Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Menachem Mendel Schneerson, known as the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Hasidic Rabbi and Leader of the Chabad-Lubavitch Movement spreading Orthodox Judaism among Jewish People

"A true leader does not seek followers, he wants to teach others how to be leaders. He does not want control, he wants the truth. He does not impose his leadership on others, nor does he take away anyone's autonomy. He inspires by love, not coercion. When it comes time to take credit, he makes himself invisible; but he is the first to arrive at the time of need, and he will never shrink away in fear. He is so passionate about your welfare that when you consult him for guidance, it is like coming face to face with yourself for the first time."

"But time is yet another of God's creations, and as such, it has a life of its own."

"Because time itself is like a spiral, something special happens on your birthday each year: The same energy that God invested in you at birth is present once again."

"And how can you achieve such concentration? By recognizing that everything you do is important to God, and is one vital piece of the larger picture of your life."

"Our sages point to Messiah and the Messianic era as the ultimate purpose for the creation of the world. God created the world in order that he would have a dwelling place among men. And this would be realized in the messianic era because the world was created solely for the Messiah."

"This is the key to time management - to see the value of every moment."

"Without question, the material world and your everyday needs distract you from living meaningfully."

"You cannot add more minutes to the day, but you can utilize each one to the fullest."

"We have been conditioned to see the passing of time as an adversary."

"Not only will this make you treat each moment more preciously, but you will be more patient with yourself and with others, recognizing that there are millions of moments on the path to any worthwhile achievement."

"Before the day begins, you are not yet engaged in any physical activities. And it is only physically that you are constrained by the limits of time and place; mentally, there are no such boundaries."

"When you waste a moment, you have killed it in a sense, squandering an irreplaceable opportunity. But when you use the moment properly, filling it with purpose and productivity, it lives on forever."

"G-d, Who looks into the heart, on seeing the determination behind these good resolutions, will send His blessing for their realization in the fullest measure - in joy and gladness of heart and affluence, materially and spiritually."

"‘One’ semantically represents the One God, the mystical One and Monism. However, in its detailed examination of the term ‘One,’ Hassidic philosophy finds that this term lacks a certain resilience and is not as watertight as the formulators of Hassidic thought would like. In their attempt to describe a higher and more consummate Oneness that they feel is the particular nature of the unio-mystica and also of Redemption. Moreover, as the idea of the ‘One God’ is the basis for ‘Monotheism,’ it is understandably a term, that although from a mystical perspective is interpreted as being beyond division, the mystical tradition feels that the idea has been misused and/or misunderstood as a description of the ‘One God of the world’ as opposed to the Monistic and mystical realisation of the Oneness of all Existence. Therefore, the term ‘Only’ is generally used in an attempt to describe the type of Oneness that expresses the mystical reality of there ‘Only’ being God."

"Meaning that the term ‘One’ implies the union of two, the two names of God: in dealing with these two divine names, as separate entities, we unite them when we say ‘They [plural] are One.’ However, as concepts these two names of God describe the union of singularity and multiplicity (as the linguistic form of the names implies, the Tetragrammaton is singular and Elohim plural). The intention then would be that these seemingly two distinct realms are not just joined together as one, but that in the union of these two is meant a Oneness that absolutely transcends both of these categories, and expresses the reality that there is nothing but God, that is, there is ‘Only’ God."

"The true idea of the Oneness of God, is that this Oneness should also include the world. But, the reason that it is written “God is One,” is because that if it was written “God is Only,” the explanation would be that His Blessed unity was in the Ohr En Sof [infinite light] (and not in the world). Therefore, in order that the world would be able to feel this Blessed unity… it says “God is One” so that the seven heavens and the one earth, and the four directions of the world will be nullified to the One [Only] unity of the world… This appears in the revelation of the power of Atzmuss that includes and joins the idea of “One” and “Only.”"

"As it is written ‘and he (Abraham) called there, in the name of God, El-Olam…’ specifically…[God-World] El-Olam, and not El-ha-Olam [God of the World]; this means to imply, that neither God or the world are independent entities, nor that God rules over the world, but [rather that] the world and God are all One, and that ‘there is nothing else!"

"The category of “commandments,” which are commanded to the person, are relevant only when the person is an existence unto himself [separate from the One], so that then the category of the commandments of the Holy One… falls upon him, and he should conduct himself according to the will of the Holy One. But, after the completion of one’s personal service in the fulfilment of the commandments, so all of his existence (every detail that exists) is permeated with the will of the Holy One. … This makes the [one who is]… ‘commanded’ joined with the Holy One, until they become one entity, ‘Israel (through the Torah) and the Holy One are all One.’ This will be revealed in the future to come- that the categorisation of commandment isn't relevant to man (since he is not an existence unto himself); this is because, his existence is [one with] the will of the Holy One"

"‘In the future to come…“a New Torah will come forth from Me.” At that time there will also be the revelation of Divinity in the world, in ultimate completion and without any concealment at all, as it says, “the glory of God shall be revealed and all flesh shall see together for the mouth of God has spoken.” For it will be seen in a revealed fashion that the existence of “all flesh” [that is, physicality] is the Godly power that brings it into being ex-nihilo [out of no-thing], the power of Atzmuss, and consequently there is no difference between higher and lower, since they are One…’"

"There is much to learn from the technological revolution, as long as we understand its role in our lives and see it as a final step in our dramatic search for unity throughout the universe. After all, developments in science and technology have taught us to be more sensitive to the intangible and the sublime: the forces behind computers, telephones, television, and so on are all invisible, and yet we fully recognize their power and reach. Similarly, we must come to accept that the driving force behind the entire universe is intangible and sublime, and we must come to experience the transcendent and G-dly in every single thing — beginning, of course with ourselves."

"The divine purpose of the present information revolution, for instance, which gives an individual unprecedented power and opportunity, is to allow us to share knowledge—spiritual knowledge—with each other, empowering and unifying individuals everywere. We need to use today’s interactive technology not just for business or leisure but to interlink as people – to create a welcome environment for the interaction of our souls, our hearts, our visions."

"This mystical and messianic Oneness, as I hope I have explained, ends the traditional subject/object distinction, and in so doing ends many if not all of the commandments we associate with traditional Judaism. Judaism’s eschatological fulfilment lies in its ultimate abnegation, since once it has done its task it has no use."

"With all our human capacity for technological advancement, we must never forget our higher objective. We must strive to enhance our scientific search for truth by constantly expanding our spiritual search for the divine."

"So the current technological revolution is in fact the hand of G-d at work; it is meant to help us make G-d a reality in our lives. And as time goes on, science will show itself more and more to parallel the truths of G-d, thereby revealing the intrinsic unity in the entire universe."

"The increase in both types of wisdom—wisdom of the mind and wisdom of the soul—has surely come to pass; where we have fallen short is in integrating these spheres of knowledge. Only by balancing the scientific with the spiritual can we transform the dream of an ideal future into a functional blueprint for society, for true communication can begin only when human minds and souls interact. With communication comes understanding; with understanding comes compassion; and with compassion comes a natural movement toward universalism."

"The sweeping technological changes that have taken place during the past several generations are in keeping with the prediction some two thousand years ago in the Zohar, a classical text of mysticism, stating that in the year 1840, there would be an outburst of “lower wisdom,” or advancements in the physical universe, and an increase in “sublime wisdom,” or spirituality, would begin to usher true unity into the world, leading toward the final redemption."

"In order to truly influence a fellow, we must devote ourselves to him or her without regard to whether s/he will be influenced or not. He is a fellow human being who needs your help. So help him. If she lacks something material, help her. If she is spiritually lost, help her. Many see the point of influencing a fellow Jew to do a good deed, a mitzvah -- to put on tefillin, to perform a single act of charity, to avoid a moral transgression -- if this leads to a greater involvement, and ultimately, a complete transformation. But when confronted with a "lost case" they feel it's a waste of time. Why bother? Why bother? Because you care about him, not only about what he ought to be, what he will be, or what you see in him. He lacks something now, and you are privileged to be of assistance. If you care for him because you expect to influence him, then chances are he won't respond. But if you care for him whether he responds or not, then he will respond.[adapted from Public Speech]"

"Man, by nature, is a selfish creature. Even in his relationships with others he tends to focus primarily on himself or, at most, on his self-colored perception of his fellow. "Love" is the endeavor to transcend this intrinsic selfishness and truly relate to one's fellow, to be sensitive to and devoted to his/her needs as an individual distinct of oneself and one's own stake in the relationship."

"Nobody finds themselves in a situation; you put yourself in that situation and you can put yourself in another situation."

"Education, in general, should not be limited to the acquisition of knowledge and preparation for a career, or, in common parlance, "to make a better living." And we must think in terms of a '"better living" not only for the individual, but also for the society as a whole. The educational system must, therefore, pay more attention, indeed the main attention, to the building of character, with emphasis on moral and ethical values. (Need one be reminded of what happened in our lifetime in a country that ranked among the foremost in science, technology, philosophy, etc.?)Education must put greater emphasis on the promotion of fundamental human rights and obligations of justice and morality, which are the basis of any human society, if it is to be truly human and not turn into a jungle."

"The concept that above him is "an Eye that sees and an Ear that hears," he has never heard it spoken in a heartfelt manner. And if it ever was mentioned, it was only superficial lip-service. Not only that, but from the first day he went to school, it was made clear to him that it is not the school's role to get involved in his character and ethical growth; rather, he is told that he is an independent person and the school merely offers the opportunity to accumulate knowledge, which he can later use to whatever end he sees fit. Any discussion of ethics is, at best, based upon fear of punishment, and this undermines the student's focus and belief – intentionally or unintentionally – that there is "an Eye that sees and an Ear that hears" all his actions."

"There is no need to accept the standards of the world at large."

"A successful marriage is dependent on inviting G-d into the relationship."

"Birth is G-d saying you matter."

"Man can never be happy if he does not nourish his soul as he does his body."

"Everything we do must be directed toward discovering the underlying unity within."

"Charity transforms matter to spirit, it turns a coin into fire."

"Faith is not the agbsence of reason, it is a skill in its own right, which, when cultivated, allows us to experience the ultimate."

"Evil is simply the absence of good, it has no real existence of its own, and is dispelled in the light of goodness."

"Birth marks the moment when the soul enters the body and because the soul is directly connected to G-d, that is reason enough to rejoice."

"Everyone must be a leader."

"If you are close when you should be distant, you will be distant when you should be close."

"Love is the transcendence of the soul over the body."

"G-d created the universe in a manner in which we perceive our own existence as the intrinsic reality, and G-dliness as something novel and acquired. Our role is to achieve an entirely new level of perception, where G-dliness is the absolute reality and we are the novel creations, channels for divine expression."

"The final redemption is no longer a dream of a distant future, but an imminent reality."

"Miracles are all around us,; we must open our eyes to see them."

"The role of government is to balance communal and individual good. This is only possible when society is governed by the principles of morality and justice, law and order, under one G-d."

"The rebellion of youth must be directed against the status quo and toward the sublime, toward G-d, and toward a higher meaning."

"The genius of the artist is his ability to detach himself from the externality of the object he is portraying, to look deeply into the object and see its essence. He must then be able to express that essence so that whoever views the painting sees a new dimension that he, the viewer, would never have noticed in the object itself. The same applies to each individual, his inner essence is his G-dliness. One must take great care so that the external matters of his life should not obscure his essence. The tragedies of life must be seen for what they really are: part of the cosmic system of challenge and endeavor, which enables us to achieve the highest levels of happiness and goodness."

"The innocent faith of a child touches upon the utterly simple essence of G-d."