Rabbi Shmuel is famous for the following aphorism:

The world says that if you cannot crawl under an obstacle, try to leap over it. However, I say do not even try to bend down and pass under it; leap over it in the first place!

Act vigorously, don't be deterred by obstacles, act as needed in every situation. When you are committed to accomplishing that which needs to be done, G‑d will be with you.

Absolute Self-Honesty

When conducting a introspective soul searching, just as one must be completely honest not to overlook any negative traits, so to one may not overlook any positive traits or strong points.

Thinking About Oneself I

Someone once came and unburdened his heart before Rabbi Shmuel. "My entire life," he confessed, "I preoccupy myself with deceiving others and all sorts of sly behavior." The Rebbe advised him to set aside fifteen minutes every day during which time he should refrain from speaking and instead to concentrate – not on lofty chassidic subjects, but – on himself, and on ways to improve his character.

Thinking About Oneself II

The Rebbe inquired of one of his followers regarding his daily routine.

"What do you do first thing in the morning?" the Rebbe asked.

"I wake up," responded the disciple, "I wash my hands, study chassidic teachings, meditate about G‑d's greatness, and then spend time on meditation-filled prayer."

"And what do you do at night?"

"While meditating on those very chassidic ideas about which I studied in the morning, I recite the prayer before going to bed."

"You spend all this time thinking about G‑d...when do you think about yourself?"

The disciple fainted.

After he was revived, Rabbi Shmuel told him, "There is no need to faint, just get to work..."

Every Person a Teacher

To a disciple venturing into business:

"G‑d causes individuals to meet other specific individuals at specific times—and all for good reason. You need to view every person you meet as a teacher. Character flaws that you see in another—know that you also possess them. Positive traits that you see in another, try to incorporate into your character too."

Every Event a Lesson

One needs to take a lesson from everything he or she sees and hears—a lesson that enhances one's service of G‑d. Serving G‑d includes prayer and refining one's character. Serving G‑d starts with exerting control over one's thoughts, speech and actions.


"Repentance" – which literally means "return," return to G‑d – varies, depending on what triggers it. Repentance must emanate from joy, the joy that comes from ascending higher and higher. And this is accomplished through prayer.

Purpose I

A soul descends to this world not merely to refine itself through personal study, prayer and selfless service of G‑d. Rather, G‑d dispatches the soul to this physical and mundane world, enclothing it within a body replete with animalistic urges, in order to vanquish, refine, illuminate and introduce spirituality into his surroundings.

Purpose II

Every person needs a goal in life, beyond than of eating, drinking, sleeping and entertainment. This goal must be based on the service of G‑d.


Self-refinement does not come from Above. It must come from below – and the help from Above then follows.

An Audience with a Rich Person

Private audiences the Rebbe would grant to rich businessmen would routinely last longer than those he had with poor folk.

Rabbi Shmuel explained:

The poor person simply presents his issues, to which I respond. The rich person immediately begins discussing his business affairs, and only after a while does he open up and start speaking the truth about himself. And the truth is – that he too is a [spiritual] pauper...

The Price of the Truth

For the truth, one must pay a hefty price.

Praise of a Fellow

G‑d treasures the praise one lavishes upon a fellow more than the prayers of the righteous.

The Irksome Burden

Someone once asked Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch: "What is true learning?"

The Rebbe replied: "When one studies a section of Talmud or an idea in Chabad philosophy, one is there, together with its illustrious author. He is building upon the sage's wisdom like a dwarf perched upon a giant - he is riding on the giant's shoulders.

"One must be grateful to the giant that he doesn't fling the nuisance from his shoulders…"


To fool the world is one thing,
but to fool yourself is no big deal.

You’re a fool for wanting to fool yourself
—and anyone can fool a fool.

—from the sayings of Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch