- Religion and Philosophy
Inspirational Quotations by Jewish Authors #3
Religious Inspirational Quotations
TOPICS: Contentment; Gratitude (Thanksgiving); Happiness & Joy; Optimism & Pessimism; Peace; Smiles.
The lesson of contentment is a most invaluable lesson for people to learn. People think that they will have no worry as soon as they will accumulate a great fortune. They make a grievous error thinking so. “Uneasy rests the head that wears a crown,” is an old proverb to which might be added, that equally as uneasy walks and rests the body that is laden with fortune and fame. Perhaps it would be quite in order to consider the words of a lady who was reported to have remarked one day that she had no time to pray for things she had not, because she was kept so busy thanking God for what she has and for what she has had. Life is wonderful; let us keep it so by developing a wholesome attitude toward life. And this let us do by promoting good health, by doing useful work, and by fostering a spirit of wise contentment.
---Julius Berger, The Canadian Jewish Chronicle, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, April 5, 1929.
Peace if one of the varied gifts and graces which we ask God to grant us. That God grant peace to our land, and to all those who dwell within it, is always our fervent prayer. With that prayer we are all familiar, so familiar that it is commonplace to repeat its teaching. What we are a little less familiar with is the very opposite teaching: namely, discontent, noble discontent. Noble discontent ought not to be confused with mere restlessness or the bondage of unsatisfied desire; it ought not be confused with mere repression or uneasiness in mind; it ought not be confused with mere strife and struggle. Noble discontent rather means movement, progress, and development. Civilization, as we know it, came into being because of such discontent; man improved his lot because he was nobly discontented with it; attempts have been made and are being made at eradicating evil because man refused to rest content with imperfection. This kind of discontent is, indeed, noble; this kind of discontent eventually finds tranquility even in the tumult; this kind of discontent sees in peace nothing else but continuous, joyous activity—which at once reconciles and strengthens and calms us, and clears our vision.
---Julius Berger, The Canadian Jewish Chronicle, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, June 21, 1929.
The gray cloud of discontent makes a shadow and covers the silver lining.
---Sophie Irene Loeb, Washington Times, Washington, D.C., Jan. 2, 1913.
Selfish discontent is a vile and vicious thing. Unselfish discontent is the greatest glory of the human race.
—Harry H. Mayer, Kansas City Post, Kansas City, Mo., Feb. 29, 1920.
The Hebrew language has no equivalent of our word “think.” Where we use thanks, the Hebrew speaks of acknowledgment, recognition. Upon making the thankful offering of the first fruits, the farmer did not say, “I return thanks,” but “I acknowledge this day before the Lord, that I am come unto the land which the Lord swore unto our fathers to give us.”
Our expressed gratitude unto God is always implied assumption of an obligation, the verbally stated recognition of an indebtedness. In thanking God, we promise that what we have received shall be utilized not selfishly, but for the best interest to others.
“Give and receive and go forth to bless the world which needs heart and hand.” A true philosophy of thanksgiving canonizes the remembering of the weaker, the sadder, the suffering brother. The law concerning our Jewish festival which our national tide of gratitude has copied was most emphatic in bringing before the faithful this sacred obligation. True joy would come to him alone who embraced in his kindliness on that day all that carried the heavier burdens of life. To render assistance to struggling and sinking fellow creatures, to extend to them a helping hand, and aid them that they may not fall—this is the active love of our fellowman enjoined on us by the Holy Scriptures.
Listen to the words of an old and venerable teacher in Israel. Hillel, the great, said, “If I only look after my own self, what am I?” Man is more than a self-sustaining machine or a mere piece of egotism; he has to bring many sacrifices for the welfare of the whole. As a being connected with the large heart of humanity, he has to extend his help and sympathy wherever it is wanted.
The hand of God is in every happiness that comes to the people. Men who believe that their hand alone was the instrument which under shrewd control turned the brittle iron of untoward circumstances unto the elastic steel of assured fortune, men who think that their own brain flashes forth whatever thought is theirs and that their own imagination is the architect of their higher world, will not, cannot join in the chorus of gratitude; for where is he to whom or that to which they should be declared indebted?
The old Bible already had the opportunity to brush against men of this disposition, for in Deuteronomy we find the caution, “Say not, the skill of my hand and the strength of my arm have wrought unto me power.”
We are appointed trustees of our own talents, of our genius, of our possessions. “Give and receive,” and go forth to bless the world which needs heart and hand. Every gift rewards with compensation larger than the donation.
In saying, “I thank thee, O God,” we declare that the world is made unto goodness. We humbly confess that we are not the maker of our fortune. Nature has arranged that gratitude shall be the first subject of man’s instruction in the school of life.
---Jacob Klein, The Watchman and Southron, Sumter, S.C., Dec. 13, 1905.
This day of Thanksgiving affords us an opportunity to think of something else besides the almighty dollar, which some of us are thinking of all the time. This is a day when other and more lofty thoughts should animate us, and when we should consider more than mere worldly possession, which do not always bring true happiness. Poor men often have greater cause for thanksgiving than millionaires, because they rejoice in the affections of family, of friendship, and think more of honor and reputation than the sordid chase of wealth.
Money fails to buy character or reputation, although everything nowadays is measured by money or from a financial point of view. Get rid of that false habit of estimating wealth as above everything else. It is your own fault if you do not strive to attain moral excellence and uprightness.
You must accomplish deeds of charity and benevolence. In these Thanksgiving services if we could only thank God for the knowledge of good deeds done and of righteous acts performed, how much better off we would be. We should consider money a little less and morals a little more.
Let a higher order of civic virtue and probity mark the life of everyone in this city. Be free from even a suspicion of wrongdoing. Steer a straight course in order to maintain for our city a reputation of honesty and uprightness instead of a reputation of power and riches.
---Jacob Nieto, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, Calif., Nov. 30, 1906.
Praise is interwoven with and implied in prayer, for both prayer and praise emanate from one source, namely, perfect faith and belief in God. The true believer in disclosing his heart in supplication before the Almighty proves his hope and confidence and dependence upon Him, and thus he tacitly adores and glorifies His holy name. The unbeliever, however, never feels the necessity of uttering words of prayer or praise.
---Falk Vidaver, Lincoln County Leader, Toledo, Ore., Oct. 26, 1906
I would not decry the spirit of personal thanksgiving but I would decry that spirit that fails to consider the fellowman and refuses to take into account the neighbor who struggles to attain.
If you and I have cause, individually, to give thanks, let us do so in silent prayer and inward communion with the power above. Let us by honest introspection find how unworthily we deserve the many favors showered upon us.
It seems to me that the psalmist was uttering a truth we have not fully realized when he declares that only he shall sojourn in God’s tabernacle and dwell in his holy hill, who walks uprightly, worketh righteousness and speaketh the truth in his heart. Read and re-read the fifteenth psalm and see if you can find aught about creeds therein, study it carefully and learn the ideal fellowship of man! A thanksgiving that fails to recognize this fellowship and it not broad enough to entice by its very breadth and beauty American citizens as citizens does not help in the development of the democratic spirit.
---Martin Zielonka, El Paso Herald, El Paso, Texas, Nov. 30, 1911
To count our blessings isn't being a rosy-glasses, Pollyanna softie--it's one clear sure way to see the good in life, the comfort, the hope.
People who cannot do this speak and think and dwell only on their problems or sadnesses.
Pure, cold logic never spoke the whole language of mankind's birth, growth, and progress.
Logic never crossed the t's and dotted the i's in words like faith, optimism, humanity, trust, tranquility or spirit.
There may be no "logic" in a feeling of thankfulness this week or any other week, but that single cold fact won't stop most of us from feeling it just the same.
One man's boon has often been another man's boredom, but if it strikes any heart as a blessing, then a bell rings somewhere.
And the entire experience of feeling grateful instead of angry, that's just another way of putting the love word, "Thanksgiving."
---Laura Z. Hobson, Dallas Times Herald, Dallas, Texas, Nov. 25, 1954.
Many people will ask in honesty and sincerity how they could thank God while a thousand anxieties plucked at their heartstrings. The only answer is that travail and suffering means good and comes from the Good Divine Physician and Surgeon as He cuts out the cancer of arrogant evil from the body of man.
—David Lefkowitz, Dallas Times Herald, Dallas, Texas, Nov. 23, 1944.
Not only is it a test of faith to thank God in adversity, in difficult days, but genuine thanksgiving at such times also attests that we are neither cowed nor bitterly enraged by the hostile forces about us, and our spiritual resources are strengthened, ennobled and purified.
—David Lefkowitz, Dallas Times Herald, Dallas, Texas, Nov. 25, 1948.
Gratitude demands many sacrifices; that is why it is an oft-neglected virtue. The ungrateful man is like the dishonest debtor who repudiates his debt. Gratitude never ends. The noble soul will overestimate the value of a gift.
—Myron Meyerovitz, Alexandria Daily Town Talk, Alexandria, La., Nov. 24, 1921.
It takes a mature person to arrive at a spirit of thanksgiving, even when life is not sweet and comfortable. We may give thanks for the bounty of nature and its promise for the future. We imagine that it is the scientist who created electricity. We pride ourselves on the achievements of medicine and miracle drugs. But these are gifts of nature, of God, if you will. Man only discovers these things, he does not create them. We may truly offer thanks for the lives of all men and women who share this earth with us. We are dependent upon all the creatures of earth for our food, our clothing and our shelter. When we truly learn interdependence and give thanks to God for each other, we shall be far up the road to a more peaceful and secure world.
—Levi A. Olan, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Nov. 23, 1950.
The sanctity of human personality is founded upon man's own ability to rise or to fall. No other living thing possesses this independence, this dramatic uncertainty, this thrilling alternative to rise or to fall. What a marvelous pageantry of character is found between these polar extremes, the excitement of the quest is there, the thrill of the search is in it, the magnetism of the goal, the objective, the height to be reached. And this very age in which we live, trembling with its volcanic social eruptions, is an age when the hammer of God is pounding upon the anvil of history the reality of tomorrow. This is an age which pulsates with movement, which throbs with life, the most vivid perhaps in the history of mankind. We have reached that point in history where it is possible for us to go forward into the brightest age that mankind has ever known. How petty to complain, how unworthy of the opportunity which is ours to cry out against God and the world and mankind and human nature. If ever there was a time when the bigness of the real issues of life ought to put an end to the little, insignificant, trivial, nervous complaints of young and old alike, it is now--this remarkable "now" in which it is possible for us, as never before, not only to crown God's good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea, but to carry the blessings of life from one end of the earth to the other. Enough then of silly complaints, of petty peevishness, of carping criticism. If there is a motto to be put up in your home and mine, let it be three words, "Count your blessings." Yes, count your blessings that your attitude be one of affirmation, of gratitude, of thankfulness, of confidence. Look up and forward. Tomorrow belongs to those who rejoiced today. Try being thankful. Try the method of seeing the good in life and not the bad and it won't be long before complaints will pass away from your mind and in its place will come the enjoyment of life, the power to do your job successfully and that greatest gift of all, which is to love God and your fellow man.
—Hyman Judah Schachtel, Houston Post, Houston, Texas, Jan. 9, 1954.
One of the most neglected ways of adding happiness to human relationship is the simple kindness of expressing love and appreciation. Rare is the husband who tells his wife, often enough, how much he loves her. Almost as rare is the wife who lets her husband know, often enough, how much she loves him. The result of this failure to speak fondly and affectionately leads to miserable misunderstanding. Consider too how infrequent are the expressions of appreciation between neighbors, friends, employer and employees. Are we afraid that if we compliment, if we praise, if we say the gracious word, that we will be taken advantage of in some manner? Do we believe that the habit of thanking and lauding and admiring our friend, our neighbor, the folks we work with and for, will spoil them? We certainly find the time to disapprove, to find fault, to complain and disparage. We do not hesitate to reprimand, to scold and rebuff. Small wonder that so many people get no satisfaction out of their work, no pleasure from their social contacts, no inspiration from family life. Many marriages would never get to the divorce stage if the husband or wife had the good sense to say frequently, "I love you." Similarly, many friendships would endure, many jobs would be kept, many neighbors would be loyal if the people involved would not forget to say "thank you" or "how generous of you" or "what a wonderful job you have done." Words of love and appreciation inspire us to work harder, to do better, to give our all. When we hear no words of love and esteem we lose our enthusiasm and interest. Speak then the words of love and good cheer. Speak out your appreciation and devotion. You will never regret it. It will bring you and others the happiness which abides.
—Hyman Judah Schachtel, Houston Post, Houston, Texas, Feb. 27, 1954.
Thanksgiving Day represents the highest ideals of American democracy. It's a combination of our religious faith and political courage. It tells of our faith in God and our faith in one another. The day is Biblical in origin, coming as it does from the Jewish Fears of Tabernacles, a harvest festival of thanksgiving. Since the early pilgrims were devoted students of the Holy Bible, it was natural for them to find in Holy Writ an example of a day that they wished to follow as an occasion of offering gratitude to God. It is a pity that we moderns have allowed Thanksgiving Day to become merely turkey eating day or football playing day. The feast and the game are good as far as they go, but when they substitute for the prayer in which we should indulge, then we have paganized what ought to be a deeply spiritual experience. On this Thanksgiving Day, more than ever before, it is essential that every American family gathered around the festive table should take time to pray unto God for world peace, for wisdom in our relationship with other nations, for guidance in our personal affairs, as well as to thank Him for the privilege of being an American. It is always proper to give thanks unto God before we eat, but how much greater is the obligation to do this on a day when every American is expected to unite with his neighbor in an expression of thanksgiving unto our Heavenly Father. For any family not to pray on Thanksgiving Day is more than neglect of a noble tradition; it is a rejection of the spirit. Whenever possible we should attend the House of God. And equal with our prayers should be our contributions to worthy causes so that others less fortunate may have reason to be grateful.
—Hyman Judah Schachtel, Houston Post, Houston, Texas, Nov. 20, 1954.
Strange as it may appear and sound, not many people take easily to being thankful. They are presumably taught from infancy to say "thank you;" in school they are urged to be grateful; from elders they are instructed to be appreciative of favors and kindness. Nevertheless, most folks begrudge the word or deed of sincere gratitude beyond a perfunctory expression. Psychologists tell us that frequently people dislike the person who has done them a good turn. The reason for his base ingratitude and porcine response is that we have to admit to ourselves that we are beholden to anyone else for anything that is ours. Moreover, we forget, because we want to, the favors of the past and approach our benefactors with the silent or vocal query, "What have you done for me lately?' Can this be the explanation for the unhappy fate of Thanksgiving Day in our midst? Most of us eat huge amounts of food, enjoy entertainment from football to features in theatres and television. We do almost everything but thank God for our blessings. For shame! What a disgrace and what a surrender to gross animal appetite. Let us be worthy sons and daughters of God. Let us revive the spiritual note in Thanksgiving Day. To develop the sense of gratitude to God and country and fellowmen is to rise as a human being and make life a more gracious experience for all.
—Hyman Judah Schachtel, Houston Post, Houston, Texas, Nov. 19, 1955.
How much we take for granted! Our health. Our love. Our freedom. Our prosperity. Not until we lose our health, are without love, are deprived of freedom, are reduced to poverty--Ah, then we know the value of our blessings. Then we reprove ourselves for not appreciating good fortune when it was ours. Bitterly, we bemoan our fate and yearn for the days when life was wonderful. Must it always be true that we have to suffer the loss of a blessing to realize how precious it is? Is there no other way of learning to prize and cherish the brighter hours except to be plunged into darkness? It seems to be so. The mature person is a product of adversity. He takes nothing for granted. Through experience he is aware of the uncertainty in all things, their temporal, fleeting presence. Yet we do not have to lose our blessings in order to hold them dear and thus be blessed forever. Those who are truly religious, who pray privately and in the sanctuary; those who walk with God and serve Him continually are everlastingly grateful for whatever benefits they enjoy. Since thankfulness is at the heart of religion and prayer, the spiritually minded are always expressing their appreciation of God's bounty. They are able, through religious faith, to understand the ephemeral nature of eternal values of the spirit. A religious man can walk with understanding and courage through the challenging world of the here and now because his eyes also see the abiding glory of the world beyond.
—Hyman Judah Schachtel, Houston Post, Houston, Texas, March 24, 1956.
Thanksgiving elevates man to the heights of ethical perfection. In recognizing his Maker and the goodness bestowed by Him, man shows humility and understanding. Health, happiness and prosperity are not the results of our own intellect and the labor of our own hands only, but the gifts from the all-merciful God to whom genuine thanks are due. In rising every morning, we give thanks in our prayers for our refreshed bodies and souls. On partaking of food, we give thanks for the nourishment that is granted us.
—Solomon Shapiro, Houston Post, Houston, Texas, May 24, 1952.
Gratitude, a beautiful and inspiring sentiment, implies all the human and divine virtues, the sentiment of love, justice and righteousness.
—Mayer Winkler, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, Calif., Nov. 24, 1924.
As we think about Thanksgiving and the many joys we recounted, what are the blessings that come to mind? We could probably enumerate such blessings as good health, a happy family life, loving children and grandchildren, caring and concerned friends, a decent livelihood, a roof over our heads, good clothing and adequate food, political, religious and economic freedom--the list could go on and one. Yet, rarely, if ever, do we recount our failures and setbacks as blessings of any kind. The fact is that we would prefer to forget the day we were told that we were no longer needed at our job, the time we were turned down for the position we wanted so badly, the experience of receiving the failing grade in that one subject or the evening when hardly anyone showed up for the party we had planned. Such remembrances are deeply painful--we would like to bury them away in the far recesses of our minds. And yet, these setbacks and failures of our lives need to be included among all real blessings. For there is, believe it or not, an enduring blessing in all of our failures, disappointments and hurts. First of all, they can teach us compassion and understanding. Too often, success only causes us to become insensitive to and unconcerned about those individuals and groups less fortunate than we. Suffering and setbacks deepen our capacity to hear the silent cries for help and be more responsive to the inner pain of others. Failure and setbacks can awaken and arouse the best that is latent within us--such experiences can be growth-producing. The blows we suffer in life make us stronger. Those who have had to cope with great sorrow and tragedy in their youth are those who can best cope with life as years go on.
—Richard Zionts, Shreveport Journal, Shreveport, La., Nov. 26, 1983.
HAPPINESS & JOY
Create the clime of cheer rather than the dirge of discord.
---Sophie Irene Loeb, The Evening World, New York, N.Y., Dec. 21, 1911.
Mix the oil of gladness with the vinegar of sadness, so that the sauce of life may be palatable.
---Sophie Irene Loeb, The Evening World, New York, N.Y., Dec. 21, 1911.
The way to happiness is often paved with sacrifice.
---Sophie Irene Loeb, The Evening World, New York, N.Y., Dec. 30, 1913.
Good cheer is the everyday prescription which keeps hearts alive.
---Sophie Irene Loeb, The Evening World, New York, N.Y., Dec. 30, 1913.
Happiness is just like a mirror. It reflects just what you give it. The only trouble is that most people want it to magnify.
---Sophie Irene Loeb, The Evening World, New York, N.Y., Feb. 9, 1915.
A happy thought expressed during a meal is worth three pills in aid of digestion.
---Sophie Irene Loeb, Washington Times, Washington, D.C., Jan. 2, 1913.
“I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed.” (Deuteronomy 3:19.)
The road most humans travel is a crowded one, a busy one. The poet, Samuel Johnson, in his “Vanity of Human Wishes” says significantly:
“Let observation with extensive view,
Survey mankind from China to Peru,
Remark each anxious toil, each eager strife,
And watch the busy scenes of crowded life.”
I often wonder if our civilization with its intricate maze of machinery and network of mechanism is not robbing man of his privilege to be a free-thinking moral agent. Most men lack initiative because they are creatures of the machine. Their daily habits and everyday routine of living are ordered and followed out mechanically without regard to personal gift or philosophy. Men walk the streets of our cities feverishly, groping in the dark blindly following the beaten path. There is a constant hustle and bustle, and he who tarries to contemplate the beauties of a sunset or of a gorgeous array of trees, literally is pushed aside by those who trample their way to material success. Man’s vision becomes insensible to the grandeur of the natural because his eyes behold the skyline and not the sky, the blazing cauldron of industry, not the glow of the sun, the smoking furnace of manufacture instead of the magnificence of the mountain range.
The machine has mastered man and made him slow to perceive the realities of human existence and the opportunity to be better himself spiritually. It has dulled his finer sensibilities and made him the slave of the age in which he lives. As a consequence, he evaluates those forces which have given him all manner of comfort and convenience by shifting standards, changing with the onrush of science and invention. He becomes fettered to a life of routine, of sameness, of inaneness and vapid activity. No longer the master, he becomes bound to the very soil on which he treads, he cannot exercise the privilege of using his individuality to pursue his course in life. He follows the lines of least resistance; he lacks a sense of personal responsibility; he is content to play the game, “Follow the Leader,” without questioning its merits. The age calls for a longing after material gain, for unbridled and unlicensed pleasure and he submits thoughtlessly and foolhardily.
Let us bear in mind, however, that the good life does not demand the total absence of all pleasure and joy. Life is neither pleasureful nor pleasureless. The religion of God does not exact monotony from its devotees’ earthly existence. Nor does it permit unrestrained happiness. The hermit withdrew from society because he illogically supposed that the world was corrupt. He missed, as a consequence, the greatest boon that civilization has given man—wholesome companionship and fraternity with those forces which broaden man’s outlook, strengthen his spiritual and moral well-being and which enable him to participate in those enterprises which transform and glorify life. It is man’s duty to enjoy himself but never at the expense of his finer instincts and nobler impulses. The popularity of the road to pleasure does not indicate its consecration but rather desecration on the part of man of his freedom of will and choice which is God-given and God-granted.
Man’s happier choice is the lone road, untraveled by the multitude, offering no glittering rewards, involving sacrifice and hardship, yet giving a man a satisfaction in duty fulfilled, in responsibility actuated. The road may not be paved with gold, enchanting the mind and luring the eye. It is rough and rugged and the pilgrim to the good life must battle against odds, against existing standards, against the foibles of civilization, against the temptations of mammon-crazed, pleasure-thirsty multitudes. Oft times the way seems too difficult to travel; oft times the heart grows weary and yearns for the easier road, the road to pleasure and material happiness. We think: Why deprive ourselves? Why be different? Why be solitary and lonely? Like one at the forks of an unknown road, we know not which way to turn. But the voice of prudence, of counsel, of experience, brings to man the lessons of time and history. It helps man in his choice because it warns him to be deliberate and cautious, to consider the momentary delights and pleasures which eventually might bring disaster and the road of ideals and noble actions which hazardous for the time being spells reward in a life well-spent, a life of helpfulness and service to God and to man.
The road we select in life is the fruit of our own doing and we pay the penalty or receive the reward. True religion does not hold the error of predestination over its votaries like the sword of Damocles. It instills no fear in man. Nor does it urge man to choose pell-mell, without thought of consequence. It motivates him to be calm, trustful, hopeful, optimistic. It encourages him to consider the justification of the means we employ to reach the end. The road to happiness may lead through pitfall and it may not receive the approval of the populace but its goal, when once attained, spells unbounded joy and satisfaction in a consciousness on the part of the pilgrim that his efforts have yielded plentiful fruit in a life that is richly endowed, that is a source of influence to others and that builds an eternal monument for humankind; one that is more than a memorial of stone, one that is perpetually engraved upon the hearts of men and which motivates them to emulate a noble example.
Let us choose life and blessings, even as the poet-sage counsels:
“Think not too meanly of thy low estate;
Thou hast a choice, to choose is to create!
Remember whose the sacred lips that tell,
Angels approve thee when thy choice is well;
Use well the freedom which thy Master gave.”
---Myron Meyer, St. Joseph Gazette, St. Joseph, Mo., Nov. 9, 1930.
It is better to realize that life is struggle and to prepare to meet it than not to recognize it as struggle and be tossed about by its fierceness and grimness. The fool may be happy, but the wise man is happier. Life is struggle—physically, socially, morally and spiritually.
When you toil for your livelihood with your brain and with your arm—this is physical struggle.
When you are shut out from polite society because of your meager means in spite of your self-respect and honorableness of life—this is social struggle.
When your strong, right conviction regarding an act is overruled by the erroneous judgment of your fellowmen—this is moral struggle.
By these hard facts your life—if intelligent—is embittered, it become skeptical and wretched.
[If] you read in things logical cause and effect, you will see a Divine finger directing events. This is a quality divine. It is the supreme education of life par excellence. Your daily affairs are then ever enlarging the sphere of prescience and safety until it shall comprehend the whole area of existence and provide for the whole gamut of happiness. Then your riddles are solved, your struggle becomes strength; your defeat, victory; your failure, success; your mortality, immortality.
---Isaac A. Hadad, The Canadian Jewish Chronicle, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Jan 14, 1921.
There are some who imagine that their happiness lies in the accumulation of wealth which will enable them to live in luxury. They assert that they strive to attain a certain amount only, and then they will cease and enjoy their accumulated gain. But experience shows that once they had stimulated their appetite for material gain they cannot cease. “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver, not he that loveth abundance, with increase.” In the sweating race for dollars they destroy their health, exhaust their nerves, and are unable to quaff in their draught of happiness. They have no strength to enjoy their material existence, no years to consume their wealth.
There is another mirage, a false vision, which leads men on. It is the love of power and leadership, the desire to exert influence over others, to have power over the lives, bodies and souls of other people. Now, leadership is a very important function. Travelers in a strange land must be guided by leaders to their destination. Mountain climbers who cross the untrodden paths of mountain heights must have guides to keep them from falling into pits and glaciers. And in spiritual matters, when people are tossed about by every wind of political, economic and religious thought, when perplexity and doubt fill the minds of the people, there is a crying need for leadership of conviction, for men who can guide to the paths of truth. But they who desire leadership for selfish purposes for their self-aggrandizement, that leadership can bring them no happiness. It is but a phantom, an idle dream, a mirage.
What then is the path to true happiness? It is something much simpler and less costly than money, or power, or leadership.
First, Health, the vigor of body and mind. Health is not something outside the bounds of religion. … It is part and parcel of our religion in life. It has been God’s plan that man should be healthy, that he should enjoy the blessings of life. He has therefore laid down laws whereby man may live. “These are the laws which ye shall keep in order to live through them.” The dietary laws, the regulations for individual and social purity, are intended for our physical well-being. In the exigencies of modern life the happiness of man is imperiled; he tolls and molls, he strives and struggles, he spends his days in anxieties, his nights in restlessness and fear. The Giver of life is styled in the scriptures, Physician, “For I am the Lord that healeth thee.”
Second, Activity. Activity is an important factor in man’s happiness. Activity must, however, express the creative impulse which is latent in all of us, God-given, divine. Man, in essence, is a creator, himself created in the image of God. We must seek to engage in that work which we are most fitted for, whether in shop, office or study, Then will we not consider our work as drudgery, and seek enjoyment for our over-wrought nerves in exciting pleasures, going to crowded theaters, smoke-dimmed halls for card playing, or alluring dance halls. Work must be restored to its former prestige, to be enjoyed by being creative.
For long ago has the truth been discovered by the Psalmist: “If thou wilt enjoy the work of thy hands happy art thou and it shall be well with thee.” Honest, useful and cheerful work renders dignity to people.
A third requirement for happiness is Good Temper, a spirit of friendship in all our relationships. We are brought into more and more intimate contact with other people because of the many complexities of our age. We must learn to be considerate in our family relations, which will bring us happiness in our homes. Good temper in our social relationships will bring us happiness in our social life. Good temper, sweet reasonableness among nations will bring about that longed-for peace, for which we are all yearning.
Also in hours of distress and affliction we must cultivate equanimity and good temper. To each one of us there must come that hour of bereavement which we are bound sooner or later to face. Let us accept our suffering as “chastisement of love,” suffering which does not entail the interruption of our religious life, maintaining the supremacy of the [scriptures] and devotion in prayer.
And now I come to the last requirement for happiness. This is loving with fiery zeal and flaming devotion for God, and the rich treasures which we possess in religion. We are mutually accountable for each other. Indifference and ignorance come as the mighty breakers of the sea to overwhelm us. Our children must be given their God-given right to education. Their souls are yearning for spiritual treasures, for the spiritual light that has kindled the whole world. This is God’s covenant with us: “My spirit that is upon thee and my words which I have put in thy mouth shall not depart out of thy mouth nor of the mouth of thy children and children’s children, saith the Lord, from henceforth and forever.”
Let us be conscious when we pray to God that the secret of permanent, enduring happiness is not in the glitter of gold, nor in the possession of power and leadership. We must relinquish as inadequate these materialistic interpretations of reality. These are but phantoms, mirages.
Let us seek instead the road that will lead us to the true oasis of good health, creative activity, good temper and sweet reasonableness, and to a life of social service and religious zeal. These will give us, as they gave our fathers, joy in moments of sorrow, hope in hours of despondence, cheer in days of darkness, harmony and happiness enduring forever.
---Joseph Marcus, The Canadian Jewish Chronicle, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Oct. 6, 1922.
From the greatest of us to the smallest, pleasure, happiness and usefulness are largely found in the same soul. Where there is no usefulness, there will be no happiness and pleasure, however glorious and glittering it may be, will ultimately fall upon one, nauseate and disgust one in moments of self-recognition.
—William H. Greenburg, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Oct. 25, 1909.
Make your own happiness. In other words, do not let your peace of mind depend upon conditions over which you have no control. When you cannot change a situation change your attitude toward it.
—Benjamin Kaplan, DeRidder Enterprise, DeRidder, La., Feb. 25, 1949.
Recently I was invited to make some suggestions on how to get more out of our 24 hours of the day. No doubt there are many busy people who would like to discover how to make better use of the limited time at their disposal. However, I don't think that our problem is how to do more than we are doing, but rather it is how to get the most out of our lives. We are already driven fast enough by the tempo of modern existence. People are suffering from nervous breakdowns and heart attacks in their frantic pursuit of doing more than anyone should do within a 24-hour span. We don't need to hurry up, we need to slow down. We do not need new activities, we need to enjoy those in which we are presently engaged. Most of us would be far better off if we did fewer things instead of trying to find more things to do. Perhaps a formula for happiness would be to deepen and to broaden one's enjoyment of the things at hand rather than to try andtry to find delight in some new adventures. Take the time to appreciate your wife or your husband, your children, the friends you have, the work you do. Some people think that in order to enjoy life they have to take a trip across the sea. They take this trip only to find themselves disillusioned when it is all over. They forget that they had to take themselves along and it is the attitude of the self which makes or breaks our happiness. To believe that one needs to do more than one is doing, that one needs to become more active may be good advice for a lazy person, but it can be suicide for an otherwise busy individual. Try to develop the attitude of appreciating what you have. This will be your blessing.
—Hyman Judah Schachtel, Houston Post, Houston, Texas, Jan. 8, 1955.
One of the most common human failings is the way in which many of us are so easily upset and disturbed by the speech and conduct of others, when no harm was meant in the first place. We take umbrage at the slightest criticism and bear a grudge for a long time. We are offended when no offense was intended. We find in the most innocent words, a sinister meaning; in natural gestures, a hostile affront; in normal conduct, an insulting purpose. Obviously, the result of such a vulnerable condition is unhappiness, nervousness, and even illness. Most essential to the composure of our thought and reaction to life is to learn how to accept what others say and do with a sense of humor. Of course there are times when someone in your presence will talk too loudly, or scowl too much, or appear to be hostile and unappreciative. It may be your spouse, your boss, your friend, your children, or anybody. Try to overlook these things; don't make a mountain out of a speck of dust. Remember that we all have our moods and our indispositions. You, too, lose your temper and shout and say things from time to time which you really don't mean. If we are ever to get along together in peace and with pleasure, we shall have to learn to make allowances for those "blue Mondays" and unpleasant moods which beset the best of us occasionally. Unless you train yourself to do this, you will invite unnecessary misery upon yourself and create dissension and discord between yourself and others.
—Hyman Judah Schachtel, Houston Post, Houston, Texas, April 27, 1957.
Every human being has a right to enjoy himself in his own way, but no one has a right to live in such a way as to bring pain, sorrow, misery on others, and stunt the possibility for higher development without ourselves.
—Nathan Krass, New York Times, New York, N.Y., Dec. 5, 1927.
A cheerful mood is the greatest of all possessions. It is greater than wealth, for wealth marks only what a man has, while joy marks what a man is.
—Morris Lichtenstein, New York Times, New York, N.Y., Dec. 20, 1926.
OPTIMISM & PESSIMISM
Pessimism is often a result of excessive narrow interest or application. By such persistent focusing of attention one loses inclusiveness of vision and sense of proportion. A pessimist is one jarred by what to him is life out of joint. His cure lies in insight and far sight. Another source of pessimism is disappointment of unreasonable expectations which do not deserve to succeed. Even when a worthy man fails or suffers a misfortune it does not follow that life, even his life, is a failure. Life is more than an incident or a single experience. View it inclusively, judge it in its totality, and, above all, live it honorable and usefully and if you are not the victim of a mental kink or moral warp you will be an optimist or on the road thereto.
---Alexander Lyons, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, N.Y., Aug. 17, 1932.
An optimist is a man who looks at life’s joys through a telescope and microscope, and at life’s troubles through a reversed opera glass. He never complains about bad weather, for wherever he is it is sunny because he makes his own sunshine, and diffuses its light and warmth and kills the joy-killer. When he reads “rain” in the weather forecast he remembers all the times the forecast was wrong; and it should happen to rain he’s glad because there’s plenty of grub ahead. He believes in fairy tales and in Santa Claus; he has read about the pot of gold at the foot of the rainbow and he knows it is there; so he keeps striding and striving through all life’s strifes, confident that the rainbow will ultimately sweep across his path and shed its golden beams.
An optimist is a man who is so busy and so constituted he can only view the clean side of things; he always sees something to be thankful for; and if he should be slapped on one cheek he would say that the slap had put a good color on his cheek and he would therefore turn the other. He seeks rights and remedies, not wrongs; uses, not abuses; he lifts humanity to a higher plane. His conscience is clear and his heart is glad; and with a clear conscience and a glad heart he can convert a prison into a palace and a backyard into a flower garden. His sympathy and his understanding overwhelm his prejudices; his wonderful, God-given, man-developed gift, paints nature’s children brighter, the earth greener, the sky bluer, the flowers gayer and all things fairer and fuller of happiness and blessing.
An optimist is God’s own man. Age makes him a gray-haired boy.
---Herman J. Stich, The Evening World, New York, N.Y., Oct. 21, 1919.
A pessimist is a man who is blind to life’s sunshine, deaf to life’s music, dumb to beauty’s appeals. He is always cheering a grudge, always grudging a cheer, forever picking flaws and never picking flowers. He is a night owl in human guise, perpetually gloating in darkness, perpetually morbid on the sordid side of humanity. He is never mindful of the goodness of things, always mindful of the badness of things, continually damning the rest of us because of the weaknesses of a few of us. He has saddened more lives, broken more hearts, blasted more hopes than almost any other affliction to which mankind is heir or prey. He never makes the world smile; he always makes the world mourn; he wears sores on the world’s back. He has never dissolved a single cloud; never kissed away a tiniest tear; never soothed away a fear; never soothed out a sear; never allayed a heart-rending doubt. No day ever dawned far enough but what he could shadow it. No morning ever smiled radiant enough but what he could dim it. No child ever laughed gleeful enough but what he could hush it.
A pessimist is a man who never enjoys anything; he eventually kills his capacity to enjoy, and then because he has it not in him to enjoy he grudges happiness in others. He is a pariah, an eternal outcast, a Philistine. He is incessantly serving veracity with vinegar. He is the bacillus of sadness and gloom and unhappiness. Kicked about in one place, cuffed about to another, he drags his joy-dispelling self. No man can stand him; no woman ever loves him; no one will have him around. If he knew what even our dogs thought of him he would take to the tall timbers forever.
---Herman J. Stich, The Evening World, New York, N.Y., Oct. 22, 1919.
Some people are born glad. The spirit of gladsomeness, of geniality, of optimism seems to permeate both their thoughts and their actions. Sometimes they shed a ray of sunshine over an otherwise dull day—at other times they bore you to death. The effect they have on you depends not on them but on you. So often you have made up your mind to be a grouch that the gladsomeness jars on you. It strikes a discordant tone.
Some people cultivate the art of being glad. They draw bits of sunshine into existence just as we draw electricity from the air and it illumines their whole life and gives it some purpose. Gladsomeness can be cultivated just as easily as any other accomplishment but it is done very rarely. We have come to regard optimism as a very old fashioned quality and we think it smart to sneer and make fun of it.
People will sneer at simple pleasures, with a wave of the hand they will dismiss religion and all that goes with it, with an expressive shrug they will stamp your beliefs as both, and with untiring effort they will set out to undermine the foundation of your optimism so that you will swell the ranks of disagreeables to which they belong. Having converted you to their pernicious point of view they will look about them for “new worlds to conquer” or rather for fresh victims.
Why is it that cynics and pessimists and others of that ilk are so anxious to obtain converts to their beliefs while those of simple faith who have found the real key to happiness keep their beliefs to themselves? Why is it that people are anxious to spread discontent, unhappiness and sorrow? Is it because of the trite saying that “Misery loves company”? It would appear so from present indications.
The world seems to be just full of people who say, “Yes, but!” and it is hard to think of a more disheartening expression than the word but. Yet it is a word that enjoys a good deal of currency. In fact it is used more freely than any other. It is the badge of cynics and pessimists, of grouches and cranks. It obscures the sunshine and dissolves the silver lining that is behind every cloud. It is a word of discouragement. Let us expurgate it from our vocabulary.
Today the art of being glad is the most necessary, the most welcome adjunct in the world. It is wonderful to keep up a bright cheerful spirit in this sad old world. It is ever so much more wonderful to instill this spirit into others. There is hardly a home in the civilized world today that has not had its share of sorrow. The grim specter of despair is stalking all our footsteps. All honor then, to those who can down him with the smile “that maketh the heart glad.” It reminds me of a little verse we learned at school which said,
The world needs joy, more than all else,
We have nothing to do but begin it.
Therefore we must all do our share in adding a little gladness to the world. It does not cost anything and it need not take much effort. It is the simplest thing in the world to smile, to pass on the word that cheers, to instill a little courage into despair-laden hearts. It requires neither intellectuality nor smartness—nothing but intelligence. Let this be our slogan: “Be glad. Make others glad.”
---Jessie Abrams, The Canadian Jewish Chronicle, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, July 26, 1918.
Men are frail and subject to error. Man with his finite understanding and limited knowledge cannot obey the nobler impulses of his heart at all times. He falls by the wayside because he is human. This weakness, however, can be recompensed by a sincere desire on his part to repent the evil of his heart and strive, as far as humanly possible, to walk the path of justice and righteousness. Whatever may have been the failure of the past to make men realize their duty and responsibility can be compensated by earnest endeavor in the future. ..
Better and brighter day [can be] made radiant and glorious by the love that men should bear one another. May the time soon come when men shall shake off the timeworn mantle of prejudice and emerge with open eyes and clear vision as brothers, conscious that they are coworkers in the vineyard of the Lord and laboring unitedly for the dawn of a new era, an era of peace on earth and good will toward all.
---Myron Meyer, St. Joseph Gazette, St. Joseph, Mo., Dec. 25, 1932.
There is but one kind of peace which may rightfully be the subject of hallowing prayer, and that is a peace that conforms utterly and wholly with the principles of the highest ethics—a moral peace, the peace of honor. It is the only peace that can assure the secure and orderly progress of the race. Long ago the Hebrew prophets saw this when the declared that it is “righteousness alone which exalteth nations,” and with this combined assurance: “and the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever.” [It is the] peace of thoroughgoing righteousness, the peace of immitigable honor. …
Justness of mind is no ordinary possession. Not every man operates his mind nor guides his heart with the chief desire to be just.
As the world and its life becomes more complicated, the just man climbs an ever steeper grade.
To be just in mind and conduct to one’s own children is the desire of parents. To be just in business is the good man’s purpose. To be just in all personal relations is the desire of good men and women.
This is a time when a man needs the wisdom of a good God to help him think straight. We in these momentous hours crave a “walk with God,” that we may be neither soft nor cruel but just.
---Samuel Hirschberg, Milwaukee Sentinel, Milwaukee, Wis., Oct. 20, 1918.
“The work of righteousness shall be peace and the effect thereof of tranquility, and calm forever.” (Isaiah 32:17.) [Only] by righteousness, by cooperation, by mutuality, by justice can we hope to create peace among the nations of the world. If we would spend a tenth of the energies and skills and substance that we now employ in preparation for war–on preparation for peace–we might expect better results. There can be no peace between the nations until peace exists in the nations. To establish international peace our first task is to dispossess ourselves of prejudice and discrimination against the various segments of our own population. Let us judge by the merit of individuals rather than the pigmentation of their skins, the church in which they worship, the nation from which they or their fathers first came to America, their position in management or labor. Let us learn to treat all people with the spirit of fair play, not merely in vague tolerance but in a sprit of concord and appreciation, and if it could be possible, we should act toward all people according to the divine injunction of the Old and New Testaments: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” The power of the majority within our borders subjecting and wounding the weak minority cannot result in internal peace. “Not by power nor by might, but by my spirit, saith the Lord.” (Zechariah 4:6.) Only the “work of righteousness” can bring us peace at home or abroad.
—Adolph H. Fink, Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City, Utah, Oct. 8, 1949.
It is only when man has at last mastered himself, when he has eliminated all passion from his breast, when his confidence in the goodness of God and the goodness of life is so firmly set that all anger and fear will vanish, when his life is serene and tranquil, when he is living in peace; then only is he worthy to enjoy peace. Now, this calm attitude of mind is misunderstood by most people. They take it to be a life of indifference, a life of indolence, a life of inactivity. Not so. A life of calmness must at the same time be a life of the very highest activity. A life of serenity and tranquility never means a life of indolence. Serenity in action and tranquility in motion is the true ideal.
—William Rice, Deseret Evening News, Salt Lake City, Utah, May 23, 1914.
How can peace come into each individual life, into yours, into mine? Not by legislation or pronouncements, but by harmonizing our life with the great facts of existence. And prime among these facts is the fact of God and the life and call of the soul. A neglect of these facts, a failure to introduce them into our philosophy of life and into our daily computation, makes impossible the coming of peace into our life. Religion therefore is the very prime requisite for the dawn of peace in our soul.
—David Lefkowitz, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Sept. 19, 1921.
Modern psychology has come along with any amount of evidence to support religion and democracy's optimistic estimate of human values. Psychology use the word "insight" and goes on to tell us that when we attain insight into our behavior, into our problems, into why we do as we do, that we can master ourselves.
I am sanguine enough to believe that if we take the time to achieve insight into all the evil results of living lives of tension and conflict within our homes, and in our business life, that we shall then strive to change our ways and imbue our homes and business experience with a spirit of cooperation and pacific relationships.
How ugly is the brood born of man's hates and jealousies, of intolerance and prejudice and violence. The most terrible effect of indulging our baser inclinations is to plunge our world into war. But, long before this extreme catastrophic result of strife within our homes ever comes, we are plagued by the psychological and physiological harm which makes us mentally and bodily sick.
The Psalmist once said, "Behold how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity." Yes, it is good and pleasant, and it is the greatest happiness for husbands and wives, for parents and children, for neighbors and friends to dwell together in peace and contentment.
Yet, how terrible it is, how awful and evil and painful when we dwell together as antagonists, fighting one another, hurting one another, insulting, abusing, misusing and belittling those around us.
Let every person think carefully about the choice before him as he deliberates upon the quality of his home life and his business life.
The way of cooperation and kindness and compassion leads to peace, both for the person himself and ultimately for society at large. But the way of dissension of ruthless pride and contemptuous neglect of the rights of others leads to war within one's own private world, and ultimately to war in the world outside.
—Hyman Judah Schachtel, Houston Post, Houston, Texas, March 27, 1954.
Promote the love of laughter rather than the frosty frown.
---Sophie Irene Loeb, The Evening World, New York, N.Y., Dec. 21, 1911.
Be serious when you smile and, better still, smile when you are serious.
---Alexander Lyons, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, N.Y., Aug. 23, 1933.