Tag Archives: Judaism


Wiesel, Elie, and Marion Wiesel. Night. New York, NY: Hill and Wang, a Division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006. Print. (First Ed. 1958).

“Or the discovery of a demented and glacial universe where to be in-human was human, where disciplined, educated men in uniform came to kill, and innocent children and weary old men came to die?” p ix

שכינה Shekhinah

“We believed in God, trusted in man, and lived with the illusion that every one of us has been entrusted with a sacred spark from the Shekhinah’s flame; that every one of us carries in his eyes and in his soul a reflection of God’s image.” p. x-xi

“To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.” p. xv

Moishe the Beadle “He spoke little. He sang, or rather he chanted, and the few snatches I caught here and there spoke of divine suffering, of the Shekhinah in Exile, where according to Kabbalah, it awaits its redemption linked to that of man.” p. 3

“One day I asked my father to find me a master who could guide me in my studies of Kabbalah. “You are too young for that. Maimonides tells us that one must be thirty before venturing into the world of mysticism, a world fraught with peril. First you must study the basic subjects, those you are able to comprehend.” p. 4

Moses Maimonides. Blaisio Ugolino. 1744. Via wikimedia.


Moishe “explained to me, with great emphasis, that every question possessed a power that was lost in the answer…” p. 4-5.

“Man comes closer to God thought the questions he asks Him, he liked to say. Therein lies true dialogue. Man asks and God replies. But we don’t understand His replies. We cannot understand them. Because they dwell in the depths of our souls and remain there until we die. The real answers, Eliezer, you will find only within yourself.” p. 5

“There are a thousand and one gates allowing entry into the orchard of mystical truth. Every human being has his own gate. He must not err and wish to enter the orchard through a gate other than his own.” p. 5

“In front of us, those flames. In the air, the smell of burning flesh. It must have been around midnight. We had arrived. In Birkenau.” p. 28

“I didn’t know this was the moment in time and the place where I was leaving my mother and Tzipora forever. I kept walking, my father holding my hand.” p. 29

“NEVER SHALL I FORGET that night, the first night in camp, that turned my life into one long night seven times sealed.
Never shall I forget that smoke.
Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky.
Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever.
Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live.
Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes.
Never shall I forget those things, even were I condemned to live as long as God Himself.
Never.” p. 34

“But no sooner had we taken a few more steps than we saw the barbed wire of another camp. This one had an iron gate with the overhead inscription: ARBEIT MACHT FREI. Work makes you free.
Auschwitz.” p. 40

“Have faith in life, a thousand times faith. By driving out despair, you will move away from death. Hell does not last forever…” p. 41

“But there were those who said we should fast, precisely because it was dangerous to do so. We needed to show God that even here, locked in hell, we were capable of singing His praises.” p. 69

“”Perhaps someone here has seen my son?”
He had lost his son in the commotion. He had searched for him among the dying, to no avail. Then he had dug through the snow to find his body. In vain.” p. 90

“”No, Rabbi Eliahu, I haven’t seen him.”
And so he left, as he had come: a shadow swept away by the wind.” p. 91

“A terrible thought crossed my mind: What if he had wanted to be rid of his father? He had felt his father growing weaker and, believing that the end was near, had thought by this separation to free himself of a burden that could diminish his own chance for survival… “Oh God, Master of the Universe, give me the strength never to do what Rabbi Eliahu’s son has done.” p. 91

“When at last a grayinsh light appeared on the horizon, it revealed a tangle of human shapes, heads sunk deeply between shoulders, crouching, piled one on top of the other, like a cemetery covered with snow. In the early dawn light, I tried to distinguish between the living and those who were no more. But there was barely a difference.” p. 98

“I gave him what was left of my soup. But my heart was heavy. I was aware that I was doing it grudgingly.
Just like Rabbi Eliahu’s son, I had not passed the test.” p. 107

“All of a sudden, he sat up and placed his feverish lips against my ear:
“Eliezer… I must tell you where I buried the gold and silver…In the cellar… You know…”” p. 108

“No prayers were said over his tomb. No candle lit in his memory. His last word had been my name. He had called out to me and I had not answered.” p. 112

“I had not seen myself since the ghetto.
From the depth of the mirror, a corpse was contemplating me.” p. 115

Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech

“Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices.” p. 118

“We must take sides Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When himan lives are endangered, when himan dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant.” p. 118


Jewish Fairy Tales

Friedlander, Gerald. Jewish Fairy Tales. Mineola, NY: Dover, 1997. Print.

Chanina and the Angels


Priest, High Priest, and Levite, illustration from the 1890 Holman Bible. Via Wikimedia.

The Demon’s Marriage

The Magic Leaf

‘Visitor: “I brought the dead fox back to life. I am a holy man and I can revive the dead.”

‘Farmer: “You are a foolish chatterbox. If what you say be true, take my advice and do not meddle with the mysteries of life and death. God alone will quicken the dead. Now, farewell.”‘ p. 25

“the holy man went on his way, thinking that God had given him such a wonderful treasure because he had lived such a holy life.” p. 25, 27.

“The next instant, as the holy man began to regret his extreme folly in restoring the dead lion to life, the latter sprang upon him and devoured him. The lion also ate the magic leaf.” p. 27

The Princess and the Beggar

“Behold,” he cried, “with this ring do I betroth thee unto me and marry thee according to the Law of Moses and Israel, God and His angels Michael and Gabriel being our witnesses.” p. 34

The Castle in the Air

Henry Justice Ford – How Ahikar Outwitted the King of Egypt. Via Wikimedia.

“He then called together all the old and learned men, including the stargazers and magicians.” p. 38.

Achikar let the eagles out of their cages. He tied the lads on their backs and also tied the ropes to the feet of the eagles and let them go up in the air. They soared upwards, till they remained between heaven and earth. Then the boys began to shout, saying: “Bring bricks, bring clay, that we may buid the King’s castle in the air.” p. 44

“Thou art indeed mad, Achikar. Who can bring up sand, bricks and clay to thy builders up there between heave and earth?” said the King in a temper.
“How then, my lord King! Shall we build a castle in the air? I have prepared all the plans and yonder in the air are the special builders. All they need is the material.” p. 45

“Give him my greetings and tell him I shall never again ask forsuch an impossible thing as a castle in the air. We must learn to be satisfied with such things as are possible and right. Farewell, wise Achikar.” p. 45

see Sennacherib

The Snake’s Thanks

“Though art a snake.”
“Exactly. I am therefore quite in order in killing thee and any man. Snakes are made to kill the children of men.” p. 48.

“it is written in God’s Book: ‘I will put hatred between mankind and the serpent.'” p. 49

“Solomon then turned to the old man and said: “The Holy Law has also a command for thee. It tells thee that thou shalt bruise the serpent’s head. Do now according the word of thy God.” p. 53.

The Goblin and the Princess

David and the Insects

“Despise naught in the world. I love all things that are the work of My Hand. I hate none of the things which I have made. I spare all things because they are Mine. To everything there is a time and place. All My creatures praise Me.” p. 65

“later, when Saul and his followers came along, the latter saw the spider’s web. They pointed it out to the King, who said: “Truly no man has entered this cave, for had he done so he would have rent the web. Let us not waste out precious time here, but rather let us hurry along the road where we may overtake our enemy.” p. 66-67

“O lord King! It is even as I have spoken. I am persecuted by King Saul. He seeks my life and I am safer here than in the Holy Land.”
“Why does Saul persecute thee?”
“Because I slew Goliath.” p. 67

“David now saw that he was in a very dangerous position… All of a sudden the idea flashed through his mind that he might escape death if he pretended to be a madman. They might pity him and spare his life.” p. 68

“Now I know,” cried he, “that even a madman has a useful part to play in this most wonderful world.” p. 68

“David’s followers urged him to kill his enemy, now that he had the chance. This he refused to do. “I will return good for evil,” cried he.” p. 69

“Never again did he have any doubt of God’s wisdom in creating insects, which at first had seemed to him to be useless and even harmful. Never should we despise anything which seemed worthy to be created by the Holy One, blessed be He.” p. 70

Joseph, the Sabbath Lover

“He often would stint himself and forego necessities on weekdays so as to have better garments than his working clothes for the Sabbath and a fine spread of food on his table in order to pay honor to the Sabbath.” p. 71

“A gracious gift it was, leading the children of men to their Father in Heaven. It is a day for man whereby he can rise above material things and see something of the Divine vision.” p. 72

the heathen neighbor “How could any one,” said he, “waste a valuable day by abstaining from work? No wonder you are poor…I am not only prosperous but I am also happy, for my motto is ‘Live to-day and let to-morrow take care of itself.’… You slave all the week for the sake of your Sabbath Day… I certainly despise the poor, for it is generally their own fault if they do not get on in life.” p. 72

Joseph “You seem to think that the only pleasure in life is hoarding money. I differ and believe the best pleasures can be obtained when we spend money in a wise and good way. Perhaps you will always be rich and perhaps I shall always be poor, but if the question were asked: ‘Who is the happier of the two?’ I doubt whether you would be the one. Good-day, my friend! I must attend Synagogue for Sabbath prayer.” p. 73

“The gods are very fickle in dealing with wealth. The poor man of to-day may be the rich man of the morrow.” p. 73

“Man proposes and but God disposes.” p. 74

He came to the fish-market and saw a very large turbot on the dealer’s counter. Its price was very high and there was no one who would buy it. As soon as Joseph saw it he gave the full price without any discussion.” p. 74