Abraham Joshua Heschel
Abraham Joshua Heschel
"Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. ....get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed."
"But why have we reduced all the virtues to being kind? Because we have reduced all the goods to one, the one that kindness ministers to: pleasure, comfort, contentment. We have reduced ourselves to pleasure-seeking animals."
"At times the man, shuddering at the alienation between the I and the world, comes to reflect that something is to be done... And thought, ready with its service and its art, paints with its well-known speed one - no, two - rows of pictures, on the right wall and on the left. On the one there is ... the universe. The tiny earth plunges from the whirling stars, tiny man from the teeming earth, and now history bears him further through the ages, to rebuild persistently the ant-hill of the cultures which history crushes underfoot... On the other wall there takes place the soul. A spinner is spinning the orbits of all stars and the life of all creation and the history of the universe; everything is woven of one thread, and is no longer called stars and creation and universe, but sensations and imaginings, or even experiences, and conditions of the soul... Thenceforth, if ever the man shudders at the alienation, and the world strikes terror in his heart, he looks up (to the right or left, just as it may chance) and sees a picture. There he sees that the I is embedded in the world and that there is really no I at all. - so the world can do nothing to the I, and he is put at ease; or he sees the world is embedded in the I, and that there is really no world at all - so the world can do nothing to the I, and he is put at ease... But a moment comes, and it is near, when the shuddering man looks up and sees both pictures in a flash together. And a deep shudder seizes him."
"I do not think we are necessarily more wicked than our ancestors, overall. True, we are less courageous, less honest with ourselves, less self-disciplined and obviously less chaste than they were. But they were more cruel, intolerant, snobbish, and inhumane than we are."
"If there is harmony in the heart, there will be harmony in the family. If there is harmony in the family, there will be harmony in the nation. If there is harmony in the nation, there will be harmony in the world."
"We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito. And the incognito is not always easy to penetrate. The real labor is to remember to attend. In fact to come awake. Still more to remain awake."
"My idea of God is not a divine idea. It has to be shattered time after time. He shatters it Himself. He is the great iconoclast. Could we not say that this shattering is one of the marks of His presence? All reality is iconoclastic."