American Rabbi and Author
American Rabbi and Author
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.
One kind act will teach more love of God than a thousand sermons.
Where sorrow is concerned, not repression but expression is the wholesome discipline.
Every day we shall see about us evidence of human pettiness, greed, self-centeredness. But if we observe carefully we also see human nobility, generosity, self-surrender and genuine religious conviction and action. The cynic remembers only man’s faults – that is why he remains a cynic. The wise man remembers his brother’s virtues. Which shall we choose to remember?
One of the real perils of growing older is that we tend to think less and less. We feel that we know all the answers… The mind and the soul become wrinkled. The function of prayer is not to enable us to acquire what we should like to possess, but rather to become what we are capable of being.
Among the humble and great alike, those who achieve success do so not because fate and circumstance are especially kind to them. Often the reverse is true. They succeed because they do not whine over their fate but take whatever has been given to them and go on to make the most of their best.
Every one of us is endowed at birth with all sorts of magnificent possibilities and potentialities. There is a capacity for idealism, a yearning for truth and beauty and nobility, a sensitivity to the hurt of others and to the dreams and needs of our fellow man. In the hopeful dawn of youth we feel these stirrings within us and we promise to bring them to life. And yet so often as the years pass by we permit these promises to be swept under the rug of expediency. We chalk them up to immaturity and we go on to live “more realistically.”
One of the real perils of growing older is that we tend to think less and less. We feel that we know all the answers… The mind and the soul become wrinkled.
Fate is what we are given. Destiny is what we make of what is given to us. We cannot choose our fate but we can shape our destiny. And in that choice lies all the difference… We are not only shaped by our environment; we shape it. We are not only the creatures of circumstance; we are also the creators of circumstance.
Religion is a quiet dimension of daily living; it is not a spectacular explosion.
From the Mahzor Hadash: There is holiness when we strive to be true to the best we know. There is holiness when we are kind to someone who cannot possibly be of service to us. There is holiness when we promote family harmony. There is holiness when we forget what divides us and remember what unites us. There is holiness when we are willing to be laughed at for what we believe in. There is holiness when we love – truly, honestly, and unselfishly. There is holiness when we remember the lonely and bring cheer into a dark corner. There is holiness when we share – our bread, our ideas, our enthusiasms. There is holiness when we gather to pay to Him who gave us the power to pray.
Shortage of listeners is much greater than the shortage of speakers!
God is waiting for us to stop waiting and begin to do now all the things for which this day was made.
Moving with the times does not mean surrendering timeless truths or abandoning the accumulated decencies of the centuries.
A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him.