As part of the 2015 Omer Learning Project we collected up Wisdom from the Etz Hayim community. Below are all the submissions we received.
We’re running a similar project in 2016. Contribute today!
Many are the mishaps of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
–Psalm 34, verse 20
Best things in life aren’t things.
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”
–Mary Anne Radmacher
Honor your Father and Mother. Never trust anyone who smiles too much. Don’t trust anyone who has two first names (except Ben Simon). Don’t be afraid to point out that the emperor is not wearing any clothes. Consider it an insult if anyone tells you that you’re looking “prosperous”. Never send any food back to the kitchen in a restaurant. There’s no such thing as too much insurance.
–All said by Dadwa Jerry Jacobs
Don’t speak ill of the irrelevant.
–My friend Bonnie Leal
One day I was walking on street with my dear uncle Milton and man approached us and asked for money to buy his baby diapers, without hestitation my uncle reached into his pocket and handed the man money, my uncle was by no means wealthy but, was always helping others. I asked him how did he know if the man really needed the money and his answer was he did not know but if the man had to ask people on the street for help he needed the money much more than my uncle did.I always remember this lesson and have been involved in many ways helping people less fortunate then I am
Live with graciousness, generosity of spirit, and kindness. And when it is given to you, find a way to pass it on.
This too shall pass……
Be happy and stay positive because “everyday above the ground is a good one”
–Quote by rapper Pitbull
You should help people and help your community and help your synagogue.
–Jonah, age 5
Never go to sleep angry.
“If you ask me what I came into this world to do, I will tell you I came to live out loud”
Even if you know it by heart, keep the siddur open to the right page.
–My father’s grandfather
Your life is going to be a lot harder if you can’t laugh at yourself.
“Let it go, let it go…”
–Queen Elsa of Arendelle
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said; people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
read in a book called the punch – carrying a grudge or staying angry is like drinking poison and waiting for someone else to die
The lazy but effective way to teach kids the story of: Purim: Veggie Tales Esther Passover: The Prince of Egypt
My Grandmother, born in 1889 in Ukraine, was a great lover of education. She could read prayer book Hebrew, daven, read and speak Russian, as well as a heavily accented English, The most memorable sentence of hers was “I love education.” I think she wanted to further her own education, but as a young girl of the late 19th century, in a highly Orthodox community she was not given the opportunity. So she passed the desire on to all 13 Grandchildren, and 22 Great-Grandchildren. .
–Grandmother Esther Slarve
The role of the mother is to show you where the wall is; if you want to go and bang you head against it, it is your problem.
You can’t always get what you want But if you try sometimes well you just might find You get what you need
–Mick Jagger and Keith Richards
And what you give is what you get
–“Start” by The Jam
If you don’t stand up, you don’t stand a chance
— “Squonk,” by Genesis (the band, not the book)
Julius Caesar and the Roman Empire couldn’t conquer the blue sky.
— “Weather with You,” Crowded House
“We didn’t have with what.” This was my grandmother’s answer to me when, as a young teenager, I asked how she, and her family, and her shtetl and all the Jews could have suffered so much at the hands of the Nazis and not tried to fight back. It was the seminal moment for my zealous support of the Second Amendment.
–Grandma Miriam Hendler
It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.
–Rear Admiral Grace Hopper
Don’t worry about it unless there’s something to worry about.
–Teri Jung (my sister)
Life’s to short to be in a hurry.
–Many, but generally attributed to Oscar Wilde or Henry David Thoreau
Who is rich? One who is happy with his lot.
Don’t take life so serious. It ain’t nohow permanent.
It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.
It’s always something.
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
The Waking I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow. I feel my fate in what I cannot fear. I learn by going where I have to go. We think by feeling. What is there to know? I hear my being dance from ear to ear. I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow. Of those so close beside me, which are you? God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there, And learn by going where I have to go. Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how? The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair; I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow. Great Nature has another thing to do To you and me; so take the lively air, And, lovely, learn by going where to go. This shaking keeps me steady. I should know. What falls away is always. And is near. I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow. I learn by going where I have to go. From: The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke (Doubleday, 1961)
Consider what you possess as a trust given you by God. Be thrift with it, and seek to enlarge it in an honest manner. Consider it just as much the possession of your brothers and sisters.
–Benjamin Roth’s Ethical will to son Solomon, June 1854
“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like “What about lunch?”
–A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.
The Rainbow Fish shared his scales left end right. And the more he gave away, the more delighted he became.
“Someday, somewhere – anywhere, unfailingly, you’ll find yourself, and that, and only that, can be the happiest or bitterest hour of your life.”
Often we pass beside happiness without seeing it, without looking at it, or even if we have seen and looked at it, without recognizing it.
“You don’t get if you don’t ask.” I have shared this with my kids as a way to encourage them to push themselves and adhere to it in my professional life. Sometimes you just have to go out on a limb and ask for something – a date, a job opportunity, a discount. You won’t get it if you don’t ask for it.
NO matter what life hands to you, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP!
–Variation on Winston Churchill’s words
Yafeh Torah eem derech eretz.
When you get a new job, always remember to ask questions
Do it now. Sometimes later becomes never.
Never attribute to malice that which can adequately be explained by stupidity.
Early humans were concerned about being eaten by lions; to survive we evolved to see problems that are not there and make them seem larger than they are.
–paraphrased from Daniel Kahneman (a Jewish Nobel Prize winner in economics)
Whenever you get an assignment, especially an urgent one, the first thing to do is to wait. Sometimes you can only wait a little bit… a day or a few minutes. But things change quickly and by waiting you will learn about changes to the assignment or get additional information that will make your completion of the assignment easier and quicker.
“Shmutz is not chametz.” In other words, when cleaning for Passover, it is enough to focus on getting rid of what is impermissible. Other unwanted things like dust on top of the light fixture, grime on the windows, or general clutter are not prohibited. They may be something you might want to address in a Spring Cleaning sometime later, but don’t put extra pressure on yourself by trying to tackle them as part of the Passover Cleaning. This helps to keep holiday prep more manageable.
–A friend years ago (but I don’t remember which one)
The key to keeping your balance is to think of life as a three-legged stool: one leg is family life, the second leg is spiritual life and the third is community. If you overemphasize one over the others, the stool wobbles.
–Poet, teacher and CEH member Hilary Tham Goldberg
If you leap, the net will appear.
Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.
If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, you don’t ask what seat. You just get on.
–Eric Schmidt, CEO Google
Life is life and kind is kind.
–Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Choose your battles. While this is a great tip for child rearing it also applies to almost all of life.
George’s mom said, “Buck up, George. Things could get worse.” George bucked up, and sure enough, things got worse. (In other words: when the going gets tough, suck it up, buttercup.)
–My first boss out of college
Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.
Be nice to anyone who answers the phone, the door, the mail. Always carry scissors correctly. Learn how to drive stick shift.
Show a little faith, there’s magic in the night.
–Bruce Springsteen, Thunder Road lyric
Acts of kindness open hearts.
Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good!
“Anything worth doing is worth doing well.”
–My mom, Susan Zimmet
“Worry about the things you can worry about, but don’t worry about the things you can’t!”
–My dad, Steve Zimmet
It’s better to be happy than right.
–A wise friend of mine
If you’re not fired with enthusiasm you’ll be fired with enthusiasm.
Live and act within the limit of your knowledge and keep expanding it to the limit of your life.
When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.
–Rabbi Abraham Herchel
All you need is love!
When something goes wrong in your life, just yell “Plot twist!” and move on. (This helps me remember to keep perspective AND keep my sense of humor through even the worst of times.)
–Internet meme – anonymous
“No permanent damage.” Penn and Teller’s criteria for performing any new illusion: If the worst thing that can happen involves permanent damage (or death) they won’t do it. Any other potential outcomes and they’ll do it. I use this throughout my life – as long as there won’t be “permanent damage” I’m willing to try almost anything.
–Penn and Teller
“You should never say anything to a woman that even remotely suggests you think she’s pregnant unless you can see an actual baby emerging from her at that moment.”
Against arrogance, focus on these four words in last prayer of the Amidah: ‘Nafshi keafar lacol tihyeh”, my soul like dust to all shall be
I have 200,000 miles on my this car, and all I do is change the oil every 3000. (This is best said with a gruff Brooklyn accent, and an unlit cigar in your mouth.)
–My father’s Cousin Leo
Read not to believe, but to weigh and consider
–Daniel Blumenthal paraphrasing Fancis Bacon
It’s good to praise a person to his/her face, but even better to do so behind his/her back.
My little nugget of wisdom is to keep in mind the following, best expressed by Marcel Proust in his magnum opus, “Remembrance of Things Past”: “It is always thus, impelled by a state of mind which is destined not to last, that we make our irrevocable decisions.”
When working for the shul, you should always do your best and try your hardest to do a successful job while always remembering that there will be those that destructively criticize you and stand in your way. There will be constructive criticism and hopefully it will be kindly delivered and will out number the amount of adverse criticism. The value of your shul work should be self gratification, not the expectation of accolades of others..
Wisdom seeking and learning has taught me there is always more wisdom out there to acquire and to learn. May we never quit and think we have acquired enough wisdom..
Performing a mitzvah is it’s own reward.
Always err on the side of graciousness.
“So many things are possible just as long as you don’t know they’re impossible,” (Azaz and the Mathemagician, in the Phantom Tollbooth).
“You may not be interested in history (the ‘dialectic’), but history is interested in you!”
if your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it.
–comedian jonathan winters
“If I am not for myself [if I do not raise my Torah-soul higher], who will be for me, [who will raise Torah for me?]? And If I am for myself [once my soul is in ascension with Torah], what am I? [What am I to do with Torah instructions?] And if not now, [how am I to apply Torah?] when?” Translation by the author from the book; Diary of an Angry Jewish African American Princess
The Joy in spirituality is the essence of Peace Torah a wise Teacher, is the essence of life-giving water, discovered The dream of life is the essence of time spent with wise,merciful and loving people The essence of life is one who walks with Torah, always Repairing the Universe, a work of Joy, is the essence of living Torah a wise Teacher is the essence of life-giving water, discovered The essence of living is The Holy Spirit, the absence of fear… Ha Shir B’ Simhah Tamar from the book: Diary of an Angry Jewish African American Princess
“Be exceedingly humble in spirit, for the anticipated end of [mortals] is worms.” Remember: You are not the Creator just the creation. You are made from the earth and will die someday[not today I hope]. If you show mercy you will receive mercy. Paraphrase from the book: Diary of an Angry Jewish African American Princess
–R.L’vitas of Yavneh and the RambaN
The Morning I Remembered that I Am a Three Thousand Year Old Jew And the shohén finally stopped coming, as he promised. And I had forgotten him over millennial of time. And but one morning in bed while reading the first blessing in the Siddur/Prayerbook, my Godmother’s Modah-prayer suddenly sprang into my memory. And godmother prayed; “Thank you Lord for waking me up this morning clothed and in my right mind.” Adell (Adinah) King, 1967 And she too was in bed. And godmother ritually prayed thanks, in bed, each morning. And I witnessed her say the Modah-prayer. And I am with her, again. And suddenly that morning, in bed, I remembered that I am a three thousand year old Jew. And now I hear the welcoming and happy whistled tune of the shohén as he walks up the dusty road towards godmothers’ home. And each morning in bed, I remember to model godmother’s prayer. Honor your mothers and fathers… From the yet-to-be published book, Returning, by Simhah Tamar
Torah is a superior wisdom tree of life, peace is its stalk, and its leaves are balms for healing and its fruits are nutrition for our eternal souls. To all who lovingly study and practice her, happiness, joy, and blessings are their reward. Proverbs/Mishlé and my interpretation. From the book, Diary of an Angry Jewish African American Princess Simhah Tamar
Shalom Aléhem to the twelve tribes of the first and second dispersions living in the Diaspora. Remember to be joyful in our testing and patient in our trials; giving continual thanks and praises to Ha Shém as we are “…the Lovers of G-d.” (Hertz Humash, p.782 v. 5). Remember, our father Avraham who went forth in complete G-D enduring faith, performing Tikkun Olam. As the Fathers worked so too shall the children, go forth in The Work. Do Not Be Afraid! Remember, Adonai gives us the desirable command to enter, to live, and to inherit The Land if we want to, if we need to or if we are forced to choose to live in The Land. From the book, Diary of an Angry Jewish African American Princess
Adonai said to Moshe, ‘Lémor L’amour’-To Speak The Instructions of The Love From the book: Diary of an Angry Jewish African American Princess in Artful Poetic Color by Simhah Tamar
–Ha Shem then Simhah Tamar
Prayer is purest poetry! (Tamar, 5763) Diary of an Angry Jewish African American Princess in Artful Poetic Color by Simhah Tamar
Ha Zikaron; why I remember never to forget! Abba, our Judaism was nearly renamed and re-cultured, snatched and kidnapped, shackled and chained, whipped and beaten, strangled and asphyxiated, stalked and hunted, muzzled and muffled, bruised and battered, confused and assimilated, smothered and censored, misrepresented and unrepresented, lacerated and lynched, detained and dehumanized, molested and murdered, abdicated and aborted, pimped and prostituted, scattered and strewn, slain and subjugated, ransomed and stolen, castrated and raped, teased and tortured, burned and drowned, rationalized and religioned – nearly right out of us. Shabbat is my Soul-salvation From the book: Diary of an Angry Jewish African American Princess by Simhah Tamar
Talmudic teaching: אני מאמין “I believe with complete faith in the coming of the Messiah, and even though he may delay, nevertheless I anticipate [while performing Tikkun Olam] every day that he will come.” 12th Faith Principle of 13 Artscroll Siddur (Rambam- Rabbi Maimonides) p.181 and Daniel Zamir’s CD I believe and title track (Zamir, 2008). Scherman, Nosson Rabbi. (2001). The Complete Artscroll Siddur. (M. R. Zlotowitz, Ed.) Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications Ltd. Ankri, E. (Performer). (2009). Mizmor L’David/ Songs of David. Bishré Rabbi Yehuda Ha Lévi. Jerusalem, Israel. From the book: Diary of an Angry Jewish African American Princess by Simhah Tamar
All of You Alive Today Cling to Your G-D: עם ישׂראל חי עד אבינו חי Israel is the Dew of Heaven’s Four Corners (Tamar, 2011) ‘Torah witnesses to Israel and Israel witnesses to the nations…’ (Hertz Humash Commentary p.890) Diary of an Angry Jewish African American Princess in Artful Poetic Color by Simhah Tamar
–Prophet Siddur Simhah Tamar
Talmudic teachings: Torah is a superior wisdom tree of life, peace is its stalk, and its leaves are balms for healing and its fruits are the nutrition for our eternal souls. To all who lovingly study and practice her, happiness, joy, and blessings are their reward. (Torah, TaNah, Siddur, and my interpretation) Proverbs/Mish’lé on Torah as wisdom p.585 “Do not separate yourself from the [religious] community…; do not judge your fellow until you have reached his place…Share its woes and do nothing to undermine its solidarity.” Avot 2:5 (Rabbi Hillel) p.551 Scherman, Nosson Rabbi. (2001). The Complete Artscroll Siddur. (M. R. Zlotowitz, Ed.) Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications Ltd.
–Torah Hillel Simhah Tamar
Never make costly suggestions to adult children unless you are prepared to fund them yourself.
–My Grandmother (and perhaps her mother)
As an avid listener to books-on-tape, I realize that you are never too old to be read to.
There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest. —Elie Wiesel
Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.
— Mark Twain
“If you get, give. If you learn, teach.”
Any man who knows a thing, knows he doesn’t know anything at all. In other words, be humble and always be learning.