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Quotes by Rabbi Rami Shapiro

  1. “If you want love, act lovingly; if you want justice, do justly. This is the wisdom of Mahatma Gandhi: be the change you want to see, not the New Age nonsense of Rhonda Byrne: see the change you want to be.”
  2. “Organized religion is sane and not silly when read as myth and poetry rather than science and law. Religion speaks nonsense when taken literally, but reveals some of the deepest truths of humankind when understood mythically, poetically, and even allegorically—that is when it is read with an active and creative imagination.”
  3. “I understand hell in two ways. First, there is the this-worldly hell I make for myself and others when I fail to act justly and with compassion. Second, there is the other-worldly hell invented by bullies who delight in sadistic fantasies of endless torture and use these fantasies to frighten others into yielding to their will. I take both hells very seriously.
  4. “Religion at its best is holy play.”
  5. “All my adult life I have attempted to live with attention to the moment and to respond with my whole self to whatever life presents.”
  6. “Spiritual practice is conspiratorial rather than inspirational; it conspires to strip away everything you use to maintain the illusion of certainty, security, and self-identity. Where spiritual writing seeks to bind you all the more tightly to the self you imagine yourself to be, writing as a spiritual practice intends to free you”
  7. “Three rules for writing as a spiritual practice: (1) Don’t write what you know; (2) Don’t write what you don’t know; and (3) Just write. Don’t write what”
  8. “Writing creates something new: an “art emotion,” i.e., an image of emotion, an illusion of emotion, which exists only in the context of the written work. This is quite different from Wordsworth’s “emotion recollected in tranquility.” It suggests that, whatever the process of”
  9. “For me, making peace with God is about remembering that God isn’t about salvation or damnation, reward or punishment. God is about reality, for God is reality. I make peace with God by realizing that life is wild, unpredictable, often horrifying, and yet always hopeful. I remind myself to not expect things to be other than they are, and to be thankful for all that they are. With this act of radical acceptance comes radical forgiveness, and, for me, this is what Yom Kippur is all about.”
  10. “If you’re going to imagine a god who chooses people, it isn’t surprising that you imagine this god choosing you. If you’re going to imagine a god who reveals truth in a book, it isn’t surprising that you would imagine this book is your book. And if you’re going to imagine a god who dabbles in real estate, it isn’t surprising that you would imagine that your land is in fact the Promised Land.”
  11. “If you don’t take….your tradition literally,” then you discover its poetry and as poetry it can be far more true than if it’s literal.”
  12. “To me, religions are like languages: no language is true or false; all languages are of human origin; each language reflects and shapes the civilization that speaks it; there are things you can say in one language that you cannot say as well in another; and the more languages you learn, the more nuanced your understanding of life. Judaism is my mother tongue yet in matters of the spirit I strive to be multilingual. In the end, however, the deepest language of the soul is silence.”
  13. “It’s easy to tell the difference between the Divine parts and human parts in Torah. All that is kind and good is Divine and all that is violent and disparaging is human.”
  14. “We are loved by an unending love.”
  15. “We are embraced by arms that find us
even when we are hidden from ourselves.
We are touched by fingers that soothe us
even when we are too proud for soothing.
We are counseled by voices that guide us
even when we are too embittered to hear.
We are loved by an unending love.”
  16. “We are supported by hands that uplift us
even in the midst of a fall.
We are urged on by eyes that meet us
even when we are too weak for meeting.
We are loved by an unending love.”
  17. “Embraced, touched, soothed, and counseled,
Ours are the arms, the fingers, the voices;
Ours are the hands, the eyes, the smiles;
We are loved by an unending love.”
  18. “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now You are not obligated to complete the work but neither now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”
  19. “Human shepherds call their flocks to return to the known; the Divine Shepherd
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