Inspirational Quotations by Jewish Authors #9

Religious Inspirational Quotations

TOPICS: SPIRITUALITY (SPIRITUAL LIFE; RELIGIOUS LIFE); SUFFERING; TEMPTATIONS; TRIALS & TRIBULATIONS; TROUBLE; TRUTH; WISDOM; WORSHIP.

SPIRITUALITY (SPIRITUAL LIFE, RELIGIOUS LIFE)

The essential purpose [of religion] is to direct conduct, to form character, to make men and women fulfill the duties they owe to God, to their fellow beings and to their own better nature. Whatever may be the future God has in store for us, it can be determined, so far as lies in our power, only by what we do here and now. We need religion to teach us how to live and act.

Even must be in our lives bring heaven down to earth; we must make earthly live heavenly. The blue sky vaulted at unapproachable heights above us, so that no matter how far upward we might rise, we would still find it at infinite distance beyond us, represents the ideal of perfection, which we must ever look up, though to attain which is beyond human power. Yet it is perfect virtue, goodness, justice, truth and charity that we should strive to plant on earth; and we should put forth our utmost endeavors to realize them as fully as possible. We must govern our conduct by higher principles than the dictates of prudence, must regulate our actions by worthier considerations than what pays best, what will interfere least with our care and convenience or what will produce the most pleasure. We must be willing to make sacrifices for the sake of what is good and true; we cannot make much of life without noble aspirations, without keeping ever before us the ideal of what human nature should be, that has been “created in the image of God.” This is the heavenly view that we should plant firmly in our earthly life.

Let us arouse sympathy for our suffering brethren wherever they may be and to inspire the most large-hearted practice of charity. Make your lives pure and noble, in devotion to lofty ideals. Resolve to advance further, even if it requires some sacrifice and personal exertion. It is after all for your own satisfaction and true welfare and for the highest interests of your children, whom you are trying to prepare for a happy, honorable and worthy life.

---Oscar J. Cohen, El Paso Daily Herald, El Paso, Texas, Dec. 26, 1898.

The best thought of all ages has recognized the spiritual as the highest type of life. The consciousness of communion with the Supreme Power transcending human grasp, is veritably the highest and the noblest gift within the possibility of human attainment. At its well spring, men strong or weak, noble or ignoble, men high-born or low, have sought and found the refreshing waters of life-giving vigor, the soothing balm of comfort, the peace and solace of their souls.

The flight of centuries conspires slowly and silently to close up the breach between God and man, to reduce the distance between the ideal and the real, the human and the divine. To draw heaven and earth together, to consummate a closer fellowship between man and his God, is the broad function of religion.

More than ever in the history of men is the great unseen but potent force of spirituality, the warm life-giving touch of religion a necessity, not only to restrain men, but to spur them on to the achievement of their own souls’ and the world’s liberation, to nurture and to nourish with the milk of human kindness, to life men from the sordid to the sublime, from the swamplands of degradation and the bogs of terror to the sun-kissed heights of divine blessedness, to direct the wasted and wasting energies of men into channels aright, and give them the stimulus to make new conquests unlike the old whose paths are strewn with the wreckage of destruction and despair.

Such I conceive to be the function of religion in this modern day, to seek to evolve the spiritual qualities of man and appeal to his noblest instincts, to bring him nearer to his God, the God of individual and national and international morality, to endeavor to discern the voice of conscience amid the confusion of voices that call and beckon.

---Louis D. Gross, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, N.Y., March 11, 1918.

Religion is the fruit of the heart and nourishes alike the character, the will, the emotions—consoles, strengthens, inspires, ennobles.

---Leon Harrison, Aurora Daily Express, Aurora, Ill., Jan. 25, 1898.

“Who is wise that he may understand these things? Intelligent that he may know them? For righteous are the ways of the Lord; and the just shall walk in them, and the transgressors will stumble therein.” (Hosea 14:10.)

The text treats of the use and misuse of the godly attributes wherewith man is endowed, and by which he is to work his own destiny.

Who is wise enough, says the prophet, to comprehend the ways of the Lord, to fathom the exact line of order market out in His divine plan of creation? And who is intelligent to follow the path of virtue and godliness unswervingly, to maintain the perfect state of righteousness in the fulfillment of righteous duty?

What is it we call religion? The knowledge and conviction of a higher power that steers the course of man and nation, and whose eternal justice is vindicated in all the affairs of the world. A proper regard for such earnest, religious faith, which stands firm under all sectarian divergency, will insure the stability of a race of commonwealth; while a misconstruction of religion will stunt its moral growth and result in an utter degeneration. This solemn lesson we are daily taught in the life and decay of nations, of the past as well as of the present.

It is safe to assert that the weakest point in human society is the lack of proper understanding of religion, and the failure to search its higher truth.

Thus, on the one hand we behold a host of misguided unbelievers hurling all sorts of missiles against religion, and keeping up a constant harangue that religion, and nothing but religion, is the cause of all human suffering, the stumbling block of the ages. On the other hand, it is assumed that irreligion is responsible for all the grave offenses committed against the law of morality, for every manner of depravity and all the havoc played amidst human society. How then shall these two contrasting opinions be accounted for?

Let us then, first of all, understand this truth, that religion is not a thing of human making and establishment; nor is it a mere philosophy which may soon be changed for any other form of thinking. But religion is the ever-manifest striving after perfection, the eternal and all-prevailing spirit of righteousness. Religion may present itself in various outward forms, but its ideal is everlastingly the same. Ceremonial religion is only a means for the accomplishment of the true end; a cloak to shield the human heart from the coldness of indifferentism and apathetic disregard, and it is simply like the national attire, which must vary in every land, so long as the nationalism exists. But the true spirit of religion has existed from eternity and will exist even when all nationalism shall cease.

How thus should any rational being disclaim religion? How should one declare war against the divine within man, the essence of virtue and of truth, of right thinking and right living? Religion in itself will never become obnoxious to any man; not unless the pure ideal thereof is humiliated by the many devices of material aggrandizement. While religion rests on its spiritual foundation holding fast to the broad principles of humanity, of godly freedom and universal love, it is in perfect keeping with the eternal spirit of righteousness, with the attributes of God Himself. But when religion has become a terror to many, a tower-bastion of political exploit, a means of strife and cruel persecution, there is neither peace nor rest in the entire human family, and the result is none else but a brutal disregard of God and man.

All reckless atheistic thought was born in the lap of such dishonored faith. Unbelief, the petty excuse for all baseness and immorality, has grown and flourished in the miasma of faulty religion. And thus it came to pass that whenever lawless miscreants sought to justify their vile acts they pointed to the dark sports on the sun of religion, to the injustice so often committed under the law, and the bitter controversies incurred by a divergency of faith. It is true: Righteous are the ways of the Lord; the just shall walk therein while the transgressors will stumble by them.

Hence there can be no question as to whether religion in itself is good or bad. It is just what make makes of it; as it is part and parcel of the human nature, the creative power by which man becomes the free agent of his own fate, and through which he may serve the purpose of God, of that of Satan.

The ideal of religion is the golden thread which comprises the entire human family in one loving embrace, which unites all the children of man by one sense of justice and right, and under the standard of an all-one Father and God.

The ethical nature of man, as religion is often termed, teaches the human mind that the light, the air, the water, the soil and all earthly productions are universally accorded to satisfy the needs of all men and to the injury of none. And while it is true that “the Lord is good unto all and His mercies are over all His creatures,” is it in any sense natural or religiously lawful to supplant a fellow creature by mere earthly contrivance, or for the sake of self-aggrandizement to deny any of the natural rights to any portion of the human kind? “Are we not all children of one Universal Father? Has not one God created us all? Why should be deal treacherously each man against his brother?”

What is the most important passage in Holy Scripture? Rabbi Akibba said: “And thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Ben-Azal simply referred to the clause: “And these are the generations of man—not black, not white, not great, not small—but man!”

It is sad, very sad, that the laws of human making stamp all men as aliens to each other. The fundamental laws of nature are therefore outraged; goodly freedom is thus too often replaced by licentiousness and violence; natural and wholesome development by artful deception and foppery. The technical formality and “business-like” method with which the world is now wont to treat everything and everybody have made the human heart void of compassion—nature’s most beautiful trait—cold and stiff, like an automation. A farcical, diplomatic, etiquette permits it that tens of thousands of defenseless creatures, men bent down with age, tender women and innocent babies and infants, are ruthlessly slaughtered by demoniac agents of czardom, without any one of the nations demanding a reprieve or stay; without the rulers of the earth, even of the freest of countries, calling out “Halt!”

It matters not whether ye be guilty of direct cooperation or mere connivance at these bloodiest monstrosities, while you make not the slightest effort to oppose them the guilt rests with you. Sin lieth at your own door. “Stand not idle by the blood of thy brother!” is the call addressed to us all as one common brotherhood.

---Julius T. Loeb, Evening Star, Washington, D.C., Nov. 19, 1905.

Our time needs urgently an injection of spiritual stimulus. It has stressed too much material magnitude and proportion of scientific power. It has substituted science for sanctity. It needs to be converted to the determination of God’s dictates. Man is unable in the long run to lift himself by the lever of his own strength. He must be supplemented by the incoming power from the Supreme Reality that holds this universe as in the hollow of His hand.

---Alexander Lyons, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, N.Y., Nov. 2, 1932.

“I set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed.” (Deuteronomy 30:19.)

The time-worn platitude, “Life is what you make it,” need not be derided. Its unalterable truth is sanctioned by years of human experience and testified to by the written pages of mortal achievements. We confess that the intricacies and complexities of life are oft times beyond the ken of man’s finite knowledge and that certain problems which confront us in our daily relations with our conferees seem fathomless to our compassed and limited understanding. And yet we are endowed by an all-kind Providence with a divine power of freedom of choice, with the ability to consecrate life, with a discerning faculty which enables us to hallow and to glorify human existence.

This heavenly gift is the heritage of true religion. Let us consider atheism which altogether denies the existence of a supreme, supermundane power which controls the destiny of mortal beings. According to its doctrine, man himself has the prerogative to work out his own salvation without hindrance from a heavenly God or any other celestial force. Man says atheism is a free, self-regulating agent, unhampered by divine interference, trammeled in his actions only by the actions of his earthly associates. We can readily discern the fallacy of this belief for our daily experiences would tell us that there are certain phenomena in nature and in life of every individual which are beyond man’s fragmentary knowledge and earthly power and which cannot be ascribed to sheer accident. Furthermore, certain acts of man can only be associated with a belief in a transcendent Deity who covereth the heavens and ruleth the earth. Thus, for instance, inner urge and conscience are not man-motivated but God-ordained. The promptings of man’s conscience amply illustrate the fear of God that man has within him.

Our experience would tell us that were man bereft of the belief in God they would swallow one another in lust and selfishness and in an insatiable desire to gain mastery over earthly treasures. Again, atheism destroys the belief in the immortality of the soul in that this doctrine involves the supernatural and is germinated by a sincere trust in a God. We can readily understand the dangers of this erroneous conception. The God fear and the hope in the saving power of His strong arm are checks on the animal in man and control of the base longings of his heart. Just as in our social order, we have evidenced the internecine effects of too much freedom and prerogative. The absence of a belief in God who granting man free will nevertheless controls his destiny, would result in a complete reversal of all that centuries and centuries of struggle and strife on the part of history’s heroes had accomplished for the mental and ethical progress of mankind.

Let us consider now the opposite extreme! Fatalism holds that everything that happens to man is preordained and foreseen. If man is born with the yoke of predestination as his birthright, there would be little need for these forces which develop the mind and strengthen the character of humans. Why endure all the privations of life, why bear suffering, why strive to better yourself if all will be in vain and if whatever the Almighty has decreed for man cannot be averted by prayer and good deeds? Were predestination a reality, the coward would be the equal of the hero, the wicked would be at part with the good. Life would be a vale of tears, leading to an impregnable fortress of suffering; human existence would be an empty bubble and death the bursting thereof. Civilization, as man’s expression of the divine that is within him, the self-sacrifice of our martyrs, the privations of our God-inspired prophets and sages, the persecution of men who died for principle and ideal, the efforts of those who sought to make earth the radiant habitat of understanding and sympathetic humans would all have been in vain. Life would present a rather dull and drab picture, a colorless depiction of greed and apathy, of selfishness and avarice, of pain and peril, of sorrow and unhappiness.

The achievements of man, the efforts of champions of righteousness must find exemplification in earnest and sincere enterprises on the part of men. Mortals must sense their individual responsibilities in conscious endeavors to better themselves and in labors of love and devotion which will enrich the lives of those about them. To follow the lines of least resistance, to live selfish, isolated lives, unmindful of obligation and duty on the plea that fate has so decreed is a betrayal of trust and responsibility and defeats the very purpose of life and existence.

Man is encouraged to strive for greater achievement when he realizes the happy medium and herein true religion plays an important and efficient role. Religion recognizes that God in His omniscience and omnipresence has the power to foresee all that takes place in mundane affairs. It would be paralogistic to argue that a great and powerful God could not foretell the deeds or actions of His earthly children. And yet we would not be limiting His omnipotence were we were to posit that we as His creatures an exercise our privileges as thinking, reasoning men and women who are vested with permission to choose either the good or the evil, the life-giving forces of social relationships or the death-dealing defiances of all that is conducive to development and well-being.

The sages say, “Everything is foreseen yet free will is given.” Religion urges us in our daily lives neither to assume the attitude of the atheist that we are free to labor without realizing that there is a God who controls our destiny and guides our way, nor to cherish the philosophy of fatalism blindly resigned to fate. It is true, of course, that certain phenomena of life are beyond the power of man’s free will. Thus we come into this world against our will; we die without seeking death; we are powerless to ascertain what will befall us in the realm beyond earth. And still predestination does not answer all that materializes in one’s lifetime. Let us grant that certain events in our careers are foreordained. We are born; we die. But the ordinary happenings are determined by man himself. We can be good; we can violate every moral and ethical precept. We can dwarf our finer instincts or nourish our better impulses. We can be selfish and self-centered; or we can be altruistic and self-sacrificing. We can support these factors which will enrich and enhance life, or we can impede progress by breach of duty. We can further the cause of our religious institutions or we can assume an attitude of indifference thereto. We can play the role of the sycophant, the cajoler, the hypocrite or we can be sincere, honest, upright men. We can be liberal in our philanthropic endeavors or we can turn a deaf ear to the cry of the needy and the fatherless. We can make this world an earthly paradise or we can transform it into a chaldron of hate and venom. “I set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse.”

But, “choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed.” Man cannot find reasonable excuse for his evil ways in the assertion that his actions on earth are preordained. He cannot shirk responsibility of his deeds on the pretense of his deeds on the pretense that he is a powerless creature of fate, that he is naught but clay in the hands of the potter. This would, perchance, make God’s plan of ruling the universe of little avail. No! There is purpose in the eternal world; there is a place on earth or the proper exercise of free will even though certain phenomena are beyond man’s suzerainty, call these predestined or accident. Every mental, moral, spiritual and physical capacity and capability of man must be dedicated to the consecration of life. Character, culture, education, enlightenment, wisdom are cogs in the wheels of man’s material and spiritual progress.

Life is not a playground, an arena of pleasure for him who would exercise only his free will. It is not the slough of despair, of pessimism for him who would only see an inexorable goddess of predestination holding the balance of power over our lives. It is a glorious drama in which man, the player, can play his part, acting, serving his fellowmen, consecrating life to greater purpose and nobler consequence:

“Not enjoyment and not sorrow,

“Is our destined end or sway;

“But to act, that each tomorrow,

“Finds us further than today.”

---Myron Meyer, St. Joseph Gazette, St. Joseph, Mo., June 26, 1932.

Religion may best be defined as the binding of first personality into a higher personality. That higher personality in the universal sense if God. That man, from his earliest beginnings, craves to realize a true and deep knowledge of the association that binds him unto God, must be apparent to the thinking.

That this process of binding of personality must begin with the very beginning of educational life is evident from the fact of its universality. The principles that are universal, and that are bedded in the fundamental concept of a universal goodness, must reach the child during the formative period in his life.

The teaching of religion is nothing short of character building, and the first cannot be accomplished without the other.

---Isaac L. Rypins, St. Paul Globe, St. Paul, Minn., Jan. 15, 1905.

Religion in its highest sense is the aspiration of man after God, the feeling in man which urges him to bring God down into his soul and the lifting of his soul up to God.

---Tobias Schanfarber, Warrensburg News, Warrensburg, N.Y., Feb. 9, 1911.

The word religion is derived from a Latin word “religiere,” which means “to bind.” Religion, then, is an invisible tie, or an invisible thread by which all our ideas, all our events, all our feelings, are held together.

Without that invisible tie or thread, our ideas, and events, and feelings would be scattered like beads when the cord is broken.

We need religion to save us from loneliness. Without religion, of some kind, we are utterly alone—alone like a tiny island in a vast sea. Without religion things are not related; facts are piled up pell-mell; there is no sequence or significance to them. Life has no plan, no purpose, no meaning.

We need religion to direct us toward happiness; religion properly understood tells us how to be happy. Our universal desire is to be happy. Religion makes it plain that not all kinds of happiness make us happy; some kinds of happiness must be counted out, not counted in. Religion tells us what test we ought to apply to happiness in order to ascertain its real value. What is that test? It is the test of continuation. This means that if happiness is good today, but it is not good tomorrow, it is not real happiness. If it brings a present joy, but brings with it a future regret, or pain, or bitterness, or remorse, it is not a valuable possession.

If it operates only under favoring conditions, but uncertain, it is not of any lasting value. In a word, religion tells us how to be happy.

Religion gives man dignity, character, worth, and nobleness. At this juncture, I ought to say that I have in mind only the broad, general principle of religion, not the various details, which tend to divide rather than unite. The details do not always give man the dignity and character and worth and nobleness. But, the general principle of religion does. It is this general principle of religion I have in mind, which does make greater the worth of the individual.

This worth which religion associates with man cannot be measured by the silver yardstick, or weight in golden scales. This worth rather is above gold and silver; this worth rather depends upon personality, will, justice, truthfulness, fellow-feeling. Because of the great worth religion attributes to man, there is meaning in the last crisis of man; namely, death.

Religion rightly asks: “Is human life worth only the little space man occupies? Is it worth only the morsel of bread man eats? Is this all man may claim as his possession? A few years of life, and then what? Then he perishes?”

Would not such a view put man on the same level of animal and plant life? The animal also eats, drinks, sleeps and perishes. Also plants take food; also plants require drink. Also plants wither and decay.

Man, animal, plant—are these all the same? Religion says, “No.” They are most decidedly not the same. They are dissimilar in life; they are dissimilar in death. In this life, man subdues both animal and plant. When this life comes to an end, another world opens up before man. In the language of religion, this new world is known as the world of soul.

But, is this not rather difficult to believe? How can a soul live without a body? How can we speak of life when the spark of life is gone?

Once more, religion steps in to address its remarks to puzzled man. Religion says to him: “Take the function of the prism as an illustration—that bar of glass which transmits light. Would anyone say that there can be no light without the prism, without the messenger, as it were—the purpose of which is only to bring the light; but, the prism is not the light itself. The prism may be broken into a thousand pieces; yet the light remains, the light shines on regardless of the bar of glass.

The soul of man is the universal, the eternal light. His body is the prism, the window through which the soul shines—through which the soul sends forth its light.

At death, the window, the prism—is broken. At death, the body decomposes, decays; it returns its elements whence they came: dust to dust, ashes to ashes. But the light goes on; the soul lives on. The fact that there is no more window does not signify that there is no more light.

Religion singles out man as the favorite of all creation. In so doing, religion removes the crushing weight from the aching heart of the afflicted. It turns the vase stretch of wilderness into a valley strewn with flowers; it holds out comfort, and consolation, and patience, and hope to the bereaved in moments of affliction; it makes greater the worth of man; it gives him a place of distinct honor in this world and in the world after this one.

Do we need religion today?

Yes. We certainly do need religion today, no less than man needed it a hundred thousand years ago.

Without religion, we would be utterly alone, like a tiny island in the vast sea. With it life binds us to one another and to life itself, even as the thread holds together the numberless single beads.

Without religion, our happiness would not be real. It would be just for the moment. With it, our joy becomes a real valuable possession to us.

Without religion, we would be worth no more than animal or plant; they live, we live; they perish, we perish. With it, we become the favorites of creation.

In a word, religion is life itself at its best. It knits us all together. It forms a fellowship in dreams, in joy, in tragedy, in inspiration, in hope.

It binds the dead to the living and the living to those yet unborn. When religion enters our hearts, nature gains a Master; history, a goal; the past brings a lesson; the future, a hope.

---Julius Berger, The Canadian Jewish Chronicle, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Feb. 1, 1929.

“In whatever place My name may be mentioned, I will come unto thee and bless thee.”

There is a recognition in these words of the truth that the quality of sacredness is not necessarily native and indigenous to any particular place or time or person. One individual, one piece of earth, one twenty-four hours of time, has no more of natural inherent holiness to it than any other individual piece of earth or twenty-four hours of time. It is we human beings, in the final analysis, who by common consent impart into and invest with sacred character that which we accept and respect as sacred.

The domain of the sacred, as I see it, comprehends and is coterminous with the whole of human life. There is nothing as it related to the life of man which is irredeemably secular, but everything on the contrary may be or may become sacred. Religion is of little importance and worth if it goes not with man as a constant influence in his life, a constant companion, mentor and guide. It claims properly the whole field of the secular for its own, and thus in a very real sense, as has already been suggested, nothing irreclaimably secular, everything is potentially sacred.

The commonest, the most trifling act may be a religious, a sacred act, if done in the right spirit and from the right motive, if done sincerely and piously, with intelligence reverence and not superstitiously. For religion essentially and fundamentally is but this—an expression of man’s relation to God, and wherever a man accordingly is rightly related to the facts, the conditions, the laws of life and universe, which ultimately are the laws of God, he is rightly related to God; he is, in a word, religious.

Religion is thus our expression of ourselves, of our real selves, wherever we may be, on every day and in every moment of our lives, weekday and Sabbath alike, in office or factory, at desk or treadle or lathe, on the bustling marts of trade or in the quiet recesses of the study, sanctuary or home, whether engaged in buying or selling, in creating or producing commodities, or the more precious ideas—religion, the religion of each of us in every such moment and in every such place and event, and not on Sabbaths and in the shrine of worship and while at prayers merely, is thus constantly expressing itself, for the only religion, first and last, that any of us has, really and truly has, is the religion we live.

---Samuel Hirshberg, Milwaukee Sentinel, Milwaukee, Wis., Nov. 3, 1918.

Religions are many; religion is one. It is a part, the noblest part, of the experience of the human race upon this planet. It is man's reacting upon the universe in the farthest reaches of his imagination and in the deepest emotions of his heart, and in the course of it all, finding God. And out of this treasure trove of the Divine Father opens the higher road, the dream and gleam of the human soul for goodness and mercy, for justice and truth and brotherhood. Religion is the discovery of God, the hearing of His voice, and the making of His laws regnant on earth; doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God.

—David Lefkowitz, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, May 19, 1939.

Life can be considered enriched by the growth of man's mind and soul. A dead, dull, dreary, stale world can be converted into a Garden of Eden, once man develops his mind and heart to the point at which he can behold the real beauty of poetry of life. His eyes must be made to see, his ears must be taught to hear. There are manifold beauties to be discovered. There are songs full of melody and harmony to be enjoyed. The whole of life might well become something precious and very wonderful if properly conceived; nor can religion be lacking in the complete development of a human being. It must be the keystone of the arch of his existence. Man must learn to see God in every blade of grass, in every shining star, in the countenance of his neighbor and in the joy of service.

—E.F. Magnin, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, Calif., Feb. 18, 1924.

Spiritual thinking is the act of looking upon every event through a larger perspective, seeing things in the light of their indications rather than merely the immediate.

—Samuel H. Goldenson, New York Times, New York, N.Y., Nov. 13, 1939.

SUFFERING

Properly viewed, pain is not merely a caution of danger but a call of dignity. Your suffering may make you cynical and sour, or careful and sympathetic. If you are master of yourself and not a mere servant or slave of circumstances you will even convert sorrow into a soil from which shall sprout virtues of beauty and fragrance. Heaven is always gemmed with stars. It requires darkness to exhibit their brilliance. Accordingly, pain does not condemn God. It challenges your character.

---Alexander Lyons, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, N.Y., Aug. 31, 1932.

Pain is priceless to the people who have the knowledge and the determination to react to it properly. Faced with the dignity of which we each are capable it can be found to be an angel in disguise. It may be divine or devilish, as we choose.

Confront your suffering or sorrow with forward-looking, prophetic vision and you will discover that it is freighted with the benign possibility of preventing life from becoming an unthinking, mechanical, petrified habit and of prompting and prodding it into the progressive piety of an ascending aspiration.

---Alexander Lyons, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, N.Y., Oct. 12, 1932.

TEMPTATION

Whenever you face a temptation to do wrong, resist is and you will be double rewarded. In the first place you will have the joy of having been good and brave enough to withstand the test. In the next place you will have added to your moral strength to overcome when you confront the next trial. Ponder and put this to proof and you will conclude that in the long run, goodness does govern. God’s processes may at times proceed slowly and their purpose be postponed, but they are never prevented.

---Alexander Lyons, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, N.Y., Jan. 11, 1933.

TRIALS & TRIBULATIONS

To the proper spiritual construction of life trial is essential to triumph. The right spiritual disposition dignifies every experience by sublimating it into something other or finer.

---Alexander Lyons, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, N.Y., June 22, 1932.

"God creates the remedy before the disease."

This gem of wisdom is found in the midst of a lengthy Talmudic discussion in which a number of rabbis were trying to reach an understanding about the meaning of a particularly Biblical passage.

The idea of a remedy existing before the onset of the disease it can cure has tremendous implications for all of us as we try to cope with the often agonizing problems of daily living.

So many times we may feel as if we have reached a stone wall as we move from one experience after another. But the real challenge comes with trying to find a way to get beyond the "wall"--beyond the barrier--to be able to enjoy the attainment of our personal goals.

Examples of the remedy before the disease as it applies to Jewish history would include the existence of the Promised Land long before the years of Egyptian bondage for the Israelites. The Promised Land also was present as a refuge for many survivors of the Holocaust who could no longer return to their homes in war-ravaged Europe.

America was also the land of promise for the Jews who fled the oppression and programs of Eastern Europe more than a century earlier. When life became unbearable in one place, there was always another location where life could begin again.

So, too, in the life experience of many people there are many disappointments. Some of these setbacks may relate to work where a job is terminated, or to a family situation in which the only solution may very well be a divorce. These are certainly traumatic circumstances, but they are not necessarily the end of the world or the end of life.

So often, the individual who is deeply affected by these difficult events is actually granted the freedom to find a new opportunity and a new sense of purpose for his or her life. The new opportunity becomes the remedy and what may literally be a new lease on life takes on new value.

Moving to a new location, or taking on a new job, or marrying someone different may actually become the best thing that could have ever happened in a person's life. And the change was made possible by what would otherwise be viewed as difficult conditions. And there are also lessons learned about oneself that can provide new inner strength and encouragement.

There is no question that pain comes along with problems in life. Physical or mental pain is real for the person who has to go through the agony and the anxiety of major changes in life. However, the pain might, hopefully, be softened in time as the person realizes new horizons have opened up and a new direction can be charted enabling someone to move forward.

The death of a husband or wife brings its own extraordinary heartache. It is clearly a deeper kind of hurting. Recovery is possible in what may seem to be a terribly long time, but adjustments eventually do come along with important changes in the patterns of living.

The changes in job or marriage do not mean failure. Sometimes things do not work out well as people relate to one another. From time to time, personalities do clash and strongly held different opinions may alienate people from each other. This, however, does not have to spell defeat.

There is always some place else to turn or someone else with whom to work or with whom to share a marriage. And it is amazing that there are so many options available to us when things do not work out as we may have planned.

Life can really be a puzzle at times, and each of us has only one lifetime in which to work out the solution. The search for the remedy for our ailments ultimately depends upon the choices we make for ourselves.

—Arnold S. Task, Alexandria Daily Town Talk, Alexandria, La., Nov. 9, 1996.

TROUBLE

Laughter is an unfailing magnet. It always draws. It is the one human element that we are born with, though many of us try to smother it and put tones of sorrow in its place. Most people look at troubles through a microscope. Some of us complain of trouble as if it were a stepchild, and yet nurse it carefully as our very own. There are two kinds of trouble—the kind you have and the kind you haven’t. … The energy you waste on worry over troubles draws the vitality and makes you less fit for the fray.

---Sophie Irene Loeb, The Evening World, New York, N.Y., Sept. 17, 1913.

Have you noticed that trouble is always something that started out as fun?

---Jack Rosenbaum, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco, Calif., Jan. 5, 1975.

TRUTH

Untruth is ruinous to excellence in the soul. Beware of untruth! It is inferiority and weakness. It will not stand the test of time. Truth is the first law in forming character, in producing happiness. Let us not degenerate truth by letting it crawl along the earth like an eagle whose wings have been broken; rather let it wing its way heavenward in vigorous flight to reach the very throne of God whose “seal is truth.”

---Julius Berger, The Canadian Jewish Chronicle, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Sept. 22, 1922.

Wisdom means the unity and consistency of the wise life. It means also its breadth and inclusiveness. And is not its dignity and worth attested by the lives of others, above all of those whom we must cherish, whom we dearly love? What is the note of their lives that sounds most clearly for us? Why do we love them, why do we venerate them? Is it because of outward things, accidental things, their riches or their gifts? Ah, is it not their heart virtues that have won our hearts; their spiritual dignity that awakens reverence? And is not this, in the highest sense, wisdom to get what is best worth having in life? And what is best worth having is Wisdom. It is a magic circle.

—Leon Harrison, The Jewish Voice, St. Louis, Mo., Sept. 18, 1914.

WISDOM

Learn wisdom from the man who has found success rather than from the man who awaits it.

---Sophie Irene Loeb, The Evening World, New York, N.Y., Dec. 30, 1913.

WORSHIP

The first element in the composition of good men should be reverence without slavish fear; a feeling of submission before the majesty of the universe, that thrills the heart with awe, and tempers the mind with humility. This quality of reverence distinguishes man from the brute creation; for he, alone of all creatures, lifts up his voice in supplication, praise and prayer to Him who rules above.

—A.J. Messing, The Daily Picayune, New Orleans, La., April 4, 1903.

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