Jewish Commentators — Their Lives and Works
Ben Azai said, “This is the book of the generations of man” (Gen.5:1), that is the great principle in the Torah.
Rabbi Akiva said “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18), this is even a greater principle. Hence you must
not say, “Since I have been put to shame, let my neighbor be put to shame.” R. Tanhuma said, “If you do so,
know whom you put to shame, for ‘in the likeness of God made He him.’” (Genesis Rabbah 24:7)
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“It is my view that Jewish thought and theology arise in the thickness of exegesis and are carried by its forms.
The theologians thought with these elements, and the rabbinic editors regularly compiled them into anthologies for religious instruction. Yet it is remarkable how often studies of Jewish belief and behaviour ignore or neutralize this fact.”
(The Exegetical Imagination, M. Fishbane)
“Hear O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. You shall love the LORD your God
with all your heart
and all your soul and with all your might. Take to heart these instructions...” (Deut. 6: 5-6)
“Every person who loves his Creator, whenever he reaches the verse ‘and you shall love the Lord, Your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and witgh all your might’ in the recitation of the Shema, should direct his mind and thoughts towards the love of his Maker, as if [ke'ilu] he were giving up his soul for His sake in love, with absolute sincerity, and accepting death upon himself” (R. Moses de Leon, Sefer ha-Rimmon.)
“While praying, listen to the words very carefully. When your heart is attentive, your entire being enters your prayer without you having to force it” (Nachman of Breslov).