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Jewish Words of Wisdom: Quotes from October

From the Week of 25 Tishre 5758/October 26, 1997

"The Torah of HASHEM is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of HASHEM is trustworthy, making the simple one wise; the orders of HASHEM are upright, gladdening the heart; the command of HASHEM is clear, enlightening the eyes; the awe of HASHEM is pure, enduring forever; the judgments of HASHEM are true, altogether righteous." (Psalm 19:8-10)

"Forever, HASHEM, Your word stands firm in the heavens." (Psalm 119:89)

"Truth is the essence of Your word; your just rules are eternal." (Psalm 119:160)

"The Torah and all its commandments...form a great and mighty Divine poem, a poem of confident trust and love." (R. Kook, Eder HaYekor, as quoted in A Treasury of Jewish Quotations Joseph L. Baron, ed.)

"It [Torah] is a tree of life for all who hold it fast, its ways are pleasant and all its paths are peace." (Proverbs 3:17-18, paraphrased from memory)

From the Week of 18 Tishre 5758/October 19, 1997

Note: All of the following quotes are from Living Each Day by Rabbi Abraham J. Twersky, MD.

    "In contrast to our sturdy, permanent homes, the succa is a fragile hut, suited only for temporary dwelling.
    The succah can be seen as a symbol of our sojourn in the physical world. If we realize that our earthly existance is transitory, and that we are to live our lives in preparation for the eternal world, then we can indeed be sanctified and achieve the holiness that eludes thos who have no goals other than to satisfy their physical desires.
    Succos is a joyous festival. Luxurioous mansions are often inhabited by people who are unhappy. The message of the succah is that regardless of our eartly possessions, there is an ultimate joy that awaits us."

"Of the four species used in the Succos ritual, the etrog (citron) has both taste and fragrance, the hadas (myrtle) has fragrance but no taste, the lulav (date palm) bears fruit which has taste but no fragrance, and the aravah (willow branch) has neither taste nor fragrance. All four species must be taken together, and the absence of any one makes the mitzvah incomplete" (Midrash)

    "We often place values on people whether by virtue of their character, knowledge, wealth, or social status.
    It is well to remember that before G-d we are all equal. The mitzvah of the four species is as incomplete when the insipid willow branch is lacking as when the succulent citron is absent.
    When we are unified, bound together with bonds of compassion and affection, then we are complete, and as with the mitzvah, we have kedushah (sanctity). If we reject a person because we do not consider him worthy enough, we thereby deminish our own value as well.
    If we are all united together, we are everything. If we reject one another, we are nothing."

From the Week of 11 Tishre 5758/October 12, 1997

"And remember that the companionship of Time is but of short duration. It flies more quickly than the shades of evening. We are like a child that grasps in his hand a sunbeam. He opens his hand soon again, but, to his amazement, finds it empty and the brightness gone." (Yedaya Penina, 14th cent. as quoted in the High Holiday Machzor)

"A man should so live that at the close of every day he can repeat; 'I have not wasted my day' " (The Zohar, as quoted in the High Holiday Machzor)

"Say not, when I have leisure I will study; for you may never have leisure" (Hillel, Pirke Avot 2:4)

From the Week of 4 Tishre 5758/October 5, 1997

From now until after Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the quotes here will have the High Holidays as their theme. Rosh Hashana, birthday of the world, occurs on the first day of the seventh month...

"One on the New Moon of Elul, the zaddik Rabbi Levi Isaac of Berditchev [18th cent.] was standing at his window. A Gentile cobbler passed by and asked him, 'And have you nothing to mend?' At once the zaddik sat himself down on the ground and weeping bitterly cried, 'Woe is me, and alas my soul, for the Day of Judgement [i.e. Rosh HaShanah, which is also known as Yom HaDin, the Day of Judgement] is almost here, and I have still not mended myself!' " (Zikhron la-Rishonim as quoted in Days of Awe, S.Y. Agnon, ed.)

"O Merciful G-d of forgiveness, You desire the return of those who have strayed, and You do not desire their destruction...For it is said, "This is the word of G-d, 'Do You think I prefer the death of a sinner? What I desire is that he repent his errant ways and live' " (Yom Kippur Service as quoted in Living Each Day by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, MD)

"Who like You, O G-d, forgiving iniquity and remitting transgression; Who has not maintianed His wrath forever against the remnant of His own people, because He loves graciousness!" (Micah 7:18)

"...Turn back to Me, and I will turn back to you-- said the L-RD of Hosts." (Malichi 3:7)

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This page was made by Gretchen A. Shapiro, © copyright 1997