Torah Wisdom from the Jewish Sages
Rabbi Simcha Bunam of Pshis’cha – People are not to blame for the fact that they sin. Indeed, they withstand great temptation though their strength is negligible. They are, however to blame for the fact that they do not repent their evil ways, because they always have the ability to do so.
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov – Tradition says: “When in doubt, it is preferable not to act.” There are times where this applies to thought as well as deed, because even thinking is a type of deed.
Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz – All the world’s spheres and souls help us weep and shed our tears. When tears fall from our eyes, the mind is cleared because releasing tears cleanses the brain.
“The Holy Jew” of Pshis’cha – There is no organ more cumbersome than the tongue. It is always in need of someone else to hear its words. Yet there is nothing so adroit as silence, which has no need of any outside support.
Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vorki – Silence without substance is also worthy… But speech without substance is but idle blather.
Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch – When one partakes of matsah, one partakes of G-dliness!
Rabbi Levi Yitschak of Berditchev on Nothing and Being – “There are two types of worshippers of Hashem: one who worships Him out of deep devotion and one who worships Him out of actions and deeds. The difference between them is that the one who worships G-d out of deep devotion is in the realm of the Nothing (Ayin) while the one who worships Him out of good deeds is in the realm of Being. Because of this, the former, being a nothing in the realm of Nothing, cannot call down upon himself the flow of Hashem’s blessings while the other, being rooted in the realm of concrete being and action, can indeed call down upon himself Hashem’s blessings.”
Rabbi Nachman of Breslev – “The only way to know Hashem is through faith. It is only through faith that we can come to knowledge and perception of Hashem’s true greatness. Many Bible passages tell us to ‘know’ G-d. This has nothing to do with philosophical proofs and arguments. The lesson of these passages is that we should constantly be aware that Hashem is there and not forget Him for a moment.” Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom #217
Baal Shem Tov – “Good deeds done in self-interest and not for their own sake are better off not done at all. Except for charity. The poor gain benefit from charity regardless of its source.”
Rabbi Nachman of Breslev – “Everyone should set himself a daily program of Torah study. This applies even to people who are far from holiness and sin regularly. So great is the power of the Torah that it can free them from their sins. If even the worst sinner would take on himself to study a fixed amount every day, he would be able to escape the evil trap. The power of the Torah is so great that it can accomplish everything.” Sichot Haran #19
Baal Shem Tov – “Every single thing one sees or hears is an instruction for his conduct in the service of G-d. This is the idea of spiritual service — to comprehend and discern in all things a way in which to serve G-d.”
Rabbi Nachman of Breslev – “If one dead soul were permitted to visit the philosophers and scientists as they sit theorizing, it would be the end of all their theories.” Sichot Haran #226
Rabbi Levi Yitschak of Berditchev – “Everyone is wrapped in a holy light, which shines brightest in our hour of love.”
Rabbi Nachman of Breslev – “All of the desires of this world are like rays of light. – You try to catch them in your hand only to find there is nothing in your grasp.”
Rabbi Levi Yitschak of Berditchev – “Flaming fervor [hitlahavut] should pervade all our prayers. Alas, in this generation, however, our transgressions have so weakened our spirits that we are unable to reach such a level until half the service is over. But when the Messiah appears – may he come soon! – it is written: “The earth will be filled with the knowledge of Hashem as the waters cover the sea.” Then shall we even be able to begin our prayers with hitlahavut!”
Rabbi Dov Ber of Mezritch – Just as oil is stowed within the olive, so is repentance stowed within the sin!
Rabbi Naftali of Ropshitz – A prophet sees into the future, and a rabbi sees the present. Sometimes it is more difficult to see the present, than it is to see the future.
Rabbi Chaim of Chenaz – “The soul is not concerned with mundane matters such as food and drink. Nevertheless, when denied food and drink, it escapes from the body and flies away.”
Baal Shem Tov – The source of all sadness is pride. The proud person thinks he is entitled to everything.
Rabbi Levi Yitschak of Berditchev – Stalking sin and pursuing good are admirable quests. But be sure to look for sin in yourself and for good in others.
Rabbi Nachman of Breslev – “If a person doesn’t focus on the purpose, what is the point of his life?”
Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi – The holy light of Shabbat and the Festivals shines even in the souls of the ignorant.
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov – G-d hides – so that we will seek!
The Holy Jew of Pshis’cha– There are no rules when it comes to worshipping G-d — including this one.
Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk – Some people recite words of Torah to reach the seventh heaven. I think one should recite the Torah to reach the center of the listener.
Rabbi Nachman of Breslev – Someone who does not reserve one hour every day for oneself (the inner-self) is not human.
Rabbi Izel Charif – Beasts fill up their bellies. Human beings must fill up their heads.
Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk – “Some day I will do it” — is self-deceptive. “I want to do it” — is weak. “I am doing it” — that is the right way.
Rabbi Nachman of Breslev – A truthful person can always tell whether someone is telling the truth or not.
Rabbi Mordechai of Lechovitz – All worrying is forbidden! except to worry that one is worried.
Rabbi Aharon of Karlin – Awe without love is imperfect. Love without awe is worthless.
Rabbi Chaim of Tzanz – The urge to be righteous is an urge like all other urges. But in order to fulfill it, you must first get rid of all urges.
Rabbi Shalom Dov Ber of Lubavitch – Everyone is an ‘only child’ in the eyes of the Blessed Holy One.
Rabbi Nachman of Breslev – All forms of idolatry are somehow connected to money!
Rabbi Levi Yitschak of Berditchev – Our sages instructed us that ‘When judging each and every individual we must give them the benefit of the doubt.’ (Mishna Pirkei Avot 1:6) How much more so, then, must you give the entire People of Israel the benefit of the doubt!
Rabbi Nachman of Breslev – “Torah, without good deeds, is like a myrtle leaf – it smells sweet but has no taste.”
Baal Shem Tov – “Why does Torah begin with the second letter of the Hebrew aleph-beit rather than the first? [ ב rather than א ] To show you that you do not even know the first thing about it.”
Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk – “The Torah was handed down to us in fire, so that we would know to uphold it with burning passion and commitment.”
Rabbi Shabtai of Roshkov – One must uphold the commandment: ‘You shall be fruitful and multiply,’ with regard to the study of Torah as well, so that the mind does not become sterile and barren.”
Rabbi Yehoshua of Ostrovtsa – “One doesn’t need idle disputes to straighten out matters in the Torah. They were not bent in the first place. The truth is not a wooden board whose knots need straightening. After all, one who straightens a ladder only bends it, and one who bends a bow, only straightens it.”
Rabbi Nachman of Breslev – “If you believe it can be broken, then know it can also be fixed.”
Rabbi Levi Yitschak of Berditchev – “We remember everything. It is only G-d that we forget.”
Rabbi Yechiel Michal of Zlotchov – “I learned this wisdom from my fathers: There are two things it is forbidden to worry about; that which it is possible to fix, and that which it is impossible to fix. What is possible to fix – fix it, and why worry? What is impossible to fix – how will worrying help?”
Baal Shem Tov – “There is no such thing as a lonely Jew. Wherever there is a Jew, there too is G-d”
Rabbi Simcha Bunam of Pshis’cha – “A fool says what he knows. The wise know what they say.” – “Every positive command in the Torah can be summed up: Act wisely. And every negative command in the Torah can be summed up: Don’t be a fool.”
Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin – “I wish that I could love the most righteous person in Israel as much as the Blessed Holy One loves the most evil person in Israel.”
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