- Religion and Philosophy
Inspirational Quotations by Jewish Authors #4
General Inspirational Quotations
TOPICS: Character; Convictions; Creativity; Decisions, Duty; Education; Experience; Freedom (Liberty, Democracy) Habits; Heroism.
A true character shows true greatness of soul. The man possessing a great soul loves his people better than himself. The cause he has really at heart is the cause of his people, not his own honor and dignity. The man of little mind works for his own advancement. True, he helps forward a cause; but, it is partly that he may be known to have helped it, that he may become famous. The man of little mind is envious of rivals; he wants to put distance between himself and others.
A man who is meek, humble, unassuming always thinks little of his virtues. He considers himself not possessing sufficient personal qualities to be among the elect. He is willing to efface himself in his work. He is indifferent to his own renown since he is anxious only for the well-being of his people.
Prefer to be one of many rather than one above many; prefer to be indifferent to your own renown, and anxious only for the well-being of your people; prefer to be willing to efface yourself in your work rather than to publish the fact that you have helped do the work, and you will be blessed with true prophetic insight.
---Julius Berger, The Canadian Jewish Chronicle, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, June 28, 1929.
One is measured by what one reads or what one does not read.
---S.H. Clark, The Acorn, Ogden, Utah, March 1907.
What you look for is your measure to an inch and no man may deceive himself.
---S.H. Clark, The Acorn, Ogden, Utah, March 1907.
We can get everything we seek for, if we pay the price, and the price is charged in spiritual liberty.
---S.H. Clark, The Acorn, Ogden, Utah, March 1907.
Let our fundamental principle [be] that in God’s word deep wisdom goes hand in hand with unsophisticated simplicity, show[s] us the right way of explanation. Man’s character is the only solid foundation on which the structure of his future can be safely raised. All our connections, enterprises, aims and ends grow forth from our character, as the plants grow from the soil, and therefore we can justly say that every man carries within himself the magic mirror in which he is permitted to see the reflex of his future. This idea, if earnestly reflected upon, may give the morbid human curiosity a sound and wholesome direction. Instead of spying behind the curtain of Time to catch a glimpse of things unborn, let man steadily keep his inwardness in view; let him build up and mold and shape his character. That levels for him the difficulties of life; that raises within his breast the voice of a truly divine oracle, which, if it does not tell him the things that are to happen, tells him more and reveals to him a more necessary and useful knowledge—namely, the state of his mind—how he is prepared to meet the occurrences that God’s providence has in store for him.
---Isodore Lewenthal, San Antonio Light, San Antonio, Texas, Jan. 12, 1884.
Character is courageous response to a rectitude when faced with a clear-cut choice of the conflicting temptations of good and evil.
---Alexander Lyons, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, N.Y., Oct. 5, 1932.
In the last analysis of human events we are brought face to face with the stern fact which all will be forced to recognize at some time or another, that the great difference between man and man shall not be estimated by the clothes he wears, or the houses he owns, or the wealth he has accumulated, but, mark you, rigidly and scrupulously in terms of human character. Let us remember that life's crowning victory belongs not necessarily to those who have won a brilliant battle or suffered some crushing wrong, nor even to those who have figured in some great drama, but rather to those who have loved great principles in the midst of small duties, to those who have cherished sublime hopes and vulgar cares and illustrated and lived eternal principles in trifles and the "irritating concerns" of the daily work. For, after all, let us never forget that ultimately we shall be judged by the life we lead and not by the deeds we do or even the creed we follow.
—William H. Greenburg, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Sept. 9, 1907.
Character cannot be taught. It can be trained. It cannot be taught as reading, writing, arithmetic are taught. It is trained into children, as the sense of beauty or the feeling of music, or, still more clearly, as love for father and mother and as confidence in a friend and as those subtle qualities which we acquire we do not know how nor from whom. Character is gotten through influences. And since everybody influences us, whether for our disapproval or our approval, everybody contributes to the making of our character.
—Louis Grossman, The Jewish Voice, St. Louis, Mo., Sept. 18, 1914.
Character is not acquired in mystic ways. It is acquired in the open, or not at all. And it is not given to us by others, but it is made by ourselves. An education that wants to give character from the outside has a poor notion of character. Character cannot be gotten, cannot be a gift, cannot be bestowed. It must be created by the person himself. The man must decide upon it himself. He must will to make it, he himself. There is no other road to manhood except the road he lays out for himself. A man has character, religion, morality, not because it is preached, talked, read into him, but because he wills to have and to live.
—Louis Grossman, The Jewish Voice, St. Louis, Mo., April 9, 1915.
How do you pass the time in which you have leisure? That is the test of a man's character. In business life we are bound by certain stern and unbending rules. We are forced to the performance of fixed duties. Probity and courtesy are the virtues of business life. But the test of character is how man spend their leisure. Do we make use of the hours of freedom so that ours may be a life rich and spiritual and helpful? Do we love the companionship of good books and good men and good thoughts? Character is everything. Every force that will have influence for good upon our actions, upon our hearts, upon our lives, is noble and desirable. Be unselfish! Self-sacrifice is not a dream or an ideal. Self-sacrifice is a necessary law of human existence. Root out that cankerworm of selfishness from your hearts.
–-Leo Mannheim , Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, April 23, 1904.
Let us steer our life by a few great fundamental convictions. There are people who are just driftwood carried by the tide of life anywhere and everywhere. They lack the guiding principles, the great convictions whereby they could steer through life’s currents to some great achievement. They hold their principles so lightly that they can be induced to abandon them by any glib talker with a plausible argument. Their philosophy of life is liable to change with every new book they read. A man thus lacking in conviction is as weak as a door hanging on its lower hinge. He is the proverbial broken reed which if you lead on it will only pierce your hand. But the man who achieves something in life is he who “crowns every great emergency with a great conviction and who possesses clear convictions when others are in doubt.” Such a man is to his generation like a blazing torch in the darkness; like a “powerful searchlight shining through mountains of mist, through a stormy and starless night.” It is men and women with convictions that we need in this age of unrest and transition. For them who are strong in their convictions the great fundamental principles are settled and fixed as valid for all time. They no longer steer their life’s course by fog-banks that drift, but they set their moral time-piece by the principles that are as eternal as the sun itself. It is better to stand alone than to creep and crawl and cringe with the cowardly crowd. Therefore be unafraid to assert the faith that is in you. Disdain to be half-hearted, half-baked or half-formed. Stand fast, stand erect, and in the end you will be respected for the courage you have had to stand for something in the community.
---Herman Abramowitz, The Canadian Jewish Chronicle, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Sept. 30, 1921.
Through work, man joins God as a partner and co-creator. Whenever the capacity for creation fails or is stifled, the wish for destruction becomes the dominant pattern of man's life. Therefore, work, at its highest and its best, is creative. Man, created in God's spiritual image, is endowed with creative powers and abilities as well as a resourceful mind and skillful hand by which he can mold and modify his world. It is man's capacity to work and to create which helps differentiate him from all other living creatures. While other creatures have survived by adjusting themselves to their environment, man has survived by transforming and modifying his environment and adjusting to his needs and purposes. Work, therefore, our work, every person's work, trade or skill is a blessing to society and not a curse to man.
—Richard Zionts, Shreveport Journal, Shreveport, La., Sept. 5, 1987.
Cultivate decisive thinking. The ability to form one's own mind on the basis of reasonable motives, must be striven for, and the one way to develop the power of deciding is by making decisions. It is far healthier to make a faulty decision than no decision at all.
—Benjamin Kaplan, DeRidder Enterprise, DeRidder, La., Feb. 25, 1949.
Every duty we’ll done makes the next easier to do.
---Louis Brandeis, quoted by Herman J. Stich, The Daily Star, Long Island City, N.Y., March 17, 1923.
Our highest duty is to live for others. The word duty means a debt that we owe. We owe it to our fellow men. Living for others means for all others, for the ignorant, the poor, the bigoted, the vicious, the repulsive, the incurables. This practical humanity is the backbone of religion. It is duty. It is in the home that we are first taught to live for others. The word duty would be a hideous mockery, were it not made flesh and blood in the home. The father and mother represent authority and law; toward them the duties to superiors. Toward servants our duties to inferiors in station; toward brothers and sisters, duties on a level to equals. And the larger home where the altar is the fireside, and the soul is sheltered, men support largely for others. Religion is an institution, is purely unselfish. This filial piety, parental love, as well as a religious hospitality opening wide the door to all man, alike feed the sense of duty that supports our religious societies. It is thus in the main a duty that we owe to others.
---Leon Harrison, St. Louis Republic, St. Louis, Mo., Oct. 29, 1900.
There is no right that is not pillared on a corresponding duty, and only he who performs that duty is entitled to the enjoyment of its corresponding right.
---E.G. Hirsch, Houston Daily Post, Houston, Texas, May 28, 1899.
The greatness of a response to duty’s call is measured only by the degree and kind of the sacrifice it involves. Responding to the clarion call of duty in the noblest manner known on earth [is] self-sacrifice. It is the outward expression of the inner conflict between two antagonistic forces which forever goes on within us. Theologically, these forces are known as the Good Genius and the Evil Genius. They are Duty versus Self-exemption, or “I ought” verses “I desire.”
---I.A. Hadad, The Canadian Jewish Chronicle, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, March 10, 1922.
Would you be educated? Be observant, be thoughtful, be true to your better self, read good books thoroughly, seek the company of people who can teach you and frequent places that can uplift you. If this prescription is of no avail, conclude that your material is mediocre and you must be content to grow morally if not intellectually by being as useful as you can in what you are doing.
---Alexander Lyons, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, N.Y., April 13, 1932.
Work is a blessing and the only real lasting happiness lies in sacrifice and not in having our own wants satisfied. Intelligence, talent, health and education are only a trust to be used in the best interests of humanity. Education is a trust. And as such it must be used for the benefit of the greatest number. It is a trust in that it shows you the very best and broadest way of benefitting humanity.
We have social responsibilities that will now allow us to neglect our fellowmen. We have social problems that must be solved. For the solution of these problems we look to the intelligent, the well-educated. We cannot expect the ignorant man with money to deal intelligently with the ignorant man without money. But we can and do expect those who have had the blessings of an education to bridge the chasm and turn the masses into enlightened human beings. This is the purpose for which education has been entrusted to us.
Education is a trust. Those of us who belong to the educated class are the trustees and it is up to us to see that we make good our trust. It is incumbent upon all of us who have the time to take hold of the social problems in our midst and work for a solution. We have learned to despise slackers. The man or woman who has gained an education and is not using it for the happiness and well-being of his or her fellow citizens is a slacker.
---Jessie Abrams, The Canadian Jewish Chronicle, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Nov. 15, 1918.
With education comes responsibility. You have an obligation to use your education for the benefit of others. Become an active citizen of the community.
I am often asked how to make the most of one’s college education. My answer is reasonably simple. Develop your capacity to listen–you cannot learn from others or engage in any meaningful form of conversation unless you are first willing to listen. Learn how to express yourselves clearly, both orally and in writing. Develop your critical reasoning skills. Immerse yourself in the great texts of our age. You can learn much from the great thinkers who came before you. Make sure you develop the creative side of your brain by studying art, music, drama, or design. Master a foreign language which will give you the capacity to appreciate at least one other culture different from your own. Study broadly so that you can participate intelligently in the great debates of our time. Challenge yourself. Get used to living outside of your intellectual comfort zone.
—Lawrence S. Bacow, Matriculation Address, Tufts University, Somerville, Mass., Aug. 30, 2006.
Education does not consist merely in memory and enlightening the understanding; its chief
function is to direct the will.
-‑‑Bruno Lessing, The Monroe News‑Star, Monroe, La., April 1, 1929.
The greatest teacher in the world is experience because it teaches us in the most practical way to avoid the mistakes we made yesterday. If, in spite of all our former experience, we still go blundering through life, then has the very act of living been of no use to us. Every day brings its own particular lesson and he who profits by that lesson is he who is on the high road to success. Take yourself, for instance. Are you any further advanced today than you were last year or the year before? Have you become happier, better, wiser? Have you shared your good things with others? Have you paid for these benefits by making the world a better and a happier place to live in?
---Jessie Abrams, The Canadian Jewish Chronicle, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Sept. 6, 1918.
FREEDOM, LIBERTY, DEMOCRACY
Truth finds the course of peace by the spirit level of justice and righteousness. The Hebrew word for peace, “shalom,” denotes the harmony of life that comes as a reward for the virtues of character practiced by a nation, people and individual. War is either the ignoble purpose of a people seeking to enlarge its soil at the sacrifice of others or the noble discontent of a nation of a nation ambitious to enrich its soul by sacrifice of self.
When nations, not counting the cost, struggle to become captains of their fate and masters of their destiny, then history records a holy war of principles and finds the love of truth in the warfare for peace and the love of peace in the battle for truth. What other could have been the decision of our glorious American republic, than to justify by force of arms, her right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our democracy, built upon the principle of the rights of man, must ever have a conscience for the welfare of men. Our nation, grounded in the divine duty to maintain the freedom and equality of her citizens must flash forth an illumined mind that understands how to defend by fiery ordeals the destiny of democracy. Erected on the eternal foundations of justice and righteousness our own United States must so influence the humanities as to unite nations in the parliament of man, the federation of the world for truth and peace.
We are now demanding the guarantees of a universal peace that shall be founded upon the eternal rock of righteousness. We have struck the anvil of God’s truth in our battle for the triumph of national liberty, equality and fraternity and we are prepared for peace that shall justify our faith in God’s rule of right. The peace we want must rise to the glory of a world’s permanent blessing and possession by its harmony with the ideals of morality and religion. It must ensure liberty for all peoples and find a place in the sun for all nations. Until then our national duty and destiny is to prepare the highway of civilization through the wilderness of war when the love of truth and peace shall be the conquering spirit of mankind.
---Charles S. Levi, Milwaukee Sentinel, Milwaukee, Wis., Nov. 3, 1918.
We reject dictatorship because of its cruelty. We abhor its transformation of soul-endowed beings into regimented machines; cogs in wheels of violence. We embrace democracy because it multiplies and broadens the avenues of human achievement.
---Herman Hailperin, Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, Pa., May 6, 1939.
What is democracy? Not merely personal, unrestricted freedom, as many believe. Nowhere is unconditioned liberty permissible. Democracy is opportunity plus encouragement for every human being to make the most and the best of his life.
Democracy is also obligation. It is the Golden Rule in action. It is helping others to be and do what we most desire for ourselves.
---Alexander Lyons, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, N.Y., Nov. 16, 1932.
Without liberty, we'd be automations or animals. God wouldn't be a good God if he didn't make us free. It's why God is good. One thing is impossible even for God--to not be a good God. This implies self-imposed limitations on His freedom. God is as powerful as God could be.
—Eugene Borowitz, quoted in Amarillo Globe-Times, Amarillo, Texas, Feb. 8, 1991.
There is a permanent advantage which democracy has over dictatorship--namely, that dictatorship is in a chronically precarious position, there is the ever-constant danger that the yoke, strained to the breaking point may be broken by the gather impatience and resentment of the people. Democracy's strongest guarantee is its broad base.
—Israel Goldstein, New York Times, New York, N.Y., Dec. 12, 1938.
What do I mean by democracy? I mean that manhood should be supreme and not its accidents. The most democratic saying, to my mind, in all history is the Bible's: "In the image of God did he create man." (Genesis 1:27.) Wherever man is recognized as Godlike and supreme, not because of parentage or wealth, of learning or refinement, of vocation or social distinction, of race or faith, but in virtue of his dignity as a human being, there and there only democracy can be said to reign. The word democracy, to my mind, has a broader than the mere political significance; it upholds the dignity of the common man, his rights to equal opportunity and to a level of mutual respect in every field where man meets man, not in tests of superior fitness, but on fields of universal cooperation. Democracy, in the last line, is an attitude, a habit of thought, of feeling and of behavior.
—Max Heller, The Daily Picayune, New Orleans, La., Nov. 29, 1907.
The greatest threat to democracy is lethargy and complacence.
—Herbert H. Lehman, New York Times, New York, N.Y., June 7, 1938.
When I speak of religion I do not have in mind lip service or mere conformity with the external forms of religion. I envision rather a national and personal spirituality that recognizes in heart and mind the universal fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. An attack on one religion inevitably weakens all religious faiths, since the basis of all true religion is charity, justice and tolerance. If men will only live up to these simple concepts of all religion--charity, justice and tolerance--democracy will be safe. If we permit our spiritual life to be weakened, democracy will be surely threatened.
—Herbert H. Lehman, New York Times, New York, N.Y., Oct. 18, 1939.
In the past many have talked glibly of democracy as if it were something that could be bought on the market place--something to provide soft living and freedom from sacrifice and danger. That is not the fabric of which true democracy is made. That is not the democracy for which men have nobly died. True democracy is an expression of faith--a vital and dynamic force--a call to duty and sacrifice from which we may not draw back.
—Herbert H. Lehman, New York Times, New York, N.Y., June 3, 1942.
We must not confuse liberty with license. License is freedom unchecked, liberty is freedom checked by laws made by the consent of the governed. Liberty is life; license is death. Liberty means growth; license means decay. Liberty is progress; license is retrogression.
—J. Leonard Levy, The Jewish Voice, St. Louis, Mo., April 10, 1914.
The paradox of freedom is its dependence upon restraint, upon laws and regulations insuring that no American deprive his neighbor of the inalienable right to pursue his own good in his own way.
—Hillel E. Silverman, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Nov. 25, 1955.
Laws should not be made to shackle personal initiative or to be cat’s paws to serve envy directed toward those who are willing to subdue their emotions and appetites and use their time and activities rigorously to achieve success. This tendency to make new laws is accentuated by the bitterness of those who, because of faults which are largely their own, think that it is some sinister power which aids others and militates against them. They then appeal to Mother Government when the corrective force lies with themselves. But always we must keep in mind that laws, to be true, must be enforced and enforceable. All laws, to be effective, must have public approval behind them, must become a part of the ritual of our lives, must have an appeal to our hearts and consciences as well as our minds. We should be jealously on guard for our personal liberties, but personal liberty should not extend to the point of interference with the liberties of others. That seems to me the line of demarcation. It seems to me the solution lies along the line of individual effort plus the cultivation of an attitude of understanding and fairness toward one’s neighbor.
—Bernard M. Baruch, New York Times, New York, N.Y., June 11, 1925.
I for one will never concede that we cannot do as much in defense of our freedoms as any enemy may be doing to destroy them.
—Bernard M. Baruch, New York Times, New York, N.Y., June 21, 1965.
Freedom is a process and a struggle rather than an achievement and a victory. To preserve it cannot be regarded as a possession to enjoy, but rather an ideal which constantly requires expenditure of effort and vigilance and every power within us.
—Adolph H. Fink, Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City, Utah, April 21, 1951.
Democracy is not merely a mode of political organization but is a mode of life. Democracy is, therefore, that form of political, social and economic organization best calculated to serve the legitimate interest of the maximum numbers. Whatever enriches, ennobles, deepens or expands the quality of life is a contribution to democracy.
—Adolph H. Fink, Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City, Utah, June 8, 1953.
Religion was and always will be a prerequisite of true liberty under which a nation can prosper and develop spiritually and culturally.
—J. Twerski, Milwaukee Sentinel, Milwaukee, Wis., April 16, 1952.
A habit in control is worth two in the resolution.
---Sophie Irene Loeb, The Evening World, New York, N.Y., Dec. 30, 1913.
Habit is cumulative; it creates its own momentum.
---Herman J. Stich, The Evening World, New York, N.Y., Nov. 24, 1919.
Learn from everybody. That is an old lesson, but it comes home to most people late in life when it is hard to change views and habits. The other side of the lesson is also true: Unlearn your bad characteristics as you see them in others how ugly they are. But that, too, is hard. Habits are like balky horses. Just when you think you control them they throw you. And then we do not see in others what we ought to see, neither the good nor the bad, except when we want it. Most people are for us merely mirrors. They reflect what we like and, like mirrors, they glorify it. Most of us live in illusions, even the most prosaic of us. The real world is not half as interesting and not half as satisfactory. We see not so much others as we see ourselves reflected in them, according to our imagination and not according to the truth. And when we hear the truth, even when it is told to us, as partisans and not as detached judges. Morals never can be mere imitation, and character is more genuine and original. The real art of being one's self, fully and in every direction, is to be alert and watchful wherever good is done, or said, or hinted and to take it, as you breathe in fresh and sweet air on a spring morning, and to reject, with equal healthy reaction, the bad and offensive and the ugly. But for that man must have something more than merely instinct. He must have moral taste, and moral taste, like every other taste, is acquired by appetite and interest. Everybody is interesting if you give yourself time to see and know him. And there are so many interesting people in the world that the wonder is not that we know so many, but that we know truly so few.
—Louis Grossman, The Jewish Voice, St. Louis, Mo., May 7, 1915.
We have heroes and heroes, but the only real hero is the unassuming, modest man whose acts, whether for patriotism, science, philanthropy or religion are not selfish, but are for the common good of all mankind.
---M.S. Levy, Houston Daily Post, Houston, Texas, March 13, 1898.
The hero thrills and exalts us because there is heroism in ourselves. We love the man of courage because there is courage in our own hearts. To honor, therefore, a hero, means to honor ourselves. To pay tribute to a man of brave exploits means but to recognize or pay homage to our own braver selves. It is because of the nobility in ourselves that the life of the noble is an inspiration to us.
—Alter Abelsen, The Jewish Voice, St. Louis, Mo., Feb. 21, 1913.
Without courage, there can be no heroes. Nor can the true heroic type exist without insight. A man can only follow the path that he sees; he can only serve the men he knows. And men must be better than they seem for a man to spend his days and strength and substance in serving them. Beneath their selfishness and grossness and timidity, there must be the raw stuff of manliness; under their indifference warmth--a volcano sleeping under snows. The heroic soul must have the clairvoyant eye to see the latent worth that does not lie on the surface--not only in some men but in all men. For this clear eye that sees the good even in their evil, may create and call into being this goodness that was not before, because one with faith in men has spoken. And deep shall answer unto deep; and one human soul with another; and he that has insight can renew and fortify and generate. He is a hero, because he can discern our latent valor and make us heroes, too. Such a one sacrifices his own interests, his own pleasure, time and strength willingly and naturally, because he has been keyed up to a higher pitch. The great things of other men are pretty to him for he has given himself to a cause in which all small personalities are lost. And without this devotion, this consecration of a man to a great end self, how can he be heroic, or communicate heroism, or make a supreme sacrifice? Whence else can the motive come, the power that masters and molds a man and uplifts him out of himself, and opens his eyes to world interests and world service? A cause and our consecration to it! That unseals the fountains of the great deep within a man and wonderfully transfigures him, so that he comes forth--patriot, prophet, martyr, humanitarian, hero. A man may be seized with a passion for country, or an enthusiasm for truth; or he may be lifted up in the fiery chariot of religious exaltation. And there are times when many meeting streams of influence pour in upon a man; when to be true to country means to be loyal also to religion and to honor, without which he would be, not a man, but a poor pitiful cringing creature. For when a man serves his nation and his religion and his own deepest, truest self, and keeps them all from being blotted out, that is a fight, not only for survival, for there are times when life survives and nothing else, but for the preservation of the national genius, of the distinctive religious tradition, of the very spirit and heart of a faith--in a word, it is a fight for the perpetuation of individuality. Individuality is simply the essence of the individual. It means distinctiveness and character; not colorless imitation.
—Leon Harrison, The Jewish Voice, St. Louis, Mo., Dec. 12, 1913.