Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.


"Night is the Sabbath of mankind, to rest the body and the mind." - Samuel Butler

"Take a fresh look at celebrating the Sabbath. Consider spending one day a week being childlike, consciously breaking the deliberate, patterned life you have adopted. Without this destructuring, spiritual life becomes too serious and goal-oriented. Throughout the week, we live in the world of becoming, always striving to perfect ourselves spiritually. On the Sabbath, we drop all forms of becoming and inhabit the world of being, living in the end-state of all practice as if it had already occurred. From this most crucial of spiritual practices flows the inspiration to carry us through the entire week." - Mother Tessa Bielecki

"The law of the Sabbath is the keystone of the arch of public morals; take it away, and the whole fabric falls." - William Garden Blaikie

"Without a Sabbath, no worship; without worship, no religion; and without religion, no permanent freedom." - Charles Forbes Montalembert, fully Charles Forbes René de Montalembert, aka Charles le Comte de Montalembert

"The Sabbath is the link between the paradise which has passed away, and the paradise which is yet to come." -

"The first creation of God in the works of the days was the light of the sense; the last was the light of the reason: and His Sabbath-work ever since is the illumination of the spirit." - Francis Bacon

"A world without a Sabbath would be like a man without a smile, like a summer without flowers, and like a homestead without a garden. It is the joyous day of the whole week." - Henry Ward Beecher

"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." - Abraham Joshua Heschel

"To be a Jew is to affirm the world without being enslaved by it; to be a part of civilization and to go beyond it; to conquer space and to sanctify time. Judaism is the art of surpassing civilization, sanctification of time, sanctification of history. Civilization is on trial. Its future will depend upon how much of the Sabbath will penetrate its spirit." - Abraham Joshua Heschel

"In reverence will w speak of those who woo The ear divine with clear and ready prayer; And while their voices cleave the Sabbath air, Know their bright thoughts are winging heavenward too. Yet many a one,--"the latchet of whose shoe" These might not loose--will often only dare Lay some poor words between him and despair-- "Father, forgive! we know not what we do."" - Richard Milnes, fully Baron Richard Monckton Milnes, First Lord Houghton

"A friend, an intelligent lapsed Jew who observes the Sabbath for reasons of cultural solidarity, describes himself as a Tooth Fairy Agnostic. He will not call himself an atheist because it is in principle impossible to prove a negative. But agnostic on its own might suggest that he though God's existence or non-existence equally likely. In fact, though strictly agnostic about God, he considers God's existence no more probable than the Tooth Fairy's." - Richard Dawkins

"Another fundamental Jewish idea is of turning or returning, called Teshuvah. The high holy days, this time of the year, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, have that theme. We come back to our attention, our own sense of being worthy or being beloved or in God’s presence. Coming back to attention is meditation practice. It describes how the mind moves away from attention and needs to be brought back. It is natural to turn away. How can we cultivate the willingness, the desire to turn us back to attention? So those are some examples of what you might call “Jewish mindfulness.” Judaism is mindful; mindfulness is also Jewish. That’s how I think of it and that’s the way we teach it." - Sheila Peltz Weinberg

"The kinds of spiritual practices we can undertake are limitless. However, ultimately the form is less important than these factors: the commitment to practice, the ability to keep returning to the intention, the attitude one brings to the uncontrollable and the ability to transfer the benefits of the practice into how we live our lives, how we relate to ourselves and others, how free we become to embody the values and ideals we embrace in our minds, how we deal with temptations of all sorts. In other words we practice to live with the wisdom and compassion, which we already possess. We practice to actualize the pure soul, which God has planted with us." - Sheila Peltz Weinberg

"A person can do other things against his will; but belief is possible only in one who is willing." - Saint Augustine, aka Augustine of Hippo, St. Austin, Bishop of Hippo NULL

"We are spiritually dead without the Spirit indwelling, and spiritually asleep without the Spirit influencing....The former, praying, is like a ghost walking and talking; the latter, like a man speaking through his sleep." - Thomas Boston

"No sun—no moon—no morn—no noon, no dawn—no dusk—no proper time of day, no warmth—no cheerfulness—no healthful ease, no road, no street, no t’ other side the way, no comfortable feel in any member— no shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees, no fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds, November!" - Thomas Hood

"Imagination is a danger thus every totalitarian regime is frightened of the artist. It is the vocation of the prophet to keep alive the ministry of imagination to keep on conjouring and proposing alternative futures to the single one the king wants to urge as the only thinkable one." - Walter Brueggemann

"If we believe that this particular pain is the one that will push the baby out of the womb and into our arms, we somehow try to make a place for that pain in our heart. Pain is still there: excruciating, terrible pain. But at the moment of birth, we rarely feel betrayal or rage; we somehow feel that this is simply pain that has come with life." - Wayne Muller

"Our civilization canonizes desire as the engine that drives our monetary system, which is sad because desire, by definition, is based on dissatisfaction. When you're satisfied, your desires melt away. When you have a nice meal, your desire to eat more disappears. When you have a relationship with someone you love, the desire to run off and meet somebody else naturally falls away. Whenever we're satisfied with what we have, desire dissolves of its own accord. We place desire on the altar of our civilization." - Wayne Muller

"Some of us have a hard time believing that we are actually able to face our own pain. We have convinced ourselves that our pain is too deep, too frightening, something to avoid at all costs. Yet if we finally allow ourselves to feel the depth of that sadness and gently let it break our hearts, we may come to feel a great freedom, a genuine sense of release and peace, because we have finally stopped running away from ourselves and from the pain that lives within us." - Wayne Muller

"There is a rhythm in the way day dissolves into night, and night into morning. There is a rhythm as the active growth of spring and summer is quieted by the necessary dormancy of fall and winter. There is a tidal rhythm, a deep, eternal conversation between the land and the great sea." - Wayne Muller

"No matter how many times we read King Lear, never shall we find the good king banging his tankard in high revelry, all woes forgotten, at a jolly reunion with all three daughters and their lapdogs. Never will Emma rally, revived by the sympathetic salts in Flaubert's father's timely tear. Whatever evolution this or that popular character has gone through between the book covers, his fate is fixed in our minds..." - Vladimir Nabokov, fully Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov

"Soul, wilt thou toss again? By just such a hazard hundreds have lost, indeed, but tens have won all. Angels' breathless ballot lingers to record thee; imps in eager caucus raffle for my soul." - Emily Dickinson, fully Emily Elizabeth Dickinson

"Anger and haste hinder good counsel." -

"And now, if you still press the question, why should God make provision for forgiveness, to an extent he knew would be unnecessary, and be guilty of an expenditure of means beyond what the well-known circumstances of the case required, We answer, by referring you to the characteristic of universality, to which we have already adverted, as marking his dispensations in the natural world, and ask you why his sun shines and wastes its beams upon sightless eye-balls, or upon those who will not open their eyes to behold his goodly rays? Why does he send his rains upon the barren rock, or waste his showers upon the sandy and sterile soil, in which the seed can never vegetate? If I propose this question, you tell me in reply, that I mistake altogether the nature of God’s creations, and the general principles of the system which he has established. You tell me that the necessity for the sun being what it is, does not depend upon the number of the persons who are to be enlightened by his rays, but grows out of the fact that it must be what it is to give light to any one–that atmospheric laws are general, and cannot in their nature be so arranged as to secure the descent of rain only where it will render the earth productive. You cannot consider that there is any waste of light or moisture, because there are some who do not see, or because in some places the surface of the earth presents the impervious rock to the rains of heaven." - Erskine Mason

"The wound religion receives from hypocrites is far more dangerous and incurable than that inflicted on it by the open and scandalous sinner. For religion is never brought into question by the enormous vices of an infamous person; all see and all abhor his sin. But when a man shall have his mouth full of piety and his hands full of wickedness, when he shall speak Scripture and live devilish, profess strictly and walk loosely, this lays a grievous stumbling–block in the way of others; and tempts them to think that all religion is but mockery, and that the professors of it are but hypocrites." - Ezekial Hopkins

"The silence that makes it possible to hear God speak also makes it possible for us to hear the world's words for what they really are - tinny and unconvincing lies." - Eugene Peterson