5 Favorite Rebbe Stories for the 30th Gimmel Tammuz

5 Favorite Rebbe Stories for the 30th Gimmel Tammuz

Last year I had a very powerful experience writing a pidyon nefesh and praying at the Ohel of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. In order to take a bit of the Rebbe home with me to Jerusalem, I bought both volumes of Seeds of Wisdom by Mendel Kalmenson which I loved. Here are some of my favorite stories from the book:


A shlucha who was overwhelmed with her many duties wrote to the Rebbe, describing her feelings of inadequacy. She concluded with the words, “I feel like I’m one big mess.” In response, the Rebbe sent back her letter with the following comment at the bottom: “It’s obvious that you and your husband have succeeded in your holy work beyond any conceivable expectation, and you call this”-here the Rebbe drew an arrow pointing to the words he had circled “one big mess”?!

Sometimes, in order to accomplish more, you need to appreciate what you’ve already achieved.


A rabbinical student from Sydney, Australia once visited the Rebbe to discuss his spiritual growth. During their discussion, the Rebbe said, “You should know that the heavenly angels, despite their great spiritual elevation, envy you when you walk down bustling Bondi Junction wearing your kipah and tzizit proudly for all to see!”

You earn the respect of others when you respect yourself.


A writer who was doing research on a book about Jewish mysticism and spirituality visited the Rebbe to discuss his project and gain insight. During their conversation about living with faith he blurted out, “Rebbe, I don’t know anybody who wouldn’t like to have faith-but how can one get faith if they don’t have it?”

The Rebbe responded, “Faith is not something you have or don’t have; it’s something you must always work toward. And like the physical body, which needs to be fed daily in order to stay alive, the soul, too, needs to be nourished every day.

“How is the soul nourished and fed? Through study, prayer, and constantly reinforcing a sense of trust in the Creator”

Faith is not a gift, it’s a goal.


The Rebbe was once addressing a women’s convention. In the middle of passionately encouraging the women to continue their activism on behalf of the Jewish people, he stopped and said earnestly:

“But when a woman dresses her children in fresh clothing, feeds her children nutritious food, and goes around her home at night making sure that the windows are closed and no draft is blowing on her child, this, too, is avodat Hashem-the holy work of serving God!”

If building communities is holy work, building children is holy of holies.”


The Rebbe was speaking with a prominent leader of the United Jewish Appeal. The subject was a global project the man had initiated to improve the state of Jews around the world. After listening to his ambitious idea, the Rebbe said, “Remember, if you really want to change the world, change yourself first!

“It’s like dropping a stone into a pool of water and watching the concentric circles radiate to the shore. If you strengthen your connection to G-d and behave in a manner which reflects that connection, those around you will be impacted by your example and they, in turn, will influence others. Remember to focus on yourself first”

If you want to affect the world, change yourself first.

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