Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel - G-d in Search of Man; a Philosophy of Judaism
“It is customary to blame secular science and anti-religious philosophy for the eclipse of religion in modern society. It would be more honest to blame religion for its own defeats. Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid. When faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past; when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion--its message becomes meaningless.”
Martin Buber - On Judaism
“For God does not want to be believed in, to be debated and defended by us, but simply to be realized through us.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel - Interview with Carl Stern
"Let us not mistake the nature of prayer, especially in Judaism. The purpose of prayer is not to make requests. The purpose of prayer is to praise, to sing, to chant, for the essence of prayer is a song, and man cannot live without a song. Prayer may not save us, but prayer may make us worthy of being saved."
Will Herberg - Judaism and Modern Man
The ultimate criterion of justice, as of everything else in human life, is the divine imperative—the law of love .... Justice is the institutionalization of love in society .... This law of love requires that every man be treated as a Thou, a person, an end in himself, never merely as a thing or a means to another's end. When this demand is translated into laws and institutions under the conditions of human life in history, justice arises.
Crisis and Hope
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Future Tense; How the Jews Invented Hope
Western civilization is the product of two cultures: ancient Greece and ancient Israel. The Greeks believed in fate: the future is determined by the past. Jews believed in freedom: there is no ‘evil decree’ that cannot be averted. The Greeks gave the world the concept of tragedy. Jews gave it the idea of hope. The whole of Judaism – though it would take a book to show it – is a set of laws and narratives designed to create in people, families, communities and a nation, habits that defeat despair. Judaism is the voice of hope in the conversation of mankind.
Finding and installing a rabbi is a sacred act. It is much more than finding a good speaker, or a learned scholar. It is seeing the soul of a leader who represents the values and ideals of a community. It is finding someone who not only teaches Torah, but lives Torah. The word authority is directly related to the word 'author,' the one who helps write the story.
Today this great congregation in installing for itself an author, what is the story that your community is telling?
What are the stories you've only dreamed could be written?
What can you do to help the story as it comes to life?