Join His-Israel each week this summer and be inspired and challenged as Keren shares words, thoughts, concepts and inspirations of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, one of our favorite teachers and spiritual heroes.
I knew that I guard in my breast
for the world,
that God has reserved for Himself
every moment of my life.*
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wore many hats. He was a philosopher, a human rights activist, a Rabbi – teacher, interfaith bridge builder, a writer, a theologian, a poet…
Refreshed and renewed,
Attired in festive garments,
With candles nodding dreamily to
To intuitions of eternity,
Some of us are overcome with a feeling
As if almost all they would say would be like a veil.
There is not enough grandeur in our souls
To be able to unravel in words
The knot of time and eternity.
One should like to sing for all men,
For all generations…
There is a song in the wind
And joy in the trees.
The Sabbath arrives in the world,
Scattering a song in the silence of the night;
Eternity utters a day. Where are the words
That could compete with such might?***
I [Cindy] have recently begun to enjoy Heschel’s poetry of deep reverence and love of G-d, human holiness, awe and wonder, passion for truth, and a deep yearning for Tikkun Olam in a world that is broken and corrupt. And I find in his poetry the same deep, thoughtful, raw revelation that I find in all of his works.
God’s tears lie on the cheeks
of shamed, weak people.
Let me wipe away His lament.
He in whose veins there whirls
a quiet shudder before God,
let him kiss the nails of a pauper.
To the worm crushed under-foot,
God calls out “My holy martyr!”
The sins of the poor are more beautiful
than the good deeds of the rich.**
Dr. Susannah Heshcel speaking of her father –
Words, he often wrote, are themselves sacred, God’s own tool for creating the universe, and our tools for bringing holiness–or evil–into the world. He used to remind us that the Holocaust did not begin with the building of crematoria, and Hitler did not come to power with tanks and guns; it all began with uttering evil words, with defamation, with language and propaganda. “Words create worlds,” he used to tell me when I was a child, “and they must be used very carefully.” Some words, once having been uttered, gain eternity and can never be withdrawn. “The Book of Proverbs reminds us,” he wrote, “that death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
~ Excerpt from the introduction to ‘Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity’ Essays by Abraham Joshua Heschel
Heschel later wrote, “When I marched in Selma, my feet were praying.”
Rabbi Professor Abraham Joshua Heschel.
From Duke University Libraries
*Abraham Heschel, Between Me and the World
** Abraham Heschel, The Sabbath
***Abraham Heshcel, God’s Tears – Man is Holy