Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Shlomo Wolbe, aka Wilhelm Wolbe

German-born Israeli Haredi Rabbi and Author, best know for Alei Shur

"The greatest manifestation of your love for the Almighty can be expressed on your day of death. Before your death, you might be thinking about how you have not fulfilled all of your wishes and plans. In the moments before your death you might have complaints against the Almighty, or you might fatalistically accept your death by saying, What can be done? My body is giving in to the laws of nature. The doctors have given up hope.” Both of these attitudes are wrong You now face the greatest challenge of your life. You have the potential to submit yourself to the will of the Almighty with love. This level takes preparation. If a person has not mastered control of his thoughts, he is likely to waste his last moments thinking of petty resentments and desires. Frequently confusion and fear of death swallow up every other thought unless one has prepared for that moment."

"Do not measure yourself with anybody else’s yardstick. Your obligation is to accomplish with your own unique talents. you do not need anybody else’s approval to be a worthy person."

"Every person in the world waits for signs of recognition and affection from others."

"From the very beginning of a person’s life one learns that the purpose of life is not uninterrupted pleasure. Every infant suffers pains and illnesses. We should not perceive illness and pain as negative. Suffering teaches us humility. We learn that we do not have complete power over ourselves."

"Nothing destroys the potential for parents to have a close relationship with their children as disciplining through excessive fear. When children are still young, parents should be aware that one day their children will become independent. Parents who frequently use fear as a weapon create negative feelings in their children. When they grow up, those children are likely to rebel against their parents and go their own way."

"The essence of envy is a deep desire to be someone else. In its extreme form it is a complete nullification of oneself."

"The most feared event in a person’s life is death. But we have the ability to transform our death into the greatest act we will perform in our entire life. We can perceive death as our total submission to the will of the Almighty and find tremendous spiritual elevation."

"The only person who can have “everything” is one who can be satisfied with his minimum requirements of food and clothing, and the Creator is the center of his world."

"When you have desires to do something wrong, you might feel so embarrassed with yourself for not being on a higher level that you try to repress those desires and forget about them. This is a mistake since it is not dealing with the problem but covering it up. Ignoring your inner feelings and reactions is dangerous. Be aware of what you desire, and have a dialogue with yourself to overcome it."

"When we are feeling critical, we cannot feel love. "

"One who desire the attention of others has not yet found himself."

"Indeed, [patience] is the first of the thirteen attributes of [God’s] mercy, through which Hashem “carries/bears” His world. Without it we would be unable to exist for even one day. Regarding this trait we are enjoined to emulate Hashem’s ways; through it man, too, “carries/bears” his world. Like Hashem, man bestows goodness, kindness, light of face, 2 and peace upon his surroundings. If, Heaven forbid, one is unable to act as a “suffering king,” such that when another individual insults him or commits a sin, he immediately hides his face and ceases to bestow goodness, kindness and peace, he too destroys the world! Now, my wise student of Torah, meditate deeply upon thishow you carry/bear your world, bestowing life and kindness, goodness and peace on everything that surrounds you. This reflection will bring you to realize that only through cultivating your attribute of patience can you truly bear the burden of your world, always, and without interruption, not causing destruction, Heaven forbid. Destruction literally, without exaggeration!"

"One who possesses patience continues bestowing goodness after being insulted or witnessing sin, exactly as before. He does not withhold his kindness from the one who insulted him or has sinned. This requires the ability to think precisely, to make fine distinction between subtleties. Only such a deep thinker will realize that true patience demands that he continue bestowing goodness and kindness without any change even when a response to the insult or sin is called for. A measured response should come, but never amid the abandonment of the goodness and kindness that is the very physical and spiritual sustenance of the other individual. "

"Patience in the home, with one’s family, requires a separate and unique treatment. The closer the relationship is, the more patience that relationship demands. We come into contact with our friends from time to time, and even when we do, we rarely will quarrel or become angry. In contrast, we come into contact with our neighbors all the time and thus struggle through many instances requiring patience. Indeed, it is more difficult to be a good neighbor than a good friend. However, it is most difficult to maintain our patience when it comes to our family, with whom we spend our days and nights, through all types of situations. It is fair to say that the middah which sustains a proper household is patience."

"How much patience is needed to raise our children! Our pen would run dry if we attempted to discuss the myriad specific instances of child rearing that demand our patience and a positive/pleasant approach. This is not the place to delve into the many issues regarding the education of our children. However, this we must establish clearly: One does not educate with screaming and smacking! It is a pathetic situation when the only thought of parents regarding the education and rearing of their children is when to smack them… Woe to such an “education!” It is only with infinite patience that we can arrive at a thoughtful response, and a guidance that is built upon the individual nature of the child, thus fulfilling the verse, “Educate the youth according to his way/nature.” (Proverbs 22:6)"

"The positive desire for self-work and growth is often hampered by our weak character, forgetfulness, instability and the many other attacks our yetzer (evil inclination) launches upon us. [We say to ourselves:] “The ground you have given me is infertile…” Woe is to the one who lacks patience with oneself! Such an individual will speedily despair from all self-work and growth, and even if he does not totally lose hope, he inevitably falls into sadness, and there is no greater damaging state of being to our service of Hashem than sadness."

"“According to one’s abilities” is the essential rule in the service of Hashem. And our abilities are limited. Each pathway into self-growth which we endeavor to present throughout this work is built upon this important foundation: We must always move slowly with our work, never overburdening ourselves or being extreme with what we try to do. “One who grabs much, will not attain, and one who grabs little will attain.” (Tractate Kiddushin 17a) And even regarding the little we can do, we will fail not once or twice, nevertheless we can never despair. Rather, we must persevere and stubbornly begin anew until, with Hashem’s help, we succeed."

"Although a person can flip from one world to the other very quickly, no one can be in both worlds at the same time, just as when looking at a Rubin vase, one can see either the white vase or the two black profiles facing each other, but not both simultaneously. Human beings are neurologically wired so that we cannot see the vase and the profiles at the same time. Human beings are spiritually wired so that we cannot be in the World of Connection and the World of Estrangement at the same time. When we are feeling joy, we cannot feel fear. When we are feeling critical, we cannot feel love. When we are feeling resentful, we cannot feel tranquil. [paraphrase]"

"Each davening performed with understanding is a qualitatively different experience and has its own unique feeling and quality. It is indeed impossible that two tefillos should be identical - even though the words are identical. One can compare this to riding a train watching a beautiful landscape. Although the scenery may appear the same, the experience is different from moment to moment. At each moment, one sees the scenery from a different perspective. Similarly, someone davening should constantly see himself and his relationship with Hashem from a different perspective - just as the traveler is looking at the scenery with a different, fresh perspective."

"Every Person Must Realize "I with all my abilities, potentials and talents both physical and spiritual, am unique in the universe. Amongst all those alive today there is no other me. In past generations too there was no other me, and until the end of time there will be no other me. And if so, the Master of the Universe certainly has sent me here on a special mission that could be fulfilled by no one else but me - with all my uniqueness."

"I request and command that I not be eulogized in any format whatsoever. Furthermore, I should not be described by any title or honor, not as a "gaon," and not as a "tzadik," not even by initials such as zt"l."

"I, with all my abilities, potentials and talents both physical and spiritual, am unique in the universe. Amongst all those alive today there is no other me. In past generations too there was no other me, and until the end of time there will be no other me. And if so, the Master of the Universe must certainly have sent me here on a special mission that could be fulfilled by no one else but me -with all my uniqueness."

"If we allow children to sprout and grow without building them, they become wild. If we only build children, but fail to nurture their organic growth, we transform them into robots. If we employ both approaches, planting and building, then genuine education becomes possible...Education is simultaneously providing a child with the appropriate structure and space for growth."

"Insisting that a child remain at the Shabbos table when he is too young - in this instance, although the parents feel that this is important for the child's chinuch, it is totally counter-productive to force a child to do what he is not ready for. The expectations for a child must always be appropriate to his age."

"Often parents say or imply that their child should achieve what the parents accomplished or what the parents aspired to accomplish - even when this may not be within the child's capabilities or inclinations. The parents may want their son to be a Rosh Yeshiva or at least to be involved in full-time learning, but the child's personality is more appropriate to being an elementary school rebbi, an outreach professional, or a frum businessman!"

"One must learn how to approach a statement of Chazal ? to study the depths of its pshat and to experience it until the hidden light of Chazal's statement illuminates you."

"Parents who grew up in impoverished homes often raise their children by spoiling them - to "make up" for their own impoverished origins. However, this is counter-productive for the child's needs."

"Shabbat in particular is about yedidut; it is a day of loving friendship."

"Shabbat is a day to step out of the pressures of the week and reconnect with ourselves, with family and with G-d. By relieving us of all the work that has accumulated during the week, we are free to focus on our relationships. Throughout the week we are so busy doing and achieving that we don?t have a chance just to ?be? and to connect with those we love. On Shabbat we take a break from the rough and tumble of life and reconnect with those most important to us."

"The ability to pray defines a human being. Animals also wage war, construct homes, and live social lives. But only mankind can relate to the Ribono Shel Olam and daven."

"The greatest danger lies in our being unaware of our feelings. If we are aware of our feelings, we are capable of handling them."

"The result is that the child never learns to serve Hashem in his own unique way. He is being forced to be what he cannot, and therefore will not be successful at it - while at the same time, he is being hampered from developing to his own greatest potential. In the end, he ends up becoming a non-success."

"The word for idolatry in the Talmud is avoda zara, literally ?foreign worship,? because it causes us to become alienated from ourselves. And in a sense, this is what has happened in the modern world. There is a pervasive sense of alienation, a sense that people are fragmented; or, as one author put it, ?the ?atomisation? of the world.? When atoms come apart, everything disintegrates. In today?s society, the bonds of family have come apart and people have drifted from G-d. A sense of alienation has crept into society and there is a lack of connection ? to G-d, to community, to family and to ourselves; we are not connected to an overarching value system. In contrast to all this is the world of connectedness?olam hayedidut, the world of loving friendship."

"There are two parallel universes: the World of Connection and the World of Estrangement. These are two completely separate worlds. The World of Connection is characterized by love, joy, tranquility, optimism, harmony, generosity, faith in God, etc., while the World of Estrangement is characterized by animosity, anger, resentment, anxiety, sadness, criticism, worry, fear, etc."

"There is an olam hayedidut, a ?world of loving friendship,? between us and G-d, between us and our fellow human beings and between us and ourselves."

"This word, yedidut, contains the whole philosophy of Judaism. As we know, Judaism is comprised of many commandments which give us our whole way of life. But if we had to encapsulate the entire philosophy of Judaism in one word, it would be the concept of yedidut, friendship ? or, olam hayedidut, ?the world of friendship.?"

"Timing is everything in child-rearing. One should not start too early or wait until it is too late. Also, there must be a tremendous balance between too much involvement in the child's growth and too little."

"To grow as a Torah Jew, a person must have daas. Most individuals do not have a natural sense of daas and need to be taught. Our generation is particularly short on daas. This is demonstrated by the following: 1. There is a rampant problem of lack of self-confidence today, which he contends is a modern phenomenon. 2. People are frozen into indecision by their "feelings." 3. We accept certain realities that we should endeavor to change, while at the same time we attempt to change things that we should accept. 4. We overreact to frustration. 5. We lack marital stability."

"When G-d gives us commandments He is not there instructing us as a legislator imposing laws upon us that we have to keep for fear of our lives. Rather, it is comparable to a loving parent who establishes rules out of love, in order to help us. When we keep His mitzvot, it is within the context of this world of loving friendship. Just as we do things for people we love ? a husband for a wife and a wife for a husband, parents for children and children for parents ? so too, we keep the mitzvot in the context of our relationship with G-d, in the world of loving friendship."

"When we give into the yetzer hara and it lures us away from Hashem and His mitzvot, we actually become alienated from ourselves. When we are on the wrong path, when we are disconnected from who we are meant to be, we feel dislocated and alienated; we don?t feel good. This is our conscience ? the knowledge that we have done something wrong and the sense of disconnectedness and fragmentation that comes along with it."