A Selection from My Favorite Jewish Sources
Rabbi Mordechai Levin
Rav said to Rabbi Hamnuna: My son, if you have the means, treat yourself well. For in sheol there is no delight, and death is not to be postponed. Should you say, “I will make provisions for my children”–who can tell in what order people will arrive in sheol? Human beings are like the herbs of the field–some may be blossoming at the time others are wilting. Samuel said to R. Judah: Keen scholar, snatch and eat, snatch and drink. The world, which we all must leave, lasts no longer than a wedding feast.
Talmud, Nedarim 10a
We have been taught that Rabbi Eleazar ha-Kappar Berabbi said: “And he shall make atonement for him for that he sinned against a soul” (Numbers 6:11). But against what soul has the Nazirite sinned? Rather, the verse means that because he afflicted himself through abstention from wine [he sinned against his own soul]. The matter may be argued a fortiori: if one who has afflicted himself only by abstaining from wine is called a sinner, how much more by far one who afflicts himself by abstaining from everything. Hence, it follows that one who keeps fasting is called a sinner.
Yerushalmi, Sotah 3:4, 19a
Who is a pious fool? He who sees a ripe fig and says, “[Instead of enjoying it myself], I will give it to the first man I meet.”
Talmud, Kidushin 4:9, 66d
The Sages said in the name of Rav: A man will have to give reckoning and account for everything that his eye saw and he did not eat. So concerned was Rabbi Eleazar with carrying out this tradition that he used to collect small change and use it [to purchase bits of new produce]. Thus, throughout the year he was able to taste every kind of food at least once.
Midrash Aggadah, Shofetim (ed. Buber, p. 199)
He who destroys anything from which enjoyment may be derived transgresses “You shall not destroy” (Deuteronomy 20:19).
Talmud, Berachot 57b
Three things restore a man’s spirit: [beautiful] sounds, sights, and scents. Three things increase a man’s self-esteem: a beautiful home, a beautiful wife, and beautiful clothes.
Talmud, Berachot 58b
At the sight of beautiful creatures and beautiful trees, one should say, “Blessed be He who has such in His world.”
Tosefta, Berachot 4:4
If a man says no more than “How beautiful is this bread! Blessed be He who is everywhere for having created it,” that is sufficient blessing over the bread.
Talmud, Berachot 43b
Rabbi Judah said: He who goes outdoors in the days of Nisan and sees trees blooming should say, “Blessed be He who has His world lack nothing and who has created in it goodly creatures and goodly trees for the joy of mankind.”
Tanhuma, Berakhah , #7
While still alive, the wicked is considered the same as dead, because he sees the sun shining but does not say the blessing “He that forms light”; he sees it set but does not say the blessing “Who bringest on evenings.” He eats and drinks but does not say grace. The righteous, however, bless God for each and every thing they eat and drink, see and hear.