I have a tremendous respect for Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and his role as moral examplar and civil rights champion, and was glad to do our small part in marking his centennial.
But I think I lack the gene that lets me appreciate his prose. In fact, I find that whenever I hear someone quoting Heschel, or most spiritual thinkers for that matter, I’m compelled to respond, “Or exactly the opposite.”
You try it. Each pair of quotes below includes an actual Heschel statement, and its exact opposite. Can you pick the real one?
1. A religious man is a person who holds God and man in one thought at one time.
2. A religious man is one who holds God and man in separate thoughts at one time.
1. A test of a people is how it behaves toward the old. It is easy to love children.
2. A test of people is how it behaves toward the young. It is easy to love the elderly.
1. God is a hypothesis derived from logical assumptions, not an immeidate insight, self-evident as light.
2. God is not a hypothesis derived from logical assumptions, but an immediate insight, self-evident as light.
1. Just to be is not a blessing. Just to live is not holy.
2. Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy.
1. Doubt rather than wonder is the root of all knowledge.
2. Wonder rather than doubt is the root of all knowledge.
Answers: A-1, B-1, C-2, D-2, E-2