American Rabbi and Author
American Rabbi and Author
How many lives have suffered a progressive deterioration of motive, a gradual contraction of purpose and shrinking of the horizons?
The ledger of Democracy is the sum total of the lines contributed by each of its citizens ? whether they be occupants of high political office or humble workers in a factory or on a farm. Each of us makes a contribution to the volume of America. What kind of passages are we writing?
When we learn to look upon the humble ground on which we stand as holy ground, we have acquired the greatest encouragement we need to fertilize it and make it productive. We discover the poetry that is ambushed in the prosaic, the glory that is embedded in the commonplace, the opportunity that is hidden in the thicket of thorn bushes.
Avoid getting hung up on yourself. A person all wrapped up in himself makes a very small package, and paradoxically a very heavy one to carry. Your life will become most worthwhile when you find a cause or purpose or person to which to dedicate a vital portion of yourself. Your life will be as worthwhile as the things to which you dedicate it? There is no shortage of causes which can benefit from your allegiance and in turn help you find high purpose and exhilarating adventure in the privilege of being alive.
IF reduces life to a question mark. God punctuates life with an exclamation point. IF makes us helpless bystanders. God makes us intelligent co-workers. IF leads us to despair, God whispers courage.
The moment of bereavement is the most dreaded of all moments. So deeply do we fear separation from those we love that we try desperately to prevent the very thought of it from stealing into our consciousness. When in unguarded moments it succeeds in breaking through, we hasten to expel the unwelcome intruder. It is therefore not altogether strange that sorrow finds us emotionally unprepared and perhaps even rebellious and resentful.
When you look at life, do you see only your life and your needs, or do you see the lives and the needs of others as well? Do you see life as a campaign of acquisition or as an adventure in sharing? This question is basic because it spills over into every area of life.
A Prayer for Graduates
Lord of the Universe, Dean of the University of Life: You have given us minds that can stretch with knowledge, spirits that can deepen with understanding and hearts that can overflow with gratitude. We thank You for our sons and daughters who have grown in mind and in spirit, and we are abidingly indebted to their teachers who have patiently and hopefully nurtured that growth.
As our graduate go forth from this school into Your University of Life, keep them ever mindful that among the required courses in Your curriculum are firm loyalty, constant kindness, soft compassion and wide tolerance.
Teach them the lessons they must learn by heart and the less the heart must learn.
May they never forget that it is important to know not only how to make a living, but also how to make a life. We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.
May they always remember the harvest of happiness is reaped by the hands of helpfulness, and the City of Contentment is located in the State of Mind. The whole world was not enough for Alexander the Conqueror, but a tub was sufficient for Diogenes.
Keep them from any enterprise for which they would hesitate to ask Your blessings.
Help them to become all that they are capable of being.
May they live up to their own highest expectations and make the most of their native endowments.
Help them to understand that more important than mastering any skill is mastering themselves; more crucial than controlling others is self-control.
May they learn to prize integrity above luxury, principle above expediency, value above valuables, worth above wealth.
When life tests their courage and their character, may they pass with highest grades. Impress upon the tablets of their minds that service is the tuition they must pay for the seat they occupy in life’s classroom. May they measure the rewards of service not by what they get for it, but by what they become through it.
Help them, O God, so to live that their names may be worth of being on Your Roll of Honor.
How does time become holy? It becomes holy when a part of it is given to others, when we share and care and listen. Time is sanctified when we use it – to forgive and ask forgiveness; to remember things too long forgotten and to forget things too long remembered; to reclaim sacred things too casually abandoned and to abandon shabby things too highly cherished; to remember that life’s most crucial question is – how are we using time?
The most isolating form of loneliness is not to be apart from people; it is to be apathetic to them, to be indifferent to them, to feel unrelated to them.
If we wait until circumstances are precisely right for us to achieve and accomplish something, then nothing ever will be achieved or accomplished. Neither we nor circumstances are ever precisely right.
Is there then no reward for living a life of rectitude and uprightness? There is, indeed. We are rewarded not for our good deeds but by our good deeds. The reward for doing good is becoming a better human being. The greatest compensation for any good deed is simply to have done it.
A waste far more worthy of our tears is the enormous energy within us that never gets channeled, the love that is never expressed, the kindness that never surfaces, the compassion and tenderness that are never awakened.
Life is a journey, not a destination, and happiness is not “there” but here; not tomorrow, but today.
We are rewarded not for our good deeds but by our good deeds. The reward for doing good is becoming a better human being. The greatest compensation for any good deed is simply to have done it.
Character is distilled out of our daily confrontation with temptation, out of our regular response to the call of duty. It is formed as we learn to cherish principles and to submit to self-discipline. Character is the sum total of all the little decisions, the small deeds, the daily reactions to the choices that confront us. Character is not obtained instantly. We have to mold and hammer and forge ourselves into character. It is a distant goal to which there is no shortcut.
Life is brief, but we must determine its quality. Indeed, precisely because of its brevity, we must be very discriminating as to what we put into it.
Death is not a period which brings the sentence of life to a full stop. It is only a comma that punctuates it to the loftier existence.
Living life at its best means keeping on speaking terms with my conscience, to do nothing to outrage it or to inflict pain upon it. When my acts do violence to my moral or ethical standards, I sustain a loss for which no pleasure or material gain can compensate me, for I shrink in moral stature. When I keep my friendship with the best in me, I achieve a serenity which cloaks life with gentle beauty.
Faith in God may be an elective in our university of daily living. In the presence of death it assumes crucial significance.
Even while we mourn the death of a loved one, there is room in our hearts for thankfulness for that life… Sober reflection can also lead us to a more sympathetic appreciation of the vital role death plays in the economy of life. Life’s significant and zest issue from our awareness of its transiency, its “fragile contingency.” The urge to create, the passion to perfect, the will to heal and cure – all the noblest of human enterprises grow in the soil of human mortality.