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Here are over 150 pieces of (1) wit and wisdom of internationally famous Jews; (2) of rabbis past and present; and (3) finally great Talmud teachings. There is much information about celebs, rabbis and the quoted works on the Internet. "L'chaim! (To life!)"

Fifty Jewish Celebrity Quotations

A certain degree of neurosis is of inestimable value as a drive, especially to a psychologist. [Sigmund Freud]

A good transaction is good for both parties. [With Louis D. Brandeis]

A kind word is no substitute for a piece of herring or a bag of oats. [Scholom Aleichem - in Galewitz, p. 2]

A proverb has few words, good sense, and maybe a fine image. [Mod. Moses ibn Ezra]

A psychiatrist is a fellow who asks you a lot of expensive questions your wife asks for nothing. [Joey Adams - in Galewitz, p. 1]

A strong egoism is a protection . . . [Sigmund Freud]

An entire generation is being raised devoid of any spiritual presence . . . their hearts wanting. [Slovie Jungreis-Wolff, p. 12]

Avoid sin: . . . all your deeds are faithfully recorded. [Judah Hanassi]

Be not like the bird that sees the seed, but not the trap. [Judah ibn Tibbon]

Better make friends with an ignoramus who is liberal with his money and of a pleasing disposition than with a scholar who is mean and irascible. [Judah ben Samuel]

Beware the man who has two faces and two hearts. [Moses ibn Ezra]

Ceremonies are no aid to blessedness. [Baruch Spinoza]

Do not be deceived by the outward appearance of age or youth - a new pitcher may be full of good, old wine, while an old one may be totally empty. [Judah Hanassi]

Do not be ungrateful to animals. [Judah ben Samuel]

Do not enter into a learned discussion with your guests unless you are assured of their ability, so as not to put them to shame. [Judah ben Samuel]

He is noble who both feels and acts nobly. [Heinrich Heine]

He who is pious and learned is like an artist with his tools, ready and at hand. [Johanan ben Zakkai]

History keeps her eyes fixed on the victorious and leaves the vanquished in the shadows. [Abr. Stefan Zweig]

How do we know which direction to take? [Slovie Jungreis-Wolff, p. 5]

I find television very educational. Every time someone switches it on I go into another room and read a good book. [Groucho Marx]

I was thrown out of N.Y.U. [New York University] my freshman year . . . for cheating on my metaphysics final. You know, I looked within the soul of the boy sitting next to me. [Woody Allen]

I'd worship the ground you walked on if only you walked in a better neighborhood. [Billy Wilder]

Insight and understanding . . . may parent wisely. [Slovie Jungreis-Wolff, p. 12]

It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education. [Albert Einstein]

It is good to know when to forego an advantage. [Cf. Benjamin Disraeli]

Just as modern mass production requires the standardization of commodities, so the social process requires standardization of man. [Erich Fromm]

Men who are ruled by reason desire nothing for themselves which they would not wish for all mankind. [Baruch Spinoza]

Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons. [Woody Allen]

One out of every two [American] marriages ends in divorce. Those marriages that do survive are often riddled with strife and miscommunication. [Slovie Jungreis-Wolff, p. 11]

Opposition is not necessarily enmity. [Sigmund Freud]

Repression breeds hate; hate menaces stable government. [Louis D. Brandeis]

Selfish persons are . . . not capable of loving themselves either. [Erich Fromm]

Since things are deteriorating so quickly, will society and man's habits change quickly enough? [Isaac Asimov]

Space-ships and time machines are no escape from the human condition. [Arthur Koestler]

Swim, karate, ballet, art, French, chess, and tennis lessons . . . all ingredients that spell overload. [Slovie Jungreis-Wolff, p. 5]

The beginning of wisdom is to desire it. [Solomon ibn Gabirol ]

The lust for power is not rooted in strength, but in weakness. [Erich Fromm]

The moment of truth, the sudden emergence of a new insight, is an act of intuition. [Arthur Koestler]

The two most beautiful words in the English language are "check enclosed." [Dorothy Parker]

The way you speak . . . the way you relate . . . remains embedded deep within your soul. [Slovie Jungreis-Wolff, p. 7]

To him who knows how to read the legend, it conveys more truth than the chronicle. [Martin Buber]

When was the last time you heard parents discussing their hopes for their child's moral development? [Slovie Jungreis-Wolff, p. 6]

Who accepts tradition without applying his own intelligence and judgment is like a blind person following others. [Bahya ibn Pakuda ]

Why do Jewish men die before their wives? They want to. [Henny Youngman]

Wisdom is to the soul as food is to the body. [Abraham ibn Ezra]

Within you is the hidden light of the first day of creation. Yoga is a way to discover the hidden light within you. [Diane Bloomfield, p. 3]

Without being and remaining oneself, there is no love. [Martin Buber]

Words that come from the heart enter the heart. [Moses ibn Ezra].

You can go through an array of life experiences . . . in you feel connected. [Slovie Jungreis-Wolff, p. 10]

You don't have to build a temple or set up an ark in your living room - - - [Slovie Jungreis-Wolff, p. 7]

OPP

Rabbi Words

Selections of rabbi sayings may not be representative of the whole spectrum from BCE until our times, as there are many and divergent rabbi opinions.

Jews are fond of and support their wisdom lore. Rabbis (teachers) expound the top religious books, including the five books of Moses. They take the Laws literally, and add commentaries of good points and other points. All rabbi opinions are not sensible and reasonable. Rabbi opinions or paroles differ from one rabbi to another. Some are drastic and dogmatic, others fine and fit for other that Law-abiding Jews too. Apropos that Law: It institutes and regulates slavery. All men and women do not think well of slavery and being downtrodden that way.

The rabbi faith in a Holy Land, Holy City, Holy Temple and being a chosen people no matter what, surfaces in many quotations. And many other peoples may find such thought dumb: it is no joke to point out that a fit description in our days is "Torn Land, Torn City, Destroyed Temple, and such persecuted people".

Be that as it may, recent works that contain rabbi opinions atend to be in the form of less offending selections. Otherwise, the sheer bulk of sayings is daunting, many recorded opinions are hardly palatable to all and sundry, and the opinions are of variable quality and relevance as well. Well filtered, acceptable rabbi sayings in recent selections are on the large presentable, something to live by, but not exactly representative for the mingled opinions in ancient books. There are book references at the bottom of the page, to make it easier to see for oneself.

❦❦❦❦

A cult's objectives may seem idealistic and commendable. [Jacob Immanuel Schochet]

A man may divorce his wife merely for spoiling his food. [Hillel]

A thief is like a person who has been dead from the start. [Rashi (Shlomo Yitzhaki)]

A wise man is a greater asset to a nation than a king. [Maimonides]

Become a blessing to yourself so that you may be a blessing to others. [Mod. Samson Raphael Hirsch]

Can you see the holiness in those things you take for granted - a paved road or a washing machine? If you concentrate on finding what is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul. [Harold Kushner]

Do not say, "When I have leisure, I will study," because you may never have leisure. [Hillel]

Each individual will be called to account in the hereafter for every pleasure he declined without sufficient cause. [Abba Aricha]

Everything is foreseen, yet freedom of choice is granted. [Akiva]

Grief is like a wheel that goes around and around the world. [Rashi (Shlomo Yitzhaki)]

He who remains unmarried impairs the divine image. [Akiva]

Honest and sincere sages . . . seek truth. [Jacob Immanuel Schochet]

Honesty is the precondition for genuine scientific and scholarly work. [Leo Baeck]

Humility has its origin in wisdom. [Cf. Nahman of Bratslav]

If I am not for myself, who will be for me? [Hillel]

If you wish to live long, don't become too famous first. [With Baal Shem Tov, (Besht)]

It is forbidden to observe a commandment by committing a sin. [Simeon bar Yochai (Rashbi)]

Judaism is ethical. [With Leo Baeck]

Maturity is achieved when a person postpones immediate pleasures for long-term values. [Joshua Loth Liebman]

Pleasures are manifestations of God's name. [Baal Shem Tov]

The goal of good health is to enable a person to acquire wisdom. [Maimonides]

To be a successful businessman, you must have remarkable talents; and if you have such talents, why waste them on business? [Israel Salanter]

We live in a divine world. [Samson Raphael Hirsch]

Whatever the faults of the rabbis, consistency was not one of them. [Solomon Schechter]

When your mind is not at ease, don't pray. [Abba Aricha]

Where there is no peace, prayers are not accepted. [Nahman of Bratslav]

Who lacks confidence speaks lies more readily. [Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav]

You don't have to be religious to perfect your soul; I have found saintliness in avowed atheists. [Harold Kushner]

Your servant should be your equal. . . . You should not sleep on a feather bed, and he on straw. [Abbaye]

Professor Yehudah Levi

In North America and Western Europe, ten percent of the population of the world consumes fifty percent of its energy. (. . .)

The real danger to the Earth lies in this excessive consumption. (. . .)

This over-consumption is also manifest in our use of raw materials. It can even be found in our dietary habits. . . . People are well aware of this.

The root of the problem lies in a selfish world view which inflates personal consumption beyond the essential. (. . .)

From the explicit prohibition against the destruction of fruit trees, our sages deduced that it is all the more forbidden to destroy the fruits themselves. (. . .)

One of the treasures of nature is beauty; this, too, should be preserved. (. . .)

Spoiling the landscape . . . is clearly against the spirit of the Torah. (. . .)

The beauty of the environment is an important factor in the quality of life.

(As for a well planned city,) no generation has a right to change it as it wishes. The present generation is not the sole master over it. Rather, the future generations are equal to them in their rights. (. . .)

Cities originally surrounded by a wall can produce an urban population cut off from the surrounding fields and from agriculture altogether. At the same time, the greenbelt laws eliminate the possibility of the unchecked expansion of a city into a monstrous megalopolis. If there is a need for additional homes, a new city must be established. (. . .)

Sages expanded these laws to also prohibit psychological disturbances, such as possible exposure to a neighbour's observation, noise, and so on. [It helps to remove] the cause of the noise (. . .)

Particular nuisances (are) smoke, sewage odours, dust and similar aerosols, and vibrations. (. . .) These four nuisances are forms of pollution which are a source of great concern to this day. (. . .)

Aesthetic damage, such as littering in public places, is also included (. . .) This is where the Torah steps in. It comes to eliminate the prime cause of conflict by providing a (. . .) vision of an ecological paradise . . . [◦Reference]

Words of Rabbi Barry Gelman

What drives a person to rebukes? It seems to me that there are three reasons one would rebuke or criticise.

  1. One is the obvious reason; that would be to alter a particular behaviour. . . . Shimshon Rephael Hirsch, "Rebuke imposes on every member of the Jewish community generally not to remain silent when they see their Jewish companion's big or small sins." Likewise in the realm of interpersonal relationships, one is obligated to allude to misdeeds.

  2. The second reason for reprimand may be in order to avoid what the Talmud calls "silence is equivalent to acquiescence ." . . . The Talmud goes on to explain that even after that initial objection the owner must declare his disapproval at least once every three years. It's not enough to object once or twice, there must be a consistent voice of disapproval. . . . Similarly when it comes to rebuking someone for a religious or social fault.

  3. The third reason for reprimanding is less obvious . . . we tell people of our disapproval of their behaviour . . . to show them that we care.

[Note: Shortened from an article by Rabbi Barry Gelman. Retrieved ◦page]

OPP

Sayings and Proverbs

Jews have shared many proverbs with other folks, especially those found in the Book of Proverbs in the Old Testament. It is clearly documented how Israel's wisdom literature has been influenced by the wisdom literature of other ancient Middle Eastern cultures. [EB, sv. "Proverbs, the"]

Glendon Bryce substantiates it in his A Legacy of Wisdom: The Egyptian Contribution to the Wisdom of Israel. (1979). He finds that Hebrews drew on wisdom literature from ancient Egypt, and Babylonia, and went to adapt and integrate it in their royal courts also.

Jews have also absorbed and stuck to many proverbs of their later hosting cultures where Jews have lived for generations. It has given rise to Talmud sayings and sayings in other collections, and later in proverbs in Yiddish and other languages of countries where Jews have lived for generations. French Jewish proverbs are among them.

The Talmud

The Talmud ("instruction, teaching) is a text of Rabbinic Judaism - either the Babylonian Talmud or the older collection known as the Jerusalem Talmud. "Talmud" today usually refers to the Babylonian Talmud. But it is not as simple as that either, for the Babylonian Talmud has two parts, and the word "Talmud" may refer to the whole text, or its second part, Gemara, alone.

The first Talmud part is the Mishnah (c. 200 CE), a written compendium of Rabbinic Judaism's Oral Torah. The second part is the Gemara (c. 500 CE), a Mishnah commentary with related rabbinic Talmud writings added.

The whole Talmud is six thousand pages long, roughly. It contains the teachings and opinions of thousands of rabbis on a variety of subjects, including philosophy and many other topics. Maybe there is one good opinion too many in it. Anyway, Talmud sayings are much quoted in rabbinic literature. [WP, sv. "Talmud"]

❦❦❦❦

A change of name or place may sometimes save a person. [Talmud]

A dream which has not been interpreted is like a letter unread. [Talmud]

A fool believes everything he hears. [Proverbs]

A fool raises his voice when he laughs, but the wise smile quietly. [Sirach 21:20]

A foolish son is the grief of his mother. [Proverbs]

A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches. [Proverbs]

A learned man who has a learned son and a learned grandson may reasonably hope that learning will be the characteristic of his family for generations to come. [Midrash Proverbs 18].

A light for one is a light for one hundred. [Talmud]

A man fell in love with a woman who resided in the block of the tanners. If she had not lived there, he would never have entered this evil-smelling section. But, since she dwelt there, the street seemed to him like the street of the perfumes. [From Talmud]

A man should not hide all his money in one place. [Genesis Rabbah]

A penny added to a penny creates in the end a large sum. [Talmud]

A son should disobey his father if the father orders him to commit a sin. [Talmud]

A tree is known by its fruit, so a man by his work. [Talmud]

A village without a school should be abolished. [Talmud]

An accuser may not act as a defender. [Talmud]

As he had come naked from his mother's womb, so will he return as he came. [Ecclesiastes]

At the gate of abundance there are many brothers and sisters; at the gate of misery there is neither brother nor friend [Talmud]

At twenty, seek a livelihood; at thirty, enter into your full strength . . . at one hundred, it is as if you are . . . departed from this world. [Ethics of the Fathers]

Better acknowledge the truth. [Talmud]

Better to go to bed without supper than to rise in debt. [Talmud]

Certain urges lure men in this world, and then testify against them in the next world. [Cf. Talmud]

Culture in a woman is better than gold (Talmud]

Do not be wise in words alone, but also in deeds. [Talmud]

Do not despise an ignorant man who strives to gain knowledge, or a man of ill repute who strives to redeem his past. [Midrash Proverbs 7].

Do not envy a lawless man, or choose any of his ways, for the devious man is an abomination to the Lord. [Proverbs]

Don't worry about tomorrow. Who knows what may happen to you today? [Talmud]

Gamblers do not contribute to the public welfare. [Talmud]

Good deeds are better than credos. [Ethics of the Fathers]

Good men do not need monuments. [Talmud]

Guard your mind well, for it is a source of life. [Cf. Proverbs]

Hidden wisdom and concealed treasure: what profit is there in either? (Ecclesiastes]

If a word is worth one shekel, silence is worth two. [Talmud]

If you guard your mouth [in a fit way], you [can] preserve your life. (Proverbs 13:3, mod.) [You don't believe it? You can try and see how well it applies.]

Intelligence means a person who can see implications and arrive at conclusions. [Talmud]

Judge your words before you utter them. [Talmud ]

Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth. [Proverbs]

Let not the fear of bad offspring deter you. [Talmud ]

Liars cannot see God's spirit. [Cf. Midrash]

Looming sins acts detrimentally on a person's health. [Cf. Talmud]

Modesty is an index to nobility. [Moses ibn Ezra]

Often glory falls on those who did not seek it. [Talmud]

Poverty outweighs many other troubles. [Mod. Exodus Rabbah]

Prayer should be the service of the heart. [Cf. Midrash Samuel 2]

Say little and do much. [Talmud]

Scholars think more clearly as they grow older. [Talmud]

Separate reeds are weak and easily broken; when tied together they are hard to tear apart. [Midrash]

Speak not one thing with the mouth, and another with the heart. (Talmud]

Speech is the messenger of the heart. [Talmud]

Surround your vineyard with thorns [Abr. Wisdom of Sirach]

The beauty of man is in his wisdom. [Bet Aamidrash]

The righteous are at peace with each other. [Barmidbar Rabbah, Chap. 2]

The chief thing is not learning, but the deed [Talmud] The dog's attachment is to the crumb that he expects of you. [Talmud, abr.]

The Eternal is the advocate of the poor. [Talmud]

The greatest charity is to enable the poor to earn a living. [Talmud ]

The only time a son should disobey his father is if the father tells him to commit a sin. [Talmud]

The value of the words uttered with the lips is determined by the devotion of the heart. [Talmud]

The wise man heeds his steps. [Proverbs]

The wise man sees the inner garment of a person - his character. [Talmud, abr.]

The world is in the hands of fools. [Talmud ]

There are persons who are chained to gold and silver. [Talmud]

There are three people whose lives are Unworthy [are] he hypercritical. [Talmud, abr.]

There is a man who laboured with wisdom, knowledge and skill, yet he must hand on his portion to one who has not toiled for it. [Ecclesiastes]

Too much sleep and medicine may be bad. [Mod. Talmud]

Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you [may] stay out of trouble. [Proverbs 21:23] - [Variants: "Watch/guard/keep" . . . your mouth and tongue and you keep your "life, soul, yourself (himself)" . . . "out of trouble", "from distress, troubles, adversities". ◦Different translations pick among these alternatives. See how rewarding, good Ujjayi practice fits it among other likable, sovereign and sturdy applications.]

When a divorced man marries a divorced woman, there are four people in that marital bed. [Talmud]

When a person leaves this world, he is accompanied by his good deeds. [Abr. Ethics of the Fathers]

When he was a puppy, I fed him, and when he became a dog he bit me. [Talmud]

When wine enters, knowledge exits. [Midrash]

When wine enters, reason departs and secret thoughts are revealed. (Talmud]

Where there is no vision, peoples may perish. [Cf. Proverbs]

Who is wise? One who learns from all people (Ethics of the Fathers, Pirkei Avot 4:1]

Wine gladdens life. [Ecclesiastes]

A story

Three guards wanted King Darius and three princes to judge which statement was the wisest. "Wine is the strongest," was the first. The second was, "The king is strongest. The third was, "Women are strongest: but above all things Truth bears away the victory."

"Wine causes men that drink it to err. It makes man forget sorrow and debt, and a little after draw out swords."

"If the king commands to kill, his soldiers kill. He eats and drinks and takes his rest."

"Women have borne the king and those who plant the vineyards that the wine comes from. Do they gape, and even with open mouth fix their eyes fast on a comely woman, desiring her more than silver and gold. A man cleaves to his wife. Then he labours and toils for his woman. Yes, many there are that have run out of their wits for women and become servants for their sakes."

The king: "As for the truth, it endures." Then he said to the third guard: "You are found to be the wisest, and shall be called my cousin." [Esdras 1. chap 2 - chap 3:42, highlights]

Contents


Jewish quotations of Jews, Jew citations, Jewish quotes, Literature  

Some text of the ancient Hebrew and Christian traditions are called apocrypha ("hidden", or noncanonical). Some of these texts have been accepted into the Christian bible by the Catholic Churc, but not all denominations, on the grounds that they seem too light on the whole.

The apocryphal Book of Judith is referred to above, and also Esdras 1 and Ecclesiastes. The latter belongs somewhat surprisingly to the canonical Wisdom Books in the Old Testament of most denominations of Christianity. [◦Old Testament Apocrypha]

Twig

Aram, Homayoon. The Wit and Wisdom of Three Worlds: A Bilingual Collection of Popular Persian, Judaic and Western Proverbs and Expressions. Bethesda, ML: Ibex, 2009.

Ausubel, Nathan. A Treasury of Jewish Folklore: The Stories, Traditions, Legends, Humor, Wisdom and Folk Songs. New York: Crown, 1948.

Bloomfield, Diane. Torah Yoga: Experiencing Jewish Wisdom Through Classic Postures. San Francisco, CA: Wiley and Sons, 2004.

Bryce, Glendon E. A Legacy of Wisdom: The Egyptian Contribution to the Wisdom of Israel. London: Associated University Presses, 1979.

Cohen, A., coll. Ancient Jewish Proverbs. London: John Murray, 1911.

Collins, Edwin, tr. The Wisdom of Israel: Being Extracts from the Babylonian Talmud and Midrash Rabboth. London, John Murray, 1910.

Dingle, Carol A., coll. Memorable Quotations: Jewish Writers of the Past. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, 2003.

EB. Encyclopedia Britannica, DVD and Online, sv. "Proverbs, the".

Galewitz, Herb. Jewish Wit and Wisdom.. New York: Dover, 2001.

Gross, David C., and Esther R. Gross, Jewish Wisdom: A Treasury of Proverbs, Maxims, Aphorisms, Wise Sayings, and Memorable Quotations. New York: Walker and Co./Bloomsbury, 1989.

Horne, Charles Francis, ed. The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East. Vol. 3: Ancient Hebrew. The Earliest Remains. The Talmud. New York: Parke, Austin and Lipscomb, 1917.

Horne, Charles Francis, ed. The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East. Vol. 4: Medieval Hebrew. The Midrash. The Kabbalah. New York: Parke, Austin and Lipscomb, 1917.

Jungreis-Wolff, Slovie. Raising a Child with Soul: How Time-Tested Jewish Wisdom Can Shape Your Child's Character. New York. Macmillan, 2009.

Oesterley, William Oscar Emil, tr. The Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirke Aboth). New York: Macmillan, 1919.

Oesterley, William Oscar Emil. The Wisdom of Egypt and the Old Testament: in the Light of the Newly Discovered Teachings of Amen-em-ope. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1927.

Rapaport, Samuel. Tales and Maxims from the Midrash. London: George Routledge & Sons, 1907.

Schneersohn of Lubavitch, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak: The Principles of Education and Guidance. New York: Kehot Publication Society, 1990.

Schochet, Rabbi Dr. Jacob Immanuel. The Mystical Tradition - Jewish Mysticism - The Meaning and Relevance. New York: Kehot Publication, nd.

Silverman, William B. The Sages Speak: Rabbinic Wisdom and Jewish Values.Northvale NJ: J. Aronson, 1989.

Taylor, Charles, tr. Sayings of the Jewish Fathers Comprising Prique Aboth in Hebrew and English with Notes and Excursuses. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1897.

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