Lubavitch Quotes

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As a convinced atheist, I ought to agree with Voltaire that Judaism is not just one more religion, but in its way the root of religious evil. Without the stern, joyless rabbis and their 613 dour prohibitions, we might have avoided the whole nightmare of the Old Testament, and the brutal, crude wrenching of that into prophecy-derived Christianity, and the later plagiarism and mutation of Judaism and Christianity into the various rival forms of Islam. Much of the time, I do concur with Voltaire, but not without acknowledging that Judaism is dialectical. There is, after all, a specifically Jewish version of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, with a specifically Jewish name—the Haskalah—for itself. The term derives from the word for 'mind' or 'intellect,' and it is naturally associated with ethics rather than rituals, life rather than prohibitions, and assimilation over 'exile' or 'return.' It's everlastingly linked to the name of the great German teacher Moses Mendelssohn, one of those conspicuous Jewish hunchbacks who so upset and embarrassed Isaiah Berlin. (The other way to upset or embarrass Berlin, I found, was to mention that he himself was a cousin of Menachem Schneerson, the 'messianic' Lubavitcher rebbe.) However, even pre-enlightenment Judaism forces its adherents to study and think, it reluctantly teaches them what others think, and it may even teach them how to think also.
Christopher Hitchens (Hitch 22: A Memoir)
What is it that the child has to teach? The child naively believes that everything should be fair and everyone should be honest, that only good should prevail, that everybody should have what they want and there should be no pain or sadness. The child believes the world should be perfect and is outraged to discover it is not. And the child is right.
Tzvi Freeman (Wisdom to Heal the Earth - Meditations and Teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe)
Which brings me back to Ecclesiastes, his search for happiness, and mine. I spoke in chapter 4 about my first meeting, as a student, with Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, the Lubavitcher Rebbe. As I was waiting to go in, one of his disciples told me the following story. A man had recently written to the Rebbe on something of these lines: ‘I need the Rebbe’s help. I am deeply depressed. I pray and find no comfort. I perform the commands but feel nothing. I find it hard to carry on.’ The Rebbe, so I was told, sent a compelling reply without writing a single word. He simply ringed the first word in every sentence of the letter: the word ‘I’. It was, he was hinting, the man’s self-preoccupation that was at the root of his depression. It was as if the Rebbe were saying, as Viktor Frankl used to say in the name of Kierkegaard, ‘The door to happiness opens outward.’23 It was this insight that helped me solve the riddle of Ecclesiastes. The word ‘I’ does not appear very often in the Hebrew Bible, but it dominates Ecclesiastes’ opening chapters. I enlarged my works: I built houses for myself, I planted vineyards for myself; I made gardens and parks for myself and I planted in them all kinds of fruit trees; I made ponds of water for myself from which to irrigate a forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves and I had homeborn slaves. Also I possessed flocks and herds larger than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. Also, I collected for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. (Ecclesiastes 2:4–8) Nowhere else in the Bible is the first-person singular used so relentlessly and repetitively. In the original Hebrew the effect is doubled because of the chiming of the verbal suffix and the pronoun: Baniti li, asiti li, kaniti li, ‘I built for myself, I made for myself, I bought for myself.’ The source of Ecclesiastes’ unhappiness is obvious and was spelled out many centuries later by the great sage Hillel: ‘If I am not for myself, who will be? But if I am only for myself, what am I?’24 Happiness in the Bible is not something we find in self-gratification. Hence the significance of the word simchah. I translated it earlier as ‘joy’, but really it has no precise translation into English, since all our emotion words refer to states of mind we can experience alone. Simchah is something we cannot experience alone. Simchah is joy shared.
Jonathan Sacks (The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning)
Lift yourself up, plug yourself in, immerse yourself in the wisdom of Torah, and ignite the love and joy within your heart.
Tzvi Freeman (Wisdom to Heal the Earth - Meditations and Teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe)
When every activity of life becomes a way to know G-d, evil simply withers away and dies.
Tzvi Freeman (Wisdom to Heal the Earth - Meditations and Teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe)
Cultivate the soul with hope; teach her to await the break of dawn.
Tzvi Freeman (Wisdom to Heal the Earth - Meditations and Teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe)
a Spring that comes for those who long for it.
Tzvi Freeman (Wisdom to Heal the Earth - Meditations and Teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe)
So the darkness is there for the sake of light. Evil exists so that good might also be. Pain exists to make room for healing.
Tzvi Freeman (Wisdom to Heal the Earth - Meditations and Teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe)
Evil is a terrorist, nursed on every spoonful of worry, encouraged with every glance of trepidation, fortified with every concession we make from our lives to acknowledge its threat
Tzvi Freeman (Wisdom to Heal the Earth - Meditations and Teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe)
To truly banish evil, you must march on the clouds and never look down. You must climb higher until you attain a place so filled with light there is no crevice left in which darkness may hide.
Tzvi Freeman (Wisdom to Heal the Earth - Meditations and Teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe)
A coin uncounted is a wasted coin. A moment uncounted is a moment that never was.
Tzvi Freeman (Wisdom to Heal the Earth - Meditations and Teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe)
Each of us has a terrorist inside, a mad impulse to abandon that which is rightfully ours, to blow ourselves to smithereens.
Tzvi Freeman (Wisdom to Heal the Earth - Meditations and Teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe)
Each of us has a terrorist inside, a mad impulse to abandon that which is rightfully ours, to blow ourselves to smithereens. You cannot outsmart it, for it has hijacked the mind that you use. It believes it is you; you believe you are it.
Tzvi Freeman (Wisdom to Heal the Earth - Meditations and Teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe)
We Called Him Monsieur R. Dovid Aaron Neuman currently lives with his family in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. He was interviewed in November, 2013, and shared the following remarkable story which happened during the war. “...In the midst of all this chaos and upheaval, my family was forced to split up.... I was sent to an orphanage in Marseilles. The orphanage housed some forty or maybe fifty children, many of them as young as three and four years old. Some of them knew that their parents had been killed; others didn’t know what became of them. Often, you would hear children crying, calling out for their parents who were not there to answer. As the days wore on, the situation grew more and more desperate, and food became more and more scarce. Many a day we went hungry. “And then, in the beginning of the summer of 1941, a man came to the rescue. We did not know his name; we just called him “Monsieur,” which is French for “Mister.” Every day, Monsieur would arrive with bags of bread—the long French baguettes—and tuna or sardines, sometimes potatoes as well. He would stay until every child had eaten. Some of the kids were so despondent that they didn’t want to eat. He used to put those children on his lap, tell them a story, sing to them, and feed them by hand. He made sure everyone was fed. With some of the kids, he’d sit next to them on the floor and cajole them to eat, even feeding them with a spoon, if need be. He was like a father to these sad little children. He knew every child by name, even though we didn’t know his. We loved him and looked forward to his coming. Monsieur came back day after day for several weeks. And I would say that many of the children who lived in the orphanage at that time owe their lives to him. If not for him, I, for one, wouldn’t be here. Eventually the war ended, and I was reunited with my family. We left Europe and began our lives anew. In 1957, I came to live in New York, and that’s when my uncle suggested that I meet the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Of course I agreed and scheduled a time for an audience with the Rebbe’s secretary. At the appointed date, I came to the Chabad Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway and sat down to wait. I read some Psalms and watched the parade of men and women from all walks of life who had come to see the Rebbe. Finally, I was told it was my turn, and I walked into the Rebbe’s office. He was smiling, and immediately greeted me: “Dos iz Dovidele!—It’s Dovidele!” I thought, “How does he know my name?” And then I nearly fainted. I was looking at Monsieur. The Rebbe was Monsieur! And he had recognized me before I had recognized him.
Mendel Kalmenson (Positivity Bias)
Torah is the study of G-d thinking.
Tzvi Freeman (Wisdom to Heal the Earth - Meditations and Teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe)
He made the hearts of Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Akiva stubborn, so they could traverse the highway from ignorance to enlightenment in adulthood.
Tzvi Freeman (Wisdom to Heal the Earth - Meditations and Teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe)
A life of purpose is a delicate balancing act of body and soul, heaven and earth. It requires two feet firmly upon the ground and a clear head high up in the air.
Tzvi Freeman (Wisdom to Heal the Earth - Meditations and Teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe)
The words and the stories of Torah are but its clothing; the guidance within them is its body.
Tzvi Freeman (Wisdom to Heal the Earth - Meditations and Teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe)
Torah is light; it tells us the place of each thing. Shine it bright and heal the world.
Tzvi Freeman (Wisdom to Heal the Earth - Meditations and Teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe)
The ultimate blissful pleasure is that which we created beings give back in return—when a lost soul returns, a hidden spark of meaning is restored to its place, a piece of the world that seemed unsalvageable, ugly and sinister is transformed so that it shines—even if but for a moment—with its essential, primordial light.
Tzvi Freeman (Wisdom to Heal the Earth - Meditations and Teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe)
light that guides one person will guide a hundred. Be that light.
Tzvi Freeman (Wisdom to Heal the Earth - Meditations and Teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe)
the past is redefined by the arrow of its future.
Tzvi Freeman (Wisdom to Heal the Earth - Meditations and Teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe)
Now, the first day of all of time—future and past.
Tzvi Freeman (Wisdom to Heal the Earth - Meditations and Teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe)
Switch the direction your past is sending you. Soon enough, it becomes a different past.
Tzvi Freeman (Wisdom to Heal the Earth - Meditations and Teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe)
Heaven desires the earth, and the earth is lost without heaven. Make your life a marriage of the two, as lovers that never part, and you will find peace.
Tzvi Freeman (Wisdom to Heal the Earth - Meditations and Teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe)
I’ll tell you what the Lubavitcher Rebbe believed. You can hold a wooden chair in your hands and feel that it exists. But if the chair is burning, you can’t hold the heat and energy that is created from the fire. So it is with our souls. No substance really disappears, it is transformed. But you can’t always see it.
Diana Bletter (A Remarkable Kindness)
sounded like another language entirely. I felt relieved, momentarily, to be a relatively worldly Lubavitcher, even if I didn’t entirely fit in with the Crown Heights crowd. — Much to my disappointment, Miri was rarely to be seen. Most days she left the apartment around ten in a giddy rush and returned in the early evening with armloads of shopping bags, only to leave again for dinner with her friends. But one morning, when Leah was otherwise engaged, I was finally recruited for shomeres service. We were going to Ratfolvi’s, in Flatbush, to pick up the sheitel that Miri would be required to wear as a married woman. Pulling up to a residential building, we let ourselves into Mrs. Ratfolvi’s wig shop/apartment and sat down in the reception area, where four or five women were chatting away on a damask sofa and chairs. While we waited our turn, I examined the rows of wigs on display: there were various shades of brunette, blonde, and ginger; short, teased bouffants and glamorous, shoulder-length falls; wigs encased in rollers and wigs that were fully styled, needing nothing more than a final shpritz of hair spray. They were set upon Styrofoam heads complete with turned-up noses, high cheekbones, and luscious lips that looked like they could come alive at any moment. I longed to get my hands on a brush and a pair of scissors so that I could create my own visions of tonsorial loveliness. I did this from time to time to my dolls, to my mother’s great irritation, and here was a whole wall of victims. When Miri’s name was called, she plunked herself into the salon chair and pulled the silk scarf off her ponytail. I stood as close as I could without getting in the way. From conversations that I’d overheard between my mother and her sisters, I knew that Mrs. Ratfolvi was considered “the best,” and I was eager to watch her at work. The “rat” in her name had led me to expect someone old and unattractive, but she was actually a nicely put-together middle-aged woman. The receptionist brought over a plastic case about the size of a chubby toddler. In one expert motion, Mrs. Ratfolvi clicked it open, withdrew the fully styled wig on its Styrofoam head
Chaya Deitsch (Here and There: Leaving Hasidism, Keeping My Family)
The trade-off is a surety of purpose that eludes so many people living in today's world of constantly shifting values and expectations. “We feel like we are the only people on earth walking around with a sense of purpose. We feel we know who we are and where we are going.
Sue Fishkoff (The Rebbe's Army: Inside the World of Chabad-Lubavitch)
What cannot help but astound us is that Hasidim remained Hasidim inside the ghetto walls, inside the death camps. In the shadow of the executioner, they celebrated life. Startled Germans whispered to each other of Jews dancing in the cattle cars rolling toward Birkenau: Hasidim ushering in Simhat Torah. And there were those who in Block 57 at Auschwitz tried to make me join in their fervent singing. Were these miracles? Some of those that failed? Perhaps. Yet there is something else. There is the spark lit in the Carpathian Mountains which has refused to go out. On the contrary, it rekindles our own wavering flame. Consolidated in Jerusalem, Hasidism reappears in the Diaspora everywhere. It would be difficult to imagine a more curious phenomenon: with almost the totality of its followers lost in the Holocaust, Hasidism today is throbbing with newly found vigor. At the Lubavitcher court in Brooklyn, you can see hundreds of youths from every corner of the land. I met Hasidim in Leningrad, Kiev and Moscow, and I was deeply moved by their hidden faith.
Elie Wiesel (Souls on Fire)
the objective of all man’s toil in this world: To reach beyond his own mind.
Tzvi Freeman (Wisdom to Heal the Earth - Meditations and Teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe)