From a note penned by Rabbi Schneur Zalman shortly before his passing: The truly humble soul recognizes that its mission in life lies in the pragmatic aspect of Torah, both in studying it for himself and explaining it to others; and in doing acts of material kindness by lending an empathizing mind and counsel from afar regarding household concerns, though the majority, if not all, of these concerns are things of falsehood. For the loftiest beginnings are rooted in the end.

To celebrate is to contemplate the singularity of the moment and to enhance the singularity of the self. What was shall not be again... Every moment is a new arrival, a new bestowal. How to welcome the moment? How to respond to the marvel? The cardinal sin is in our failure not to sense the grandeur of the moment, the marvel and mystery of being, the possibility of quiet exaltation. The man of our time is losing the power of celebration. Instead of celebrating, he seeks to be amused or entertained. Celebration is an active state, an act of expressing reverence or appreciation. To be entertained is a passive state - it is to receive pleasure afforded by an amusing act or a spectacle... Celebration is a confrontation, giving attention to the transcendent meaning of one’s actions. Celebration is an act of expressing respect or reverence for that which one needs or honors... inward appreciation, lending spiritual form to everyday acts.

While it may not heighten our sympathy, wit widens our horizons by its flashes, revealing remote hidden affiliations and drawing laughter from far afield; humor, in contrast, strikes up fellow feeling, and though it does not leap so much across time and space, enriches our insight into the universal in familiar things, lending it a local habitation and a name.

The everlasting universe of things Flows through the mind, and rolls its rapid waves, Now dark--now glittering--now reflecting gloom -- Now lending splendour, where from secret springs The source of human thought its tribute brings.

No one has a right to obstruct another exercising his faculties innocently for the relief of sensibilities made a part of his nature.

The equal rights of man, and the happiness of every individual, are now acknowledged to be the only legitimate objects of government. Modern times have the signal advantage, too, of having discovered the only device by which these rights can be secured, to wit: government by the people, acting not in person, but by representatives chosen by themselves, that is to say, by every man of ripe years and sane mind, who contributes either by his purse or person to the support of his country.

It is though we had wanted to add to the already existing proofs of God's Existence, a new and finally convincing one: the universal destruction that follows on assuming God's non-existence.

So when modern-day religious conservatives wax nostalgic about how marriage is a sacred tradition that reaches back into history for thousands of uninterrupted years, they are correct, but in only one respect - only if they happen to be talking about Judaism. Christianity simply does not share that deep and consistent historical reverence toward matrimony. Lately it has, yes- but not originally. For the first thousand or so years of Christian history, the church regarded monogamous marriage as marginally less wicked that flat-out whoring but only very marginally.

An author cannot of course remain wholly unaffected by his experience, but the ways in which a story-germ uses the soil of experience are extremely complex, and attempts to define the process are at best guesses from evidence that is inadequate and ambiguous.