Wisdom from The Talmud (Inspirational Quotations #353)

Hanukkah, Jewish 'Festival of Lights', 'Festival of Dedication'

In observance of the Jewish festival of Hanukkah, I present wisdom from the Talmud, a sacred text of the Jewish faith.

Hanukkah, “Festival of Lights”

This year, the eight-day Hanukkah festival began at sunset on December 1 and concludes on December 9. Hanukkah was established in 165 BCE by the warrior-leader Judah Maccabee to commemorate the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem following a past desecration of the temple by invaders. Hanukkah (‘Dedication’ in Hebrew) is also known as the “Festival of Dedication,” or the “Festival of Lights.”

Jewish families celebrate Hanukkah by kindling the lights of a nine-branched candlestick called the ‘Menorah‘. They kindle one light on the first night, two on the second night and so on. Each night, they also kindle the ninth light, the ‘Shamash‘, for kindling the others. The Shamash is usually higher or lower than the other eight in the Menorah.

The Talmud

Wisdom from the Talmud, Inspirational Quotations The word Talmud is short for ‘Talmud Torah,’ which means “study of the Torah” in Hebrew. The Torah is the Hebrew term for the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.) The Talmud is composed of several volumes of rabbinical discussions about the interpretation of the Biblical text related to Jewish history, philosophy, ethics, and customs — the meaning and conduct of life, in general.

The central part of the Talmud is the Mishnah, a record of the core teachings of Jewish faith that were previously preserved only orally. Surrounding the Mishnah is the Gemara, the interpretation and commentaries of the Mishnah. The Talmud has no single author. Rather, it is a collection of several volumes, to which Jewish scholars have added their accumulated knowledge over the course of time since about 220 CE.

For an introduction to the significance and the development of the Talmud, I recommend the excellent video documentary, “The Talmud” (available on NetFlix.)

The world’s most recognized dictum, the “golden rule,” is based in the Talmud: “Do not unto others that which you would not have them do unto you. That is the entire Torah; the rest is commentary.”

29 Inspirational Teachings from The Talmud

Silence is consent.
The Talmud

He who lives by the work of his hands is greater than he who indulges in idle piety.
The Talmud

Even for the rebuilding of the Temple the instruction of the children must not be interrupted.
The Talmud

Do not confine your children to your own learning, for they were born in another time.
The Talmud

No Israelite is allowed to lend usuriously to a non-Israelite.
The Talmud

Sinful thoughts are even more dangerous than sin itself.
The Talmud

As a tree is known by its fruit, so man by his works.
The Talmud

All ailings, only not the ailing of heart; all evils, but not an evil wife.
The Talmud

A miser is as wicked as an idolater.
The Talmud

When the castle goes to ruin, castle is still its name; when the dunghill rises, still it is a dunghill.
The Talmud

A dream which is not interpreted is like a letter which is not read.
The Talmud

First correct thyself, then correct others.
The Talmud

Learn first and philosophize afterwards.
The Talmud

Book Summary of Maria Bartiromo’s “The 10 Laws of Enduring Success”

The 10 Laws of Enduring Success » Maria Bartiromo Success consists of recognizing opportunity, being optimistic, following our passions, keeping good relations, and making the best of circumstances that life presents us. The elements of accomplishment have been widely written about since the dawn of publishing. Each year, several authors attempt to repackage the familiar skills for success in new contexts. Such is the effort of CNBC anchor and journalist Maria Bartiromo (with Catherine Whitney) in “The 10 Laws of Enduring Success.” Maria presents the longstanding blueprint of success as ten attitudes: self-awareness, foresight, ingenuity, audacity, integrity, flexibility, modesty, fortitude, tenacity of purpose, and resilience.

“The 10 Laws of Enduring Success” falls short on one key characteristic. Advice on success can inspire only when the narrator connects his/her advice to personal anecdotes of hopes and despairs, achievements and disappointments, and meaningfully reflects on how certain attitudes contributed to his/her eventual success. Remember my recent article about commencement addresses by Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and J K Rowling? These speakers are stimulating for the very reason that their timeless advices consist of thought-provoking personal contemplations.

“The 10 Laws of Enduring Success” is lacking in deep reflections of what contributed to the author’s success. As the host of one of the most popular shows in business TV, Maria Bartiromo has an extensive access to distinguished people. She does include insights from many successful people from the world of politics, business, sports, and entertainment. However, these narratives are typically short, often wander off the point, and do not necessarily connect to individual themes in a memorable way.

The conversational writing style is unassuming and quite engaging, and thus makes the book a quick read.

Leadership Reader’s Bottom-line

Inspirational Quotations from the Bhagavad Gita (#349)

The Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs all around the world celebrate the three-day festival of Deepavali festival from today. Deepawali (literally, “row of lamps,” often contracted to “Diwali”) celebrates, among other things, the return of Lord Rama, his consort Sita, and brother Lakshmana, from a fourteen-year long exile that culminated in the slaying of demon-king Ravana. People celebrated Lord Rama’s return to his kingdom by illuminating his kingdom with lamps — hence the label Deepavali.

Happy Deepavali to all our readers!

To observe Deepavali, we present below a few inspirational quotations from the Bhagavad Gita, one of the noblest scriptures of the Hindu faith.

Inspirational Quotations from the Bhagavad Gita

Bhagavad Gita, literally 'Songs of the Lord'

“Bhagavad Gita,” literally “Songs of the Lord,” is a compilation of 700 verses rendered by Krishna, an incarnation of one of the central deities of Hinduism, to the warrior Arjuna. The occasion is the historic battle of Kurukshetra between Arjuna and his brothers on one side and their cousins on the other.

Like the great scriptures of the other faiths, Bhagavad Gita discusses various beliefs, values, and disciplines central to the conduct of a good and meaningful life: devotion, attachment, conflict of motives, ethical actions and consequences, sense of duty, and misgiving from right actions — values and teachings very much even to this day. We recommend these translations and commentaries by Sri Sankaracharya, Annie Besant, Edwin Arnold, and other free texts from the Internet Archive.

From the “‘Songs of the Lord”

Whatever the state of being that a man may focus upon at the end, when he leaves his body, to that state of being he will go.
The Bhagavad Gita

Whatever action is performed by a great man, common men follow in his footsteps, and whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.
The Bhagavad Gita

Because the fool wants to become God, He never finds him. The master is already God, Without ever wishing to be.
The Bhagavad Gita

He who sees Me everywhere, and sees everything in Me, I am not lost to him, nor is he lost to me.
The Bhagavad Gita

Set thy heart upon thy work but never its reward.
The Bhagavad Gita

In this world three gates lead to hell — the gates of passion, anger and greed. Released from these three qualities one can succeed in attaining salvation and reaching the highest goal.
The Bhagavad Gita

There are two ways of passing from this world – one in light and one in darkness. When one passes in light, he does not come back; but when one passes in darkness, he returns.
The Bhagavad Gita

Those who are interested in self-realization, in terms of mind and sense control, offer the functions of all the senses, as well as the vital force (breath), as oblations into the fire of the controlled mind.
The Bhagavad Gita

There is more happiness in doing one’s own (path) without excellence than in doing another’s (path) well.
The Bhagavad Gita

Let a man lift himself by his own self alone, let him not lower himself; for this self alone is the friend of oneself and this self alone is the enemy of oneself.
The Bhagavad Gita

Stephen King’s Tips for Writing Better

Stephen King's Tips for Writing Better

Here are tips on writing from the celebrated science-fiction author Stephen King’s popular book “On Writing–A Memoir of the Craft.” The first third of this book is a short memoir of the prolific author and the second section, the namesake “On Writing,” is unadulterated inspiration for serious authors and anybody with an inclination to improve their written communication skills.

  • Get to the point. Do not waste your reader’s time with too much back-story, long intros or longer anecdotes about your life. Reduce the noise.
  • 'On Writing--A Memoir of the Craft' by Stephen King (ISBN 1413818720) Write a draft. Then let it rest. King recommends that you crank out a first draft and then put it in your drawer to let it rest. This enables you to get out of the mindset you had when you wrote the draft and get a more detached and clear perspective on the text.
  • Cut down your text. When you revisit your text, it is time to kill your darlings and remove all the superfluous words and sentences. Removing will de-clutter your text and often get your message through with more clarity and a bigger emotional punch.
  • Be relatable and honest. One of the keys to doing that is to have an honest voice and honest characters with both bad and good sides to them. People we can relate to with all of their faults, passions, fears, weaknesses and good moments. Another key to being honest and relatable is keeping a conversational style.
  • Write a lot. To become a better writer you probably—and not so surprisingly – need to write more.

Communication is all about the audience: it is about directing the audience to identify with your point of view and comprehend the precise message you want to convey. The writing tips in Stephen King’s “On Writing” will help you focus on your message—be it in a speech, a blog post, an essay, or an email.

To echo the ideas summarized above, read my earlier blog article about beginning with the end: the most effective start to the communication process is to begin at the end and enumerate the outcome. List the conclusions the audience should draw from your effort. Setting a goal for your communication helps you collect and present ideas logically.