Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Quote File: Abraham Joshua Heschel

I was introduced to the name and thought of Abraham Joshua Heschel through a passing mention in a Spring 2009 novel, Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork. Most of the quotes below were taken from his Wikipedia page, but that doesn't make them any the less thought-provoking or worthy:

  • "Wonder rather than doubt is the root of all knowledge."
  • "A religious man is a person who holds God and man in one thought at one time, at all times, who suffers no harm done to others, whose greatest passion is compassion, whose greatest strength is love and defiance of despair."
  • "Racism is man's gravest threat to man -- the maximum hatred for a minimum reason."
  • "All it takes is one person… and another… and another… and another… to start a movement."
  • "God is of no importance unless He is of utmost importance."
  • "Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy."
  • "Self-respect is the fruit of discipline; the sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself."
  • "Life without commitment is not worth living."
  • "In regard to cruelties committed in the name of a free society, some are guilty, while all are responsible."
  • "When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people."
  • "Indifference to the sublime wonder of living is the root of sin."
  • "Truth is often gray, and deceit is full of splendor. One must hunger fiercely after Truth to be able to cherish it."
  • "Remember that there is a meaning beyond absurdity. Be sure that every little deed counts, that every word has power. Never forget that you can still do your share to redeem the world in spite of all absurdities and frustrations and disappointments."


  1. Ironically, I just read AS GOOD AS ANYBODY, a lovely picture book about Martin Luther King, Heschel, and their twin desires for both civil and human rights.


    I thought I knew a lot. But I didn't know ANYTHING about what I read in this picture book.

    I am impressed.

  2. Imagine having a cup of coffee with Abraham Joshua Heschel. I say, "Mr. Heschel, I admire your work so much and I am a Christian." And he responds, "Your point being?"
    I'm glad you like him.

  3. Wow, thanks for sharing those, they were a really amazing start to my day!