When The problem to be faced is: how to combine loyalty to one's own tradition with reverence for different traditions.
When The conscience is ... A brake, not a guide; a fence, not a way. It raises its voice after a wrong deed has been committed, but often fails to give us direction in advance of our actions.
When The goal is not to have but to be; not to own but to give; not to control but to share; not to subdue but to be in accord… not to amass, but to face sacred moments.
When I was young, I used to admire intelligent people; as I grow older, I admire kind people.
We dwell on the preciousness of every moment. Things of space vanish. Moments of time never pass away. Time is the clue to the meaning of life and death. Time lived with meaning is a disclosure of the eternal.
The problem is the spirit of our age: denial of transcendence, the vapidity of values, emptiness in the heart, the decreased sensitivity to the imponderable quality of the spirit, the collapse of communication between the realm of tradition and the inner world of the individual.