Put the Somber Side of Your Nature to Good Use

.. I must once again reiterate that which I have already told you many times: your gloominess and despondency (marah shechorah) are without foundation, and you are simply wasting your time and ruining your peace of mind, and — literally — your nerves, by fretting over concerns that have no basis in reality.

May G‑d will it that very shortly you begin to put this somber side of your personality to good use, by increasing your diligence in Torah study — and not only the revealed portion of Torah but in Toras HaChassidus as well.

“And one [force, i.e., the force for good,] will strengthen itself against the other [force for evil]”:1 by binding yourself to diligent Torah study, your marah shechorah will decrease in your life. May G‑d send you a speedy recovery, including [a speedy recovery from] your marah shechorah as well.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. IV, p. 65)

Banish Your Negative Thoughts

You write about your gloominess, despondency and sadness (marah shechorah v’atzvus):

It is superfluous to expound at length about [the undesirability of] something that has already been ruled against by our holy Nesi’im, and as has been explained in Tanya and many other places, how we must completely distance ourselves from atzvus and marah shechorah.

One does so by ceasing to think such [black] thoughts. If one cannot achieve this; [i.e., he finds it impossible to simply stop thinking negative thoughts], then one can accomplish this by not thinking about oneself but about G‑d — how He is the Essence of Goodness, etc.

When one truly desires [to banish these thoughts and feelings] and makes a concerted effort to do so, he will be successful [in his quest]. This is in accordance with the ruling of our Sages, of blessed memory: “If you strive, you will succeed.”2

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VIII, p. 341)

Overcoming a Sense of Hopelessness

.. Regarding the statement (from the author of the letter) about his feeling of hopelessness:

I am astonished that he is unaware that the endeavor to place feelings of hopelessness and the like in a person’s mind is among the most formidable tactics used by the evil inclination in order to get the person from performing his duties [and fulfilling his purpose in life]:

For then, [i.e., since the person believes that he has no chance of ever succeeding, etc.,] what can be demanded of him and why make an effort [to succeed at all? This is particularly so,] since he has already declared (to others as well as to himself) that he has given up all hope, etc.

Veritable proof that the source of the above [sense of hopelessness] emanates from the evil inclination [and is not a result of true clinical depression] is that his feelings of hopelessness have not minimized in the slightest his desires for physical pleasures.

(From a letter of the Rebbe, printed in
Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXXIX, p. 297)

Sense of Hopelessness Should Be Entirely Banished

You write about [your difficulties regarding] your health and getting established, and you conclude that at times you reach a state of despair and hopelessness (yi’ush), and so on:

I surely need not expound at length that an attitude of hopelessness is totally inappropriate and undesirable, for our Torah — the Torah of Life — specifically commands us to “never give up hope.”3 Both Tanya as well as other books of Chassidus explain how there is absolutely no place for loss of hope.

In truth, the negation of hopelessness is an essential part of the faith of every single Jew — as all Jews are “believers, sons of believers” — that G‑d is the Essence of Goodness and that it is He Who actually conducts this world and watches over each and every individual with individual Divine providence.

This, of course, leads to the inescapable conclusion that “Everything that G‑d does, He does for the good”4 — for the particular goodness of the individual over whom He watches.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVI, p. 295)

Loss of Hope of Bearing Children

This is a reply to your letter in which you write of your mood, your hope, and your request of G‑d that you should bear healthy children.

Since this is one of the most important mitzvos in our holy Torah, “the Torah of Life,”. In the original, Toras Chayim (from the last blessing of Shemoneh Esreh). one must be firm in one’s trust in the Creator of the world that He will make it possible for you and your husband to fulfill it.

However, it is self-understood that one cannot point to the calendar and tell G‑d that this must happen when it feels right to oneself. For since G‑d is the wellspring of good, He certainly knows what time is good, and that is when He will fulfill your hearts’ desires in a positive way. One can only — with strong trust in the fulfillment of one’s request — pray that this should come about as soon as possible.

As to what you write about losing hope, G‑d forbid: a daughter of Israel must not say this, because G‑d is omnipotent, and He desires that things should be good for every Jew not only on a spiritual level, but also on the actual material level.

With blessings that your prayers regardingthe above subject will be fulfilled soon and that we should hear glad tidings from you,

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XII, p. 109)

Banishing Suicidal Thoughts

.. Contemplate, study repeatedly, and thoroughly memorize those themes that are elucidated in many places regarding the subject of individual Divine providence.

Realize that they are true in the simplest and plainest sense — that the Creator and Conductor of the world watches over every aspect of each and every individual in the minutest detail.

This will lead you to the inescapable conclusion that those matters about which you write should not constitute a source of worry and concern; surely there is no room for your request — or as you state in your letter, “a very strong request” — for the opposite of life, G‑d forbid.

Meditate on the fact that the souls of each and every Jew emanate from G‑d’s Throne of Glory and descend below into a physical body (and this is a tremendous descent, for there is absolutely no comparison between the soul as it exists above and the soul as it exists in the body below. Yet, this descent is worthwhile in order for the Jew to exist and be productive specifically in this world, which is to say that it is [specifically here that the Jew is] able to study Torah and perform mitzvos.

This leads to the understanding that each and every deed (for example, wearing tefillin) is so great that it is entirely beyond our comprehension. The same is true as well regarding all other matters of Torah and mitzvos (for the entire Torah is compared to tefillin).

Contemplating these matters and the like will enlighten your true condition in life — that you were granted the best of all opportunities: the ability to fulfill the Divine mission that G‑d entrusted to you within this world, by leading your life in consonance with the directives of our Torah, the Torah of Life.

Work on these matters joyfully — as explained in the Rambam at the conclusion of Hilchos Lulav, and see also Rambam’s ruling in the second chapter of Hilchos Deos.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIV, p. 201)

Remove Yourself From the Individual Who Is the Cause
Of Your Suicidal Thoughts

.. You write that you are drawn, etc., [to commit suicide]:

In situations such as these there is the following known advice: absolutely cease thinking such thoughts; keep away from that individual [who is driving you to despair and thoughts of suicide] to the greatest possible extent. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIV, p. 205)

If Unable to Free Yourself From Marah Shechorah,
Utilize This Trait for Torah Study

I received your letter from this past Wednesday, and as has become your “sacred” custom, you conclude with a request for a blessing for success [as you feel that things are not going well for you].

It would seem that as soon as you crossed the border into Canada, your thoughts became filled with despondency and dejection (marah shechorah) once again.

I have already told you any number of times that you and your wife sheyichyu must put an end to your marah shechorah. If there is no other alternative — [then consider that] it is explained in Torah Or5 that marah shechorah can be utilized for diligence in Torah study.

[Using your marah shechorah extensively for diligence in Torah study will also have] the added benefit of protecting your health, as then you will not be morose over corporeal matters. [It will also have the positive effect of] providing you with spiritual sustenance, as you will be utilizing this trait for Torah study.

I await good news about your wife’s health and also that you will begin doing the above. It matters not if you will only be doing so under duress and in an unenthused manner (v’lu yehei b’kabbalos ol), and also, that you both undertake to serve G‑d with a feeling of joy.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. V, p. 14)

Overcoming Anguish and Distress Through Bitachon

After a pause [in your letter writing,] I was satisfied to receive your letter of the 8th of Kislev in which you write that your health has improved.

I concur with the professor [who stated] that your health problem stems from anguish and distress (agmas nefesh) — to be more precise, it derives from a certain degree of weakness in your bitachon (trust) in G‑d, Who not only creates the world but also conducts it, doing so in a manner where His providence extends to each and every detail of a Jew’s life.

When you will think deeply about this matter, you will be convinced that, “G‑d is with me; I shall not fear. What can man do unto me!”6 — so much so, that upon finding himself in a precarious situation, King David said, “I will fear no evil, for You are with me.”7 Because of this [great degree of bitachon,] David was able to overcome all manner of adversity.

This tale [about David’s manner of conduct] was placed in the Torah — the word Torah also meaning “directive” — in order that this serve as a lesson to all Jews wherever they may be. [The lesson is:] if the person will strongly persist in his recognition that “You are with me,” this will lead to the concluding verse of the chapter, “Only goodness and kindness shall follow me all the days of my life.”

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. X, p. 133)

Realize How Despondency Affects
Those Nearest and Dearest to You

After not having heard from you for a long time, I finally received your letter dated Shevat 23, in which you describe your present [despondent] mood and also describe some of the past events in your life, [a number of which were unfavorable].

Notwithstanding the above, one must be “joyous and glad of heart,”8 as explained in our holy Torah and elucidated at even greater length in books of Mussar and Chassidus, where logical reasons are offered for this [feeling of joy to be possible even in the face of severe difficulties].

In Yad HaChazakah, at the conclusion of Hilchos Lulav, the Rambam also expounds on how one is to perform a mitzvah: [that it is to be performed with great joy]. Moreover, the verse states, “Know G‑d in all your ways”9 — that [all forms of] service must be with “gladness of heart.” This [service with joy] is also cited in Tur and Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim chapter 231.

If this manner of conduct is necessary for everyone, how much more so is it necessary for an individual who realizes that thinking about past conduct leads to a deterioration in health, or to a glum frame of mind. I trust that I need not expound [on this subject] at too great a length to someone like you.

May G‑d help that from now on you will be strong in your bitachon in G‑d, Who oversees every human being with individual Divine providence and Who is the Essence of Goodness. It is He Who commanded us that a Jew should be joyous and not be perturbed, and should serve Him serenely and joyously.

This manner of conduct is particularly important when G‑d grants an individual a wife and children, for the mood of the husband has an impact on the entire family as well.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIX, p. 215)

Overcoming Despondency and Fear by Ingraining in One’s Psyche That G‑d Protects Us and There Is Nothing to Fear

You write about your wife’s [dejected and fearful] state of mind:

You should reflect on how G‑d, Creator and Conductor of the entire world, oversees each and every one of us and protects us from untoward things — only, that it is necessary that your daily life be conducted in accordance with the directives of our “Torah of Life” and the performance of its commandments, concerning which it is stated,10 “You shall live by them.”

[You therefore have nothing to be upset or fearful about, for,] in the words of [King David,] the “sweet singer of Israel,” “G‑d is with me; I shall not fear.”11

Contemplate the above again and again until it becomes ingrained in your psyche.

It would be proper for you to inspect the mezuzos of your home, assuring that they are all kosher according to Jewish law. Your wife should observe the fine custom of Jewish women to always give tzedakah prior to lighting candles erev Shabbos and erev Yom Tov.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXIV, p. 117)

There Is No Room for Despondency As
Our Spiritual Battles Are Now Accomplished With Joy

I am in receipt of your letter of Wednesday and am amazed that you write there about your depressed state of mind, notwithstanding the fact that Divine providence placed you in the wonderful position (he’middaso b’cheilek hayafeh) of providing aid and encouragement to the downhearted and depressed.

Since [our Sages declare]:12 “The attributes of the Holy One, blessed be He, [reflect man’s pattern] measure for measure,” [but many more times so,] surely G‑d has encouraged you in many respects that you never enter into such a [depressed] state, as the verse states, 13 “No illness shall befall you, for I am G‑d your healer.”

This is the manner of healing of the Creator and Conductor of the world: that there is no untoward situation from the very outset. This is not the case when healing follows an illness, where at least some vestige [of the illness] remains, as our Sages, of blessed memory, state in Yoma 86a.

May it be G‑d’s will that from now on you will place even greater emphasis on the verse14 “Serve G‑d with joy,” a manner of service that was so greatly stressed by our Rebbe, the Baal Shem Tov, by his disciples, and their disciples.

This is particularly so in light of the ruling of the Rambam regarding the necessity of serving specifically in this [joyous] manner — see his wondrous words in Hilchos Lulav, which serve as a guide to those who are perplexed about this matter [of the necessity of serving G‑d with joy].

This [manner of service is of particular importance] in our times when each and every individual requires additional strength to battle negative forces. For there is the known aphorism of my father-in-law, the Rebbe, that when a soldier goes out to battle, he does so singing a joyous song of victory, which in itself enables and hastens the victory, as is readily understood. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIV, p. 420)

Overcoming Dejection Through Joy

In reply to your letter ... written in the month of Adar II, a month in which one is to increase one’s measure of joy throughout the month, particularly as your letter was written several days prior to Purim, when one’s joy should be boundless:

Notwithstanding all the above, the content, and most importantly, the mood of your letter is not only not Purim-like, it is not even joyful.

After all the reasons and explanations that you provide in your letter [for your downheartedness], there still remains the command of G‑d — He Who is not only the Creator of the world, but also its Conductor — that one is to serve Him with joy. Surely G‑d is aware of all the reasons [that you mention in your letter which you attribute to making you downhearted,] and nevertheless He commands to be joyful.

This teaches us three things:

a) Since G‑d demands this [joy from us], then surely He has provided us with the capacity and ability to realize it, as “G‑d does not make unreasonable demands of His creatures,” and “When He requests, He only requests according to their, [i.e., created beings,] capacity [to fulfill this request].”

b) Even in such a situation [where there seems to be nothing to be joyful about], there are ample reasons for joy; all that is needed is the desire to keep one’s eyes open to those matters [from which one can be joyful].

c) In light of that which is explained in many texts, including the text of Tanya, ch. 26, a despondent attitude is contrary to proper service of G‑d: When one wants to be victorious in battle, particularly a difficult battle, then one must go about this with joy, as explained there in Tanya at length.

There is also known the saying of my father-in-law, the Rebbe, of blessed memory: “A soldier on his way to the battlefront sings a march of victory and joy,” although he has yet to begin the battle. For the mindset of having firm faith and conviction in the certain victory in the approaching battle and the joy [that will result from this victory], in itself strengthens and hastens the victory in battle. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIV, p. 481)

Those Who Raise the Spirits of Others
Will Surely Have Their Own Spirits Uplifted

.. It surprised me that in your letter you write about your downtrodden spirit, notwithstanding the fact that G‑d granted you the opportunity to work [in the field] of uplifting the spirits of the demoralized and downtrodden.

Particularly since G‑d’s mode of conduct is that of repaying and recompensing [the behavior of His people] measure for measure, but many more times so, it follows that [since your occupation is that of uplifting the spirits of others, then] surely you are encouraged and strengthened from Above in many aspects and ways to never come to such a situation — G‑d forbid — [of feeling depressed] in the first place.

This is similar to that which the verse states, [that maladies] “shall not befall you, for I am G‑d, your Healer.” Which is to say that the manner of healing of the Creator and Conductor of the world is such that one does not succumb to an untoward situation in the first place. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIV, p. 420)

Finding Joy and Benevolence in Life
By Being Benevolent to Others

I was truly astonished to read in your letter that you cannot find anything in your life to bring you joy — this, after having written that you have “thank G‑d, two very delightful and religiously observant daughters.”

Make an effort to minimize, as much as possible, thoughts such as, “What am I feeling?”; “Am I afraid of someone,” and so on.

Replace these thoughts with profound contemplation as to how you can assist and see to the needs of your neighbors or your relatives sheyichyu. Surely you will find many such matters [where you can be of benefit].

[Bear in mind that] one who acts benevolently toward one’s friend is rewarded with G‑d’s benevolence to an even greater extent [than the individual’s own benevolence toward the other].

Since all matters are to be accomplished through natural means as well, consult a doctor who is also a friend (rofeh yedid).

(From a handwritten response of the Rebbe, Tishrei 12, 5743)

The Gift That Lifts One’s Spirits

Divine providence has granted you the opportunity to be of assistance to others — both to your family as well as to others — through your communal activities (in the synagogue and the school, etc.). G‑d has thereby granted you a great and blissful gift, something that should give you tremendous satisfaction.

You should thus continue in your present job. As to your feeling that you should have a higher position there, [this should not be an impediment, for one’s status] is not of primary importance in life — that which is of greatest import is the good that one can do, etc.

(From a handwritten response of the Rebbe)

“Gladness Is in His Place”

.. It would be worthwhile for you to studyShaar HaBitachon in the book titled Chovas HaLevavos and meditate on the matters that are explained there.

When you will contemplate — even for a short while — that each and every Jew believes with simple faith that there is “no place void of Him,”15 and [contemplate as well] the known ruling of our Sages16 on the verse “Strength and gladness are in His place,”17 [then you will come to recognize the following]:

That in accordance with the verse “One may not enter the King’s gate in a garment of sackcloth,”18 [i.e., one may not serve G‑d in a mournful state,] it is out of the question to disturb this joy of “Strength and gladness are in His place” through the depression of any individual, no matter who it is — and even if the person temporarily thinks that there is justification for this assessment.

All the above does not require deep contemplation, for even slight consideration [of the above] will suffice [for you to realize the truth and importance of these words] ....

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XI, p. 109)

Overcoming Negativity and Depression

I received your letters. Needless to say, I was somewhat taken aback by the [negative and depressing] tone of your letter. Your gloomy state of mind illustrates how it is possible for a person to read, learn, and receive instruction from books and teachers [about maintaining a positive frame of mind,] and yet when it comes to actual experience, all these teachings are for naught.

I refer to that which you have surely learned in Jewish ethical books and especially in Chassidus about the tactics of the evil inclination to instill a spirit of depression, discouragement and despondency in order to prevent a Jewish person from fulfilling his Divine mission.

Indeed, this is its most effective approach. If the evil inclination would attempt to dissuade a person directly from fulfilling his mission, he would not be easily misled. Instead, however, the evil inclination tries to discourage the person in various ways, sometimes using “pious” arguments, arguments that unfortunately often prove effective, at least to some degree.

This is exactly what has happened in your case, and I am surprised that you do not realize it. The proof [that your gloomy state stems merely from your evil inclination] is from the [positive] information I have received about your activities and accomplishments. I see that you have accomplished far more than you imagine. ...

When you consider further that every beginning is difficult, especially where there is a change of place and environment, language, etc., and yet your beginning has proven so successful, one is surely justified in expecting that as time goes on, and the initial difficulties are minimized and overcome, there will be more than a corresponding improvement in the good accomplishments.

.. Since one is only human, it is not unusual to relapse occasionally into a mood of discouragement. But as has been explained in the Tanya and in other sources, such a relapse would only serve as a challenge to bring forth additional inner reserves and energy to overcome the tactics of the evil inclination and to do even better than before.

I trust that since you wrote your letter, your mood and outlook have considerably improved and that this letter will find you in a completely different frame of mind. Nevertheless, I am sending you this letter since one is, of course, only human and subject to mood changes, as mentioned above.

Finally, I want to say that the above should not be understood to mean that if you do find yourself in such a frame of mind you should try to conceal it and not write about it, for our Sages say, “the heart’s anxiety should be shared with others,”19 as getting something off one’s chest is a relief in itself.

Also bear in mind, as Rabbi Shneur Zalman stated most emphatically in the laws of learning and teaching Torah, that a person engaged in teaching children should especially take care of his health, since it directly affects the success of his work.

I trust, therefore, that you are looking after yourself in matters of diet and rest, etc., and that you will always be in a state of cheerfulness and gladness.

(From a letter of the Rebbe)

Transforming One’s Feelings of Gloom and Depression
In a Step-by-Step Manner

In reply to your letter in which you write about your present [dismal] state of mind and your [gloomy and pessimistic] outlook toward the future, at least to the not-too-distant future, and you ask my opinion concerning this matter:

Understandably, I do not accept the foundations upon which you construct your [dismal and pessimistic] views and conclusions at all. By this I mean that I believe your [negative] state of mind to be only temporary and [your conclusions] not based on any [enduring] reality.

[Consequently,] the more you endeavor to cease [thinking these gloomy thoughts], the quicker your current mood and state of mind will change [for the better]. It is absolutely clear that you have the power and ability to be of benefit not only to yourself but to others as well.

Merely, like all matters in this world, it is almost always necessary to expend effort in order to reveal and develop this potential into reality. However, this is a degree of effort that is eminently attainable.

When a person will contemplate that his relatively brief efforts will benefit himself and also benefit others for many years — benefits for others that include either their spiritual or physical welfare or both, and that this benefit can then result in a series of unending benefits — then the person will easily understand that his efforts and exertions to achieve this end are well worthwhile.

Without a doubt, in the vast majority of instances, it is impossible to radically change one’s frame of mind instantaneously. However, this is not what is required; it will suffice that upon receiving my letter you will resolve to begin moving in the proper direction; i.e., to begin leading an active and constructive life and begin taking the first step in this direction.

Having done so, proceed [to change] step by step, one step leading to the other. You will soon discover that in a not overly long period of time you will find yourself on the road to a life of self-contentment and satisfaction. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIII, p. 147)

Overcoming Feelings of Depression
Caused by Lack of Additional Children

I received regards from you through your husband, who also told me of your present [depressed] frame of mind. And while this is quite understandable, it is necessary to bear in mind that the ways of G‑d are inscrutable, but always good, since He is the Essence of Goodness, and it is in the nature of the goodto do good — however difficult it may sometimes be to comprehend.

Yet it is not at all surprising that a human being should not be able to understand the ways of G‑d. On the contrary, it is quite easy to see why a human being should not be able to understand the ways of G‑d, for how can a created being comprehend the Creator?

We must, therefore, be strong in our trust in G‑d and let nothing discourage us or cause any depression, G‑d forbid.

As a matter of fact, the stronger our bitachon in G‑d and in His benevolence, the sooner will come the time when G‑d’s overtly revealed goodness is experienced. You should therefore be confident that G‑d will eventually fulfill your and your husband’s hearts’ desires for good, to be blessed with additional healthy offspring.

(From a letter of the Rebbe, dated 22 Elul, 5730)

Forsaking Moroseness

.. First and foremost, you and other appropriate community elders are to convey my astonishment to ... regarding the fact that he has seemingly yet to forsake his path of serving G‑d with an attitude of moroseness. That this path [of Divine service] is untenable needs no explanation, even to non-chassidim, as the verse [explicitly] states:20 “Serve G‑d with joy.”

This is particularly so regarding individuals who belong to the community of chassidim, as there is a directive of the Baal Shem Tov concerning serving G‑d with joy; most particularly so to those who verily observed G‑d’s miracles, that He took them out of their previous country, [viz., Russia]. ...

May G‑d assist that individual that he serve Him with joy, thereby enabling him to convey joyful reports.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VIII, p. 299)

Dispelling Sadness and Melancholy
Through the Study of Appropriate Texts

In reply to your letter of the 6th of Elul in which you write that you are sometimes sad and melancholy:

Since you begin your letter by stating that you learned in a Yeshivas Erev of Chabad, you are to ask the spiritual mentor there to learn those chapters in Tanya with you that speak about the disrepute of sadness and melancholy and how it can be overcome. Study this text a number of times until you have acquired a thorough knowledge of its contents. By doing so you will feel better.

It would also be appropriate for you to check your tefillin. From now on, at least, begin observing the three well-known shiurim of Chumash, Tehillim and Tanya.

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXXIX, p. 325)21

Feelings of Remorse —
Determining Their Source

.. When a person is constantly filled with thoughts and feelings of remorse over past misconduct, it is important to determine the source of these thoughts, whether they are emanating from the good inclination [and as such should be acted upon], or from the evil inclination [and they should be pushed aside].

The best way of determining this is by examining the consequences of these thoughts: If they lead to additional energy and vitality in the performance of mitzvos, conducting oneself to an even stronger degree according to Jewish law ... then this is proof that these thoughts emanate from a pure source.

If, on the other hand, they lead to sadness and melancholy and neglect and laziness, or to feelings of hopelessness, then this is an indication that this emanates from the evil inclination (which clothed and hid itself within the garments of “G‑dfearingness”). For all the above hinder the individual in his service of G‑d.

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXXIX, p. 327)22

Do Not Fashion Thoughts of Gloom and Doom:
Refrain From Negative Thinking —
It Creates Actual Negativity

In reply to your letter, which seems to indicate that I have not yet succeeded in lifting your spirits:

I believe that I have already told you many times, that according to that which is explained in Sefarim — not necessarily in books of Chassidus — one is not to manufacture thoughts of marah shechorah within this world. For by not creating such thoughts, it bodes well that these [negative] events will not come to pass at all.

Not only should we not create negativity through speech — similar to that which is stated in Chassidus (I believe this is printed at the conclusion of the Siddur Meah Shearim) that when the Mezritcher Maggid would think a new [Torah] thought, he would verbalize it in order to bring it down into this world — we should not even manufacture such negativity through thought.

The reason for this is as explained above; [i.e., that the negative event not become actualized as a result of his thinking it. What, in fact, should be done] is understood from the aphorism of our holy Rebbeim and Nesi’im, who were wont to say: “Think positively, and it will be positive.”

You undoubtedly imagine that it is very difficult to influence your power of thought to think in this [positive] direction, [although this is not necessarily so. However,] if this proves to be the case, [i.e., that it is difficult for you], then endeavor to clothe your power of thought within thoughts of Torah; the spiritual good [and positivism of Torah] will filter down into physical goodness [and positivism] as well.

The thrust of all the above: the more you strengthen your faith and trust in G‑d — to the extent that it will impact even your thought, speech and action — the more you will succeed in implementing the above, and the greater will be your resulting material and spiritual sustenance.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VI, p. 286)

Negative Thoughts and Their Negative Effect

I have just received your letter from erev Shabbos Kodesh. It seems from your letter that once again you are in a depressed mood, etc.:

Why impair your mental state by coming up with so many negative ideas and thoughts, Heaven forfend?

I have alerted you concerning this a few times in the past, yet it seems that this message has not reached you — or as that word23 [in the Holy Tongue] is interpreted in Likkutei Torah at the beginning of Parshas Shemini, this message has not yet touched you. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VI, p. 276)

Negating Negative Thoughts and Questions
Regarding One’s Health

I acknowledge your letter of the 5th of Teves in which you write about your [poor] state of health and that this has shattered your spirit:

Abandon this path [of negative thinking]. G‑d is, after all, the “Healer of all flesh and Performer of wonders.”24 Though it is impossible for us to discern G‑d’s intentions, which results in the evil inclination sometimes arousing within us unsettling questions and thoughts that hinder our spiritual and even our physical health, we must always know that these questions and thoughts are merely a machination of the evil inclination.

We must be firm in our bitachon in G‑d that in time He will grant us healing for our ailments. And until that time, we still remain part of G‑d’s world and His emissaries.Consequently, our mission remains to spread light in our environs, illuminating our Divine and animal souls and our surroundings with the light of Torah and mitzvos.

In order for all the above to be accomplished in the best possible manner, it is necessary that we do so with a feeling of joy, as the verse states: “Serve G‑d with joy.”25 When you strengthen yourself [by contemplating the above], surely you will be assisted from on High to succeed in actualizing this matter.

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

Finding the True Cause for Sadness and Despair
And Rectifying the Situation With Joy

I received your letter in which you describe the state of your [physical] health, as well as your [sad and despairing] state of mind.

From what I can ascertain from your letter, I must emphasize that there are various aspects of your life for which you can be truly grateful to G‑d.

Understandably, this does not mean that the tormented state in which you now find yourself is completely without basis. Nevertheless, a person must be able to see the complete picture [including all the good that has transpired in his life, and] not only the negative part.

It should not be difficult for a woman with a background like yours and possessing faith such as you do to contemplate G‑d’s benevolent providence, which He provides to each and every one individually. Moreover, G‑d is the Essence of Goodness, and “It is in the nature of he who is good to do good.”

When one ponders these thoughts, one must inevitably come to the same conclusion as did King David, the author of the Psalms, who declared: 26 “G‑d is with me; I shall not fear.”

To the contrary, you have all the reasons to be joyous and glad of heart, particularly since a joyous attitude on your part will have a beneficial effect on your entire family. Merely, it is important for you to bear in mind, as mentioned above, that you indeed possess many things for which you should be grateful and which should cause you joy.

It happens quite often that an individual whose mood is similar to yours seeks to discover the basis for his [unhappy] frame of mind, thinking that the answer he comes up with is the true cause for all his problems [and unhappiness], when in truth the root cause may be something else entirely.

This is particularly true of a Jewish man or woman whose true joy is entrenched in living a full Jewish life, i.e., a life that is in complete harmony with the path of Torah and mitzvos given to us on Sinai and that made us into a holy nation. The particulars of how to live a Jewish life are meticulously detailed in the Shulchan Aruch, a book that spells out Jewish law and daily conduct.

If for one reason or another one’s daily life is not in complete accord with the Jewish way of life as commanded by G‑d, it is impossible for a Jew to be completely happy and content, inasmuch as something vital is missing from his life. It is possible that the person is unaware of this, for which reason he will search for the cause of his discontent and unhappiness in other areas.

On the other hand, when a Jew is steadfast in his outlook that he will live in complete harmony with the Jewish way of life, then he is capable of being completely happy and content.

The above is something that can be achieved by every Jew, although for some it may be easier than for others. This capacity surely exists since G‑d, the Creator and Conductor of the world and the Commander of these commandments, also provides the person with the capacity to fulfill His commands.

Of course I am aware of the question of how it is that there are many individuals who are seemingly detached from the path of Torah and mitzvos and nevertheless seem to be completely happy, and so on.

The answer is simple. No one really knows what is transpiring in the heart and mind of another individual. Additionally, a person can conceal his inner dissatisfaction and unhappiness, although sooner or later this must come to the fore.

It would be worthwhile for your husband to check his tefillin, and before he puts them on each weekday morning he should give a small coin to tzedakah. It would also be worthwhile that the mezuzos in your home be checked to assure that they are kosher according to Jewish law. You as well should give a small coin to tzedakah prior to lighting candles.

I hope to hear from you good news.

(From a letter of the Rebbe, dated 12 Kislev, 5725)

The Spiritual Effects of
Groundless Despair and Loss of Hope
27

1) I received [your letter that contained the good news that the tumor has largely vanished]. Thank you ever so much for the good news.

2) I was understandably stunned and shocked when I read this, [i.e., that you have given up hope, etc.]. You witnessed a clear miracle from Heaven — and then you write this?!

May G‑d in His abundant mercy forgive you, and may no impression remain [Above] from your letter.

Negative Fantasies of Hopelessness and Despair

You write that you suffer from an ailment — although you don’t say what it is — and that at any moment you are likely to undergo a serious heart attack, etc., G‑d forbid. (It appears to me that this is not the case, and that — begging your pardon — this is an extreme exaggeration.)

You write further that a partition of iron is separating [you from your Father in Heaven] and that your prayers and charitable contributions have had no effect, and so on.

Without a doubt, you yourself also understand that all this is no more than fantasies. For even if there were a partition of iron, the Sages assure us in plain words that “even a partition of iron cannot separate the Children of Israel from their Father in Heaven.”28

The same applies to what you write about how your prayers and especially the tzedakah (charity) you distribute have had no effect. I saw in a little book — it’s called the Tanach — where it is written (Malachi 3:10)that the Holy One, blessed be He, says: “Test Me, please, in this,” in the mitzvah of tzedakah — that if only people will give tzedakah, “I will pour down blessings upon you,” and so on. The same applies to prayer, as is explained in many sources in the teachings of the Sages.

Above all, as is clarified in the works of Chassidus, this is one of the counsels by which the evil inclination plungesa man into melancholy. And if one must be vigilant not to fall into melancholy over spiritual reasons, how much more wary must one be of melancholy that comes from some other source, for there is nothing worse than that.

You should consistently fortify your trust in what even the most feckless of Jews believe — that the Holy One, blessed be He, is not only the Creator of the world but that He also conducts it, and not only long ago, but also presently, every day and at every hour. Moreover, He conducts not only the world in macrocosm, but also all the affairs of the microcosm, man, and He is the ultimate good.

Without a doubt, you will then finally see, even with eyes of flesh, that everything will be for the best, even in the kind of good that is visible.

For this, however, one must strengthen one’s bonds of hiskashrus with the G‑d of Life — by setting aside fixed times to study the Torah of Life; by serving Him through the serviceof prayer, acting benevolently toward your Living Soul; and by fortifying your observance of the mitzvos, and of the comprehensive mitzvah of tzedakah, for “the truth of tzedakah is for life.”29

I hope that in the near future you will let me know of an improvement in your material situation and likewise of an improvement in your spiritual situation — namely, the disappearance of thoughts about a separating partition, etc., etc. — and that you will make strenuous endeavors to fulfill the command of the Holy One, blessed be He, to: “Serve G‑d with joy.”30 ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. IV, p. 292)

Life’s “Descents” Are No Cause for Dispiritedness

.. A person’s life does not always proceed smoothly, and since one has the will and the capacity to ascend, this very fact also creates the possibility of descent.

Accordingly, one should not become overwrought or dispirited (G‑d forbid) when one observes a descent, especially when that descent relates only to material things, and especially since it happened through no cause of your own.

Indeed, a descent ought to arouse — from deep within oneself — greater powers of faith and trust, whose external manifestation is a courageous spirit and a lack of emotional reaction to an unpleasant phenomenon, particularly when it lasts only very briefly. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VIII, p. 128)