In our next Rosh Chodesh study group we will share thoughts on Jewish phobias. I am aware of many secular phobias. Can you please direct me to sources to explore Jewish contexts. Thank you for any help you can give.


Thanks for contacting us. I haven't been able to find any classic Jewish texts that discuss phobias that are particular to Jews. Neither do there appear to be any psycho-social studies on the matter—though if you find something, please let me know.

I do know that the Torah teaches us that even a serious phobia, though it reside in the most hidden caverns of the subconscious, with effort and perseverance can be overcome. That is what the Torah teaches us: We all have free choice to fear only G‑d.

Fear of anything other than G‑d is a subtle form of idol worship. It is said that the father of the Baal Shem Tov, before he passed away, instructed his young son two things: to love every Jew, and to fear no one but G‑d Himself. Young Israel Baal Shem Tov was known at a very young age to spend time alone in the forest at night with animals - without any fear.

What is fear of G‑d? Not a fear that He will hurt or punish you, G_d forbid. Rather it is a state of extreme awe, a form of higher consciousness that you stand before the Creator of heaven and earth at every moment. And it is the fear of being torn away from that state of being. Actually, a better translation would be awe and separation anxiety.

When a person finds him or herself in a fearful situation, or dealing with a personal phobia, this is the best strategy: Awaken within yourself a true sense of awe and fear of the only One there is to awe and fear. Any other fear will vaporize like a drop of water in the hot sun.

If a person can't achieve that state of mind, he or she needs the guidance of a tzadik, who can reach deep inside the soul and find what needs to be fixed. But it can always be fixed. The awe and love of a Jewish soul for G‑d is guaranteed to be there, as an inheritance from our holy patriarchs and matriarchs. Nothing can ever extinguish that fire.

Perhaps you can bring up the issue of overcoming fear at the next Rosh Chodesh talk. Here are some interesting articles you might want to take a look at.


Rabbi Vidal Bekerman