Quotes by Herman Wouk

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The Dickensian Christmas is the nearest thing in literature I know to an American bar-mitzva. It has in much the same degree the fantastic preparations, the incredible eating, the enormous wassailing, the swirl of emotions and of family mixups, all superimposed with only partial relevance on a religious solemnity. Christmas in the books of Dickens bursts with extravagant vitality, and so does our bar-mitzva.

This religion was a masculine thing. . . and Seth was coming into his own. The very Hebrew had a rugged male sound to it, all different from the bland English comments of the rabbi.
The bread of freedom is a hard bread. The contrast between bread and matzo possibly points to the contrast between the lush Nile civilization that the Jews left behind them on the first Passover and the gray rubbled desert in which they came into their identity.
The blowing of the shofar, the ram's horn, is an alarm, as it was for the tribes of Israel in the desert when the enemy approached, and for the armies of David and Solomon in the Holy Land; an alarm waking the soul to Judgment. The enigmatic words, "a day of remembrance," with which the Torah describes the first of Tishri, become clear; God reviews the deeds of the year, and men recall with dread that all acts come at last to an accounting.
Since the fall of Jerusalem any gaiety that was in Yom Kippur has faded. Our Atonement Day is a time of mordant grieving melodies, of bowed heads and wrung hearts. No one who has heard the Kol Nidre chanted at sunset when the holy day begins can doubt that the worshippers are carrying out literally a law many thousands of years old, and afflicting their souls.
A lack of clear and satisfying religious identity hurts American Jews most in December. . . . It is a good thing that Hanuka is then at hand. . . . The tale of the Feast of Lights, with its all-too-sharp comment on our life nowadays, is very colorful. It is of the greatest use in giving the young a quick grasp of the Jewish historic situation. The gifts win their attention. The little candles stimulate their questions. The observance seems tooled to the needs of self-discovery.
Judaism regards divorce as a catastrophe that is bound to occur in a certain number of mistaken marriages. Rather than chain two unsuited and hating partners together for life, our law provides the machinery for dissolving such unions.

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