Fritz A. Rothschild

Fritz A.

Author, Professor Emeritus of Jewish Philosophy, Graduate of Rabbinical School, known for his Anthology of Writings from Abraham Joshua Heschel

Author Quotes

It is only the idea of a divine presence hidden within the rational order of nature which is compatible with our scientific view of nature and in accord with our sense of the ineffable.

Three correlative pairs: the sublime and wonder, mystery and awe, the glory and faith.

Man is but a short, critical stage between the animal and the spiritual. His state is one of constant wavering, of soaring and descending. Undeviating humanity is nonexistent. The emancipated man is yet to emerge.

Time is perpetual innovation, a synonym for continuous creation.

Mankind will not perish for want of information; but only for want of appreciation. The beginning of our happiness lies in the understanding that life without wonder is not worth living. What we lack is not a will to believe but a will to wonder.

Time is the presence of God in the world of space, and it is within time that we are able to sense the unity of all beings… Every instant is an act of creation. A moment is not a terminal but a flash, a signal of Beginning. Time is perpetual innovation, a synonym for continuous creation. Time is God’s gift to the world of space.

Purity of motivation is the goal; constancy of action is the way

To surrender to mystery is fatalism; to withdraw into reason is solipsism. Man is driven to commune with that which is beyond the mystery. The ineffable in him seeks a way to that which is beyond the ineffable.

Speculation does not precede faith. The antecedents of faith are the premise of wonder and the premise of praise.

To the spiritual eye space is frozen time, and all things are petrified events.

Temporality and uninterruptedness express the relation of existence to time, a passive relation. What distinguishes organic from inorganic existence is the fact that the plant or the animal stands in an active and defensive relation to temporality… Life, we know from biology, is not a passive state of indifference, and inertia. The essence of life is intense care and concern.

True insight is a moment of perceiving a situation before it freezes into similarity with something else.

The Bible is an answer to the question: how to sanctify life.

We do not create the ineffable, we encounter it.

The Bible is primarily not man’s vision of God but God’s vision of man. The Bible is not man’s theology but God’s anthropology, dealing with man and what He asks of him rather than with the nature of God. God did not reveal to the prophets eternal mysteries but His knowledge and love of man. It was not the aspiration of Israel to know the Absolute but to ascertain what He asks of man; to commune with His will rather than with His essence.

What cannot be grasped in reflection, we comprehend in deeds… The true goal for man is to be what he does… Man is more than what he does. What he does is spiritually a minimum of what he is. Deeds are outpourings, not the essence of the self.

Deity cannot be understood through a knowledge of timeless qualities of goodness and perfection, but only by sensing the living acts of God’s concern and his dynamic attentiveness in relation to man, who is the passionate object of his interest.

The deeper we search, the nearer we arrive at knowing that we do not know.

Eternity is another word for unity. In it, past and future are not apart; here is everywhere, and now goes on forever. The opposite of eternity is diffusion not time. Eternity does not begin when time is at its end. Time is eternity broken into space, like a ray of light refracted in the water… unity is a task, not a condition. The world lies in strife, in discord, in divergence. Unity is beyond not within reality.

The divine expresses itself in three different ways, as creation, revelation, and redemption.

Everything holds the great secret. For it is the inescapable situation of all being to be involved in the infinite mystery. We may continue to disregard the mystery, but we can neither deny nor escape it. The world is something we apprehend but cannot comprehend.

The grand premise of religion is that man is able to surpass himself; that man who is apart of this world may enter into a relationship with Him who is greater than the world.

Fear is the anticipation and expectation of evil or pain, as contrasted with hope which is the anticipation of good. Awe, on the other hand, is the sense of wonder and humility inspired by the sublime or felt in the presence of mystery. Fear is “a surrender of the succors which reason offers,” awe is the acquisition of insights which the world holds in store for us. Awe, unlike fear, does not make us shrink from the awe-inspiring object, but, on the contrary, draws us near to it. That is why awe is compatible with both love and joy.

The idea of creation expresses the conviction that neither blind chance nor an impersonal mechanical order is behind the existence of the universe. Behind the orderly processes of nature stands the primordial act of God’s concern. There are processes because there was an event of creation.

God is within the world, present and concealed in the essence of things. If not for His presence, there would be no essence; if not for His concealment, there would be no appearance.

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Author, Professor Emeritus of Jewish Philosophy, Graduate of Rabbinical School, known for his Anthology of Writings from Abraham Joshua Heschel