Saturday, December 1, 2007

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

"...There is a unique kind of transparence about things and events. The world is seen through, and no evil can conceal G-d completely. So the pious man is ever alert to see behind the appearance of things a trace of the divine, and thus his attitude toward life is one of expectant reverence.

Because of this attitude of reverence, the pious man is at peace with life in spite of its conflicts. He patiently acquiesces in life's vicissitudes because he glimpses spiritually their potential meaning.

Every experience opens the door into a temple of new light, although the vestibule may be dark and dismal. The pious man accepts life's ordeals and its need of anguish, because he recognizes these as belonging to the totality of life. Such acceptance does not mean complacency or fatalistic resignation. He is not insensitive. On the contrary, he is keenly sensitive to pain and suffering, to adversity and evil in his own life and in that of others; but he has the inner strength to rise above grief, and with this understanding of what these sorrows really are, grief seems to him a sort of arrogance.

We never know the ultimate meaning of things, and so a sharp distinction between what we deem good or bad in experience is unfair. It is a greater thing to love than to grieve, and with love's awareness of the far-reachedness of all that effects our lives, the pious man will never overestimate the seeming weight of momentary happenings.

The pious man does not take life for granted. The weighty business of living does not cloud for him the miracle that we live through G-d. No routine of social or economic life dulls his mindfulness of this - the ineffably wonderful in nature and history. History to him is a perpetual improvisation by the Creator, which is being continually and violently interfered with by man, and his heart is fixed on this great Mystery that is being played by G-d and man.

Thus his main asset is not some singular experience but life itself. Any exceptional experience serves only as a keyhole for the key of his belief. He does not depend on the exceptional, for to him common deeds are adventures in the domain of the spiritual, and all his normal thoughts are, as it were, sensations of the holy. He feels the hidden warmth of good in all things, and finds hints of G-d cropping up in almost every ordinary thing on which he gazes. It is for this reason that his words bring hope into a sordid and despairing world..."

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