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Most Quotable Quotes

Monday, July 9, 2012
By:

Dear Miriam,

I need an all-purpose Jewish quote for a speech I'm making next week. What are some of your favorites?

Signed,
Most Quotable Quotes

Dear Quotable,

Here are some favorites, in no particular order, with thanks to my family for contributing to the list:

"We are not obligated to complete the task, neither are we free to desist from it." (Pirke Avot, 2:16)
"If I am not for myself, who will be for me?  And if I am only for myself, what am I?  And if not now, when?" (Pirke Avot, 1:14)
"It is a great mitzvah to be happy always." (Rabbi Nachman of Breslov)
"The meaning of the Sabbath is to celebrate time rather than space. Six days a week we live under the tyranny of things of space; on the Sabbath we try to become attuned to holiness in time." (Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath)
“If you are holding a sapling in hand and someone tells you, ‘Come quickly, messiah has come’, first finish planting the tree and then go to greet the messiah." (Avot D’Rabbi Natan, 31b)
"The whole world is a very narrow bridge. The main thing is not to be afraid." (Rabbi Nachman of Breslov)
"Cease to do evil, learn to do good." (Isaiah 1:16)
In this process, I also came across this quote: "A quotation at the right moment is like bread to the famished." Unfortunately, I can only find that cited as "The Talmud," which doesn't narrow it down, but will hopefully do for your purposes. After all that, I'd be remiss if I didn't also include the quote I brought up in my post about plagiarism: “One who says something in the name of its speaker brings redemption to the world.” (Pirke Avot, 6:6)

I think the conclusion here is that you should definitely read Pirke Avot, translated as Ethics of our Fathers. It's awfully quotable. Also, I'd love it if those of you reading this would add your own favorites (here and not on Facebook). This could become a great resource the next time someone needs a quote!

Good luck with the speech, and be well,
Miriam

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