The pleading of ten

by H. Gryberg

When they were gone, I opened the prayer book and tried to say a prayer, but it didn’t come out. There had to be ten.

The voice of ten, the pleading of ten, the unity of ten; because the main goal was that those who were praying had compassion for each other. But there have to be at least ten for the prayer of words to unite us; there has to be the mutual understanding, that we feel the shared nature of our fate, our weakness, our frailty – our loneliness.


Translated from: Henryk Gryberg, Kalifornisches Kaddisch (1993)

For January 27

by H. Gryberg

Only the names were left to me. I entered them into the questionnaires and wrote down what roughly I knew about them.

Jeschije, Schije in the diminutive form, derived from Jehoschua, which means Josue or Jesus. Place and date of birth unknown. The greater part of his life he spent in East Masovia at an outlying estate in Nowa Wies. He was over sixty when he went to his death as a martyr, with no resistance, with the conviction that this was exactly how our Father expected him to act. Nailed to the invisible cross with invisible gas in a chamber jammed full of martyrs in September or October at a Golgotha called Treblinka in the memorable year of martyrdom 1942 or 5702/3.

Raschkje, derived from Raschi or Rasche, date of birth unknown, from Makowiec. She spent the greater part of her pious life, which lasted about sixty years, with Jeschije-Jesus in Nowa Wies, a few kilometers from Makowiec (the distances were as small as in Judea and Galilee). She walked all stations of suffering with him, the cattle car, the gas chamber. They were inseparable – in life, in death and after death –, and no one ever lifted them off the cross.


Translated from: Henryk Gryberg, Kalifornisches Kaddisch (1993)


by N. G. Dávila

The Church does not need to adjust Christianity to the world, it does not even need to adjust the world to Christianity; rather it must preserve a counterworld within the world.


Nothing is left of Christianity if the Christian tries not to seem foolish to the world.


When it believes in a truth the large crowd stops being a large crowd.


Translated from: Nicolás Gómez Dávila (1913–1994), Aufzeichnungen des Besiegten (1994)


by N. G. Dávila

Faith is not an irrational agreement to a claim; it is the perception of a special order of reality.


There are certain congruencies between skepticism and faith: both undermine the human presumptiveness.


A society is secularized when it has lost the awareness for its dependence.


Translated from: Nicolás Gómez Dávila (1913–1994), Aufzeichnungen des Besiegten (1994)

A Word on Statistics

by Wisława Szymborska


Out of every hundred people,

those who always know better:


Unsure of every step:
almost all the rest.


Ready to help,
if it doesn't take long:


Always good,
because they cannot be otherwise:
four -- well, maybe five.


Able to admire without envy:


Led to error
by youth (which passes):
sixty, plus or minus.


Those not to be messed with:


Living in constant fear
of someone or something:



Capable of happiness:
twenty-some-odd at most.

Harmless alone,
turning savage in crowds:
more than half, for sure.


when forced by circumstances:
it's better not to know,
not even approximately.


Wise in hindsight:
not many more
than wise in foresight.


Getting nothing out of life except things:
(though I would like to be wrong).


Balled up in pain
and without a flashlight in the dark:
eighty-three, sooner or later.


Those who are just:
quite a few, thirty-five.


But if it takes effort to understand:


Worthy of empathy:


one hundred out of one hundred --
a figure that has never varied yet.


Wisława Szymborska (1923–2012), translated from the Polish by Joanna Trzeciak

From: The Atlantic Monthly; May 1997; A Word on Statistics; Volume 279, No. 5; page 68.



All honor

by F. Nietzsche

In the Jewish ‘Old Testament’, the book of divine justice, there are men, things, and sayings on such an immense scale, that Greek and Indian literature has nothing to compare with it. One stands with fear and reverence before those stupendous remains of what man was formerly.


All honor to the Old Testament! In that I find great men, a heroic landscape and something of the rarest of all elements on earth, the incomparable naiveté of the strong heart. Even more—I find a people.


Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900)

The science of God

by F. Rosenzweig

Child: “But he does exist.”

What does the mother say? She only believes what she can see.

And what does the child say? But he does exist.

What do we say?

We agree with both, the mother and the child. Also with the mother?

The child is probably right with its faith, but so is the mother with her faithlessness. If we do not manage to make her see God, then we have no right to agree with the child’s “but”.

We cannot take atheism seriously enough. Deifying nature and spirits only leads us off the track. God is not something else, also not the sense of something else, God is God or – nothing. Only on the brink of atheism do have to learn to fly. But why does God’s existence have to be so uncertain? Because it has to be the origin of all other existence. We feel that at any rate God’s existence has to be on a different level than our existence, the existence of the world. We only want to believe in what we can see. But neither the outer eye, with which we see the world, nor the inner eye, with which we see men, lead us closer to the distance of God.

Through which eye can we see him?

Through the inner eye, says the pantheist …

Through the outer eye, says the spiritualist …

Only with both eyes, the inner and the outer, closed, – says the mystic.

But what does the pantheist see? Nothing but nature.

And what does the spiritualist see? Nothing but spirit.

And what does the mystic see? Nothing but - nothingness.

So which organ is left? None, if we were really just composed of senses and spirit?

But – senses and spirit unite the soul. Is there an organ of this complete, united human?

Yes. Life.


Translated from: Franz Rosenzweig (1886–1929), Zweistromland, Gesammelte Schriften Bd. III (1984)


by J. Sacks

Meaning does not grow out of systems of thought, but out of stories, and the Jewish story is the most unusual of all.

It tells us that God wanted to make us partners in His work of creation, but we disappointed him again and again. But he never gives up. He forgives us over and over again. For Judaism the true religious mystery is not our faith in God, but God’s faith in us. This is not a consolatory fiction, as atheists and skeptics sometimes say, but the exact opposite. Judaism is God’s appeal to human responsibility to create a world that is a worthy home for His presence.


Translated from: Jonathan Sacks, Vom Schicksal zum Glauben, Jüdische Allgemeine, 9. September 2018

A help that should not be overlooked

Notes to the discussion on the article of Joseph Ratzingers/Pope em. Benedikt XVI “Grace and vocation without remorse”

After the wave of reflexive criticism that has arisen concerning Joseph Ratzinger’s “Notes to the tract De Iudaeis“, one may ask why Cardinal Koch asked Pope em. Benedict XVI to publish this sketch. The cardinal – rightly – recognized the provocative potential of this article. ...


Here you find the complete text of the statement of the Chair for the Theology of the People of God

Shining Hour

by Ch. Noll

From the start the relationships of the CIC with Joseph Ratzinger have always interested me because over the years we have followed his theological efforts at a reconciliation, at a reapproach of Judaism and Christianity. In this area he is, I think, the most radical theologian I have ever even heard of.

He is also the one who, in the entire papal history, has dared to advance the furthest, as far as changing the Catholic Catechism. We have witnessed the entire development of Nostra Aetate with great interest – partly through sources, partly also personally in Rome during the years we lived there – and shared in it greatly. I belong to those people who perceived Benedict XVI’s election as a great sensation, as a shining hour in an otherwise gloomy time. I am not the only Jew who saw it like that. Cardinal Ratzinger’s election as pope was seen as positive in every respect throughout Israel, also by the World Jewish Congress. For years we witnessed it, how far his efforts had gone within the Church, also in the fundamental literature of the Church, to make hatred of Jews unthinkable forever..


Translated from: Chaim Noll, Mein Judesein (HEUTE, 6/2008)