This book was born out of my own search for strength and inspiration. In times of spiritual need, I have turned to our chassidic writings for direction and guidance. Seeing the results in my life and in the lives of others with whom I have shared these treasures, I came to the realization that a collection of selected stories and teachings would be uplifting and encouraging tomy fellow Jews.

Someone may ask, “How do these stories relate to me? After all, they are dealing with holy people who stood on a much higher level than the average person.”

Regarding chassidic stories, the Rebbe has said: “If, by Divine Providence, these stories have been passed down to us, this is a clear indication that they apply to us, too. Being a Jew with a G‑dly soul, each one of us can also be expected to live up to these standards.”1

This is reflected in the words of the Alter Rebbe:2 “Every Jew possesses within him a spark of Moshe our Teacher.” Thus one should never feel that a lofty level of refinement and G‑dly service is beyond his reach and expectations. Just as our great tzaddikim and chassidim lived up to certain levels and achievements, so can we, commensurate with our level.

In my work as a rabbinic chaplain, I have found that the biggest obstacle to a person’s spiritual growth and peace of mind is worry and anxiety. Not only does this prevent people from living joyfully in the present, but it can actually interfere with the flow of Divine blessings destined for them. The wisdom of Torah and Chassidus teaches us that the more one can remove worry from his life, the more he becomes a vessel for these blessings.

This is alluded to in the Hebrew term for worry, d’agah, דאגה. The word consists of four of the first five letters of the Hebrew alphabet (alef, beis, gimmel, dalet, hei). Why is the letter beis missing? The letter beis stands for ברכה, “blessing,” and בטחון, “trust.” Where worry resides, blessing and trust do not dwell.

The antidote to our worries has been prescribed to us by our Sages, who teach that having a positive outlook toward life’s challenges actually helps bring about a positive outcome. This is illustrated in the Talmud by Rabbi Nachum Ish Gamzu whose unwavering belief in his adage “Gam zu letovah — This too is for the good” miraculously transformed the potential tragedies in his life to good. In more recent times, the Tzemach Tzedek, the third Rebbe of Chabad, encouraged us to “Tracht gut vet zain gut — Think good and it will be good” as a real solution to our difficulties and challenges.

May we merit that our belief and trust in G‑d and our assiduous efforts in personal refinement will usher in the immediate Redemption with Mashiach, our righteous redeemer.

Rabbi Dovid Shraga Polter

Oak Park, Michigan

10 Shvat, 5764 (2004)