Quotes from The Source

James A. Michener ·  1104 pages

Rating: (34.6K votes)

“A Roman came to Rabbi Gimzo the Water Carrier, and asked, "What is this study of the law that you Jews engage in?" and Gimzo replied, "I shall explain. There were two men on a roof, and they climbed down the chimney. One's face became sooty. The other's not. Which one washed his face?" The Roman said, "That's easy, the sooty one, of course." Gimzo said, "No. The man without the soot looked at his friend, saw that the man's face was dirty, assumed that his was too, and washed it." Cried the Roman, "Ah ha! So that's the study of law. Sound reasoning." But Gimzo said, "You foolish man, you don't understand. Let me explain again. Two men on a roof. They climb down a chimney. One's face is sooty, the other's not. Which one washes?" The Roman said, "As you just explained, the man without the soot." Gimzo cried,"No, you foolish one! There was a mirror on the wall and the man with the dirty face saw how sooty it was and washed it." The Roman said, "Ah ha! So that's the study of law! Conforming to the logical." But Rabbi Gimzo said, "No, you foolish one. Two men climbed down the chimney. One's face became sooty? The other's not? That's impossible. You're wasting my time with such a proposition." And the Roman said, "So that's the law! Common sense." And Gimzo said, "You foolish man! Of course it was possible. When the first man climbed down the chimney he brushed the soot away. So the man who followed found none to mar him." And the Roman cried, "That's brilliant, Rabbi Gimzo. Law is getting at the basic facts." And for the last time Gimzo said, "No, you foolish man. Who could brush all the soot from a chimney? Who could ever understand all the facts?" Humbly the Roman asked, "Then what is the law?" And Gimzo said quietly, "It's doing the best we can to ascertain God's intention, for there were indeed two men on a roof, and they did climb down the same chimney. The first man emerged completely clean while it was the second who was covered with soot, and neither man washed his face, because you forgot to ask me whether there was any water in the basin. There was none.”
― James A. Michener, quote from The Source

“We seek God so earnestly, Eliav reflected, not to find Him but to discover ourselves.”
― James A. Michener, quote from The Source

“The dead are dead but they rely on us to fulfill their hopes.”
― James A. Michener, quote from The Source

“In these centuries when God,...was forging a Christian church so that it might fulfill the longing of a hungry world, He was at the same time perfecting His first religion, Judaism, so that it might stand as the permanent norm against which to judge all others. Whenever, in the future some new religion strayed too far from the basic precepts of Judaism, God could be assured that it was in error; so in the Galilee, His ancient cauldron of faith, he spent as much time upon the old Jews as He did upon the new Christians.”
― James A. Michener, quote from The Source

“Simple. Judaism had its day, and if the Jews had been smart, when Christianity came along they’d have joined up. Christianity has had its day, and if you were intelligent you’d both join the newest religion. Islam!” He bowed low and said, “Soon all Africa will be Islamic. And all Black America. I see India giving up Hinduism while Burma and Thailand surrender Buddhism. Gentlemen, I represent the religion of the future. I offer you salvation.”
― James A. Michener, quote from The Source

“«Он самостоятельно дошел до понимания, что инстинктивная ненависть к евреям совершенно бессмысленна, а в поддержку рациональной неприязни нельзя привести никаких доказательств.»”
― James A. Michener, quote from The Source

“You say you were lucky that in the critical years between 100 and 800 C.E. Christianity went forward, and we were unlucky that during the same years Judaism went backward. Don’t you see that the real question is forward to what, backward to what?” Cullinane reflected for a moment and said, “By God, I do! That’s what’s been bugging me without my knowing it, because I hadn’t even formulated the question.” “My thought is that in those critical years Judaism went back to the basic religious precepts by which men can live together in a society, whereas Christianity rushed forward to a magnificent personal religion which never in ten thousand years will teach men how to live together. You Christians will have beauty, passionate intercourse with God, magnificent buildings, frenzied worship and exaltation of the spirit. But you will never have that close organization of society, family life and the little community that is possible under Judaism. Cullinane, let me ask you this: Could a group of rabbis, founding their decisions on Torah and Talmud, possibly have come up with an invention like the Inquisition—an essentially anti-social concept?”
― James A. Michener, quote from The Source

“It was the Sea of Galilee, now known by its Latin name, Mare Tyberiadis, sunk in its deep depression among surrounding hills whose red and brown coloring played across the surface of the water, so that sometimes the lake was its own blue—a deep, pulsating blue of vivid quality which made the heart cry out with joy—while at other times it was red or brown or, where the trees were, green. But always its colors were in motion, a living, twisting kaleidoscope, as marvelous a body of water as there was on earth.”
― James A. Michener, quote from The Source

“Why were these people seeking a new home coming to Israel and not to America? Where had the American dream faltered? And he saw that Israel was right; it was taking people—any people—as America had once done; so that in fifty years the bright new ideas of the world would come probably from Israel and no longer from a tired America.”
― James A. Michener, quote from The Source

“A man is never old if he can still be moved emotionally by a woman of his own age.”
― James A. Michener, quote from The Source

“Nor was Israel’s historic claim to the land impressive; to Cullinane it was irrelevant. Once a man started opening the historical-rights barrel of eels, no one could predict where the slippery evidence might run.”
― James A. Michener, quote from The Source

“dinner celebrating the patron saint of”
― James A. Michener, quote from The Source

“to well up in his eyes as he listened to their farewells;”
― James A. Michener, quote from The Source

About the author

James A. Michener
Born place: in New York, New York, The United States
Born date February 3, 1907
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