The Limits of a Doctor’s Prognosis

With regard to a particular situation — it is impossible to know clearly and with certainty [about the eventual outcome]. Clearly, the pronouncement of the doctor that the situation is hopeless is definitely out of place.

At the very most he can say — and indeed all that a human being is capable of saying — that he does not take responsibility for the future, but [he can say] no more than that.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XX, p. 183)

A “Radiant Countenance” From Below
Draws Down the Same From Above

.. I believe that in the past I have already told you about the statement in the sacred Zohar (II, p. 184b) that when man below is of a “radiant countenance” and filled with joy and gladness, he then draws down upon himself the same qualities from Above.

This provides us with an even better understanding of the aphorism of our holy Rebbeim: “Think positively, and you will see positive results.” ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. X, p. 358)

Lechatchilah Ariber

I have just received your letter ... in which you describe your present [poor] state of health.

Surely you have heard of the saying of the Rebbe Maharash: “People say that ‘when one cannot go under [an obstacle], he should go over it.’ I am of the opinion, however, that from the very beginning one should ‘go over,’ [i.e., ‘transcend the obstacle’ (lechatchilah ariber)].”

Here too as well:

Although it would seem that the state of openly revealed joy should be delayed until after you are actually healed, nevertheless, in keeping with the above-mentioned saying, it is reasonable to express this [revealed degree of] joy resulting from your [eventual] healing, although the actual healing has yet to take place.

The [joy] itself will be a catalyst to hasten the matter [of your healing]. This is in keeping with the saying often heard from the Nesiim of Chabad: “Think positively, and you will see positive results.” Most assuredly [this will be effective] when you transport these [joyous and positive thoughts] into joyous words and deeds. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVI, p. 252)

“Think positively...” Really Works

In reply to your letter ... in which you write about your [current poor] state of health and your [negative] thoughts, etc.:

Understandably, I am astonished by your [pessimistic] attitude, for it is well known — particularly among chassidim — that our Rebbeim and Nesiim have counseled and exhorted us to “Think positively, and you will see positive results.” Moreover, as is known from many tales, [thinking positively] actually brought about a positive outcome. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVIII, p. 174)

Diagnosis May Be Erroneous
Particularly Regarding Internal Organs

.. We have veritably seen G‑d perform miracles beyond the bounds of nature for individuals as well, [and not just for the many as your write,] particularly during the last few years.1

Moreover, [in addition to G‑d’s ability to heal you through miraculous means, you need not be despondent because of the doctor’s diagnosis, for] in many, many instances, even after having concluded a battery of tests, the doctors have erred in their diagnosis, particularly when their diagnosis related to the internal organs.

All this is in addition to the fact that new medical remedies appear almost daily.

It is however of utmost necessity, indeed it is impossible for it to be otherwise, that you strengthen your connection with G‑d, “Healer of all flesh and Performer of wonders”2 — and the “verse” is to be understood in its simple context, [i.e., you are to take this literally,] that G‑d performs actual miracles and wonders for individuals, the proof being that each and every one of us recites this blessing. Surely it is totally unnecessary for me to expound further on this matter at greater length.

If only in your circumstances you did not put into practice the verse, “He who acquires more knowledge [acquires more pain,” then you would be so much better off]. It would be far healthier for you to realize the saying of our Sages, of blessed memory, that “[even] the person for whom G‑d performs the miracle is unaware that a miracle has been performed for him.”3

It is self-understood that the above in no way negates the importance of receiving the opinions of at least two specialists in this area and their views with regard to methods of treatment.

And as known the statement of the Tzemach Tzedek, that the Torah states, “‘Permission was granted the healer to heal,’4 but not — Heaven forbid — to bring about a crestfallen spirit [by being the bearer of disastrous news that he says must inevitably occur], etc.” ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VII, p. 282)

When Not to Listen to the Doctor

This is in reply to your letter ... in which you write about what you heard from the doctor, [i.e., a negative prognosis about your wife’s health] and how disheartening this was both to you and your wife tichye.

I am astonished, for the saying of the Tzemach Tzedek in commenting on the expression of our Sages that “Permission was granted the healer to heal”5 seems to have escaped your memory.

The Tzemach Tzedek noted: “‘He has permission to heal,’ but not — Heaven forbid — to bring about a crestfallen spirit [by being the bearer of disastrous news that he says must inevitably occur], etc.”

Particularly now, in our present era, when new methods of treatment and new medications are discovered daily, it flies in the face of intellect to foretell future events as your doctor did.

If only you and your wife would be strong in your bitachon in the Creator and Conductor of the world, Who oversees each and every person with individual Divine providence, then in the very near future it will be clearly demonstrated to you that the doctor’s prognosis is false.

At the same time, it is understandable that healing needs to have at least some attachment, [i.e., it also needs — at least to some degree — to go through the channels] of nature as well. You should therefore also think about adopting a vegetarian diet.

I took great pleasure in reading that your wife tichye spoke to a group of women and this literally had a positive effect on her health as well — yet another proof that the doctor’s prognosis was wrong.

Since Jews are, after all, “the one nation on earth,”6 [i.e., there is a connection and unity between everything they do,] it therefore follows that any improvement in spiritual health must as a matter of course be accompanied by an improvement in physical health.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XV, p. 187)

Obey the Doctor But Don’t Be Fazed by His Prognosis

.. Regarding that which you write about the [negative] prognosis of the doctors, I am astounded that you have altered my words, causing your mood to be not as it should:

I specifically told you and also wrote to you that you should follow the instructions of the medical specialists; I also told you and wrote to you many times that you should not be fazed by their prognostications — as the Tzemach Tzedek noted: “‘Permission was only granted the healer to heal,’ but no more than that,” [i.e., not to bring about a crestfallen spirit through gloomy prognoses].

In both these matters you are conducting yourself in an entirely contrary manner: You are not obeying the instructions of the medical experts; on the other hand, you are disturbed and discouraged by their prognosis.

[As this is your manner of conduct,] what else can I do [for you] in this matter that I have not already done? After all, one may not remove from a Jewish man or woman his or her freedom of choice. ...

May G‑d grant you and your spouse sheyichyu success in complying [with my words] regarding these two matters, so that this will immediately result in witnessing openly revealed goodness.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. X, p. 148)

Doctors Were Entrusted With the Power to Heal —
Be Inattentive to Their Gloomy Prognoses

.. With regard to the doctors’ suggestion that your daughter use a wheelchair:

My opinion in these matters is that when there is the concurrence of two doctors you may rely on their advice.

May G‑d grant the doctors the wisdom and insight to make the good and correct decision for your daughter tichye, and that they use the healing power that the Torah granted them — but on matters other than this, they are not masters. Therefore, when you hear gloomy words from a doctor, you should pay them no heed.

Realize that this is only a test from G‑d, Who wants to test you and your husband, the Rav sheyichye, in your faith and trust in Him. The more you intensify your bitachon in G‑d, the quicker you will see with your own eyes an improvement in your daughter’s health. May G‑d help you and your husband, the Rav sheyichye, that this come about in actuality very quickly.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VI, p. 116)

Permission Was Granted the Healer to Heal —
Not to Predict a Lengthy Healing Process

.. May you very speedily convey glad tidings with regard to your personal matter, [i.e., your health,] since you have already provided a natural vessel [for your healing to come about] by visiting a doctor.

Regarding the fact that the doctor told you that the healing process would have to take a long time — this is surely not so. Known as well is the preciseness in the expression of our Sages, of blessed memory, “Permission was granted the healer to heal,”7 but not — Heaven forbid — to predict that the healing process will be of long duration. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XV, p. 176)

Panicky Running to Doctors

It pained me to hear about your frantic running to doctors the whole day long; moreover, doing it over something that is entirely groundless. My puzzlement extends as well to your husband, the Rav sheyichye: On what grounds and for what reason is the trait of alacrity (zrizus) being utilized not in its correct place?

While alacrity and immediacy are generally good traits, when employed because of panic, they are surely improper. Aside from this, speediness and immediacy are not always the proper course of action.

You should be filled with faith and trust in G‑d, Who creates, sustains and animates the entire world, and particularly each and every individual Jew — “the people close to Him”8 — that G‑d will provide you with good health, and that together with your husband, the Rav sheyichye, you will raise your son sheyichye “to Torah, to the wedding canopy, and to good deeds.”

Indeed it is necessary to make a natural vessel for all matters, i.e., to consult a doctor and follow his instructions.

However, totally engrossing yourself in this matter, as well as intensely deliberating and debating about the exact reasons for the doctors’ opinions, and immersing yourself in medicine and medical matters, is not at all your area — it belongs exclusively to those who are medical professionals so that they may faithfully perform their duties in keeping with the command, “and he shall heal.”9

With regard to other matters, however, [i.e., once you have gone to the doctor and followed his instructions, following which all other medical concerns are not within your province,] you are to use the intellect and understanding that G‑d granted you either for the purpose of Torah and mitzvos or for permissible matters that can eventually be transformed into mitzvah matters.

However, worrying and being gloomy [about your health situation] does nothing but weaken your physical and spiritual health and unsettle and disturb you, [thereby keeping you] from fulfilling the mission and objective of your lives. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VI, p. 111)

Nullify All Thoughts About Your Being Unhealthy

.. In light of your request that I respond to your letter, I am doing so although I don’t know what I can possibly add to that which I specifically told you when you visited me, and which I now repeat again: You are healthy, and your pessimistic thoughts [about the state of your health] are entirely without foundation.

This is particularly so since you visited the doctor and he also told you that you are well. So you see that your visit to him was of no value; it would have been better to give the money [you spent on seeing the doctor] to tzedakah.

May G‑d help you to nullify all these negatives thoughts at least from here on, and may you strengthen yourself in your joyful study of Torah and performance of mitzvos. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VIII, p. 104)

Fulfill Your Role in Life — Do Not Play Doctor

I received your letter of the 24th of Teves in which you describe your situation — that you saw the doctor’s report and that this had a very strong [negative] effect on you.

You describe [what you imagine to be] your future, for which reason you recite Tehillim and beseech G‑d [to be kind and merciful to you,] and you ask for my opinion [on the matter].


Your recitation of Tehillim and beseeching G‑d is surely a good thing, as G‑d is the Master of the entire universe and oversees all individuals and each and every detail of their lives.

However, I disagree with that which you write: that you thought about the doctor’s report and you envision a [dismal] future, for the matter [of your future] is not in your hands [at all, but in G‑d’s hands,] and it was not for the purpose [of gloomily pondering your future] that you were created.

Rabbi ... writes me that you are a Jew who observes Torah and mitzvos. Surely, then, you believe that G‑d is the Master of the universe, governing the world.

We observe that even a human boss, if he is at all competent, will separate the various components of his business so that one part will not impinge on the other and each part will serve the purpose it is meant to serve.

This is only true regarding a human being who is inherently limited in all his affairs and is consequently subject to intermittent erring. Regarding G‑d’s mastery of affairs, however, everything that G‑d brought into existence is meant to fulfill its specific purpose, mission and goal.

When someone’s impulse leads him to do something other than his mission, then this contains two faults: a) since it does not comprise the individual’s mission, then nothing but damage is being done; b) this takes the person away from fulfilling the mission for which he was indeed chosen.

All the above applies to your situation as well: For any number of reasons, which are surely a result of individual Divine providence, your profession is not medicine. You have, however, been raised a Jew who observes Torah and mitzvos.

We know two matters from the above: a) that your Divine mission in this world does not consist of practicing medicine; [and] b) that observing Torah and mitzvos is your goal and mission for which reason you were created. This [goal and mission] includes the mitzvah of “Love your fellow as yourself”10 and “You shall surely admonish your fellow.”11

Moreover, in commenting upon the verse, “When you see someone naked, you should clothe him,”12 it is stated in the sefer of Tanna D’vei Eliyahu, [that this also includes the obligation that] “When you see someone naked of Torah and mitzvos, see that you clothe him with Torah and mitzvos.” This then is your goal and mission in life, the purpose for which you were created.

From all the above it is understandable that when you provide prognoses and views about the science of medicine, firstly, it directs you away from fulfilling your mission for which you were selected. Moreover, [by interfering] in matters of your healing, you can only do — G‑d forbid — harm, but surely not any good.

The harm that may be brought about [by your interference] resides in the fact that your distress [stemming from what you surmised about your medical condition] can result in imagining things that will not come to pass. By pondering and occupying yourself with what this doctor says and what that professor may come up with, etc., you weaken your mazal and your bitachon in G‑d.

If you ask my opinion, I am telling you to conduct yourself in accordance with the demands of the Torah, which states that the Torah has granted [doctors the] permission to heal. This is to say that the Torah [both] granted permission to turn to doctors and provided doctors with the specific permission and ability to heal and mend people.

People therefore go to doctors and then obey their instructions. [The same applies to you: Once you have gone to the doctor and followed his instructions,] there is nothing else for you to do; you are to leave the rest to the doctor.

On your part, you are to have bitachon in G‑d that He will grant you a long life. And in accordance with the verse:13 “The fear of G‑d leads to life,” the greater your bitachon in G‑d, the less doubts you will have in this and the more you will fulfill your mission in life — as previously stated, to observe Torah and mitzvos and affect others in this direction as well — the longer you will live, and I mean this quite simply and straightforwardly.

Forget totally about the medical diagnosis you found in medical books because this is not your mission in life and it is totally not in your province; since it is not in your realm, your research cannot make you better and generally it only worsens — G‑d forbid — the situation.

Make sure to recite the daily portion of Tehillim (as divided by the days of the month) after your morning prayers and study Chumash every day with the commentary of Rashi. Take part as well in public Torah lessons, at least one of which should be in the study of Chassidus.

It is self-understood that you are to set for yourself the goal — as the verse states and as the Baal Shem Tovdemanded of chassidim — to “Serve G‑d with joy”14 — and “serve” means both when you pray and study, as well as when you eat and drink and all the other things a person does, even your sleeping, as the Rambam states in Hilchos Deos.

When you will do this, you will begin feeling better and better, and you will become healthier and healthier and will be able to convey glad tidings with regard to all the above.

It would also be appropriate for you to give several cents to tzedakah prior to your morning and afternoon prayers (except for Shabbos and Yom Tov as is self-understood).

I hope and am sure that you will accept my proposal and directives as stated above, and you will inform me about all this as soon as possible.

With blessings for good health and a speedy recovery so that you are able to fulfill your mission in this world for many long and good years in peace of mind and tranquility of body, and that you be a chassid.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. V, p. 176)

Leave the Healing and Thoughts
About the Methods of Healing to the Doctors

.. I have already responded to a number of individuals who had queries like yours [and worried far too much about their health status,] that although on the one hand one is obligated to follow the instructions of the doctor, as explained in many places and also cited as a point of law among the laws of Shabbos and circumcision, on the other hand, this only applies to actual performance [of the doctor’s orders].

This does not apply, however, to one’s focusing his mind on [the intricacies of] his physical ailment, [which should not be done,] since this is not within the individual’s area of expertise. ...

[Thinking such thoughts] therefore falls under the heading of useless thoughts that bring no benefit and only serve to confuse the person, for this keeps the mind from thinking about what it should be thinking about, and keeps it thinking about those things which it should not be thinking about.

This [same answer that I gave to others] applies to you as well: Regarding your actual conduct, you are to fulfill the instructions of the doctors, while you are to place your trust in G‑d that “He will send forth His [healing] word and heal you.”15 ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. IX, p. 272)

Leave the Delving and Scrutinizing To the Doctor

.. You write about the [unfortunate] state of your health and that this has caused you to become despondent:

You are surely aware that such conduct is contrary to our Torah in general and Toras HaChassidus in particular. While the Torah has granted permission to the healer to heal, the person must simultaneously remember and know full well that G‑d is the [ultimate] “Healer of all flesh and Performer of wonders.”

Thus, you should serve Him with joy and gladness of heart, and [on His part,] He will surely fulfill His promise of fulfilling the needs of those who serve Him, as explained in many places in Chassidus.

You should not delve at all in [thoughts about] the state of your health, scrutinizing how you feel — this belongs to the doctor and not to the patient. And I surely need not go on at length about something so simple and obvious. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. X, p. 198)

Visit the Doctor — Cease Your Conjectures

.. With regard to your health:

I have already told many of Anash that in situations such as these, regarding what to do — one should obey the instructions of the doctor. It follows that one should be checked by a doctor who will then instruct him in a course of action. However, one’s concentration and even one’s superficial thoughts should not be about one’s health situation at all.

Particularly with regard to you, there is absolutely nothing to worry or fret about. However, it would seem from your letter that you are doing the exact opposite: you delve deeply and immerse yourself into thoughts [such as] “How am I feeling today? How was I feeling yesterday? How will I be feeling tomorrow and the day after?” And you end up with outrageous conjectures.

On the other hand, you refuse to visit a doctor, and thus it is impossible for you to do what he tells you.

Since you have already conducted yourself in the above manner for many months [to no avail,] maybe you will now begin to conduct yourself in the manner I suggested above — and in both aspects, [i.e., visiting a doctor and obeying his instructions, and ceasing your conjectures and worries].

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXXVI, p. 28716 )

The Patient’s Role and Responsibility in Healing

I have already told you numerous times that among the best advice to speed your healing is [the following]:

a) Be unmindful [to your situation, i.e., do not brood and mope about it]; b) [live in a constant state of] joy.

Both these matters are entirely in your hands and not in the doctor’s.

(From a handwritten response of the Rebbe)

Concentrate Your Thoughts on Torah Study
— Leave the Study of
Medicine to the Doctors

I duly received the two letters in which you write about the state of your health. It seems from them that your frame of mind is not as it should be.

You should rest assured and be confident that G‑d, “Healer of all flesh and Performer of wonders,” will “send His healing words and heal you.”

In addition to the above [aspect of having confidence in G‑d’s healing power,] it is incumbent to make vessels within the framework of nature, meaning, to follow the orders of the doctors. Nevertheless one must make a distinction between the two.

When it comes to following the doctor’s orders, you should only employ your power of action, while your power of thought and cogitation [should not be employed in this area] since you are not a doctor.

Since you are not a doctor and your lot is associated with Torah study, you should therefore employ your thoughts exclusively with regard to matters of Torah and mitzvos; the debates and deliberations in medical matters are not your affair and it’s a shame to squander time on something that is not in your domain.

Since your intellect is of no use regarding the science of medicine, you were surely given the ability to utilize it in another area (which to my thinking is Torah study, etc.). Thus, by focusing on your medical condition, you are denying yourself concentration and reflection in Torah.

This results in a twofold fault — a lack in one area, [i.e., in your concentrating on Torah,] and superfluous thinking in another area, [i.e., in medicine, since this area is not your concern and domain].

When you give this matter but a bit of thought, you will rejoice at G‑d’s having granted you the opportunity to delve into Torah study — and you should increase your diligence therein. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VI, p. 98)

Knowing That G‑d Heals and Performs Miracles
Should Banish Dejection Over State of One’s Health

I was informed by your wife tichye about your overall state of health and that you are in the hospital.

It saddened me to hear that you are feeling dejected. It is a wonder that an individual like you should feel that way; surely I need not explain to an eminent individual such as yourself the importance of bitachon, particularly since you are among those individuals who personally witnessed open and revealed miracles in their lives, and who is also aware that G‑d is “Healer of all flesh and Performer of wonders.”

[For you to be so dejected is more than just a wonder,] it is thus a “wonder upon a wonder.”

If you were to heed my words, you would cease thinking about medical matters and rest assured and be confident that G‑d will send you a speedy recovery. Furthermore, implant within your psyche that there is absolutely no reason for you to be dejected, G‑d forbid.

.. I hope you will find my above words acceptable, and see to engrave in your heart the comment of the Baal Shem Tov17 on the verse: “Serve G‑d with joy.”

With blessings for good health, and waiting to hear glad tidings from you.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VI, p. 106)

Hesach Hadaas — One of the Best Curatives

In reply to your letter of erev Shabbos Kodesh, as well as the news conveyed over the phone:

I stand by my position that one of the best curatives regarding health in general and your health in particular is to distract your attention (hesach hadaas), [i.e., stop being preoccupied with your health situation].

Since a person’s thoughts are always active, distracting one’s attention is best achieved by concentrating one’s thoughts elsewhere. In light of the command “Serve G‑d with joy,”18 and service of G‑d must be constant (as the verse states: “I place G‑d before me constantly,”19 this being the beginning of the four sections both of the Tur as well as the Shulchan Aruch), it follows that you should meditate on something that leads to joy.

This is so in the simplest sense as well: The first thoughts of a person every day [are thoughts that lead to joy] — in the words of the Alter Rebbe in his Siddur, “Immediately upon awakening, [t]he [person] recites, “I give thanks [to You] ... [Your faithfulness is great”] — and can an individual experience any greater joy than recognizing that he is in the presence of the King of kings, “Whose faithfulness is great,” etc.?

G‑d will surely strengthen your health for many long and good years, and as my father-in-law, the Rebbe, would often say: “Good in every possible way” (“im kol ha’perushim”) — that you be able to continue your regular studies in Nigleh and Chassidus, and continue disseminating in your surroundings the guidance and customs of the “Luminary of Torah,” the Torah of Chassidus.

With blessings for good health and contentment (harchavas hadaas).

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. X, p. 376)

Interpret Positively, Not Pessimistically

With regard to your son’s health:

.. I am perplexed by the conduct of Anash, our chassidic brotherhood sheyichyu, who pessimistically interpret (“machmirim”) the events that transpire in their lives, although they are aware of the aphorism — stated by my father-in-law, the Rebbe, in the name of many of the leaders of Chabad — “Think positively, and you will see positive results” (“Tracht gut, vet zain gut”). See also Horayos (12a): “It is not appropriate [to portend events by establishing signs and omens, since if the omen does not bode well he may become frightened, and this will negatively affect his fortune].”

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. III, p. 364)

Do Not Inflate Seriousness of Illness — “Tracht Gut”

.. I vigorously frown upon the conduct of Anash, our chassidic brotherhood, who view with pessimism and inflate [the severity] — both verbally and in writing — of all their aches and illnesses, Heaven forbid.

This is contrary to the desire of our Nesiim, for I have heard many times — and in public as well — from my father-in-law, the Rebbe, in the name of many of the leaders of Chabad: “Think positively, and you will see positive results.”

Now, if this is true with regard to [mere thoughts], how much more so does this, [i.e., positivism vs. negativism,] apply to speech and to writing/deed, [as speech and deed are so much more concrete than thought].

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. IV, p. 198)

Do Not Be an Ingrate

In reply to your letter from the month of Kislev, the Month of Redemption, in which you describe your present [(according to you) lamentable] situation, and also that throughout all the days of your life you have not experienced goodness. You ask that I mention you, your wife, and your children sheyichyu for a blessing.

It would seem that you fail to sense the contradiction in your own letter: An individual for whom G‑d prepared a wife and then blessed them with children shlita and who then says that he has never experienced goodness in his life is being tremendously ungrateful.

Surely this [ingratitude] will not affect the blessings that G‑d has shown you until now — but the fact that G‑d will continue His blessings and beneficence, and even increase them in the future, should not be a reason for you to continue to be ungrateful.

Hundreds and thousands of people pray every day that they be blessed with children, willing to give away everything for a single son or daughter, and they have yet to have their prayers answered — may G‑d bless them with the fulfillment of their heart’s desires for good very shortly.

You who have received this blessing — and it would seem [that you were granted this blessing] without too much prayer on your part — do not recognize your treasure and good fortune, and you twice state in your above-mentioned letter [that you have never experienced goodness, etc.]!

Moreover, you conclude that you do not believe — G‑d forbid — that you will ever be helped from Above, for it has been decreed — G‑d forbid — that all your days will be tragic and wretched!

Surely you understand that I do not mean to imply that your income must remain meager and your health fragile, etc.

I merely want to bring to your attention the possibility that your frail health and skimpy income may result from your total lack of recognition of [the fact that] G‑d has blessed you with something much more important than good health and making a very good living — the blessing of sons and daughters who follow in G‑d’s path.

When, however, one refuses to recognize his clear and revealed blessings from Above, especially when this lack of recognition is so acute that you use such extreme expressions in your letter — then is it a surprise if blessings are not drawn down from Above with regard to your other affairs?

It is my hope that these few lines will suffice to enlighten you so that you view your state of affairs in their true perspective.

When you will begin serving G‑d with true and inner joy, then G‑d’s blessings will surely increase with regard to health and sustenance, as is understood from many places [in the writings of our Sages,] among them in Zohar II, p. 184b.

You have no doubt established times for Torah study, both Nigleh and Chassidus, [or] at least will begin doing so from now on. It would also be appropriate for you to check your tefillin as well as the mezuzos in your home. Also, give a few cents to tzedakah every weekday morning prior to the morning prayers.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XII, p. 270)

Anguish Is Antithetical to Human Life and Endeavor

.. It pained me to hear that your wife’s health is not all that it should be. It is my hope that the medical treatment has been successful and that your peace of mind has returned — for I was also informed that you were distraught and stressed.

Anguish and being overly stressed is antithetical to all areas of human life and endeavor. In the words of our Sages: 20 “One is not to commence his prayers in a state of sorrow ... [but only when one is in a joyful state (from the performance) of a mitzvah.” This statement] also applies to Torah study, as it is stated [with regard to serving G‑d with joy]:21 “So, too, with regard to Torah law.”

Now, the entire life of a Jew on earth is that of prayer and [adherence to, or study of, the] Torah [and thus all aspects of a person’s life are to be joyful] — prayer representing the aspect of bringing about the ascent of the lower realms to the higher realms, up to and including uniting, cleaving and unifying with the Creator; and Torah — the aspect of drawing down goodness and holiness from the higher realms to the lower realms. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVIII, p. 89)

Intellect Must Dominate the Emotions

In reply to your express letter that I received today as well as to your previous letter, I find it astounding:

a) that you write in a much abbreviated manner about the health situation of ..., when you would originally send me telegrams on a daily basis.

It is well known that taking the “middle road” is the proper approach, as opposed to one that goes to either extreme, [such as sending daily telegrams and then writing all too briefly,] (except for unusual circumstances [when one should go to an extreme], as explained in Rambam, Hilchos Deos).

b) that you express yourself in your letters in alarming and panic-stricken terms. Where is the quality of “intellect dominating the emotions”? At the very least one must negate the “emotions reigning over intellect” — a state wherein the emotions cause a self-induced panic.

[Acting in the above manner causes one] to observe events in opposition to the Baal Shem Tov’s insistence [that matters be viewed] with joy.

I have previously written to an individual of Anash, our chassidic brotherhood, that by combining two rulings of our Torah, the Torah of Life — that a) one must serve G‑d with joy; and b) Divine service is [a constant,] “in all your ways” — we arrive at the inescapable conclusion that in all circumstances and at all times one is to be joyful.

(This may well be connected with the teaching of the Baal Shem Tov regarding individual Divine providence [extending over all matters] and the explanations offered in Chassidus that each and every incident fulfills G‑d’s will and intent.)

Consequently, we are able to serve G‑d even in the way in which we view the health of another, [and] even with regard to the manner of writing about it. And in accordance with that which is written in Chassidus, [attaining this state] “is neither too difficult nor too removed from you.”22 On the contrary, “This thing is very near to you.”23

May G‑d will it that from now on you be able to notify me only of glad tidings — and not just for the reasons mentioned above, but that even your innately glum nature (hamarah shechorah sheloi) will acknowledge that one should [always] be joyful.

In accordance with the ruling of our Sages:24 “He who prays on behalf of his friend [and is himself in need of the same thing, is answered first,”] may G‑d grant you and your wife sheyichyu improved health — and may you be able to inform me about this as well.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. X, p. 42)

Delay of Treatment Is for the Best

In reply to your letter in which you write about [your concern regarding] the delay in the medical treatment until the 27th of Adar II:25

You are surely aware of the maxim:26 “All delays are for the good.” ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVIII, p. 267)