Jewish Journal


September 21, 2012

The Measure Of Our Character - Reflections For Shabbat T’shuvah


During this intense period of introspection we Jews are called upon to reflect deeply about our values as individuals and as a community, our behavior and ethical standards, and the condition of our souls. Much of the process of t'shuvah (repentance) centers on “character.”

Here are thoughts for this Shabbat T'shuvah and Yom Kippur:

“The true measure of a person is how he treats someone who can do him/her absolutely no good.” (Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784)

The measure of a person’s character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.” (Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1800-1859)

“A person of character finds a special attractiveness in difficulty, since it is only by coming to grips with difficulty that he/she can realize his/her potentialities.” (Charles de Gaulle, 1890-1970)

“What you are thunders so loudly that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1882)

“Rabbi Ilai said: By three things may a person’s character be determined: By his/her cup, by his her purse and by his her anger (koso, kiso and kaaso); and some say: By his/her laughter also.” (Bavli, Eruvin 65b)

“Good character is more important than wealth, good looks, popularity and even education. These things do not guarantee happiness and often they become obstacles to developing good character. Character is ethics in action.” (Michael Josephson, b. 1942-)

“It’s not how you come into the world, it’s how you leave it that is the measure of the man/woman.” (Edward Wahl – my late father in-law – 1916-2004)

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