This is the name of a well-known song. It is also the title of a little book I recently found on one of my thrift-store visits. As the subtitle states, the book contains “Jewish Wisdom for Everyday Life”. To share today I have selected some of these words of wisdom which are of universal application.

In the introduction, Maxim Gorky, who was not Jewish, is quoted as having said,
“…Jewish wisdom is more all-human and universal than any other…because of the powerful humaneness that saturates it, because of its high estimate of man.”

Bachya Ibn Pakuda said,
“Days are scrolls: write on them only what you want remembered.”

From Anne Frank’s diary: “Whoever is happy will make others happy too.”

“Let other people’s dignity be as precious to you as your own.”
Rabbi Eliezer

“The test of a people is how it behaves towards the old. It is easy to love children…But affection and care for the old, the incurable, the helpless, are the true gold mines of a culture.” Abraham Joshua Heschel

“Who is truly wise? One who learns from all people.” Pirke Avot.

“First a person should put his house together, then his town, then the world.” Rabbi Israel Salanter

Rabbi Barnett Brickner said, “Success in marriage does not come merely through finding the right mate, but through being the right mate.”

A Yiddish proverb: “A half truth is a whole lie.”

And to conclude, a smile from Kirk Douglas: “If you want to know about a man you can find out an awful lot by looking at who he married.”


The Bog People

The Bog People: Iron-Age Man Preserved by P. V. Glob

That’s bog, not blog; I want to comment on the book I have just read again after years.
Bog people are bodies that have been found in peat bogs, some there through accident, others through ritual sacrifice, it is believed. Peat bogs preserve the bodies in an amazingly lifelike condition though some are thousands of years old. At the time (1965) that Glob wrote the book, some 700 bodies had been found mostly in Scandinavian bogs; since then, many more.

The finding and recovery of these bodies is described in some detail. Workers digging peat as fuel have found these bodies, or parts of them, and have gone to the police fearing they have found evidence of a recent murder. Museum experts are called in to move such a body with great care, for scientific study.

The author does not lose sight of the humanity of these people. His description of the Tollund man, who lived 2000 years ago, reveals his feeling for him: “Majesty and gentleness still stamp his features as they did when he was alive. His cropped hair, up to two inches long, was not dressed in any way….It is the dead man’s lightly closed eyes and half-closed lips, however, that give this unique face its distinctive expression…”

Tollund man had a rope around his neck, which may have brought about his death: but to me this is not the face of a strangled man.

The clothes and artifacts found with these bodies have revealed much about why these people died and how they lived. More information is online, and this book is available on Amazon.

imagesTollund Man

Food Words

After the past weekend, when most of us were celebrating our holidays with sumptuous meals, I thought how often food words are found in other contexts.  I began to collect some; here are the results.

Students accepted in college are the “cream of the crop”.

If I “bite off more than I can chew” I may get in a “stew” through having “too much on my plate”.

Be careful when buying a car that it is not a “lemon”, and that you don’t spend too much “dough”.

Someone may be the “apple of your eye”.

Have you ever had a “bone to pick” with anyone?

We may find ourselves “in a pickle”, “in a jam”, or “in the soup”.

He’s a “good egg”.

Most evenings I am a “couch potato”. I won’t watch that movie; it might be too “spicy”.

You’ll think of others.