Elie Wiesel (1928-Present)

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”

“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

“Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love. Love risks degenerating into obsession, friendship is never anything but sharing.”

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

“To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”

“When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude.”

“There is divine beauty in learning… To learn means to accept the postulate that life did not begin at my birth. Others have been here before me, and I walk in their footsteps. The books I have read were composed by generations of fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, teachers and disciples. I am the sum total of their experiences, their quests. And so are you.”

“One person of integrity can make a difference.”

“Human suffering anywhere concerns men and women everywhere.”

“For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”

“Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed….Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.”

“Which is worse? Killing with hate or killing without hate?”

“If the only prayer you say throughout your life is “Thank You,” then that will be enough.”

“Only the guilty are guilty. Their children are not.”

“I pray to the God within me that He will give me the strength to ask Him the right questions.”

“Write only if you cannot live without writing. Write only what you alone can write.”

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides.”

“Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must — at that moment — become the center of the universe.”

“Think higher, feel deeper.”

“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”

“Most people think that shadows follow, precede or surround beings or objects. The truth is that they also surround words, ideas, desires, deeds, impulses and memories.”

“No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them”

“I shall always remember that smile. From what world did it come from?”

“I don’t want my past to become anyone else’s future.”

“We must not see any person as an abstraction. Instead, we must see in every person a universe with its own secrets, with its own treasures, with its own sources of anguish, and with some measure of triumph.”

“I feel that books, just like people, have a destiny. Some invite sorrow, others joy, some both. ”

“Whoever survives a test, whatever it may be, must tell the story. That is his duty.”

“For the survivor who chooses to testify, it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for the dead and for the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”

“Ultimately, the only power to which man should aspire is that which he exercises over himself.”

“Indifference is the sign of sickness, a sickness of the soul more contagious than any other.”

“Music does not replace words, it gives tone to the words”

“Better that one heart be broken a thousand times in the retelling, he has decided, if it means that a thousand other hearts need not be broken at all.”

“They are committing the greatest indignity human beings can inflict on one another: telling people who have suffered excruciating pain and loss that their pain and loss were illusions.”

“One more stab to the heart, one more reason to hate. One less reason to live.”

“God is God because he remembers.”

“No human being is illegal.”

“Peace is our gift to each other.”

“I have learned two lessons in my life: first, there are no sufficient literary, psychological, or historical answers to human tragedy, only moral ones. Second, just as despair can come to one another only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings.”

“I’ve been fighting my entire adult life for men and women everywhere to be equal and to be different. But there is one right I would not grant anyone. And that is the right to be indifferent.”

“Blessed be God’s name? Why, but why would I bless Him? Every fiber in me rebelled. Because He caused thousands of children to burn in His mass graves? Because he kept six crematoria working day and night, including Sabbath and the Holy Days? Because in His great might, He had created Auschwitz, Birkenau, Buna, and so many other factories of death? How could I say to Him: Blessed be Thou, Almighty, Master of the Universe, who chose us among all nations to be tortured day and night, to watch as our fathers, our mothers, our brothers, end up in the furnaces? Praised be Thy Holy Name, for having chosen us to be slaughtered on Thine altar?”

“Night is purer than day; it is better for thinking and loving and dreaming. At night everything is more intense, more true. The echo of words that have been spoken during the day takes on a new and deeper meaning. The tragedy of man is that he doesn’t know how to distinguish between day and night. He says things at night that should only be said by day.”

“We cannot indefinitely avoid depressing subject matter, particularly it it is true, and in the subsequent quarter century the world has had to hear a story it would have preferred not to hear – the story of how a cultured people turned to genocide, and how the rest of the world, also composed of cultured people, remained silent in the face of genocide.”

“I write to understand as much as to be understood.”

“Only fanatics — in religion as well as in politics — can find a meaning in someone else’s death.”

“Life belongs to man, but the meaning of life is beyond him.”

“The more you ask certain questions, the more dangerous they become.”

“Not all games are innocent. Some come dangerously close to cruelty.”

“Which is better, truth that is a lie or the lie that is truth?”

“Questions outlive the answers.”

“I believe in God–in spite of God! I believe in Mankind–in spite of Mankind! I believe in the Future–in spite of the Past!”

“Suffering pulls us farther away from other human beings. It builds a wall made of cries and contempt to separate us.”

“I have not lost faith in God. I have moments of anger and protest. Sometimes I’ve been closer to him for that reason.”

“When you listen to a witness, you become a witness.”

“How can one explain the attraction terror holds for some minds — and why for intellectuals? . . .In a totalitarian and terrorist regime, man is no longer a unique being with infinite possibilities and limitless choices but a number, a puppet, with just this difference — numbers and puppets are not susceptible to fear.”

“A word is worth a thousand pictures.”

“A man who is fighting for the future of mankind is not waiting for torture, he’s waiting for — the Revolution.”

“To forget a Holocaust is to kill twice”

“Life is really fascinated only by death. It vibrates only when it comes in contact with death.”

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