Wisdom from variety of voices

This week: words of wisdom culled from a wide variety of sources that stretch from medieval times to today. “Wising up” can even be fun! So here we go …
Let’s start with one of recent history’s most famous, influential men: Albert Einstein. Did you know he also had a sharp sense of humor? Try this, from the theoretical physicist who appears here as a pop philosopher: “The devil has put a penalty on all the things we enjoy in life. Either we suffer in health, or we suffer in soul, or we get fat!” Who would have expected that?
This bit is from Kahlil Gibran, a true pop icon about a half-century ago, with soulful writings that often found their way into wedding ceremonies. People called him “The Prophet” and thought he was from ancient days, but not so unless you consider the late 19th century to be “ancient.” Here’s a sample to ponder: “When life speaks, all the winds become words, and when she speaks again, the smiles upon your lips and the tears in your eyes turn into words…”
Way back in the 16th century, Dominican priest Giordano Bruno was already something of a forward-looking scientist; he believed that “Every human thought, like every speck of nature, is connected to all other things…human thought resembles the structure of the natural world…”
Now, moving into much more modern times, we encounter Bill Clinton, who as he was growing older recommended this: “Never waste a day wishing you could do what you can’t do any more.” Do you think all former presidents wasted, or still waste, time like that? A well-known non-president, Martin Luther King, Jr., also thought practically rather than philosophically when he said something about Americans that every one of us should be taking seriously today: “We all arrived on different ships. But we’re in the same boat now…”
The following quote was chosen to end a long obituary, written as a letter to a much-beloved woman and signed by “Your Adoring Family.” These are words of the great, remarkable Helen Keller: “That which we once enjoyed and deeply loved, we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes part of us.”
I haven’t (yet) been able to properly verify the source of this quote, but the writer is, or was, a religious Catholic, and I wish more people agreed with him: “There is a strong connection between Jews and Christians…Catholics and all Christians tend to forget the fact that Jesus was Jewish. This is a part of our heritage that’s been lost, and has to be regained.”
Let’s move once more far, far back into the past, to learn from the 13th-century mystic poet, Jalaladin Rumi, how to be a truly human being: “Be a lamp, be a lifeboat, be a ladder. Walk out of your house like a shepherd, and help someone’s soul heal…”
This amazing lesson was left by the late comedian Gilda Radner, quite serious at the close of her too-short life: “I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it — without knowing what’s going to happen next…”
Our own Ben-Tzion Spitz, former chief rabbi of Uruguay, recently applied the practicality of long-gone but certainly not forgotten novelist Henry Miller to today, using this quote in one of his weekly Torah Shorts: “There is no salvation in becoming adapted to a world which is crazy…”
And finally: “I learned a lot,” a bat mitzvah father’s friend said, “when Phil stood on the bima and told his daughter that he had no material wealth to give her, but that he has given her the culture and background of his people, which he hopes will shape her life.” Wisdom for us all!

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