“V’haElokim nisah es Avraham — Elokim tested Avraham” (Beraishis 22:1).
What does nisah mean? It comes from the word nes. Nes means something that’s high and elevated. Hashem gave Avraham opportunities to become great. When other people are faced with ordeals, they cringe, they back out and fail, and the greatness within them shrinks and disappears. But when Avraham faced his ordeals, they were to him a harp, and he brought out the greatness in himself. -- Asking Hashem
The chief difficulty in understanding the doctrine of Judaism is not in the nature of the subject, for when approached with a fresh mind the Torah captures the imagination and fires the zeal of thinkers, patriots, idealists, and righteous men. The difficulty in understanding the Torah lies in the fact that our generation has been nurtured and satiated by bias against the Torah. — A Divine Madness
A Jew should always be ready to recognize the hand of Hashem in all of our circumstances. Wherever Jews live, wherever Jews have an opportunity to function, they have to realize Hashem is [allowing] that despite all their enemies, despite the adverse circumstances. — I Set You Apart (#546)
True praise requires the awareness that our good fortune is due not to our skill or wisdom or personality, but solely to the kindness of Hashem. It is indeed meritorious to shout our thanks to the Creator, and it should always be done: "Let me praise Hashem at all times; always His praise is in my mouth" (Tehillim 34:2). But the genuine praise requires the True Knowledge which consists of Emunah (faith) and Bitachon (trust): the Awareness that Hashem alone is the cause of our welfare. — Awake, My Glory
“For they (the wife and the children) depend on him, and he depends on the One Who spoke and caused the world to be" (Hullin 84).
Just as a man is dependent on the Creator to manage his affairs, so should a man consider himself responsible for the happiness and success of his wife and children, as if his house were the Universe and he (so to speak) were the Creator. That is the immense opportunity for achievement which a home offers, and that is the enormous responsibility which rests on the parent to make his home successful. — Awake, My Glory
Tranquility is one of the great elements in happiness. If we can get this peace of mind that comes from knowing that everything is tov meod (very good) because it’s all under control of Hashem who is compassionate, then life is going to assume entirely different view. We’ll see everything in rosy colors, and we’ll see that most of our worries are self-induced, are false winds that blow and deceive us into thinking that we’re unhappy. In the great majority of cases it’s nothing at all. — Serene Mind (#301)
Every human being is obligated to have an attitude of affection for his Creator. It makes no difference what color he is, what race he belongs to. There’s no question that "havu la’Hashem mispachos amim — All "the families of the nations" (Tehillim 29) are obligated in that.
You have to speak to Hashem and thank Him, and that’s one of the very first steps in the great process of becoming an oheiv (one who loves) Hashem. — Learning to Love Hashem (#675)
“For You have made me happy, O Hashem, by Your work; I sing at the deeds of Your hands” (Tehillim 92:5).
The only genuine form of happiness is to learn that life is full of happy phenomena. Each phenomenon, when properly studied, becomes a source of happiness. The singing of thanks to the Creator is actually a study of the joys and benefits of that for which the thanks are being given. When one has studied many phenomena in this manner, he is thereby afforded many sources of happiness. — Awake, My Glory
Every man without being told knows that there is something beyond what he sees, beyond his camp, beyond his little world. He knows it. The truth of this can be demonstrated by the fact that people are always traveling.
What are they seeking?... Within themselves there’s a knowledge that there’s something beyond what they have and what they see. This is the native understanding, the native instinct of seeking Hashem. -- Adam's Ordeal (#28)
We came into this world for a short time. We’re here for a purpose and the purpose is to make out of ourselves very best that we are able. In order to do that, Hashem is going to send to each one of us a whole list of opportunities, and each opportunity is going to give us a different kind of perfection.
If we’ll make use of each opportunity in its way, when it comes, and we’ll be successful in all of them, then we shall have lived successfully. We’re ready now for the great reward forever. -- Living with Others (#R-4)
Picture in your mind the Egyptians are busy burying their dead and the Bnei Yisrael are marching out carrying out all the gold and silver. How elated the Bnei Yisrael were, how wild they were with happiness! With such intense devotion to Hashem, they would do anything for Him. Now we begin to understand what it means that there was a Kabalas HaTorah — an acceptance of the Torah. — Pesach, Matzoh and Maror (#638)
Krias Yam Suf (Splitting the Sea) was not for the purpose of rescuing us from Pharaoh and his army. It was for one purpose: "Vayaaminu b’Hashem u’b’Moshe avdo — The believed in Hashem and His servant Moshe." The result was a tremendous achievement in recognition of Hashem.
They believed in Hashem before, too... But they gained a high degree of perfection now, and that was the purpose of Krias Yam Suf: Not to save the bnei Yisrael, to show them the yad (hand of) Hashem in the world. — Show Me Your Glory (Gifts of Emunah) (#E-176)
We must apply ourselves to the career of adorning the home with as many holy festivities and Torah-celebrations as possible: Pesach, Shavuos, Succos, Purim, Chanukah, Chamishah Asar B’shvat, Lag Baomer, and even Isru Chag and Rosh Chodesh, in order to create an atmosphere of serving Hashem in simcha (happiness), so that the home be regarded as a place of happiness of Torah-idealism. — Awake, My Glory
Spiritual perfection is more than merely knowing of Hashem’s wisdom and kindliness, but requires especially seeing and experiencing His wisdom and His kindliness. By utilizing our Free-Will existence here to gain the most concrete form of Awareness through our senses, we achieve the True Knowledge (’Daas’) for which we were created. “You will see it” while you are yet alive. -- Journey into Greatness
You should always aspire to make a new beginning… “Sheva yipol tzaddik vikum,” A tzaddik (righteous person) might fall seven times. But the end will be vikum: he’ll remain standing, because each time he falls, he's not discouraged. He knows that victory belongs to those whose try. “Haba litaher misayin oso — Hashem helps those who try to improve.” — Foundation and Root (#228)
It’s important to work on gaining the conviction that Hashem is here and also that He’s the only one. You must be convinced that the whole universe is nothing but the work and the desire and the will of one Creator. - Ohr Avigdor Yichud Hamaaseh
When a man takes the bus or the train to get to work, he should be thinking, I’m going to New York to work to serve Hashem. I’m not doing it for my wife, I’m not doing it for my landlord to pay the rent, I’m doing it only because Hashem says go to work. Hashem wants me to work. I’m doing it as a part of His commandments. - Ohr Avigdor Yichud Hamaaseh
Unfortunately, most people never learn to guard their thoughts; whatever comes into their head enters their head. But you should keep your head as if it were a wallet. You only put money and things of value in your wallet. - Ohr Avigdor Yichud Hamaaseh
It’s important first of all to be a selfish person. Everyone should remember that the most important thing is to do what is right, no matter what other people may think. - Ohr Avigdor Yichud Hamaaseh
Everything a person does should have one intention, that Hashem should favor him. He should do only what Hashem wants him to do and because of that Hashem will be pleased with him. - Ohr Avigdor Yichud Hamaaseh
The entire world is made for the purpose of service, of accomplishing. Hashem did not make it it should just exist; he made it for achievement. And when there is an individual who achieves by perfecting himself... he thereby performs a kindliness and bestows a benefit on the entire world -- Make the World a Better Place (#E-15)
If you think about Hashem one minute a day, you’re a great man, an exceptional person. Try it right now. Don’t postpone... All you do is daven three times a day, that’s all you’ll do. Think about Hashem for this minute. You’re sitting in front of Hashem. He’s the King of the world — "Meloh kol haaretz kevodo — the world is full of His glory," out it into space, and He’s looking straight at you this minute. -- Wine of Prayer (#555)
Even though the act is fully permissible, if the intent is not kosher, it makes the act a different kind of an act. This is a startling statement and therefore, the Chovos Halevavos (Duties of the Heart) takes out time to tell us that it is of the utmost importance whenever we do anything, to examine our motives. Otherwise, we may G-d forbid, be losing the entire virtue of the mitzvah (commandment). -- 10 Easy Steps to Greatness (#720)
Forgot to say "Mashiv haruach (prayer for rain)" in Shemoneh Esrei (central daily prayer)? Don’t say, “It just happened; it’s an accident.” Criticize yourself!
Fought with your wife? You had a part in it. It doesn’t mean blame yourself unnecessarily, but think into things and see what’s true about you. Sometimes you’ll discover good things, valuable midos (character traits) that you have. That’s also worthwhile. But look for negative things too, and get rid of them. -- Five Minutes a Day
There remains as our main purpose in life the great issue of making something out of ourselves, of making progress in life. It’s not enough for a man to be a shomer (observing) Shabbos and a shomer kol hamitzvos (keeping all the commandments)... It’s not enough to avoid all the sins. You must accomplish something positive in life. -- Adam's Ordeal (#28)