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God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism by Abraham Joshua Heschel
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“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.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
“This is one of the goals of the Jewish way of living: to experience commonplace deeds as spiritual adventures, to feel the hidden love and wisdom in all things.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
“The true meaning of existence is disclosed in moments of living in the presence of God”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
“The meaning of awe is to realize that life takes place under wide horizons, horizons that range beyond the span of an individual life or even the life of a nation, a generation, or an era. Awe enables us to perceive in the world intimations of the divine, to sense in small things the beginning of infinite significance, to sense the ultimate in the common and the simple; to feel in the rush of the passing the stillness of the eternal.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
“There is a passion and drive for cruel deeds which only the awe and fear of God can soothe; there is a suffocating selfishness in man which only holiness can ventilate.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
“Wonder or radical amazement is the chief characteristic of the religious man's attitude toward history and nature.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
“Mankind will not perish for want of information; but only for want of appreciation. The beginning of our happiness lies in the understanding that life without wonder is not worth living . What we lack is not a will to believe but a will to wonder.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
“What seems to be a stone is a drama.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
“Wise criticism always begins with self-criticism.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
“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.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
“Replete is the world with a spiritual radiance, replete with sublime and marvelous secrets. But a small hand held against the eye hides it all,” said the Baal Shem.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
“One may observe all the laws and still be practicing a disguised polytheism. For if in performing a religious act one’s intention is to please a human being whom he fears or from whom he hopes to receive benefit, then it is not God whom he worships but a human being.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
“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.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
“It is useless endeavor to fight the ego in the open; like a wounded hydra, it produces two heads for every one cut off. We must not indulge in self-scrutinization; we must not concentrate upon the problem of egocentricity. The way to purify the self is to avoid dwelling upon the self and to concentrate upon the task.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
“The surest way of misunderstanding revelation is to take it literally, to imagine that God spoke to the prophet on a long-distance telephone. Yet most of us succumb to such fancy, forgetting that the cardinal sin in thinking about ultimate issues is literal-mindedness.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
“There are dead thoughts and there are living thoughts. A dead thought has been compared to a stone which one may plant in the soil. Nothing will come out. A living thought is like a seed. In the process of thinking, an answer without a question is devoid of life. It may enter the mind; it will not penetrate the soul. It may become a part of one’s knowledge; it will not come forth as a creative force.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
“[O]ne of the fatal errors of conceptual theology has been the separation of the acts of religious existence from the statements about it. Ideas of faith must not be studied in total separation from the moments of faith. If a plant is uprooted from its soil, removed from its native winds, sun-rays and terrestrial environment, and kept in a hothouse— will observations made of such a plant disclose its primordial nature? The growing inwardness of man that reaches and curves toward the light of God can hardly be transplanted into the shallowness of mere reflection. Torn out of its medium in human life, it wilts like a rose pressed between the pages of a book. Religion is, indeed, little more than a desiccated remnant of a once living reality when reduced to terms and definitions, to codes and catechisms. It can only be studied in its natural habitat of faith and piety, in a soul where the divine is within reach of all thoughts.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
“Among the many things that religious tradition holds in store for us is a legacy of wonder. The surest way to suppress our ability to understand the meaning of God and the importance of worship is to take things for granted. Indifference to the sublime wonder of living is the root of sin.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
“Only that which is good for all men is good for every man. No one is truly inspired for his own sake. He who is blessed, is a blessing for others.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
“This is the status of the Bible in modern life: it is a sublime answer, but we do not know the question any more. Unless we recover the question, there is no hope of understanding the Bible.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
“We may assume it is God we care for, but it may be our own ego we are concerned with. To examine our religious existence is, therefore, a task to be performed constantly.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
“The grand premise of religion is that man is able to surpass himself; that man who is part of this world may”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
“Awe rather than faith is the cardinal attitude of the religious Jew.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
“Lift up your eys and see. How does a man lift up his eyes to see a little higher than himself? The grand premise of religion is that man is able to surpass himself; that man who is part of this world may enter into a relationship with Him who is greater than the world; that man may lift up his mind and be attached to the absolute; that man who is conditioned by a multiplicity of factors is capable of living with demands that are unconditioned. How does one rise above the horizon of the mind? How does one free oneself from the perspectives of ego, group, earth, and age? How does one find a way in this world that would lead to an awareness of Him who is beyond this world?”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
“God does not reveal Himself; he only reveals His way. Judaism does not speak of God’s self-revelation, but of the revelation of His teaching for man. The Bible reflects God’s revelation of His relation to history, rather than of a revelation of His very Self. Even His will or His wisdom is not completely expressed through the prophets. Prophecy is superior to human wisdom, and God’s love is superior to prophecy. This spiritual hierarchy is explicitly stated by the Rabbis.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
“As long as man sees religion as a source of satisfaction for his own needs, it is not God whom he serves but his own self.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
“The most incomprehensible fact is that we comprehend at all.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
“The Bible is not an intellectual sinecure, and its acceptance should not be like setting up a talismanic lock that seals both the mind and the conscience against the intrusion of new thoughts. Revelation is not vicarious thinking. Its purpose is not to substitute for but to extend our understanding. The prophets tried to extend the horizon of our conscience and to impart to us a sense of the divine partnership in our dealings with good and evil and in our wrestling with life’s enigmas. They tried to teach us how to think in the categories of God: His holiness, justice and compassion. The appropriation of these categories, far from exempting us from the obligation to gain new insights in our own time, is a challenge to look for ways of translating Biblical commandments into programs required by our own conditions. The full meaning of the Biblical words was not disclosed once and for all. Every hour another aspect is unveiled. The word was given once; the effort to understand it must go on for ever. It is not enough to accept or even to carry out the commandments. To study, to examine, to explore the Torah is a form of worship, a supreme duty. For the Torah is an invitation to perceptivity, a call for continuous understanding.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
“There is no reverence for God without reverence for man. Love of man is the way to the love of God.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
“Among the many things that religious tradition holds in store for us is a legacy of wonder. The surest way to suppress our ability to understand the meaning of God and the importance of worship is to take things for granted. Indifference to the sublime wonder of living is the root of sin. Modern”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism

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