Quotes by Isaac Bashevis Singer

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Whenever I'm in trouble, I pray. And because I'm in trouble all of the time, I pray almost constantly. more...

Even in the worm that crawls in the earth there glows a divine spark. When you slaughter a creature, you slaughter God. more...

As often as Herman had witnessed the slaughter of animals and fish, he always had the same thought: in their behavior toward creatures, all men were Nazis. more...

As long as people will shed the blood of innocent creatures there can be no peace, no liberty, no harmony between people. Slaughter and justice cannot dwell together. more...

There is a quiet humor in Yiddish and a gratitude for every day of life, every crumb of success, each encounter of love... In a figurative way, Yiddish is the wise and humble language of us all, the idiom of a frightened and hopeful humanity. more...

The soul never dies and the body is never really alive. more...

Literature has neglected the old and their emotions. The novelists never told us that in love, as in other matters, the young are just beginners and that the art of loving matures with age and experience. more...

As much as I can give of myself I give of myself. There's no reason why not. And when I have to hide something, I let the character speak. more...

I know as a writer how valuable a tool is the wastebasket. Perhaps God throws away many experiments before He finds the right expression. Perhaps we are the discards - or we could be the part He keeps. This mystery is what keeps us all going, to see what happens in the next chapter. more...

In many ways, astrology, numerology and palmistry are corruptions of the occult because they have attempted to make a practice out of something that is essentially imaginative. more...

From borrowing one gets poorer and from work one gets richer. more...

If we have people with the power to tell a story, there will always be readers. more...

No matter how much you know a human being, you don't know him enough. more...

When a human kills an animal for food, he is neglecting his own hunger for justice. Man prays for mercy, but is unwilling to extend it to others. Why should man then expect mercy from God? It's unfair to expect something that you are not willing to give. It is inconsistent. I can never accept inconsistency or injustice. Even if it comes from God. If there would come a voice from God saying, "I'm against vegetarianism!" I would say, "Well, I am for it!" This is how strongly I feel in this regard. more...

But my gloom did not lessen. I knew that I'd had a bad dream, and I stood in the dark trying to recollect it. The second I closed my eyes, I was with the dead. They did things words cannot express. They spoke madness. ("Hanka") more...

A story to me must have some surprise...I must have a passion to write the story. more...

Literature is the memory of humanity. more...

There will never be any peace in the world as long as we eat animals. more...

You must believe in free will; there is no choice. more...

Children have no use for psychology. They detest sociology. They still believe in God, the family, angels, devils, witches, goblins, logic, clarity, punctuation, and other such obsolete stuff. When a book is boring, they yawn openly. They don't expect their writer to redeem humanity, but leave to adults such childish allusions. more...

When a writer tries to explain too much, he's out of time before he begins. more...

Every body resisted (the slaughterer) in its own fashion, tried to escape and seemed to argue with the Creator to its last breath. more...

No lepidopterist's collection in the entire world...full if iridescent wings, is worth the life of a single butterfly. more...

Heaven and earth conspire that everything which has been, be rooted and reduced to dust. Only the dreamers, who dream while awake, call back the shadows of the past and braid nets from the unspun thread. more...

Two important things are to have a genuine interest in people and to be kind to them. Kindness, I've discovered, is everything. more...

Night is a time of rigor, but also of mercy. There are truths which one can see only when it's dark more...

There is a permanent amnesia planted in us, which just as we keep forgetting our dreams, we sometimes keep on forgetting our reality. more...

What do they know-all these scholars, all these philosophers, all the leaders of the world - about such as you? They have convinced themselves that man, the worst transgressor of all the species, is the crown of creation. All other creatures were created merely to provide him with food, pelts, to be tormented, exterminated. In relation to them, all people are Nazis; for the animals it is an eternal Treblinka. more...

As often as Herman had witnessed the slaughter of animals and fish, he always had the same thought: in their behaviour towards creatures, all men were Nazis. The smugness with which man could do with other species as he pleased exemplified the most extreme racist theories, the principle that might is right. more...

In their behavior toward creatures, all men are Nazis. Human beings see oppression vividly when they're the victims. Otherwise they victimize blindly and without a thought. more...

There are 500 reasons I write for children.... Children read books, not reviews. They don't give a hoot about the critics.... They don't read to free themselves of guilt, to quench their thirst for rebellion, or to get rid of alienation. They still believe in God, the family, angels, devils, witches, goblins, logic, clarity, punctuation, and other such obsolete stuff.... They don't expect their beloved writer to redeem humanity. Young as they are, they know that it is not in his power. Only the adults have such childish illusions. more...

What do these children do without storybooks?" Naftali asked. And Reb Zebulun replied: "They have to make do. Storybooks aren't bread. You can live without them." I couldn't live without them." Naftali said. more...

In the half darkness I winked to my other self, my mad dictator, and congratulated him on his droll victory. I closed my eyes and felt the warmth flowing from Shosha's head to my face. What did I have to lose? Nothing more than what everyone loses anyway. more...

Children?have no use for psychology. more...

I don't invent characters because the Almightly has already invented millions... Just like experts at fingerprints do not create fingerprints but learn how to read them. more...

Every creator painfully experiences the chasm between his inner vision and its ultimate expression. The chasm is never completely bridged. We all have the conviction, perhaps illusory, that we have much more to say than appears on the paper. more...

Kindness, I've discovered, is everything in life. more...

Our knowledge is a little island in a great ocean of nonknowledge. more...

Life is God's novel. Let him write it. more...

A story to me means a plot where there is some surprise. Because that is how life is - full of surprises. more...

The very essence of literature is the war between emotion and intellect, between life and death. When literature becomes too intellectual - when it begins to ignore the passions, the emotions - it becomes sterile, silly, and actually without substance. more...

I did not become a vegetarian for my health, I did it for the health of the chickens. more...

The greatness of art is not to find what is common but what is unique. more...

If you keep saying things are going to be bad, you have a good chance of being a prophet. more...

When you betray somebody else, you also betray yourself. more...

There is great treasure there behind our skull and this is true about all of us. This little treasure has great, great powers, and I would say we only have learnt a very, very small part of what it can do. more...

People often say that humans have always eaten animals, as if this is a justification for continuing the practice. According to this logic, we should not try to prevent people from murdering other people, since this has also been done since the earliest of times. more...

Every creator painfully experiences the chasm between his inner vision and its ultimate expression. more...

We must believe in free will, we have no choice. more...

For those who are willing to make an effort, great miracles and wonderful treasures are in store. more...

When I was a little boy, they called me a liar, but now that I am grown up, they call me a writer. more...

The waste basket is the writer's best friend. more...

There will be no justice as long as man will stand with a knife or with a gun and destroy those who are weaker than he is. more...

Sometimes love is stronger than a man's convictions. more...

What nature delivers to us is never stale. Because what nature creates has eternity in it. more...

I am thankful, of course, for the prize and thankful to God for each story, each idea, each word, each day. more...

We know what a person thinks not when he tells us what he thinks, but by his actions. more...

A good writer is basically a story teller, not a scholar or a redeemer of mankind. more...

If you keep on saying things are going to be bad, you have a good chance of being a prophet. more...

The New England conscience doesn't keep you from doing what you shouldn't - it just keeps you from enjoying it. more...

The second half of the twentieth century is a complete flop. more...

We have to believe in free-will. We've got no choice. more...

Doubt is part of all religion. All the religious thinkers were doubters. more...

The analysis of character is the highest human entertainment. more...

Originality is not seen in single words or even in sentences. Originality is the sum total of a man's thinking or his writing. more...

If Moses had been paid newspaper rates for the Ten Commandments, he might have written the Two Thousand Commandments. more...

We write not only for children but also for their parents. They, too, are serious children. more...

The more you see what other people do, the more you learn about yourself. more...

God gave us so many emotions, and so many strong ones. Every human being, even if he is an idiot, is a millionaire in emotions. more...

What a strange power there is in clothing. more...

In our time, when the literature for adults is deteriorating, good books for children are the only hope, the only refuge. more...

To be a vegetarian is to disagree - to disagree with the course of things today... starvation, cruelty - we must make a statement against these things. Vegetarianism is my statement. And I think it's a strong one. more...

How can we speak of right and justice if we take an innocent creature and shed its blood? How can we pray to God for mercy if we ourselves have no mercy? Nobel laureate in literature. more...

Writing has power, but its power has no vector. Writers can stir the mind, but they can't direct it. Time changes things, God changes things, the dictators change things, but writers can't change anything. more...

I get up every morning with a desire to do some creative work. This desire is made of the same stuff as the sexual desire, the desire to make money, or any other desire. more...

Sometimes you have the feeling that some little imp is standing behind you and dictating to you, but he gives it to you slowly, drop by drop. more...

What happened was no accident. Everything was preordained. True, the will was free, but heaven also made its ordinances. more...

Shoulders are from God and burdens too. more...

All is foreseen but the choice is given. more...

Whatever doesn't really happen is dreamed at night. It happens to one if it doesn't happen to another, tomorrow if not today, or a century hence if not next year. more...

One has to trust that God knows how to manage the world. more...

All that God does is for the good. more...

In God's mill even chaff becomes flour. more...

It is a general rule that when the grain of truth cannot be found, men will swallow great helpings of falsehood. more...

It is written, better to be a fool all your days than for one hour to be evil. You are not a fool. They are the fools. For he who causes his neighbor to feel shame loses Paradise himself. more...

Each soul must accomplish its task, or it would not have been sent here. more...

They still believe in God, the family, angels, witches, goblins, logic, clarity, punctuation, and other obsolete stuff. more...

The Jewish people have been in exile for 2,000 years; they have lived in hundreds of countries, spoken hundreds of languages and still they kept their old language, Hebrew. They kept their Aramaic, later their Yiddish; they kept their books; they kept their faith. more...

If there would come a voice from God saying, 'I'm against vegetarianism!' I would say, 'Well, I am for it!' This is how strongly I feel in this regard. more...

Man prays for mercy, but is unwilling to extend it to others. Why then should man expect mercy from God? It is unfair to expect something that you are not willing to give. more...

The characters have their own lives and their own logic, and you have to act accordingly. more...

Slaughter and justice cannot dwell together. more...

When we're trying to decide whether a leader is a good leader or a bad one, the question to ask is: 'Is he with the Ten Commandments or is he against them?' Then you can determine if the leader is a true messiah or another Stalin. more...

We are all God's creatures-that we pray to God for mercy and justice while we continue to eat the flesh of animals that are slaughtered on our account is not consistent. more...

Various philosophers and religious leaders tried to convince their disciples and followers that animals are nothing more than machines without a soul, without feelings. However, anyone who has ever lived with an animal-be it a dog, a bird, or even a mouse-knows that this theory is a brazen lie, invented to justify cruelty. more...

There is a plan to this universe. There is a high intelligence, maybe even a purpose, but it's given to us on the installment plan. more...

In relation to them (animals), all people are Nazis for the animals, it is an eternal Treblinka. more...

God is a writer and we are both the heroes and the readers. more...

Children read books, not reviews. They don't give a hoot about critics. more...

There is no death. How can there be death if everything is part of the Godhead? The soul never dies and the body is never really alive. more...

What nature creates has eternity in it. more...

Man is a disgusting thing. If you beat him he starts to scream, but if it is the other one who is beaten, then he constructs a theory. more...

I am not ashamed to admit that I belong to those who fantasize that literature is capable of bringing new horizons and new perspectives-philosophical, religious, aesthetical and even social. more...

I have heard from my father and mother all the answers that faith in God could offer to those who doubt and search for the truth. In our home and in many other homes the eternal questions were more actual than the latest news in the Yiddish newspaper. In spite of all the disenchantments and all my skepticism I believe that the nations can learn much from those Jews, their way of thinking, their way of bringing up children, their finding happiness where others see nothing but misery and humiliation. more...

I was brought up to believe in free will. Although I came to doubt all revelation, I can never accept the idea that the Universe is a physical or chemical accident, a result of blind evolution. Even though I learned to recognize the lies, the cliches and the idolatries of the human mind, I still cling to some truths which I think all of us might accept some day. more...

In the history of old Jewish literature there was never any basic difference between the poet and the prophet. Our ancient poetry often became law and a way of life. more...

It is a fact that the classics of Yiddish literature are also the classics of the modern Hebrew literature. more...

No technological achievements can mitigate the disappointment of modern man, his loneliness, his feeling of inferiority, and his fear of war, revolution and terror. Not only has our generation lost faith in Providence but also in man himself, in his institutions and often in those who are nearest to him. more...

One can find in the Yiddish tongue and in the Yiddish spirit expressions of pious joy, lust for life, longing for the Messiah, patience and deep appreciation of human individuality. more...

Some of my cronies call me a pessimist and a decadent, but there is always a background of faith behind resignation. more...

The genuine writer cannot ignore the fact that the family is losing its spiritual foundation. more...

The ghetto was not only a place of refuge for a persecuted minority but a great experiment in peace, in self-discipline and in humanism. As such it still exists and refuses to give up in spite of all the brutality that surrounds it. I was brought up among those people. more...

The pessimism of the creative person is not decadence but a mighty passion for the redemption of man. more...

The sexual organs are the most sensitive organs of the human being. They are not diplomats. They tell the truth. more...

The storyteller and poet of our time, as in any other time, must be an entertainer of the spirit in the full sense of the word, not just a preacher of social or political ideals. There is no paradise for bored readers and no excuse for tedious literature that does not intrigue the reader, uplift him, give him the joy and the escape that true art always grants. more...

The truth is that what the great religions preached, the Yiddish-speaking people of the ghettos practiced day in and day out. They were the people of The Book in the truest sense of the word. They knew of no greater joy than the study of man and human relations, which they called Torah, Talmud, Mussar, Cabala. more...

The Yiddish mentality is not haughty. It does not take victory for granted. It does not demand and command but it muddles through, sneaks by, smuggles itself amidst the powers of destruction, knowing somewhere that God's plan for Creation is still at the very beginning. more...

There must be a way for man to attain all possible pleasures, all the powers and knowledge that nature can grant him, and still serve God-a God who speaks in deeds, not in words, and whose vocabulary is the Cosmos. more...

To me the Yiddish language and the conduct of those who spoke it are identical. more...

When literature becomes overly erudite, it means that interest in the art has gone and curiosity about the artist is what's important. It becomes a kind of idolatry. more...

While the poet entertains he continues to search for eternal truths, for the essence of being. In his own fashion he tries to solve the riddle of time and change, to find an answer to suffering, to reveal love in the very abyss of cruelty and injustice. Strange as these words may sound I often play with the idea that when all the social theories collapse and wars and revolutions leave humanity in utter gloom, the poet-whom Plato banned from his Republic-may rise up to save us all. more...

What's the good of not believing? Today it's your wife you don't believe; tomorrow it's God Himself you won't take stock in. more...

When the time comes I will go joyfully. Whatever may be there, it will be real, without complication, without ridicule, without deception. more...

When a human being kills an animal for food, he is neglecting his own hunger for justice. more...

If you keep on saying things are going to be bad, you have a good chance of being a prophet... [at least for your own situation. Blind optimism is just as foolish. The solution is a rigorously balanced, rational outlook.] more...

Those who run around with women don't walk tightropes. They find it hard enough to crawl on the ground. more...

It seems that the analysis of character is the highest human entertainment. And literature does it, unlike gossip, without mentioning names. more...

Three characteristics a work of fiction must possess in order to be successful: 1. It must have a precise and suspenseful plot. 2. The author must feel a passionate urge to write it. 3. He must have the conviction, or at least the illusion, that he is the only one who can handle this particular theme. more...

I believe in God but people are liars. It's those people who say they are appointed by God who I don't believe in. more...

While facts never become obsolete or stale, commentaries always do. more...

We all play chess with Fate as partner. He makes a move, we make a move. He tries to checkmate us in three moves, we try to prevent it. We know we can't win, but we're driven to give him a good fight. more...

No doubt the world is entirely an imaginary world, but it is only once removed from the true world. more...

Night is a time of rigor, but also of mercy. There are truths which one can see only when it's dark more...

Men want all women to lie down as whores and get up as virgins. more...

Actually, the true story of a person's life can never be written. It is beyond the power of literature. The full tale of any life would be both utterly boring and utterly unbelievable. more...

Of course I believe in free will. Do we have a choice? more...

I believe in free will. I have no choice. more...

A Marxist has never written a good novel. more...

When a day passes, it is no longer there. What remains of it? Nothing more than a story. If stories weren't told or books weren't written, man would live like the beasts, only for the day. more...

Take three quarts of duck's milk... more...

I started to write even before I knew the alphabet. I would dip a pen in ink and scribble. I also liked to draw - horses, houses, dogs. The Sabbath was an ordeal for me, because it is forbidden to write on that day. more...

I have many times resigned myself to never finding a true way out. But a new hope always emerges telling me that it is not yet too late for all of us to take stock and make a decision. I was brought up to believe in free will. more...

Strange as these words may sound I often play with the idea that when all the social theories collapse and wars and revolutions leave humanity in utter gloom, the poet - whom Plato banned from his Republic - may rise up to save us all. more...

As often as Herman had witnessed the slaughter of animals and fish, he always had the same thought: in their behaviour toward creatures, all men were Nazis. The smugness with which man could do with other species as he pleased exemplified the most extreme racist theories, the principle that might is right. more...

If you keep on saying things are going to be bad, you have a good chance of becoming a prophet. more...

Children don't read to find their identity, to free themselves from guilt, to quench the thirst for rebellion or to get rid of alienation. They have no use for psychology.... They still believe in God, the family, angels, devils, witches, goblins, logic, clarity, punctuation, and other such obsolete stuff.... When a book is boring, they yawn openly. They don't expect their writer to redeem humanity, but leave to adults such childish illusions. more...

The wastebasket is a writer's best friend. more...

Buildings will collapse, power plants will stop generating electricity. Generals will drop atomic bombs on their own populations. Mad revolutionaries will run in the streets, crying fantastic slogans. I have often thought it would begin in New York. This metropolis has all the symptoms of a mind gone berserk. more...

Yasha spent his Sabbath talking and smoking cigarettes among musicians. To the earnest moralists who attempted to get him to change his ways, he would always answer: When were you in heaven, and what did God look like? more...

Who created all this? Yasha would ask himself. Was it the sun? If so, then perhaps the sun was God. Yasha had read in some holy book that Abraham had worshiped the sun before accepting the existence of Jehovah. more...

Next to Elka lay a man's form. Another in my place would have made an uproar, and enough noise to rouse the whole town, but the thought occurred to me that I might wake the child. more...

After the meal, the couple retired to their bedroom. Man and wife don't usually lie together in the daytime, but when he went outside to close the shutters, she did not protest. As soon as he put his arm around her she was aroused, like an adolescent - since a woman who has not been pregnant, remains virginal forever. more...

Esther could not conceive. In every other way she was a good wife; she knew how to knit, sew a wedding gown, bake gingerbread and tarts, tear out the pip of a chicken, apply a cupping glass or leeches, even bleed a patient. more...

A story to me means a plot where there is some surprise... Because that is how life is - full of surprises. more...

We must believe in free will - we have no choice. more...

It's harder to fool children than to fool adults when it comes to literature. more...

Doubt is part of all religion. All religious thinkers were doubters. more...

They still believe in God, the family, angels, witches, goblins, logic, clarity, punctuation and other obsolete stuff. more...


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