Wikiquote:Transwiki/Jewish quotes

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"I will insist the Hebrews have [contributed] more to civilize men than any other nation. If I was an atheist and believed in blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations … They are the most glorious nation that ever inhabited this Earth. The Romans and their empire were but a bubble in comparison to the Jews. They have given religion to three-quarters of the globe and have influenced the affairs of mankind more and more happily than any other nation, ancient or modern."

- John Adams (From a letter to F. A. Van der Kemp [Feb. 16, 1808] Pennsylvania Historical Society)


"This is an exceedingly strange development, unexpected by all but the theologians. They have always accepted the word of the Bible: In the beginning God created heaven and earth... [But] for the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; [and] as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries."

- Robert Jastrow (God and the Astronomers [New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1978], 116. Professor Jastrow was the founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute, now director of the Mount Wilson Institute and its observatory.)


"...If statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of stardust lost in the blaze of the Milky way. properly, the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world's list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in this world, in all the ages; and had done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it.

The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed; and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?"

- Mark Twain ("Concerning The Jews," Harper's Magazine, 1899, see The Complete Essays of Mark Twain, Doubleday [1963] pg. 249)


"if we were forced to choose just one, there would be no way to deny that Judaism is the most important intellectual development in human history."

- David Gelernter, Yale University Professor


"Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people."

- Eleanor Roosevelt


"...it would be a mistake...to ascribe to Roman legal conceptions an undivided sway over the development of law and institutions during the Middle Ages... The Laws of Moses as well as the laws of Rome contributed suggestions and impulse to the men and institutions which were to prepare the modern world; and if we could have but eyes to see... we should readily discover how very much besides religion we owe to the Jew."

- U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in his The State


"In the facades we put on for others we demonstrate our potential; through our children we reveal our reality."

- Lawrence Kelemen, To Kindle A Soul p. 195


Intolerance lies at the core of evil. Not the intolerance that results from any threat or danger. But intolerance of another being who dares to exist. Intolerance without cause. It is so deep within us, because every human being secretly desires the entire universe to himself. Our only way out is to learn compassion without cause. To care for each other simple because that 'other' exists.

- Rabbi Menachem Mendle


"Intelligent people know of what they speak; fools speak of what they know."

- Minchas Shabbos Pirkei Avos 3:18 / Ethics Of The Fathers


A renowned genius once asked a student, "What are you watching when you sit on a hillside in the late afternoon as the colors turn from yellow to orange and red and finally darkness?" He answered, "You are watching the sunset." The genius responded, "That is what is wrong with our age. You know full well you are not watching the sun set. You are watching the world turn."

- Jeremy Kagan, "The Jewish Self"


"The entire purpose of our existence is to overcome our negative habits."

- Vilna Goan, Commentary to Mishlei 4:13


"If a Jew doesn't make Kiddush (to sanctify himself by maintaining a distinctly Jewish lifestyle), then the non-Jew will make Havdalah for him (by making the Jew realize he is truly different)."

- R' Chaim of Volozhin


Most people are servants of their passions, but the truly free person is the one who can control his desires. When the sages taught "Only one involved in Torah is truly free" (Pirkei Avos 6:2), they meant to say that only Torah allows one to free himself from the shackles of desire and to truly exercise free choice. Without Torah, one is not free at all, he is a slave, controlled by a master foreign to his better instincts. While intellectually he might have correct ideas of how to live, ultimately his master - his passion - will force him to act otherwise.

Excerpt from: The Torah Treasury pg. 146 (Artscroll Publications)


"All that is thought should not be said, all that is said should not be written, all that is written should not be published, all that is published should not be read."

- Rabbi Menachem Mendel Morgenstern of Tomashov (the Kotzker Rebbe)


"Certainly, the world without the Jews would have been a radically different place. Humanity might have eventually stumbled upon all the Jewish insights. But we cannot be sure. All the great conceptual discoveries of the human intellect seem obvious and inescapable once they had been revealed, but it requires a special genius to formulate them for the first time. The Jews had this gift. To them we owe the idea of equality before the law, both divine and human; of the sanctity of life and the dignity of human person; of the individual conscience and so a personal redemption; of collective conscience and so of social responsibility; of peace as an abstract ideal and love as the foundation of justice, and many other items which constitute the basic moral furniture of the human mind. Without Jews it might have been a much emptier place."

- Paul Johnson (Christian historian, author of A History of the Jews and A History of Christianity)


"No ancient people have had a stranger history than the Jews. … The history of no ancient people should be so valuable, if we could only recover it and understand it. … Stranger still, the ancient religion of the Jews survives, when all the religions of every ancient race of the pre-Christian world have disappeared … Again it is strange that the living religions of the world all build on religious ideas derived from the Jews. …. The great matter is not “What happened?” but “Why did it happen?” Why does Judaism live?"

T.R. Glover (The Ancient World, Penguin, pp. 184-191)


"What is the Jew?...What kind of unique creature is this whom all the rulers of all the nations of the world have disgraced and crushed and expelled and destroyed; persecuted, burned and drowned, and who, despite their anger and their fury, continues to live and to flourish. What is this Jew whom they have never succeeded in enticing with all the enticements in the world, whose oppressors and persecutors only suggested that he deny (and disown) his religion and cast aside the faithfulness of his ancestors?!

The Jew - is the symbol of eternity. ... He is the one who for so long had guarded the prophetic message and transmitted it to all mankind. A people such as this can never disappear.

The Jew is eternal. He is the embodiment of eternity."

- Leo Tolstoy (What is the Jew? quoted in The Final Resolution, pg. 189, printed in Jewish World periodical, 1908)



"90% of the Jewish people have lived in their lands for no more than 50 or 60 years!"

- Leschzinsky (The Jewish Dispersion by in Discovery Booklet pg. 55)



"The preservation of the Jew was certainly not casual. He has endured through the power of a certain ideal, based on the recognition of a Higher Power in human affairs. Time after time in his history, moreover, he has been saved from disaster in a manner, which cannot be described excepting as 'providential.' The author has deliberately attempted to write this book in a secular spirit; he does not think that his readers can fail to see in it, on every page, a higher immanence"

- Cecil Roth (History of the Jews, New York, 1963, p. 424)



"It is true that we aspire to our ancient land. But what we want in that ancient land is a new blossoming of the Jewish spirit.

- Theodore Herzl


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