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Inspirational Quotations by Jewish Authors #7

Updated on November 15, 2015

General Inspirational Quotations



Men find it easier to take the path of least resistance. But the honest man will follow the beckoning hand of truth at any and all cost. He will be true to the promptings of his conscience, no matter what the world will say.

--- J. Leonard Levy, True Republican, Sycamore, Ill., Oct. 26, 1907.

Deceit never got anybody anything but a free pass to loneliness.

---Sophie Irene Loeb, Washington Times, Washington, D.C., Jan. 2, 1913.

Power is as permanent as its props. A man is as impregnable as he is honorable. Honesty always shortens the journey to the goal, while dishonesty forever makes it fruitless.

The more a man drifts from the lane of honor the sooner is he swept beneath in the undercurrent. The more he sows the seeds of moral dynamite the more he reaps the fruits of ignominious disaster.

Men and institutions are as strong as they are “straight.” They can’t break the rules with impunity. If they break the rules, the rules will ultimately break them.

Dishonesty is a hydra-headed Frankenstein which wreaks frightful misery upon its creator.

Every once in a while we hear of the chap who has put over some shady transaction. A good many people call him clever and resourceful, and many wonder, perhaps enviously, how he gets that way. He continues avoiding the law and evading its talons, and all the while the law is getting irritated and its clutches get more eager and more impatient and its net draws much tighter. And time after time the law warns the man to stay on the right track and not travel on the wrong track; but the man sneers, and even though he has a few close calls and several narrow escapes he laughs them away with a jeer and persists in crossing the “dead” line.

And all the while the dishonesty he has made his guiding star is slowing paving the path and lighting the way of his downfall.

And one inexorable day the man awakes and his wrists ache and he can see the mark of the handcuffs; and he feels confined because he’s on the wrong side of an ominous grating; and the quondam clever and resourceful man realizes that he couldn’t cheat the sieve; that its mesh was too closely woven; that Fate has no pity for those who defy the code of honor; that when the gods postpone sentence they invariably compound its severity; that the eternal pillars of society, its foundation stone and its very vitals are unqualified and unimpeachable HONESTY; that the transgressor inevitably pays; that honesty is not the best—it is the ONLY policy.

---Herman J. Stich, The Evening World, New York, N.Y., June 12, 1919.

Faith in our fellowman presupposes honesty and uprightness. If the overwhelming majority of men were not honest and upright there would be no possibility for business arrangements. Religion believes that men should be honest enough to square their deeds with their creed; business progresses and increases because it believes most men will square their act with their word and sets as an example worthy of emulation the man whose word is as good as his bond.

---Martin Zielonka, El Paso Daily Herald, El Paso, Texas, March 25, 1915.


Give the handicap of hope to the wayward, rather than the cold shoulder of disapproval.

---Sophie Irene Loeb, The Evening World, New York, N.Y., Dec. 21, 1911.

I sometimes think that the highest loyalty in life is loyalty to hope. Hopes make possible human ideals, and these make life resplendent.

—Abba Hillel Silver, New York Times, New York, N.Y., Jan. 18, 1926.


An ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness.

---Louis Brandeis, quoted by Herman J. Stich, The Daily Star, Long Island City, N.Y., March 17, 1923.

Loyalty means adherence to ideals. It means an uncompromising devotion to the principles of justice because in justice lies the only hope of the world. It means respect for the law and order that is the strongest guarantee of your own freedom.

—Herbert H. Lehman, New York Times, New York, N.Y., June 6, 1939.


The truly successful man, the one who fully realizes the meaning of citizenship, sums up his philosophy of life in the word responsibility. He feels, with every fiber of his being, that human existence is not merely a necessity thrust upon him, but that it is a glorious privilege, a tremendous opportunity for well doing. He is not content to let others solve the problems of thought, society, government; problems of the city and its complex life; but he, too, is ready to sacrifice his time and, if necessary, his business interest on the altar dedicated to the welfare of his country. He takes an active part in the alleviating of life's pain, in comforting wretched lives, in removing heavy burdens, in keeping his city clean. He realizes that his country and his city call for his service. and he does not wish to shirt the responsibilities which rest upon him. This is genuine patriotism: this is true devotion to one's country.

—Moise Bergman, The Daily Picayune, New Orleans, La., Nov. 26, 1909.


To every gift attaches an obligation. Each of us has a lamp to keep, a flame to tend, our special gift. We are under obligation to use that gift and if we fail, we die. The chief and unforgivable sin is putting out the light of your soul, or so shielding its rays from the world that no ray of it reaches the dark corners of life. It is the same sin, whether we keep our gift for ourselves as a greedy debauch or extinguish it entirely, whether we become selfish aesthetes or allow the dross of life to degrade us below that level of our gift. God has many gifts which He lavishes upon His creatures; among them is the gift of scholarship. What is the least common denominator of the scholarship? Might it not be found in these four elements? First and foremost, scholarship is mental training, the ability and, what is more, the willingness to think, to think things through. Most people don't think, they just meander and nibble and hop. They borrow others' opinions, get them ready-made in the market place, or the drug store or the newspaper; they deck themselves with the "lifted" plumage and soon they come to think that it is all their own and came from their inner being. Scholarship gives the mental vigor and integrity that thinks things through. It also makes for wide and discriminating reading conducive to breadth of view and soundness of judgment. The fault with the mass of people is that they neither read widely enough nor with sufficient discrimination. They know but one language, one civilization and one standard; they know neither history nor science. They have not put the key into the lock of the universe. They read in a narrow circle, not only thin pabulum, but all of the same, dreary kind. No wonder that they hold strong opinions--and hold then tenaciously. Always anemic mentally, they hold fast to their little grist. Scholarship gives us the key to open many doors, to search in many corners, and it hands us the lamp to light the way. And scholarship, contrary to popular opinion, is not either flippant or cynical; life has come to mean so much to the scholar that he cannot treat it so cavalierly. He has reverence for the past, for he knows all it has given to the present. He does not think that the world began yesterday, that the contributions of date but from the day before yesterday. He knows that each age gave marvelous contributions. He is reverent of the past, of the wonderful truths it has uncovered. But knowing all this, he is yet confident of the future: that much yet remains, that the miracles of the universe are still waiting for revelation, that a high road leads from today to tomorrow, and that is always goes upward. And the scholar is always possessed of a valuable sixth sense, not the hysterical, but the historical sense. As a matter of fact, those who have not the one kind have the other kind of sixth sense. Lack of the historical is usually a condition of the hysterical; namely, the view of life without a sense of proportion that is a necessary part of art, a sort of cubist nightmare. The gift of scholarship is that historical sixth sense that brings restraint, proportion, perspective and atmosphere into the daily landscape that spreads out before us and demands a reaction from us. This is the gift of the scholar, this is the lamp of scholarship, this is scholarship reduced to its lowest and simplest terms, not so much as to content, but as to attitude and outlook. What should the scholar do with this gift? Of course, he can let the lamp go out. Many of them do. But they are guilty of the unforgivable sin, denying the light of their soul, turning their back upon it; and their fate is the fate of the nations whose name is but an echo in the world today. To be true to the gift of scholarship and the bright lamp of the trained soul and mind, we must addict ourselves to what I do not hesitate to call by the rather unpopular word of culture. By culture I mean a glowing desire to understand and have sympathy with all peoples, and all races and all civilizations and the constant gathering of those tools of knowledge and intelligence that make such sympathy and understanding easy. Scholarship that does not lead to that kind of culture is spurious and unwholesome. The scholar should seek robust culture. He should be the conscience of the community in the matter of educational methods. And because of his training to think things through, because of his historical (not hysterical) sense, the scholar should not shirk his duty in the political field. But above all these efforts, the scholar is finally the influence of urbanity in life and in the community. He must breathe the spirit of toleration of the open mind into the city of his residence; he must suggest breadth of view among his people. When a town allows itself to suffer from a conflagration of medieval bigotry and from the hysterics and panics of narrowness, there are but two suppositions about the scholars of that city; either they have been driven out or they did not live up to their obligations. They have committed the unpardonable sin; they have denied the holy ghost of their intellectual integrity, they have put out the lamp.

—David Lefkowitz, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, April 28, 1924.


Why do we fast? Is it pleasing to God that we deny ourselves? Is fasting a divine commandment which we ignore at our peril? Or is fasting a human institution, framed by men in response to inner urging? And if fasting is an institution created by man, why should be observe it?

It seems to me that fasting has good reasons behind it, that could be summed up in three phrases: self-relatedness, self-control and self-sacrifice.

Fasting is a symbol of our self-control, and it becomes a symbol of our ability to make a milestone in character building.

If for 24 hours we can conquer our strongest appetites, and deny our basic hungers, then we have demonstrated to ourselves the power of our will and the strength of our spirits.

Much of character and friends consists of self-discipline, self-denial and the ability to say no to our appetite.

This is what we do when we fast--we deny ourselves, we prove to ourselves our ability of self-control. Hungry, we do not eat; thirsty, we do not drink; and if we do this for 24 hours, can we not during all the days of the year control our appetites, guard our greed, stifle our jealousy and our vanity and our selfishness?

Now self-control is a great good, but it is not all of goodness. A person can be self-controlled and self-centered at the same time. Ethical living means not only obeying the negative commands but the positive as well, not only self-control but self-sacrifice.

And fasting can help lead us to self-sacrifice. For when we fast we suddenly realize what it means to be hungry, really hungry, sick hungry, so hungry it hurts.

And out of that hunger should come a sense of what hunger must mean for other men; out of that hunger should come a compassion for the hungers of mankind.

Fasting then should be a symbol of sympathy that is what it means, a "feeling with."

We do not mean pity, that cries over someone else, but compassion, that cries with them.

We do not mean charity that gives them a handout, we mean helpfulness and self-sacrifice that gives then a hand up.

You and I sometimes forget that we live among the upper two percent of the world's population, that 98 percent of the people in this world have less than you and I. Not just a little less, but unbelievably less.

We mutter over our bills at the first of the month. We wonder how we're going to pay our taxes, but most people in the world have less to live on per year than we spend for our automobiles.

There is a hunger in the world, a hunger for things, and a hunger for spirit, a hunger for food and a hunger for kindness, a great famished hunger for the good things, the fine things, the sweet things of life.

And as we fast, surely we can feel that hunger and have our hearts stir with compassion for the hunger of humanity.

But let our compassion lead us to lives of service. Too many of us spread ourselves thin. We belong and pay dues to a dozen organizations, but we attend none of them; we give our funds to some central organization and then let professionals do the job. But there is much more to do. We ought to become specialists in human service and in feeding the hungry.

There are so many hungers, so many choices, all of them involving money, or study, or personal service, or all three.

But you can put your own talents to work, find an outlet for your own interests. There is no end to suggestions.

Let a person but become aware of hunger, become compassionate through hunger, and the wide world is open to his splendid service.

These are the reasons for fasting--that we may become more closely knit with our people and our faith, that we may test our own powers of self-control; and above all that we may feel hungry, and in our hunger find compassion for the hunger of humanity.

In this way we choose the fast that God has chosen, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked and lend a helping hand to those who have lost their way in the world. May God bless our fasting and our prayers that we may go forth to serve and to bless.

—Robert I. Kahn, Houston Post, Houston, Texas, Sept. 25, 1954.


Love is not enough. Love is important; it is the greatest thing in the world, but more is required to live happily. For this we need a goal to strive for which requires discipline and courage and faith. This must be added to love if the journey of life is to attain its true and full significance.

Too many of us have made a cult out of the concept of love, expecting of it what it cannot do. To be sure love can comfort, love can inspire; it can bring tenderness and compassion and arouse mercy and kindness.

Loving God, we can seek to do His will, and loving another person we can strive to serve him faithfully. But even here you see, love needs discipline and direction and dedication. Love without discipline can spoil a person and mislead him.

Give your children love alone, without religious training, and you have only begun to do your job as a parent. For the loving parent can indulge the child to such extremes as to produce a social misfit.

A marriage, too, needs spiritual content and discipline, besides love, in order that the two people involved may use their love for the achievement of the right ideals of family life. For life demands courage and determination. Life constantly challenges us to meet disappointments and pain and frustration with understanding and unbroken faith.

Love alone, without the complement of discipline, renders us helpless when sorrow comes. For love is a power which God has given us to use in all of our private and public relationships. Without the right channeling and direction and control, it can overwhelm us in a sea of wild emotion. There is such a thing as loving ourselves and others too much for anybody's good.

Learn to love wisely by adding the force of stamina and courage to your loving heart.

—Hyman Judah Schachtel, Houston Post, Houston, Texas, March 26, 1955.


Self-respect is a Divine injunction. “Thou has made him (man) a little lower than the angels.” Not stripped of manly or womanly strength, but strong and fortified with the intelligent consciousness of being a man! of being a woman! Never violate the sacredness of your personal self-reverence. You can share with the nature Divine.

As you start or as you go on your life journey, carry with you the armor of self-respect, at home and abroad, in shop and factory, in business and in leisure, in wisdom and in folly, in joy and in sorrow, in success and in failure. But you are ever to hug it closer to your person when you are with your family and friends, teachers and superiors, chums and sweetheart. This is an inexorable rule. Break it and you will pay a proportional penalty. Self-respect and success go hand in hand.

Respect your personality. Humanity respects you in the exact and exquisite degree that you respect yourself. It is up to you to determine the height or the depth of the degree of respectability wherein you desire your fellowmen to esteem you. Honor and respect emanate from within—not from without. Those about you simply re-echo your own valuation of yourself. Says Schiller: “Be noble-minded! Our own heart and not other men’s opinions of us, forms our true honor.” Especially beware of forcing your company upon those who don’t want it. This is the abyss of self-degradation. The height of social climbing is so reached only by rigid self-respect. Sometimes the nearer you approach people the farther they go away from you. Deeply realize this truism!

Respect your convictions. You do not usually appreciate your mental strength. You are much stronger than you are aware of. Wherever you are, whenever you are, and with whomsoever you are, dare to assert your sincere opinions. “In every work of genius,” declares Emerson, “we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.” The humblest are frequently the wisest.

Self-respect, however, is not false pride, nor bluffing, nor bragging, nor self-complacency, not self-conceit. It is made of better stuff. It is a deep condition of the soul. It is born of a profound sense of one’s high destiny as being co-partner with the Supreme, whose divinity he shares. Self-respect is the fruit of moral purity, personal integrity and spiritual elevation. And mankind respects you largely for what you morally are.

Self-respect and good manners are inseparable companions. Good manners are the flowers of a noble character. A noble character is built upon truth, honesty and sacrifice. Said La Bruyere: “A man’s worth in this world is estimated according to his conduct.” Success and honor are largely conditional by self-respect.

---Isaac A. Hadad, The Canadian Jewish Chronicle, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Feb. 4, 1921.

Self-respect is essential to one's happiness. There is nothing more detrimental to the enjoyment of life than for a person to be ashamed of his appearance, his family background, his position in life, or any number of similar situations.

Such lack of self-respect leads an individual to accept false standards of value. He trembles with delight to receive a greeting from one he regards to be above him in station. He blushes and cringes before his supposed superiors, while he treats with contempt those who are like himself.

Then again, the man with no self-respect for himself and his own hates the rest of the world. He is full of dissatisfaction and jealousy.

Not being content with his own lot in life, he begrudges another's apparent well being. He allies himself with hate organizations or some anti-democratic movement which dramatizes his complaint against life.

Each one of us ought to learn to accept himself favorably, no matter what our talents or color of skin or financial condition or religious affiliation.

We can do this by realizing the awful folly of self-hate, by acquiring knowledge of the achievements and ideals of our particular families and background, by taking our religion seriously and living in accordance with its teachings.

This enables us to develop justifiable pride and happy self-acceptance.

It is undeniably true that we must achieve self-respect before we can accept others wholesomely--before we can go forward in search of fulfillment.

—Hyman Judah Schachtel, Houston Post, Houston, Texas, Dec. 15, 1956.


People without a sense of humor often compensate for it by proving amusing to others. If you cannot laugh with others you are likely to be laughed at by others.

---Alexander Lyons, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, N.Y., Dec. 14, 1932.

Nobody objects to humor—humor that is gentle and dignified—humor that is effective and leaves smiles, not scars.

But there is something seriously wrong with one whose sense of decency and goodness is insufficient to prevent the making of quips and quirks that hurt the feelings of the man or woman at whom they are aimed.

A good many people think their wit is as fine as ground steel when it is really as crude as pig iron.

A sense of humor is a saving grace; but wit is a dangerous tool—more apt to be abused than used, to sear than endear, to oppress than impress.

No man can afford to play fast and loose with another’s sacred sentiments, to flout and jest with or make light of or puns on what to anyone else is near and dear.

A glib tongue occasionally gives a man a reputation as being clever and witty, but reaping time is bound to come, and then his cleverisms and witticisms will grow into a crop and harvest of unpopularity and disfavor that will overwhelm all the explanations, extenuations and apologies he may offer.

You can’t harass people into happiness—every time you try it you add another word to your obituary. Better cut the comedy.

---Herman J. Stich, The Evening World, New York, N.Y., Oct. 16, 1919.

The trouble with bigots is they have no sense of humor.

—Levi A. Olan, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, May 30, 1952.

Humor takes the false pride and pomposity out of a person. And it takes a mature person, indeed, to take the laugh on himself. Today we need laughter from the heart and not just from the belly.

—Levi A. Olan, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, June 4, 1954.

Without a sense of humor we would not be human. Moreover, to be everlastingly grim and serious is to invite nervous breakdown. Laughter is good for the body and soul. It is healthy and sane. Humor gives us balance and perspective; it broadens our horizon and understanding; it makes us come down from our high horse of arrogance and conceit.

—Hyman Judah Schachtel, Houston Post, Houston, Texas, Nov. 28, 1953.


What is the quality that is most important in life? It is sincerity, the quality which tells us that what the man or woman says to us he will say to others and will not show a different face to different people.

—Monroe E. Deutsch, Vital Speeches of the Day, Mt. Pleasant, S.C., Aug. 15, 1945.

What is the secret of a winning personality? We have all observed the gracious bedside manner of a beloved physician; the warmth and attraction of a teacher, preacher, a salesman or even a stranger met for the first time. Undeniably there are people whom we encounter along the road of life who draw us to them through some personal magnetism. There are others who leave us indifferent if not utterly repelled and antagonized.

The secret is to be found in the sincere approach. If you are made to feel important by another person, if that person acts as if what you have to say really means something to him, that no one else exists but you while you talk together, then that person is well-nigh irresistible. On the other hand, if you are treated coldly and casually, briefly and unconcernedly, then your response is just as unkind.

Some of us are afraid of people. Others among us enjoy people. But all of us want to be liked. We want people to be glad to be with us. We crave favorable recognition. How pleasant life becomes when we are greeted with enthusiasm and delight. Obviously we must treat and greet others with sincere cordiality if we would develop an engaging personality.

But a word of caution is in order here. Beware of the hypocrite who wears a false smile and tries to take you in with his false, gay front. For we cannot be entirely sure of the sincerity of a person on only one or two slim contacts. Sincerity is revealed by time and experience. Nevertheless, despite the fact that hypocrites exploit the trust of honest people, let us remember the importance of meeting others with an affable countenance and genuine respect. Sincere warmth towards people brightens the world.

—Hyman Judah Schachtel, Houston Post, Houston, Texas, June 23, 1956.


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