Abraham Joshua Heschel Quotes

Abraham Joshua Heschel (January 11, 1907 – December 23, 1972) was a Polish-born American rabbi and one of the leading Jewish theologians and Jewish philosophers of the 20th century. Heschel, a professor of Jewish mysticism at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, authored a number of widely read books on Jewish philosophy and was active in the Civil Rights Movement

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Abraham Joshua Heschel


Those of faith who plant sacred thoughts in the uplands of time, the secret gardeners of the Lord in mankind's desolate hopes, may slacken and tarry but rarely betray their vocation.

Abraham Joshua Heschel


The road to the sacred leads through the secular.

Abraham Joshua Heschel


Wise criticism always begins with self-criticism.

Abraham Joshua Heschel


Self-respect is the fruit of discipline.

Abraham Joshua Heschel


I have one talent, and that is the capacity to be tremendously surprised, surprised at life, at ideas. This is to me the supreme Hasidic imperative: Don't be old. Don't be stale.

Abraham Joshua Heschel


The riches of the soul are stored up in its memory. this is the test of character, not whether a man follows the daily fashion, but whether the past is alive in his present.

Abraham Joshua Heschel


The test of love is in how one relates not to saints and scholars but to rascals.

Abraham Joshua Heschel


Our age is one in which usefulness is thought to be the chief merit of nature; in which the attainment of power, the utilization of its resources is taken to be the chief purpose of man in God's creation. Man has indeed become primarily a tool-making animal, and the world is now a gigantic tool box for the satisfaction of his needs.

Abraham Joshua Heschel


The course of life is unpredictable no one can write his autobiography in advance.

Abraham Joshua Heschel


All action is vicarious faith.

Abraham Joshua Heschel


The work on weekdays and the rest on the seventh day are correlated. The Sabbath is the inspirer, the other days the inspired.

Abraham Joshua Heschel


The Sabbath is not for the sake of the weekdays; the weekdays are for the sake of Sabbath. It is not an interlude but the climax of living.

Abraham Joshua Heschel


In any free society where terrible wrongs exist, some are guilty - all are responsible.

Abraham Joshua Heschel


People of our time are losing the power of celebration. Instead of celebrating we seek to be amused or entertained. Celebration is an active state, an act of expressing reverence or appreciation. To be entertained is a passive state--it is to receive pleasure afforded by an amusing act or a spectacle.... Celebration is a confrontation, giving attention to the transcendent meaning of one's actions. Source: The Wisdom of Heschel

Abraham Joshua Heschel


The meaning of the Sabbath is to celebrate time rather than space. Six days a week we live under the tyranny of things of space; on the Sabbath we try to become attuned to holiness in time. It is a day on which we are called upon to share in what is eternal in time, to turn from the results of creation to the mystery of creation; from the world of creation to the creation of the world.

Abraham Joshua Heschel