Truth has to be given in riddles. People can't take truth if it comes charging at them like a bull. The bull is always killed. You have to give people the truth in a riddle, hide it so they go looking for it and find it piece by piece; that way they learn to live with it.
I will go wherever the truth leads me. It is secular scholarship, Rebbe; it is not the scholarship of tradition. In secular scholarship there are no boundaries and no permanently fixed views.”Lurie, if the Torah cannot go out into your world of scholarship and return stronger, then we are all fools and charlatans. I have faith in the Torah. I am not afraid of truth.
Did I know that the reason Hitler had been able to slaughter six million Jews without too much complaint from the world was that for two thousand years the world had been taught that Jews, not Romans, had killed that man?
Art begins . . . when someone interprets, when someone sees the world through his own eyes. Art happens when what is seen becomes mixed with the inside of the person who is seeing it.
For all the pain you suffered, my mama. For all the torment of your past and future years, my mama. For all the anguish this picture of pain will cause you. For the unspeakable mystery that brings good fathers and sons into the world and lets a mother watch them tear at each other’s throats. For the Master of the Universe, whose suffering world I do not comprehend. For dreams of horror, for nights of waiting, for memories of death, for the love I have for you, for all the things I remember, and for all the things I should remember but have forgotten, for all these I created this painting—an observant Jew working on a crucifixion because there was no aesthetic mold in his own religious tradition into which he could pour a painting of ultimate anguish and torment.
I went away and cried to the Master of the Universe, What have you done to me? A mind like this I need for a son? A heart I need for a son, a soul I need for a son, compassion I want from my son, righteousness, mercy, strength to suffer and carry pain, that I want from my son, not a mind without a soul!
You can listen to silence, Reuven. I've begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own. It talks to me sometimes. I feel myself alive in it. It talks. And I can hear it....You have to want to listen to it, and then you can hear it. It has a strange, beautiful texture. It doesn't always talk. Sometimes - sometimes it cries, and you can hear the pain of the world in it. It hurts to listen to it then. But you have to.
It's always easier to learn something than to use what you've learned. . . . You're alone when you're learning. But you always use it on other people. It's different when there are other people involved.
Millions of people can draw. Art is whether there is a scream in you wanting to get out in a special way.
Human beings do not live forever, Reuven. We live less than the time it takes to blink an eye, if we measure our lives against eternity. So it may be asked what value is there to a human life. There is so much pain in the world. What does it mean to have to suffer so much if our lives are nothing more than the blink of an eye? I learned a long time ago, Reuven, that a blink of an eye in itself is nothing. But the eye that blinks, that is something. A span of life is nothing. But the man who lives that span, he is something. He can fill that tiny span with meaning, so its quality is immeasurable though its quantity may be insignificant. Do you understand what I am saying? A man must fill his life with meaning, meaning is not automatically given to life. It is hard work to fill one's life with meaning. That I do not think you understand yet. A life filled with meaning is worthy of rest. I want to be worthy of rest when I am no longer here.
He looked down at the books. There was a long silence. Then he raised his eyes and directed his gaze at Gershon, and Gershon did not look away. I will tell you, Loran what is of importance is not that there may be nothing. We have always acknowledged that as a possibility. What is important is that if indeed there is nothing, then we should be prepared to make something out of the one thing we have left to us -- ourselves. I do not know what else to tell you, Loran. No one is in possession of all wisdom. No one. Gershon sat in silence, looking at Nathan Malkuson.
…everything has a past. Everything – a person, an object, a word, everything. If you don’t know the past, you can’t understand the present and plan properly for the future.
I sat near a window in our little synagogue and looked out at the large church and wondered how a statue whose face was so full of love could be worshipped by someone whose heart was so full of hate.
I've begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own.
The silence became unreal and seemed suddenly filled with a noise of its own, the noise of a too long silence.
It is strange how ideas can float about and be ignored until they are put into a book. A book can be a weapon...
I like his optimism,' I said. 'I like the way when he and some other rabbis saw a jackal in the ruins of Jerusalem, and the others began to cry, he laughed and said that just as the prophecy of the destruction of the temple was fulfilled, so the prophecy of the rebuilding would also be fulfilled. I like that.
How should a Jew feel? There we went through the seven gates of hell for matzos. Here I stand in matzos over my head. So how should a Jew feel? You are an angel of God, and the Rebbe, he should live and be well, the Rebbe made miracles and wonders for me. At night, I tell myself it is a dream and I am afraid to wake up. If it is a dream, better I should not wake up, better I should die in my sleep.
Every artist is a man who has freed himself from his family, his nation, his race. Every man who has shown the world the way to beauty, to true culture, has been a rebel, a ‘universal’ without patriotism, without home, who has found his people everywhere.
An artist has got to get acquainted with himself just as much as he can. It is no easy job, for it is not a present-day habit of humanity.
In our time... a man whose enemies are faceless bureaucrats almost never wins. It is our equivalent to the anger of the gods in ancient times. But those gods you must understand were far more imaginative than our tiny bureaucrats. They spoke from mountaintops not from tiny airless offices. They rode clouds. They were possessed of passion. They had voices and names. Six thousand years of civilization have brought us to this.
> Why does everything that lives have to die?< So life would be precious, Asher. Something that is yours forever, is never precious.
All of us grow up in particular realities - a home, family, a clan, a small town, a neighborhood. Depending upon how we're brought up, we are either deeply aware of the particular reading of reality into which we are born, or we are peripherally aware of it.
But today we become aware of other readings of the human experience very quickly because of the media and the speed with which people travel the planet.