From King Solomon to Einstein, exploring the meaning of some of the best Jewish quotes.
1. “In Jewish history there are no coincidences.” – Elie Wiesel
If you would have asked me my favorite Yiddish word, I would have said bashert. It translates into the idea that Wiesel so beautifully captured as aphorism in my favorite quote. The older I get the more I am astonished by its truth, both in a national as well as personal sense. The seemingly haphazard, random, and arbitrary events that comprise the story of our lives begin to form a coherent and purposeful narrative when we view them from a divine perspective. With the wisdom of retrospective insight I have countless times learned to acknowledge that coincidence is but God’s way of choosing to remain anonymous. Rabbi Benjamin Blech
2. “A righteous man falls down seven times and gets up.” – King Solomon, Proverbs, 24:16.
Life is all about the ability to get up from challenge. Greatness is defined as getting up one more time than what you’ve fallen down. The Torah defines someone who’s righteous not as someone who had succeeded, but someone who has persevered. It creates a paradigm of what righteousness is – trying to do what’s right, getting up from failure, and keep moving forward. Charlie Harary
3. “If you don’t know what you’re living for, you haven’t yet lived.” – Rabbi Noah Weinberg, of blessed memory
Life is the most precious thing we have. Everyone wants to live a life of meaning. But we are so busy ‘living’ that we don’t have a moment to really think about living. One of my father’s priorities was getting people to ask the big questions in life, to get out of the pettiness and focus on living a life of real purpose. Yehuda Weinberg
4. “I do not want followers who are righteous, rather I want followers who are too busy doing good that they won’t have time to do bad.” – Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk
People who focus on being righteous can become self-absorbed and self-righteous. While those pursing good deeds and actions become righteous. Rabbi Ari Kahn
5. “Klieg, Klieg, Klieg-Du bist a Nar. You are smart, smart. smart – but you are not so smart!” – a Yiddish saying
It’s one of my favorite quotes because it is so true! And my mother used to say it quietly about people and whenever she did, she was right. Benjamin Brafman
6. “If I am I because you are you, and you are you because I am I, then I am not I and you are not you. But if I am I because I am I, and you are you because you are you, then I am I and you are you.” – Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk
A self-definition that is based on other’s perspective is untrue and deceptive. Rabbi Zev Pomeranz