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Abraham Joshua Heschel

Geburtstag: 11. Januar 1907
Todesdatum: 23. Dezember 1972

Abraham Joshua Heschel war ein konservativer Rabbiner, jüdischer Schriftgelehrter und Religionsphilosoph polnischer Herkunft. Wikipedia

Photo: Unknown author / Public domain

Zitate Abraham Joshua Heschel

„There is neither advance nor service without faith.“

—  Abraham Joshua Heschel

"The Holy Dimension", p. 338
Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays (1997)
Kontext: There is neither advance nor service without faith. Nobody can rationally explain why he should sacrifice his life and his happiness for the sake of the good. The conviction that I must obey the ethical imperatives is not derived from logical argument but originates from an intuitive certitude, in a certitude of faith.
There is no conspiracy against reason, no random obstinacy, no sluggish inertia of mind or smug self-assurance entrenched behind the walls of believing. Faith does not detach a man from thinking, it does not suspend reason. It is opposed not to knowledge but to backwardness and dullness, to indifferent aloofness to the essence of living. … It is a distortion to regard reason and faith as alternatives. Reason is a necessary coefficient of faith. Faith without explication by reason is mute, reason without faith is deaf. There can be a true symbiosis of reason and faith.

„Religion is critique of all satisfaction.“

—  Abraham Joshua Heschel

"No Religion is an Island", p. 264
Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays (1997)
Kontext: Religion is critique of all satisfaction. Its end is joy, but its beginning is discontent, detesting boasts, smashing idols. It began in Ur Kasdim, in the seat of a magnificent civilization. Yet Abraham said, "No," breaking the idols, breaking away. And so every one of us must begin by saying no to all visible, definable entities pretending to be triumphant, ultimate. The ultimate is a challenge, not an assertion. Dogmas are allusions, not descriptions.

„In the realm of faith, God is not a hypothesis derived from logical assumptions, but an immediate insight, self-evident as light.“

—  Abraham Joshua Heschel

"The Holy Dimension", p. 337.
Heschel made similar statements in earlier writings: The great insight is not attained when we ponder or infer the beyond from the here. In the realm of the ineffable, God is not a hypothesis derived from logical assumptions, but an immediate insight, self-evident as light. He is not something to be sought in the darkness with the light of reason. He is the light.
Man Is Not Alone : A Philosophy of Religion (1951)
Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays (1997)
Kontext: In the realm of faith, God is not a hypothesis derived from logical assumptions, but an immediate insight, self-evident as light. To rationalists He is something after which they seek in the darkness with the light of their reason. To men of faith He is the light.

„To men of faith He is the light.“

—  Abraham Joshua Heschel

"The Holy Dimension", p. 337.
Heschel made similar statements in earlier writings: The great insight is not attained when we ponder or infer the beyond from the here. In the realm of the ineffable, God is not a hypothesis derived from logical assumptions, but an immediate insight, self-evident as light. He is not something to be sought in the darkness with the light of reason. He is the light.
Man Is Not Alone : A Philosophy of Religion (1951)
Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays (1997)
Kontext: In the realm of faith, God is not a hypothesis derived from logical assumptions, but an immediate insight, self-evident as light. To rationalists He is something after which they seek in the darkness with the light of their reason. To men of faith He is the light.

„Every moment is great, we were taught, every moment is unique.“

—  Abraham Joshua Heschel

The Zookeeper's Wife (2008)
Kontext: In my youth, growing up in a Jewish milieu, there was one thing we did not have to look for and that was exaltation. Every moment is great, we were taught, every moment is unique.

„It is a distortion to regard reason and faith as alternatives. Reason is a necessary coefficient of faith. Faith without explication by reason is mute, reason without faith is deaf.“

—  Abraham Joshua Heschel

"The Holy Dimension", p. 338
Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays (1997)
Kontext: There is neither advance nor service without faith. Nobody can rationally explain why he should sacrifice his life and his happiness for the sake of the good. The conviction that I must obey the ethical imperatives is not derived from logical argument but originates from an intuitive certitude, in a certitude of faith.
There is no conspiracy against reason, no random obstinacy, no sluggish inertia of mind or smug self-assurance entrenched behind the walls of believing. Faith does not detach a man from thinking, it does not suspend reason. It is opposed not to knowledge but to backwardness and dullness, to indifferent aloofness to the essence of living. … It is a distortion to regard reason and faith as alternatives. Reason is a necessary coefficient of faith. Faith without explication by reason is mute, reason without faith is deaf. There can be a true symbiosis of reason and faith.

„It seems as though we have arrived at a point in history, closest to the instincts and remotest from ideals, where the self stands like a wall between God and man.“

—  Abraham Joshua Heschel

"The Holy Dimension", p. 329
Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays (1997)
Kontext: It seems as though we have arrived at a point in history, closest to the instincts and remotest from ideals, where the self stands like a wall between God and man. It is the period of a divine eclipse. We sail the seas, we count the stars, we split the atom, but never ask: Is there nothing but a dead universe and our reckless curiosity?
Primitive man's humble ear was alert to the inwardness of the world, while the modern man is presumptuous enough to claim that he has the sole monopoly over soul and spirit, that he is the only thing alive in the universe. … But there is a dawn of wonder and surprise in our souls, when the things that surround us suddenly slip off the triteness with which we have endowed them, and their strangeness opens like a gap between them and our mind, a gap that no words can fill. … What is the incense of self-esteem to him who tastes in all things the flavor of the utterly unknown, the fragrance of what is beyond our senses? There are neither skies nor oceans, neither birds nor trees — there are only signs of what can never be perceived. And all power and beauty are mere straws in the fire of a pure man's vision.

„Denial of transcendence which claims to unveil the truth of being is an inner contradiction, since the truth of being is not within being or within our consciousness of being but rather a truth that transcends our being.“

—  Abraham Joshua Heschel

Quelle: Who Is Man? (1965), Ch. 5<!-- Existence and expediency, p. 86 -->
Kontext: Authentic existence involves exaltation, sensitivity to the holy, awareness of indebtedness.
Existence without transcendence is a way of living where things become idols and idols become monsters.
Denial of transcendence contradicts the essential truth of being human. Its roots can be traced either to stolidity of self-contentment or to superciliousness of contempt, to moods rather than to comprehensive awareness of the totality and mystery of being.
Denial of transcendence which claims to unveil the truth of being is an inner contradiction, since the truth of being is not within being or within our consciousness of being but rather a truth that transcends our being.

„The sense of meaning is not born in ease and sloth.“

—  Abraham Joshua Heschel

Quelle: Who Is Man? (1965), Ch. 5<!-- Manipulation and appreciation, p. 81 -->
Kontext: The sense of meaning is not born in ease and sloth. It comes after bitter trials, disappointments in the glitters, foundering, strandings. It is the marrow from the bone. There is no manna in our wilderness.
Thought is not bred apart from experience or from inner surroundings. Thinking is living, and no thought is bred in an isolated cell in the brain. No thought is an island.

„The greatest problem is not how to continue but how to exalt our existence. The call for a life beyond the grave is presumptuous, if there is no cry for eternal life prior to our descending to the grave.“

—  Abraham Joshua Heschel

Man Is Not Alone : A Philosophy Of Religion (1951), Ch. 26 : The Pious Man; Our Destiny is to Aid
Kontext: The greatest problem is not how to continue but how to exalt our existence. The call for a life beyond the grave is presumptuous, if there is no cry for eternal life prior to our descending to the grave. Eternity is not perpetual future but perpetual presence. He has planted in us the seed of eternal life. The world to come is not only a hereafter but also a here-now.

„Faith is not a thing that comes into being out of nothing. It originates in an event.“

—  Abraham Joshua Heschel

"The Holy Dimension", p. 333
Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays (1997)
Kontext: Faith is not a thing that comes into being out of nothing. It originates in an event. In the spiritual vacancy of life something may suddenly occur that is like the lifting of a veil at the horizon of knowledge. A simple episode may open sight of the eternal. A shift of conceptions, boisterous like a tempest of soft as a breeze may swerve a mind for an instant or forever. For God is not wholly silent and man is not always deaf. God's willingness to call men to His service and man's responsiveness to the divine indications in things and events are for faith what sun and soil are for the plant.

„He whose soul is charged with awareness of God earns his inner livelihood by a passionate desire to pour his life into the eternal wells of love. … We do not live for our own sake. Life would be preposterous if not for the love it confers.“

—  Abraham Joshua Heschel

"The Holy Dimension", p. 333
Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays (1997)
Kontext: He whose soul is charged with awareness of God earns his inner livelihood by a passionate desire to pour his life into the eternal wells of love. … We do not live for our own sake. Life would be preposterous if not for the love it confers.
Faith implies no denial of evil, no disregard of danger, no whitewashing of the abominable. He whose heart is given to faith is mindful of the obstructive and awry, of the sinister and pernicious. It is God's strange dominion over both good and evil on which he relies. … Faith is not a mechanical insurance but a dynamic, personal act, flowing between the heart of man and the love of God.

„Renewal of prayer calls for a renewal of language, of cleansing the words, of revival of meanings.
The strength of faith is in silence, and in words that hibernate and wait.“

—  Abraham Joshua Heschel

"No Religion is an Island", p. 264
Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays (1997)
Kontext: One of the results of the rapid depersonalization of our age is a crisis of speech, profanation of language. We have trifled with the name of God, we have taken the name and the word of the Holy in vain. Language has been reduced to labels, talk has become double-talk. We are in the process of losing faith in the reality of words.
Yet prayer can happen only when words reverberate with power and inner life, when uttered as an earnest, as a promise. On the other hand, there is a high degree of obsolescence in the traditional language of the theology of prayer. Renewal of prayer calls for a renewal of language, of cleansing the words, of revival of meanings.
The strength of faith is in silence, and in words that hibernate and wait. Uttered faith must come out as a surplus of silence, as the fruit of lived faith, of enduring intimacy.
Theological education must deepen privacy, strive for daily renewal of innerness, cultivate ingredients of religious existence, reverence and responsibility.

„The world ceases to be that which is and becomes that which is available.
It is a submissive world that modern man is in the habit of sensing, and he seems content with the riches of thinghood.“

—  Abraham Joshua Heschel

Quelle: Who Is Man? (1965), Ch. 5<!-- Disavowal of transcendence, p. 83 -->
Kontext: As a result of letting the drive for power dominate existence, man is bound to lose his sense for nature's otherness. Nature becomes a utensil, an object to be used. The world ceases to be that which is and becomes that which is available.
It is a submissive world that modern man is in the habit of sensing, and he seems content with the riches of thinghood. Space is the limit of his ambitions, and there is little he desires besides it. Correspondingly, man’s consciousness recedes more and more in the process of reducing his status to that of a consumer and manipulator. He has enclosed himself in the availability of things, with the shutters down and no sight of what is beyond availability.

„The self is not the hub but the spoke of the revolving wheel.“

—  Abraham Joshua Heschel

Man's Quest For God : Studies In Prayer And Symbolism (1954), p. 7; Heschel would later use this analogy in several minor variations in other writings.<!-- also "In the Mirror of the Holy", in I Asked for Wonder : A Spiritual Anthology (1983) edited by Samuel H. Dresner, p. 20 -->
Kontext: We do not step out of the world when we pray; we merely see the world in a different setting. The self is not the hub but the spoke of the revolving wheel. It is precisely the function of prayer to shift the center of living from self-consciousness to self-surrender.

„He who is satisfied has never truly craved, and he who craves for the light of God neglects his ease for ardor, his life for love, knowing that contentment is the shadow not the light. The great yearning that sweeps eternity is a yearning to praise, a yearning to serve.“

—  Abraham Joshua Heschel

Man Is Not Alone : A Philosophy Of Religion (1951), Ch. 24 : The Great Yearning; The Yearning for Spiritual Living<!-- p. 259 -->
Kontext: He who is satisfied has never truly craved, and he who craves for the light of God neglects his ease for ardor, his life for love, knowing that contentment is the shadow not the light. The great yearning that sweeps eternity is a yearning to praise, a yearning to serve. And when the waves of that yearning swell in our souls all the barriers are pushed aside: the crust of callousness, the hysteria of vanity, the orgies of arrogance. For it is not the I that trembles alone, it is not a stir out of my soul but an eternal flutter that sweeps us all. No code, no law, even the law of God, can set a pattern for all of our living. It is not enough to have the right ideas. For the will, not reason, has the executive power in the realm of living. The will is stronger than reason and does not blindly submit to the dictates of rational principles. Reason may force the mind to accept intellectually its conclusions. Yet what is the power that will make me love to do what I ought to do?

„Living involves responsible understanding of one's role in relation to all other beings.“

—  Abraham Joshua Heschel

Quelle: Who Is Man? (1965), Ch. 5<!-- Manipulation and appreciation, p. 81 -->
Kontext: Human being is both being in the world and living in the world. Living involves responsible understanding of one's role in relation to all other beings. For living is not being in itself, but living of the world, affecting, exploiting, consuming, comprehending, deriving, depriving.

„Standing face to face with the world, we often sense a presence which surpasses our ability to comprehend.“

—  Abraham Joshua Heschel

Quelle: Who Is Man? (1965), Ch. 5<!-- The sense of the ineffable, p. 90 -->
Kontext: In English the phrase that a person has "a presence" is hard to define. There are people whose being here and now is felt, even though they do not display themselves in action and speech. They have a "presence." … Of a person whose outwardness communicates something of his indwelling power or greatness, whose soul is radiant and conveys itself without words, we say he has presence.
Standing face to face with the world, we often sense a presence which surpasses our ability to comprehend. The world is too much with us. It is crammed with marvel. There is a glory, an aura, that lies about all beings, a spiritual setting of reality.
To the religious man it is as if things stood with their backs to him, their faces turned to God, as if the glory of things consisted in their being an object of divine care.

„A shift of conceptions, boisterous like a tempest of soft as a breeze may swerve a mind for an instant or forever. For God is not wholly silent and man is not always deaf.“

—  Abraham Joshua Heschel

"The Holy Dimension", p. 333
Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays (1997)
Kontext: Faith is not a thing that comes into being out of nothing. It originates in an event. In the spiritual vacancy of life something may suddenly occur that is like the lifting of a veil at the horizon of knowledge. A simple episode may open sight of the eternal. A shift of conceptions, boisterous like a tempest of soft as a breeze may swerve a mind for an instant or forever. For God is not wholly silent and man is not always deaf. God's willingness to call men to His service and man's responsiveness to the divine indications in things and events are for faith what sun and soil are for the plant.

„There are neither skies nor oceans, neither birds nor trees — there are only signs of what can never be perceived.“

—  Abraham Joshua Heschel

"The Holy Dimension", p. 329
Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays (1997)
Kontext: It seems as though we have arrived at a point in history, closest to the instincts and remotest from ideals, where the self stands like a wall between God and man. It is the period of a divine eclipse. We sail the seas, we count the stars, we split the atom, but never ask: Is there nothing but a dead universe and our reckless curiosity?
Primitive man's humble ear was alert to the inwardness of the world, while the modern man is presumptuous enough to claim that he has the sole monopoly over soul and spirit, that he is the only thing alive in the universe. … But there is a dawn of wonder and surprise in our souls, when the things that surround us suddenly slip off the triteness with which we have endowed them, and their strangeness opens like a gap between them and our mind, a gap that no words can fill. … What is the incense of self-esteem to him who tastes in all things the flavor of the utterly unknown, the fragrance of what is beyond our senses? There are neither skies nor oceans, neither birds nor trees — there are only signs of what can never be perceived. And all power and beauty are mere straws in the fire of a pure man's vision.

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