August 12, 2018

40 quotes for 40 days

Over the years I have collected hundreds of inspirational quotes from a variety of Jewish and general sources. Here are 40 of those quotes which I hope you find both helpful and inspirational as we begin our 40 day spiritual journey from the 1st of Ellul to Yom Kippur:

  1. ASPIRATION: “If a person doesn’t constantly strive to ascend higher and higher, he inevitably descends lower and lower.” (Vilna Gaon, Even Sheleima Ch. 4)
  2. CHANGE: “We are changed, not by what we receive, but by what we do.” (Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, To Heal a Fractured World p. 149)
  3. CHANGE: “When we are no longer able to change a situation…we are challenged to change ourselves.” (Victor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning p. 112)
  4. CHANGE: “When I was young, I wanted to change the world. I tried, but the world did not change. Then I tried to change my town, but the town did not change. Then I tried to change my family, but my family did not change. Then I knew: first, I must change myself.” (Rabbi Yisrael Salanter)
  5. CHARACTER: “Not trade but traits lead to riches or poverty.” (Mishna Kiddushin 4:14)
  6. CHOICE: “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” (Randy Pausch)
  7. CHOICE: “If things do not go the way you wish them to be, you should then wish them to be the way they are in reality.” (Rabbi Mordechai of Lekhivitz, Migdolei HaTorah VeHaChassidut Vol. 20 p. 107)
  8. CONCERN FOR OTHERS: “This is the entirety of man: Not for himself was man created, but instead to help others to the extent of his ability to do so.” (Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin)
  9. COMPROMISE: “Be pliable like a reed, not rigid like a cedar.” (Talmud Bavli, Taanit 20b)
  10. DECISIONS: “I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” (Stephen R. Covey)
  11. EFFORT: “According to the effort is the reward.” (Mishna Avot 5:26)
  12. EXISTENCE: “Existence is the greatest of all miracles.” (Lubavitcher Rebbe, Bringing Heaven Down to Earth: 365 Meditations of the Rebbe p. 41)
  13. FEAR OF HEAVEN: “Everything is in the hands of Heaven, except for the fear of heaven.” (Talmud Bavli, Niddah 16b)
  14. FEAR OF HEAVEN: “A person who is truly reverent in his fear of Heaven is one who lies awake at night worrying ‘What have I done today to relieve the suffering of a Jew made wretched by his troubles?’” (Rabbi Aryeh Levin, A Tzaddik In Our Time p. 416)
  15. FORGIVENESS: “Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Don’t wait.” (Tuesdays with Morrie p. 167)
  16. GENEROSITY: “If you are generous to others, God will be generous to you.” (The Essential Pele Yoetz p. 156)
  17. GIVING: “The greatest gift is to be able to give, and the life we lead is measured by the good we do.” (Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, To Heal a Fractured World p. 14)
  18. HAPPINESS: “Serve the Almighty with joy; come before Him with song.” (Tehillim 100:2)
  19. INDIVIDUALITY: “When I get to heaven, G-d won’t ask me “Zusya, why weren’t you Moses?”. He’ll ask me, “Zusya, why weren’t you Zusya?”.”
  20. INDIVIDUALITY: “The worst fault a person can have is to forget his intrinsic greatness as a human being.” (Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin, Dor Deiah Vol. 1 p. 172)
  21. JUDGEMENT: “By the measure that a person measures, so is he measured.” (Talmud Bavli, Sotah 8b)
  22. KLAL MENTCH: “To be a klal mensch is to identify not only with the history of Klal Yisrael, but also its future and its destiny.” (Chief Rabbi Dr. Warren Goldstein, The Legacy p. 176)
  23. LEGACY: “Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they tell about you.” (Shannon L. Alder)
  24. LIFE: “Lead a supernatural life and G-d will provide the miracles.” (Lubavitcher Rebbe, Bringing Heaven Down to Earth: 365 Meditations of the Rebbe p. 50)
  25. LIFE-JOURNEY: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” (Lao Tzu)
  26. LIFE-JOURNEY: “There is no highway without ambushes, and there is no highway without crossroads.” (Sifrei No. 20 to Devarim 1:122)
  27. MITZVOT: “The essence of all precepts is to make the heart upright.” (Ibn Ezra, Commentary to Devarim 5:18)
  28. MITZVOT: “The precepts were given expressly to purify mankind.” (Midrash Bereishit Rabbah 44:1)
  29. OPPORTUNITY: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” (Anne Frank)
  30. POTENTIAL: “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” (Lao Tzu)
  31. REPENTANCE: “The desire to be another person, to be different than I am now, is the central motif of repentance…Man, through repentance, creates himself, his own “I””. (Rabbi Joseph Ber Soloveitchik, Halakhic Man p. 113)
  32. RESPECT: “We need to learn to respect those that we cannot love… This is a challenge for our generation, and for the frum community of our generation.” (Rav Asher Weiss, Pre-Tisha B’Av Shiur 5777)
  33. SELF-REFLECTION: “Examine your actions each morning and night, and in this way, all your days will be lived in a state of repentance.” (Iggeret HaRamban)
  34. SOUL: “When the soul is illuminating, even a cloudy sky can give bright light.” (Rabbi A. Y. Kook, Meged Yerachim: Cheshvan)
  35. TEARS: “Tears are the sweat of the soul.” (Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, Commentary to Bereishit 37:35)
  36. TESTS: “As a potter does not test defective vessels which would break in one blow, so the Holy One tests only the righteous.” (Midrash Bereishit Rabbah 32:3)
  37. TIME: “‘No fraction of time, however infinite, should slip through the fingers left unexploited; for eternity may depend upon the brief moment.” (Rav J. B. Soloveitchik, Sacred and Profane: Kodesh and Chol in World Perspectives)
  38. TORAH: “The purpose of the laws of the Torah is… to promote compassion, loving-kindness and peace in the world.” (Rambam, Hilchot Shabbat 2:3)
  39. TORAH: “Torah is not education; it’s transformation.” (Rebbetzen Dena Weinberg)
  40. WORRY: “People worry that they might not have with what to live. They should rather worry they won’t have with what to die.” (Chafetz Chaim, Chayei HaMussar Vol. 1 p. 117)
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