One of my hobbies is collecting quotations. Over the years I have gathered thousands of bits of truth, wisdom, insight, light, poetry, sayings, one-liners, and more extensive passages on virtually every conceivable theme. My ever-growing collection draws from the famous and the unknown, from ancient and modern Jewish and world literature, from family, friends and mentors.
I have posted above my desk six quotes in particular to which I refer whenever I need a hedge against spiritual and emotional fragmentation, fear, despair, and inordinate stress. None needs additional comment. All speak for themselves, and I offer them to you:
“Simplify, simplify, simplify.” (Henry David Thoreau, 1817-1862)
“Grant me [O God] the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” (Pastor Reinhold Niebuhr, 1892-1971)
“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” (William Shakespeare, 1654-1616)
“A rabbi whose community does not disagree with him is no rabbi. A rabbi who fears his community is no mensch.” (Mensch is German for “man.” In this context it refers to a compassionate, kind, just, courageous, purposeful, strong, and wise man, woman or child). (Rabbi Israel Salanter, 1810-1883)
“B’Yisrael ye-ush hu lo optsia – In Israel, despair is not an option.” (Yaron Shavit – b. 1958 – Chairman of the Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism in Israel (IMPJ), Tel Aviv Business Attorney and Consultant, Colonel in Reserve Duty in the Israel Defense Forces)
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” (Teilhard de Chardin, 1881-1955)