Feelings of Persecution

You write that there are those who are hostile to you and your activities:

Be unmindful and inattentive to all this, for surely a large part of this [hostility and antagonism] exists only in your imagination. The remaining part can be nullified by [causing a reciprocal love within your antagonist, as the verse states:1 “As water reflects the face, [so does one heart reflect the other”]. You can do this, [i.e., bring about a reciprocal feelingwithin your antagonist,] by improving your relationship and treating that person in a more kindly manner.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XI, p. 162)

Overcoming Personal Problems
By Being in the Company of Others

I received your letter of the 29th of Adar, and may G‑d grant that you have good news to report on the matters about which you write in your letter.

.. As for your personal problems, the best advice is that you should try to think as little as possible about your inner problems, until you completely dismiss them from your mind.

This means that you should not even think about their harmful aspects or how to overcome them, but completely disengage yourself from these thoughts. Rather, engage your thoughts in matters of Torah and mitzvos.

Another good method [beneficial in overcoming personal problems] is to try to be in the company of other people as much as possible. ...

(From a letter of the Rebbe, dated 11 Nissan, 5720)

Combating Feelings of Loneliness

.. As for your [gloomy] moods and feelings of loneliness, etc.:

Surely there is no room for such feelings in light of the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov regarding the true concept of Divine providence, which extends to each and every individual and to every aspect of life.

The realization of this [concept] must [inevitably and certainly] instill a deep feeling of confidence and optimism. You would do well to reflect upon this subject.

(From a letter of the Rebbe, dated “In the Days of Selichos,” 5720)

Enhancing a Sense of Self by Establishing
A Work Routine and Knowing That His Loved Ones
Have Confidence in Him

.. With regard to your son:

I am in agreement with the opinion of your brother-in-law mentioned in your letter, especially as he is a physician. I believe that the best help that can be given to your son, in general, is to get him to work.

I should only add, and I trust your brother-in-law would concur, that in view of the fact that this would entail a change in your son’s way of life for a period of time, it would be well if his job, during the initial stage at any rate, meets with two conditions:

Firstly, that the job should not impose on him too much responsibility so that he would not be frightened or discouraged by it.

On the other hand, it should have a more or less rigid timetable and schedule so that he would get used to a routine and an orderly life, which, in my opinion, is the overriding consideration.

If it is the kind of work that he might consider beneath him, it might be explained to him that it is only a start and temporary, and indeed, the first step to advancement.

It is well known that here, in the United States, people at the top often take pride in the fact that they worked their way up from the bottom of the ladder.

After he adjusts himself to a part-time occupation of several hours a day, he could probably be induced to work half a day and in due course a full-time job.

Needless to say, the above is in addition to what we spoke about — about the importance of his feeling that his parents and friends have the fullest confidence in him.

(From a letter of the Rebbe, dated 12 Nissan, 5734)

Dissatisfaction With Life Because of a
Lack of Inner Peace and Tranquility

In reply to your two letters in which you write a synopsis of your life, your current frame of mind, and your general recent mental state, etc.

In general, it is not at all surprising for a Jewish man or woman to lack serenity and peace of mind if their daily conduct is not in keeping with their inner and essential nature, i.e., if they do not conduct themselves in accordance with the statement of our sacred Torah:2 “You are children to the L‑rd your G‑d.”

If an ordinary child must conduct himself according to the directives of his parents, how much more so — infinitely more so, in fact — with regard to G‑d’s children, Jewish sons and daughters, whose Father in Heaven taught them how to live their lives in accordance with His Torah (from the word “lesson”), which is called the “Torah of Life.”

Moreover, G‑d also created the Jewish people in a manner that their lives will be optimal when they lead such a life, [i.e., a life conducted according to the Torah]. Consequently, disruption of such a life, [i.e., conduct not in keeping with the Torah,] leads to a disruption of a person’s state of serenity and contentment.

From the above, the main piece of advice of how you can rectify the situation [(and lead a happy life)] is eminently understandable: First and foremost you must from now on conduct yourself in a manner that is consonant with the will of G‑d — Creator and Director of man — as delineated in the Code of Jewish Law.

Understandably, I assume that there are those who will question the above statement based on the fact that there are many individuals who do not perform mitzvos and nevertheless seemingly lead lives that lack for nothing, including no lack of tranquility, etc.

The answer to this question is simple as well:

a) One does not know what is in another person’s heart — particularly regarding those areas where an individual will understandably be reluctant to reveal them to another.

b) This is similar to a person being, Heaven forbid, physically ill — the fact that someone who is ill may not be aware of his illness is not a sign of good health. To the contrary, it signals how ill that person really is. So too, and even more so, with regard to spiritual illness.

With regard to your request for practical advice, etc.:

According to the description in your letter [about the disarray and chaos in your life,] you should begin ordering your life in a manner which will enable you to get used to living an organized life on a daily basis.

Doing so will make it easier for you to enter into a routine and live an established course of life and provide you with self-discipline, with your mind and intellect controlling your heart and emotions, and so on.

Understandably, this does not in any way negate that which I wrote you in the beginning of the letter [about leading a life according to the directives of the Torah]. It is merely that within this [Torah] framework itself, [the Torah dictates that] a person is to do whatever he or she can via natural means [to attain better mental health].

It seems that one of the main contributing factors to your distressed mental state is your chaotic manner of living with its lack of consistency in your ordinary everyday affairs. This [disorder and disarray] has a direct effect on your state of mind, your moods and feelings, etc.

It is of course difficult to suddenly become used to an organized and structured lifestyle after having lived a long time in a disorderly and chaotic manner.

One of the ways to make this easier is by having this [order and structure imposed on you] externally — by this I mean by taking a job and the like. This will trigger feelings of obligation in relation to others, [when you have] the responsibility of a steady job with fixed hours.

Reading between the lines of your letter, you seem to feel that there are serious buried issues and the like [that are causing your problems]. However, in my opinion, the main point and crucial factor are the two matters I mentioned above: conducting your life in accordance with the Torah, and living an ordered and structured life.

When you rectify the above (little by little, at least), your situation will vastly improve, possibly becoming completely better.

Another point — and it too is crucial — is that you find an appropriate mate. Quite plainly, however, this matter can only be approached — and surely a final decision [as to whom you should marry] can only be made — in a tranquil state of mind, without turmoil.

Therefore the first two matters [of conducting your life in accordance with the Torah, and living an ordered and structured life] take precedence, after which you should tackle the third issue: [interesting yourself in finding a shidduch].

It is difficult to estimate beforehand how much time is necessary to rectify the above [and return to a good state of mental health]. However, there is no doubt in my mind that all this depends on your staunch and unwavering desire and resolve to move in this direction. After which, [i.e., after having firmly resolved mentally to do so, you are] to implement this resolution with decisiveness and determination.

May G‑d, who oversees each and every individual with His Divine providence, illuminate your path in life and grant you success in all your needs, materially and spiritually.

With blessings for spiritual and physical health, and may you be able to convey glad tidings [regarding the above].

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXIV, p. 178)

Overcoming Constant Dissatisfaction

.. You write that you are dissatisfied with your work and that the work is difficult, etc.:

Although it flies in the face of common sense, there are many individuals who have resolved not to express joy and satisfaction at the way G‑d conducts the world as a whole and their lives in particular:

For [were they to be satisfied and joyful with G‑d’s manner of conduct,] it could then possibly be construed that they are satisfied with their lot, when in point of fact their true feelings are that no matter how good things are for them it is possible that things could be even better — which is why, [they feel,] they must constantly complain about their difficult lot in life and are invariably embittered about every facet and aspect of their lives.

Understandably, such conduct is contrary to the directives of our holy Torah. Surely it conflicts with the saying of our Sages3 [in their comment] on the verse, “Let every being that has a soul praise G‑d,”4 that “one should praise G‑d for his every breath.”

.. In addition to the above, the holy Zohar states5 that by presenting a melancholy countenance, this arouses — G‑d forbid — a similar response from Above. However, when one is joyful and satisfied with his lot, no matter what his situation, this itself improves the situation, and matters go “from good to even better.” ....

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XI, p. 321)

Optimism and Pessimism

It pleased me to receive your letter of 8/20 in which you write that you are feeling a little better; hopefully your health situation will go “from good to even better.”

.. I must, however, disagree with the statement in your letter that the grounds for viewing joyfully the events transpiring in the world at large [as well as in one’s personal world, are merely] to conceal the truth, [i.e., that matters are not all that joyous]. Rather, [viewing matters with a positive perspective and in a joyful light] is a means by which a person can make his life very much more joyful and tranquil.

Furthermore, it is already well known and medical science acknowledges this to an ever-greater extent, that the entire condition of the individual, [not only psychologically, but] physiologically as well, is impacted by the manner in which he perceives events surrounding him. This is to say that to a large extent, the person’s entire state depends on how he reacts to external and internal events.

Indeed, it is most significant that among the [philosophical] founders of the school of optimism,there were quite a number whose lives were filled with experiences that we would term travails. Conversely, among the pessimists, we find many whose lives were abundantly good and were lacking nothing ... except for satisfaction and joy in their lives.

As I am aware of the experiences and events that transpired with your parents in their childhood, [and who nevertheless maintained their sense of optimism and joy in life,] this may possibly also serve — to a certain extent — as an example for you regarding the above.

It therefore is no wonder that Chassidus, which makes the most lofty and finest matters understandable to all, has as one of its fundamental concepts the notion that within each and every event that transpires in a person’s life there is a lesson to be learned in his Divine service.

This is in addition to the point stressed in Chassidus that service of G‑d in general is to be performed with a maximum of joy, for only then is one’s spiritual service in the greatest possible manner. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XI, p. 383)

Optimism

The Rebbe often spoke of how optimism, reinforced by a trust in G‑d, is just as important to the healing process as medicine and doctors. In 1977, the Rebbe suffered a serious heart attack. One day later, he insisted on giving a talk as he had done on that particular day for the previous 38 years.

“You must take care of your health,” the doctor insisted. “If not, there is a twenty-five percent chance of a relapse.” The doctor asked if the Rebbe understood what he had said. “Oh, yes,” said the Rebbe with a smile. “You said that even if I don’t take care of my health — which, I assure you, I will — there is a seventy-five percent chance that there won’t be a relapse.”

Hypochondria

.. You write about your [supposed] various ailments:

Without a doubt these [symptoms have no basis in reality, but] are merely [a result of] marah shechorah,[an inherent gloominess and a dark temperament that cause you to imagine these things].

The counsel given in such an instance is known — in accordance with that which is explained in the Alter Rebbe’s Torah Or, Parshas Toldos,an elucidation on the discourse titled Mayim Rabbim — that it is appropriate to utilize one’s marah shechorah to increase one’s diligence in Torah study. Understandably, this should be accomplished in a manner where it won’t damage your health, G‑d forbid. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. III, p. 401)

Achieving Peace of Mind

.. Regarding your question, “What is peace of mind?” I am not quite sure about the meaning of your query.

If your intent is, “How does one achieve peace of mind?” [then the answer is] that this depends on the degree and strength of one’s bitachon, particularly according to the teaching of the Baal Shem Tov regarding individual Divine providence.

It would be worthwhile for you to study again and again the section of Shaar HaBitachon in the book Chovas HaLevavos. ...

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

Overcoming Loneliness

In reply to your letter in which you write that you have been studying in Seminary for some time and nonetheless you are unable to make friends among your fellow students; you thus find yourself isolated — something that understandably has an effect on your spirits, etc.:

You should seek the counsel of your teachers as to which of the girls would be best to have as friends and then make an effort to seek out their friendship.

A general piece of advice about reducing one’s isolation: Contemplate the fact that there is no person in the world who is absolutely perfect, yourself included, which is to say, that you yourself are also imperfect and you should not require and demand to see all these sterling qualities and aspects in another [before you become friendly with them].

Moreover, our Sages, of blessed memory, have testified, “all Jewish daughters are beautiful”; each one of them is deemed “a daughter of Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel and Leah.” Surely you possess very many good qualities and with the passage of time you will come to recognize them. Moreover, becoming friendly with others will serve to reveal your [good] qualities as well.

The more you contemplate the above points, the easier it will be for you to obtain friends and the quicker your loneliness and isolation will dissipate — and in the memorable words of our Sages, of blessed memory:6 “Acquire for yourself a friend.”

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVIII, p. 323)

Making Resolutions Stick

In reply to your letter of the 19th of Menachem Av in which you ask for advice about your lack of orderliness: you decide to conduct yourself in a specific manner but it does not last and you revert to your previous mode of conduct. [You also write that] the above [manner of conduct] is disruptive both to you as well as others:

Quite often this results from resolving to do things that are distant and far removed from your present level, which is to say, you desire to “jump” when the normal course of action is to improve little by little, step by step.

{There are in fact unusual circumstances when the [most appropriate] course of action is one of “jumping” and “leaping”: going from one extreme to the other in one fell swoop. However, this is not the usual manner of conduct [where one seeks to achieve incremental progress].}

Another piece of advice that will enable your resolutions to endure is that of sharing your resolve with a friend. This makes it difficult not to continue following the resolution, since you would have to answer to your friend for not doing so.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XX, p. 311)

Inability to Concentrate

Regarding that which you write about your [difficulty in] concentrating:

There is the known counsel of studying while gazing in the book [from which you are studying] and praying from a prayer book. The book should be open in front of you at the place where you are holding in you studies even when you are studying by heart or engrossed in thought.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVII, p. 331)

Don’t Force Your Continued Concentration
On a Subject You Grew Tired Of

With regard to that which you write about your weak power of concentration:

One of the proven pieces of advice regarding this matter is that when becoming tired [of thinking about one area of learning and study], then shift to some other area of study — whatever your heart desires. Do not force your power of thought to concentrate specifically about something that has already tired you out.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. IX, p. 90)

When your studies begin to tire you, [i.e., your concentration begins to wane,] and your head begins to ache, you should change the subject matter to another area of Torah, from study that requires depth and intensity (l’iyuna), to a less intensive and exhaustive subject of study (l’migras) — from Halachah to Aggadah and the like — for approximately an hour.

Such [difficulties in studying and concentration] are extremely common to many and should be absolutely no cause for concern.

[You should also] check your tefillin and assure that your tallis kattan is kosher.

(From a handwritten response of the Rebbe)

Fluctuations in Mood, Self-Confidence
And Power of Concentration

.. It is also self-understood that all of us, as members of the human race, are not always in the same mood — for which reason man is in a state of flux between ascent and descent.

Even the greatest of the great, the truly completely righteous (tzaddikim gemurim amiti’im) — [and by this I mean that] they are on the level [of tzaddikim gemurim] as described by the Alter Rebbe [in Tanya] — nevertheless, he explains7 that the verse8 “For a tzaddik may fall seven times, yet rises again” applies even to them; it is only that regarding a tzaddik, his “fall” is only in comparison to his previous state, etc.

From the above it is understood that it is quite normal for you to not always be able to concentrate to the same extent, and so too with regard to self-confidence, etc.

This is particularly so when, in addition to all the above, there are the added machinations of the evil inclination, who [greatly exaggerates those matters about which you are self-critical, since he] desires to hinder man’s service of his Creator, and one of the foundationsof this service is an utterly tranquil mental state and complete bitachon that “All G‑d does, He does for the good.” ...

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

When One’s Home Evokes Sad Memories

.. You write about moving. ... This is not advisable at the present time.

As to the fact that your present dwelling evokes [depressing] memories: It may be beneficial to change around the furniture, or even the use of the rooms, and the like.

Additionally, it would be proper, if at all possible, that from time to time there should be a Torah class in your house (at least with several people) whether in the revealed portion of Torah, or in the esoteric portion of Torah, which in our generations has been revealed in Toras HaChassidus — or in both together.

May you convey glad tidings regarding all the above.

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

Overcoming Emotional Turmoil
And Feelings of Dissatisfaction

You write that you find yourself in great emotional turmoil and that you find no gratification in your work, and moreover, you do not know how to overcome this:

Such emotional upsets are fully discussed in Chassidus, and even secular science has given much attention lately to what is called the subconscious.

A person may not be consciously aware of his true spiritual state and what he lacks — having suppressed certain inner drives — so that all he is aware of is a feeling of frustration and lack of self-fulfillment.

I refer, of course, to the fact that the Jew always has an inner drive to express his Divine soul. Those who are in a position of influence have an inner urge to exercise this influence to the utmost possible degree, to bring their fellow-Jews closer to our Torah, closer to the tradition of their fathers and to the Jewish way of life.

The fact that one becomes superficially absorbed in some activity which only resembles that of true Jewish education, or a religious activity which stresses the Jewish heart, and rightly so, but neglects to vigorously stress the real essence of Judaism, the daily performance of the mitzvos, to the extent that religion becomes a three-day affair or a matter of yartzeit services, etc., such activities do not provide real fulfillment for the soul, and, hence the inner urge is not fulfilled.

No doubt you have heard the explanation of the Alter Rebbe, [Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad, when he was asked by a gentile scholar, what is the meaning of [the Torah verse] “Where are you?” which G‑d asked Adam; surely nothing is hidden from G‑d.

The Alter Rebbe then replied that when Adam committed the sin [of eating from the Tree of Knowledge], he experienced a Divine call demanding, “Where are you? Do you realize what you have done and what you are supposed to do?”

The question “Where are you?” is always asked of every individual, especially the Jew who has been endowed with a Divine soul. It calls for introspection and soul-searching in order to find one’s self again.

It is clear from the above that it is quite unjustified to think that you have permanently lost contact, etc. G‑d does not demand the impossible, and having set forth a program and a goal, He has simultaneously given the full ability and capacity to fulfill them.

It is only that G‑d wants everyone to fulfill his purpose in life out of his own free choice, in spite of temptations and difficulties. If you will, therefore, realize that you have it in your power to overcome them, you will find yourself again and the context that you are missing at present.

(From a letter of the Rebbe)

Overcoming Self-Doubt and
Difficulty in Making Decisions

You write of your state of mind — that you find it difficult to make decisions on any matter and remain in constant doubt as to whether you are acting correctly and so on.

In view of your upbringing, of which you write, there is certainly no need for me to emphasize the subject of Divine providence, a fundamental principle in our faith and in our Torah, “the Torah of Life.”

The meaning of this concept, hashgachah pratis, is straightforward — that G‑d, Who created and directs the world, watches over every man and woman, not only in public matters but also in his private affairs. This concept enables us to understand the principle of trusting in the One Who conducts the world and Who is the Essence of Goodness, for accordingly, everything is also for the good, plainly and simply.

Every believer’s mind, too, understands that the first direct result of this trust is that there is no worry and no confusion. For when a person is weighing in his mind what he should decide and how he should act, at that time, too, G‑d is watching over him and helping him, helping all those who desire what is good and upright.

When one conducts himself according to the directives of the Torah, this is the good path, and such conduct in itself helps a person to proceed with all his affairs in a way that is good for him.

As in all matters of faith, the above-mentioned principle likewise requires neither intellectual arguments nor profound and complex philosophical proofs. For every individual of the Children of Israel, man or woman, senses in his soul that he truly has faith — even when he is not thinking about whether this principle is correct or whether it is a rational imperative.

As the Sages affirm, all Jews are “believers, sons of believers.”9 This means that the faith that is within them, both in their own right and as a heritage from their forebears who were believers, and all the spiritual properties [such as faith and love and fear of G‑d] that became theirs in their own right and also as a heritage — this faith and these spiritual properties are supremely strong within them all. This is self-explanatory.

I hope that these lines of mine, limited as they are in quantity, will suffice to rouse your thoughts and guide you toward the truest and innermost point within your own self — that in your innermost soul you most definitely trust that G‑d watches over you.

All you need to do is bring forth this thought from within your soul to your day-to-day life. After all, “There is nothing that stands in the way of the will.”10

As was said above, the way to accomplish this is not by profound intellectual debate, but by relying on your inner feeling that you place your trust in G‑d — not by seeking out doubts, nor by creating problematic queries that are not at all problematic and in fact do not trouble you.

Averting your attention from all of this will no doubt help you rid yourself easily of all the confusing factors that have been spoken of.

It would be advisable that before the morning prayers on weekdays, a few times a week, you set aside a few cents to be donated for tzedakah — preferably on Mondays and Thursdays and on erev Shabbos. And it goes without saying that such an undertaking should be made without a formal vow.11

With blessings for a strengthening of your bitachon and for good news regarding all the above,

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVIII, p. 408)

Live Life Simply and Without Complication;
Cease Your Incessant Self-examination

.. It would be most beneficial that for about a year you entirely cease dwelling on making an “accounting” of your life: how others treat you, your relationship to the entire world, etc.:

Perform with simplicity that which our Torah states,12 “Serve G‑d in a wholehearted manner, [i.e., without pretentiousness] — living the life of the “mainstay of the household” in an uncomplicated and artless manner:

[Occupy yourself in seeing to] the kashrus of food and drink, taharas hamishpachah, receiving guests, the lessons of Chitas, and so on. And as mentioned above, do so in an utterly simple and unpretentious manner.

When you begin thinking “soul-searching thoughts,” tell yourself decisively and purposefully that you refuse to think about these matters before the year 574813 — [and that you reaffirm to yourself that] presently my task is that my home and life be conducted with simplicity, wholeheartedness, and joy.

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXXIV, p. 285)

Overcoming Feelings of Depression
Caused by a Seeming Lack of Success

I received your letter of the 18th of Menachem Av, and, as you requested, I will remember you and all those mentioned in your letter in prayer when visiting the holy resting place of my father-in-law, of saintly memory.

You write that you feel depressed, as it appears to you that you have not succeeded in your studies at the yeshivah to the degree that you had expected.

Even assuming that you are completely correct in your appraisal, this still would be no reason for feeling depressed. For, as explained in many sources, particularly in the Book of Tanya, even in the case of spiritual failure, no Jew should feel depressed, as feelings of depression and gloom are themselves one of the strategic weapons employed by the evil inclination in its efforts to discourage a person from serving G‑d with joy and alacrity.

And, when the evil inclination succeeds in one thing, such as in discouraging you from study, as you write, he then goes on to other things.

The way to combat the evil inclination is, as explained in Tanya, to call forth redoubled effort on one’s part to overcome the feelings of depression and replace them with a feeling of joy in the realization that no matter what the past has been, it is always possible to attach oneself to G‑d through the study of the Torah and the observance of the mitzvos.

.. In the final analysis, it is up to a person to overcome his difficulties through his own efforts and determination, and we have already been assured that where there is a determined effort, success is certain.

Moreover, in your case, it is quite possible that you have underestimated your success, a thought that could also have been implanted by the evil inclination in your mind.

(From a letter of the Rebbe, dated 25 Menachem Av, 5718)

Overcoming a Persecution Complex

.. Needless to say, every additional measure of trust in G‑d, and all additional efforts in performing Torah and mitzvos with joy and gladness of heart will increase your personal contentment as well as the success of your activities on behalf of others.

This will also help you to realize the incongruity of your writing that everybody seems to be against you, something that cannot be true, in view of the fact that our Sages teach, “All that G‑d does, He does for the good.”14 And when we speak of “good,” we do not mean only the good in the hereafter, but in the here and now. ...

(From a letter of the Rebbe, dated 5 Iyar, 5721)

Overcoming Psychological Problems
Partially Due to Immaturity
15

(1) From time to time, and repeatedly so, make an effort to better the situation, with the assistance of a psychologist and medication.

Most importantly, your husband desires this as well, [i.e., that the marriage last,] for it is to his benefit (even in his view) and the benefit of the children sheyichyu.

The more your husband matures, the more the excess intensity and fervor of the days of his youth will subside, and his rational self will achieve greater dominance.

Thus, after many, many years of finding yourself in such a situation, surely the misery of the situation has lessened and is not as great as it was in the beginning.

(2) [A divorce] would mean the destruction, G‑d forbid, of all that presently exists and the beginning of a new search for a new manner of life for yourself and your children (accompanied by the never-ending doubt as to whether you did the correct thing by destroying [the marriage], or whether you lost the chance [to rectify the situation]).

(3) Our Sages declare that “Great is peace,” and that “the Divine Presence resides in a couple’s midst,”16 etc. Understandably, then, you should make the effort [to achieve peace and harmony in your marriage].

I will mention you in prayer at the holy resting site of my father-in-law, the Rebbe.

Overcoming Feelings of Being Ignored
And Unappreciated

.. You go on at length about past events in your life, the disappointment that there were those who should have come to your aid but did not do so at all, etc.:

You fail, however, to mention even one word about what you have actually done for the welfare of anybody else throughout your entire life.

What seems to be even more alarming is that implicit in the tone of your letter is an utter absence of the notion that possibly you have an obligation to actually help others (not merely to have good intentions, or utter fine words, or to protest against those matters that you have absolutely no chance of changing, and the like).

On the other hand, you are so absolutely certain that all that was done for you from the time you were born until the present was surely owed you, and that all this goodness [done for you by others, and which you so conveniently ignore,] in no way obligates you to stop thinking about your selfish desires.

[Moreover, you utterly fail to realize that this goodness that has been shown to you] requires that you use the requiredamount of effort to increase goodness and holiness to those in your surroundings to the greatest degree possible (thereby providing it as well to all who have been of assistance to you). ...

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXXVIII, p. 173)17

Consideration and Attentiveness to One’s Wife
Often Results in Her Improved Health

In many instances similar to your wife’s, when the husband is more considerate and attentive to his wife, this results in an improvement in her health, etc.

Understandably, [I am referring to] an addition [of consideration and attentiveness] that she will be aware of and feel.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXIV, p. 9)

In reply to the above response of the Rebbe, the recipient replied that he had already undertaken measures and was continuing to undertake measures to be considerate and attentive.

To this the Rebbe replied:

Regarding that which you write about the various acts of consideration and attentiveness that you have shown your wife [in the past] (and [continue to do so] in the present as well):

You are surely correct regarding the reckoningitself; however, in the present circumstances an additional and crucial aspect should be considered:

Your attentiveness and concern is of crucial import in terms of its healing properties (of both body and spirit), for which reason its effectiveness is expressly measured by its therapeutic effects, [and if these effects are lacking, then you have yet to accomplish the desired goal].

(This is in addition to the fact that in general, matters of the heart, [i.e., truly caring, etc.,] and [making] an accounting [of specific actions which show your care and concern], are not that much in harmony.) Surely to someone like you, a lengthy exposition is unnecessary.

May the Healer of all flesh grant your wife a full and speedy recovery.

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

Regaining One’s Joy in Life by Assisting Others

Many other individuals whose lives were similar to yours (with regard to suffering, etc.), found reliefwhen they devoted their energy and time and displayed genuine kindness and concern in an effort to assist others who found themselves in dire straits or in a state of confusion — doing so on a regular basis and as part of their ongoing daily schedule.

(From a letter of the Rebbe in the year 5730)

Peace of Mind Before Deciding on Surgery

.. P.S. After writing the above, I received your notification by telephone regarding the course of treatment that your doctors have suggested, and you ask my advice:

As known, one of the most important factors in [healing] ulcers is tranquility and peace of mind — something that depends almost entirely on the patient.

I therefore suggest that you strengthen your bitachon in G‑d, the “Healer of all flesh and Performer of wonders.”18 You can accomplish this by reading and then pondering deeply selected selections [of books] that deal with this subject, such as the [section entitled] Shaar HaBitachon in the book Chovas HaLevavos (from Rabbeinu Bachya ibin Pekudah) and the like.

Additionally, it is well established that a proper diet is effective in such an instance, [i.e., in helping heal an ulcer]; I believe it is effective in all instances [of an ulcer], the difference being only in its degree of efficacy.

Therefore, since your situation has been ongoing for some time and the surgery is not urgent, I would suggest that you first try the two solutions mentioned above and see to what degree they ease the situation.

In any event, the auspicious time of the month of Adar begins in only three weeks. During that time you can assess the results of the two methods suggested above, after which you should again consult with your doctors.

In order to minimize your worries as quickly as possible, I am sending this letter via Special Delivery.

(From a letter of the Rebbe)