It’s the domino effect of medicine. You take pills for one ailment, but it has side effects that cause another medical problem. Now you have a new challenge on your hands and need meds to counter that . . .

In order to combat the spiritual ailment of apathy, the Alter Rebbe advised serious stocktaking to pierce through the arrogance of the animal soul. But what happens if that leaves you feeling depressed? Even though you carefully applied the above advice with the appropriate dosage, now you may have a new problem on your hands.

The Alter Rebbe explains how it is not really a problem. If soul-searching causes you to feel temporarily depressed, then channel that into motivation to do better. Instead of wallowing in atzvut (“depression”), redirect that energy into meriruta “bitterness” that will motivate you to do more for the good of your soul. It’s like freeing your soul from imprisonment every time you heed its call.

Meaning: Instead of feeling down by how materialistic your body’s desires are, be joyful that your soul is completely unaffected by it and put all your energy into making your soul happy.

If you use the negative emotions in this manner, this becomes an engine to make your soul happier than it would have been without your down moments. Your renewed sense of commitment to your soul is all by G‑d’s design, that there should be yeridah litzorach aliyaha low that will propel your soul to greater heights.

The good news is that every time you fulfill your soul’s desire to do mitzvot, you elevate the animal soul as well.

If your soul is deliriously happy that you are recommitted to doing what she really desires, can you be happy for your soul?

Tanya Bit: My animal soul might trip me up, but my G‑dly soul remains untouchable. Isn’t that a reason to rejoice?

(Inspired from Chapter 31 of Tanya)