Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Torah

"The Torah states the word ‘today’ in reference for fulfilling commandments. We should imagine we have only today for living. Hence when you encounter an opportunity to perform a good deed, regard it as the last good deed you may be able to perform and proceed at once to do it." -

"What is the difference between mourning and sadness? Mourning takes hold of one’s heart, but not one’s mind, while sadness takes hold of the mind. Mourning leads to thinking, while sadness stops one’s thoughts. Mourning stems from the light in one’s soul, while sadness comes from the darkness of the soul. Mourning arouses one to life, while sadness brings to the opposite. The Torah obligates mourning when it is appropriate, while it forbids sadness and commands we serve the Almighty with joy." - Moshe Rosenstein, fully Moshe ben Chaim Rosenstein

"The physical loss is not sufficient for mourning. Purely on a physical level what would a person gain if he lived many more years? What is the ultimate gain in devouring hundreds more chickens and thousands more loaves of bread? What is the overall difference if the deceased left all this to others? The Torah obligates us to mourn to emphasize the loss of the true value of life; which is the spiritual elevation a person could have gained if he were still alive. The Almighty placed him on this earth for this purpose. The person’s death should remind the mourners to fill their lives with the spiritual growth that they are capable of." - Yechiel Michel Tukatinsky

"What does it amount to - their expounding the Torah! A man should see to it that all his actions are a Torah and that he himself becomes so entirely a Torah that one can learn from his habits and his motions and his motionless clinging to God." - Rabbi Aryeh Leib, the son of Sarah

"What is hateful to you don’t do to another. This is the whole Torah [i.e., Law]; the rest is commentary." - Hillel NULL

"He who studies the Torah in order to learn and to do God’s will acquire many merits; and not only that, but the whole world is indebted to him. He is cherished as a friend, a lover of God and of his fellow man." - Mishnah or The Mishnah NULL

"To study Torah is to touch the mind of God, so study becomes an act not only of knowing God but of devotion to God, and as such it is the most intimate form of love. On the other hand, in practice Torah is embodied in everyday life which is imbued with sacredness through ritualization… both these dimensions of study and ritual Torah is said to increase life, enriching and filling it with meaning, and quite literally lengthening it." - Joseph Runzo and Nancy M. Martin

"Eternity is the opposite of time. It is the experience where the barriers of creation and Creator are removed. And this is what the Torah tells us our choice is: time or eternity." - Ezriel Tauber

"The Torah preceded creation in that it was the idea behind creation. It is the primordial knowledge of existence. It is the idea to which life is nothing more than a means. God is eternal, and the temporary nature of the physical creation is contradictory to eternity. Creation, therefore, it not an end in itself; it is a means. It is a means for giving the part of creation made in the Divine image – mankind – the opportunity to earn a share with Hashem in eternity." - Ezriel Tauber

"My heart has opened unto every form: it is a pasture for gazelles, a cloister for Christian monks, a temple for idols, the Ka`ba of the pilgrim, the tablets of the Torah and the book of the Qur’an. I practice the religion of Love." - Ibn `Arabi, full name was Abū 'Abdillāh Muḥammad ibn 'Alī ibn Muḥammad ibn `Arabī

"You are needed to illuminate your environment with Torah and service of the heart (prayer). Livelihood and what you need - that, G-d must provide for you. You do what you must, and G-d will do what He must..." - Shneur Zalman of Liadi

"When one's body is viewed with scorn and contempt, and one's joy is in the soul alone, this constitutes a direct and simple way to fulfill the commandment "Love your fellow as yourself" toward every Jew, great or small... For the source of their souls is in the One G‑d, and they aredivided only by virtue of their bodies. Therefore, those who give priority to their body over their soul, find it impossible to share true love and brotherhood except that which is conditional on some benefit. This is what Hillel the Elder meant when he said about this commandment [the love of Israel]: "This is the whole Torah; and the rest is commentary." For the foundation and source of all Torah is to elevate and give ascendancy to the soul over the body." - Shneur Zalman of Liadi

"Also those who are far from G‑d's Torah and His service... one must draw them close with strong cords of love -- perhaps one might succeed in bringing them closer to Torah and the service of G‑d. And even if one fails, one has still merited the rewards of the fulfillment of the Mitzvah, "Love your fellow."" - Shneur Zalman of Liadi

"The era of Moshiach is the fulfillment and culmination of the creation of the world, for which purpose it was originally created. Something of this revelation has been experienced once before on earth, at the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai [when] "To you it has been shown, to know that the L-rd is G‑d; there is none else beside Him" (Deuteronomy 4:35). G‑dliness was then perceived with physical vision.... Subsquently, however, sin coarsened both them and the world - until the era of Moshiach, when the physicality of the body and the world will be refined, and we will be able to apprehend the revealed Divine light which will shine forth to Israel by means of the Torah.... "The glory of G‑d will be revealed; and all flesh will see that the mouth of G‑d has spoken" (Isaiah 40:5)... This all depends on our deeds and labor throughout the duration of the galut... When a person does a mitzvah, he draws down a flow of Divine light into the world, to be suffused and integrated into the material reality." - Shneur Zalman of Liadi

"During the time that Rabbi Schneur Zalman was imprisoned in Petersburg, one of the czar's ministers asked him to explain the verse (Genesis 3:9) "And G‑d called out to the man and said to him: Where are you?" Did G‑d not know where Adam was? Rabbi Schneur Zalman asked the minister: Do you believe that the Torah is eternal, that its every word applies to every individual, under all conditions, at all times? The minister replied that he did. Rabbi Schneur Zalman was very gratified to hear this, for this was a basic principle of the "subversive" teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, the propagation of which was at the heart of the accusations leveled against him. "Where are you?" said Rabbi Schneur Zalman to the minister, "is G‑d's perpetual call to every man. Where are you in the world? You have been allotted a certain number of days, hours, and minutes in which to fulfill your mission in life. You have lived so many years and so many days -- Where are you? What have you accomplished?"" - Shneur Zalman of Liadi

"Once, in the early years of his leadership, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi said to his disciples: "One must live with the times." He later explained his meaning: One should live with and experience in one's own life the Torah portion of the week and the specific section of the week's portion which is connected to that day." - Shneur Zalman of Liadi

"‘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…’" - Menachem Mendel Schneerson, known as the Lubavitcher Rebbe

"The bashful learneth not, the impatient teacheth not. Why is Torah compared to water? To teach thee that as water floweth away from the lofty and gathereth only in the lowly places, so with wisdom among men." - Milton Steinberg

"There are, no doubt, a few who manage to acquire a high degree of modern culture and even to achieve distinction in some branches of modern knowledge without finding themselves intellectually at variance with Orthodoxy. They belong to those who see no need for welding tradition and experience into a unitary organised mental background. They willingly subscribe to the medieval principle that Torah and philosophy have nothing to do with each other, because it saves them a great deal of mental bother. But such is only a small eddy in the main current of Jewish life." - Mordecai Menaham Kaplan

"Nineteenth-century Reform in German had aimed at the following three objectives: (1) the substitution of a rationalist attitude to tradition for the on based on unquestioning faith, (2) the elimination of those religious observances and prayers which emphasised the particularistic aspect of Judaism, and (3) the shifting of emphasis from the legalistic to the prophetic aspect of Judaism. To counteract that threefold program, Orthodoxy proposed a program of its own, which called for the following: (1) faith in the supernatural origin of the written and oral Torah, (2) maintenance of all traditional observances and forms of worship, and (3) the continuance of the study of Torah in the traditional sprit. This program was intended to rule out any possibility of compromising with modernism. In practice, however, Orthodoxy did not shut out completely all tendencies that conflicted with tradition." - Mordecai Menaham Kaplan

"A person shouldn’t take upon himself added stringencies, as our Rabbis taught ‘The torah was not given to angels.’ This can make him fall from his service of Hashem. The greatest wisdom of all wisdoms is not to be wise at all, rather to be pure and honest with simplicity." - Nachman of Breslov, aka Reb Nachman Breslover or Bratslav, Nachman from Uman NULL

"How could they not appose me, for I walk a new path, one that no man has ever walked before, nor any creature since the time the torah was received. Even though it is a very old path, nevertheless it is completely new." - Nachman of Breslov, aka Reb Nachman Breslover or Bratslav, Nachman from Uman NULL

"The time of our rejoicing’: Sukkah is the unification of HVYH and ADNY (the male and female names of Gd- numerically Sukka=91=the two names of Gd combined). This unification brings about Da’at (which is the Kabbalistic term for the interface between the two highest male/female names of Gd, and literally means Understanding. For context, Moshe, who brings the Torah from Sinai, represents Da’at), and when there is knowledge, there is joy. The proof (for the superiority of joy over sadness, sukkot over the high holy days) is, that if one observes a newborn, who has very little understanding– already at birth he is capable of crying. It is only much later, when their understanding grows– that a baby can smile." - Pinchas Shapiro of Koretz, aka Pinchas or Pinchos of Koretz

"The truth of the Torah is said to be very deep; hence the haughty man, who holds his head high, is very far from it." - Pinchas Shapiro of Koretz, aka Pinchas or Pinchos of Koretz

"Moses received the Torah from Sinai and transmitted it to Joshua; Joshua to the elders; the elders to the prophets; and the prophets handed it down to the men of the Great Assembly. They said three things: Be deliberate in judgment, raise up many disciples, and make a fence around the Torah. " - Pirke Avot, "Verses of the Fathers" or "Ethics of the Fathers" NULL

"Hillel used to say: “A brutish man cannot fear sin; an ignorant man cannot be pious, nor can the shy man learn, or the impatient man teach. He who engages excessively in business cannot become wise. In a place where there are no men strive to be a man. Moreover he saw a skull floating on the surface of the water and he said unto it: Because you drowned others they drowned you; and those that drowned you will eventually be drowned… The more flesh the more worms; the more possessions the more anxiety; the more women the more witchcraft; the more maidservants the more lewdness, the more manservants the more theft. But the more Torah the more life, the more schooling the more wisdom; the more counsel the more understanding; the more righteousness the more peace. If a man has acquired a good name he has gained something which enriches himself; but if he has acquired words of the Torah he has attained afterlife.”" - Pirke Avot, "Verses of the Fathers" or "Ethics of the Fathers" NULL

"Rabbi Chananiah ben Teradion said: If two sit together and no words of Torah are interchanged between them, theirs is the session of the scornful, as it is written (Psalm 1:1) "Nor sit in the seat of scoffers." But when two sit together and words of Torah pass between them, the Divine Presence rests between them, as it is written (Malachi 3:16) "Then those who revered the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord took note and listened, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who revered the Lord and thought on his name." Scripture speaks here of two. Whence do we learn that if even one sits and occupies himself in the Torah, the Holy One blessed be He, appoints him a reward? Because it is written (Lamentations 3:28) "to sit alone in silence when the Lord has imposed it."" - Pirke Avot, "Verses of the Fathers" or "Ethics of the Fathers" NULL

"Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah used to say: “Where there is no Torah there is no culture; and where there is no culture there is no Torah. Where there is no wisdom there is no fear of G-d, and where there is no fear of G-d there is no wisdom. Where there is no knowledge there is no discernment; and where there is no discernment there is no knowledge. Where there is no food there is no Torah; and where there is no Torah there is no food. He used to say: He whose wisdom is more abundant than his works, to what is he like? To a tree whose branches are abundant but whose roots are few; and the wind comes and uproots it and overturns it, as it is written (Jeremiah 17:6) "They shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when relief comes. They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land." But he whose works are more abundant than his wisdom, to what is he like? To a tree whose branches are few but whose roots are many; so that even if all the winds in the world come and blow against it, it cannot be stirred from its place, as it is written (Jeremiah 17:8) "They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit."" - Pirke Avot, "Verses of the Fathers" or "Ethics of the Fathers" NULL

"Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah used to say: “Where there is no Torah there is no culture; and where there is no culture there is no Torah. Where there is no wisdom there is no fear of G-d, and where there is no fear of G-d there is no wisdom. Where there is no knowledge there is no discernment; and where there is no discernment there is no knowledge. Where there is no food there is no Torah; and where there is no Torah there is no food. He used to say: He whose wisdom is more abundant than his works, to what is he like? To a tree whose branches are abundant but whose roots are few; and the wind comes and uproots it and overturns it, as it is written (Jeremiah 17:6) "They shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when relief comes. They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land." But he whose works are more abundant than his wisdom, to what is he like? To a tree whose branches are few but whose roots are many; so that even if all the winds in the world come and blow against it, it cannot be stirred from its place, as it is written (Jeremiah 17:8) "They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit."" - Pirke Avot, "Verses of the Fathers" or "Ethics of the Fathers" NULL

"Rabban Gamaliel the son of Rabbi Judah the Prince said: “Great is study of the Torah when combined with a worldly occupation, for toil in them both puts sin out of mind. All study of the Torah which is not supplemented by work is destined to prove futile and causes sin. Let all who occupy themselves with communal affairs do so for Heaven's sake, for then the merit of their fathers sustains them and their righteousness endures forever. And as for you, G-d will then say: I count you worthy of great reward as if you had done it all yourselves. Be careful in your relations with the government; for they draw no man close to themselves except for their own interests. They appear as friends when it is to their advantage, but they do not stand by a man in his time of stress… Do His will as if it was your will that He may do your will as if it was His will. Make your will of no effect before His will that He may make the will of others of no effect before your will.”" - Pirke Avot, "Verses of the Fathers" or "Ethics of the Fathers" NULL

"Rabbi Tzadok used to say: “Do not make the Torah a crown with which to aggrandize yourself, nor use it as a spade with which to dig.” As Hillel used to say: “He who makes worldly use of the crown of the Torah shall perish. Thus you may infer that anyone who exploits the words of the Torah removes himself from the world of life.”" - Pirke Avot, "Verses of the Fathers" or "Ethics of the Fathers" NULL

"Rabbi Yishmael said: “He who shuns the office of judge rids himself of enmity, theft, and false swearing. He who presumptuously rules in Torah matters is foolish, wicked, and arrogant… Judge not alone, for none may judge alone except One. And say not, Accept my opinion, for it is for them to decide and not you.”" - Pirke Avot, "Verses of the Fathers" or "Ethics of the Fathers" NULL

"Rabbi Tarfon said: “The day is short, the task is great, the laborers are lazy, the wage is abundant and the master is urgent. It is not incumbent upon you to finish the task. Yet, you are not free to desist from it. If you have studied much in the Torah much reward will be given you, for faithful is your employer who shall pay you the reward of your labor. And know that the reward for the righteous shall be in the time to come.” " - Pirke Avot, "Verses of the Fathers" or "Ethics of the Fathers" NULL

"Rabbi Meir said: “Engage little in business but occupy yourself with Torah. Be humble in spirit before all men. If you neglect Torah many causes for neglecting it will present themselves to you; but if you labor in Torah then G-d has abundant reward to give you.”" - Pirke Avot, "Verses of the Fathers" or "Ethics of the Fathers" NULL

"Judah ben Tabbai said: “Do not make yourself like those that present before judges. When parties to a Torah suit are standing before you they should be in your eyes as wicked men, but when they have departed from they should be in your eyes as innocent, if they have accepted the verdict.”" - Pirke Avot, "Verses of the Fathers" or "Ethics of the Fathers" NULL

"Pestilence comes upon the world because of crimes deserving the death penalties enjoined in the Torah that are not brought before the court; and because of the transgressions of the Torahs of the seventh year produce (Leviticus 25:1-7). The sword comes upon the world because of the delaying of justice and the perverting of justice; and because of those that teach Torah not according to the Halakah. Exile comes upon the world because of idolatry and incest and the shedding of blood; and because of neglect to give release to the soil during the sabbatical year." - Pirke Avot, "Verses of the Fathers" or "Ethics of the Fathers" NULL

"Shammai said: “Make your study of the Torah a fixed habit. Say little and do much, and receive all men with a cheerful face.”" - Pirke Avot, "Verses of the Fathers" or "Ethics of the Fathers" NULL

"Shimon said: “All my days have I grown up among the wise and I have not found anything better for a man than silence. Studying Torah is not the most important thing rather fulfilling it. Whoever multiplies words causes sin.”" - Pirke Avot, "Verses of the Fathers" or "Ethics of the Fathers" NULL

"Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai used to say: “If you have learnt much Torah do not claim for yourself moral excellence, for to this end you were created.”" - Pirke Avot, "Verses of the Fathers" or "Ethics of the Fathers" NULL

"Rabbi Elazar of Modiim said: “If a man profanes things which are sacred, and offends the holidays and puts his fellow to shame publicly, and makes void the covenant of Abraham our father, and teaches meanings in the Torah which are not according to Halachah, even though he has a knowledge of the Torah and good works, he has no share in the world to come.”" - Pirke Avot, "Verses of the Fathers" or "Ethics of the Fathers" NULL

"Rabbi Nehorai said: “Go as a voluntary exile to a place of Torah, and do not say that the Torah will follow you, for it is your companions who will make it your permanent possession. Do not rely upon your own understanding.”" - Pirke Avot, "Verses of the Fathers" or "Ethics of the Fathers" NULL

"One who advances his name, destroys his name. One who does not increase, diminishes. One who does not learn is deserving of death. And one who make personal use of the crown of Torah shall perish." - Pirke Avot, "Verses of the Fathers" or "Ethics of the Fathers" NULL

"A Rav must have in him the two powers that there are in the Torah, that is, a drug of life and a drug of death (Yoma 72), in order that it will be possible for those who come close to him to receive according to their own will, as in the Torah the righteous will walk and the wicked will stumble (Hosea 14). If he yearns for true service of Hashem he can receive from the Rav a straight path to serve Hashem, but if his heart isn" - Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav or Breslov, aka Reb Nachman Breslover or Nachman from Uman NULL

"Every Tzaddik needs to be both well versed in Torah and full of good deeds, for if he is not learned, our sages say, an unlearned person cannot be a Chassid. But a learned person alone isn't." - Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav or Breslov, aka Reb Nachman Breslover or Nachman from Uman NULL

"How could they not oppose me, for I walk a new path, one that no man has ever walked before, nor any creature since the time the Torah was received. Even though it is a very old path, nevertheless it is completely new." - Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav or Breslov, aka Reb Nachman Breslover or Nachman from Uman NULL

"We need to be reminded time and time again. Everyone knows in general terms that "HaShem is God". However, the distractions and temptations of this vain world cause many to forget it much of the time. This is why the Torah reminds us: "Know that HaShem is God!" "Know the God of your father!" That is to say: Bring this knowledge deep within yourself until it is bound tightly in your mind and heart at all times. This is the meaning of "Know this day and consider it in your heart that HaShem is God."" - Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav or Breslov, aka Reb Nachman Breslover or Nachman from Uman NULL

"When the Torah tells us to "know" God, it is teaching us to bring this holy knowledge into our minds and thoughts and bind it in our hearts constantly at all times in order that "His fear will be upon our faces so that we will not sin" (Exodus 20:17) ." - Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav or Breslov, aka Reb Nachman Breslover or Nachman from Uman NULL

"You should know. The Torah which is enclothed within the concealment within a concealment is a very high Torah; the secrets of the Torah. Since it needs to enclothe itself in these low places, by those who have sinned a lot until Hashem became concealed from them in a concealment within a concealment, Hashem decided not to place their simple Torah, in order that the evil should not be able to draw strength from there too much, which will cause much defect. Therefore He concealed and enclothed within their specifically very high Torah, the secrets of Torah, which is Hashems Torah itself. This is as it says with regards to Egypt (Shemot 12) I will pass through the land of Egypt, I and not an angel, I and not a messenger, I, Hashem and no other. For in the land of Egypt, the place of much evil, specifically there, Hashem himself is hidden and enclothed, that is, Hashem" - Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav or Breslov, aka Reb Nachman Breslover or Nachman from Uman NULL

"The Torah begins with an account of the Creation so that if there ever comes a time when the nations of the world accuse the Jewish people of having stolen the Land of Israel, the Jews can respond: " - Rashi, born Shlomo ben Yitzchok, aka Salomon Isaacides, Rabbi Shlomo Itzhaki NULL