Most people feel that moodiness is an unwelcome, yet uncontrollable disease. “Just hide until it passes and hope that you won’t do too much damage…” is the general consensus.
But the Rebbe says different. He calls it depression. And if you think he prescribes magical antidepressant pills for the chemical imbalance in your body which is absolutely not in your control, think again. To make us feel better, he reassures us that everyone is struck with it – even tzaddikim – so we aren’t alone in the struggle. But more than just reassure us, he gives us sacks full of practical tips on how to overcome it. Here’s a sampling of his take on it, a sprinkling of his quotes, literally translated into English.
Enjoy, and remember to smile!
There was a story with a Tzaddik, who was overcome with depression and heaviness. When depression and gloominess come over the Tzaddik, it is extremely hard for him, since it comes down much stronger on him (than on a regular person.) Until he was so overcome with laziness and heaviness that he literally couldn’t move from his place, due to the great heaviness and depression which reigned over him.
He wanted to make himself happy and uplift himself, but he couldn’t find any way to do so, because in everything he wanted to use to make himself happy, the Yetzer Hora found depression inside that too. Until it was impossible for him to make himself happy in any way, because he found depression inside everything he wanted to make himself happy with.
So he started making himself happy with the simcha that ‘I was not created a goy.’
This is surely a great simcha without bounds, for there is no limit to the thousand-fold difference that there is between the holiness of the lowest Yid to the vulgar profanity of the goyim. And when a person remembers Hashem’s kindness to him in not creating him a goy, it is surely worthy that his happiness should greatly increase. This is a happiness that cannot include depression, for when a person makes himself happy with something that he himself did, he can always find depression inside it; he’ll find all kinds of failures in everything so that it won’t let him uplift himself and make himself happy. But in the fact that ‘I was not created a goy,’ which is only from Hashem - Hashem did this, He had mercy on him and didn’t make him a goy - how is it possible to find a failure or lack in such simcha, which is only Hashem’s deeds? And surely whatever will happen, at least there is the inestimable great difference between him and the goyim.
So the Tzaddik started making himself happy with this, and he started rejoicing and uplifting himself bit by bit, steadily more, until he came to great happiness, until he reached the simcha that Moshe Rabbeinu had when he rose up to receive the luchos. And while he was rejoicing and uplifting himself, he flew several thousand parsa’os in the heavenly worlds. Meanwhile, he glanced at himself, and behold, he was very far from the place he had been in the beginning. He had much anguish, for he reasoned that he would descend to some different place, and everyone would wonder where he had suddenly disappeared to, and the Tzaddik always wants to be out of the limelight.
His happiness started subsiding, for happiness has a limit that starts and finishes. When the happiness began to stop, it decreased little by little. And when he returned and descended and was lowered from the place he had flown to during his happiness, he didn’t return to the place he had started flying from, he just descended straight down from where he had flown to. Therefore, he was greatly surprised to find himself, after descending, in his first place; he returned to the same place he had been in the beginning. He examined himself and saw that he was in the exact same place as before; he hadn’t moved from his place at all, just maybe by a hairsbreadth that is impossible to distinguish by flesh and blood, only by Hashem.
This was a great wonder in the eyes of the Tzaddik; he had flown so far in the upper worlds and down here he didn’t even move at all! He was shown how precious a small move that a person makes in this world - even less than a hairsbreadth, is to Hashem. So much, that even several thousand parsa’os in the upper worlds aren’t worthy enough for it.
To explain this: it is known that this physical world is just the center point within the galaxies; and against the higher worlds, this world is surely not considered more than a small dot. It is known that all lines which are drawn from a center point are close to each other next to the center point. But the further they travel from the center, the more the distance between the lines increases. And so on, when the lines are very far from the center point, they are also very far from each other, even though they are close at the starting point.
So if a person will imagine in his head lines stretching from this lower world until even only the galaxies, he’ll find that even if he doesn’t move from his place but a hairsbreadth, in the galaxies he has moved several thousand parsa’os from the place where he was, according to the size of the galaxy compared to earth; for there are countless stars, and each star is about the size of this world or larger.
All the more so when a person imagines lines extending ‘till the upper worlds, against which all the galaxies aren’t considered anything at all. There is no estimation for the distance traveled in the upper worlds, through any move - even less than a hairsbreadth - that a person makes from their place. For even if down here on this low world, he hasn’t progressed, he just moved less than a hairsbreadth which seems like nothing in his eyes, for it is something that only Hashem can see, but there in the upper worlds he has traveled a distance of several thousand worlds and parsa’os. And even more so when a person travels a parsa’ah or several in avodas Hashem…
(שיחות שלאחר סיפורי מעשיות)
Benefit of Bad Moods
A person who still has a Yetzer Hora (i.e. is afflicted with moodiness) is very lucky, because then he can serve Hashem specifically with the Yetzer Hora. That means to strengthen himself within the heat of the Yetzer Hora to draw himself to some service of Hashem. If a person wouldn’t have a Yetzer Hora, his service wouldn’t count at all. Therefore, Hashem made the Yetzer Hora extend itself so much on a person, especially someone who truly wants to come close to Hashem. Even though its extending itself over the person brings him to what it brings him - great sins and wrongdoings, but despite this it is all worth it for Hashem just for the sake of one good move that the person makes while under the influence of the Yetzer Hora; he overpowers it with some action and escapes its clutches, and this is more precious to Hashem than if he would serve Him for a thousand years without the Yetzer Hora. Because all the worlds were only created for man, whose whole importance and significance is that he has a Yetzer Hora and he subdues it. Therefore, the more it intensifies, so too is every little move that a person makes to overpower it precious to Hashem.
ליקוטי עצות, התחזקות ל"ז))
A person must steel themselves with all their strength to push away depression and gloominess, and constantly be only happy. It is a cure for all kinds of illnesses, because all kinds of diseases come from depression and gloominess. A person must make themselves happy with all kinds of ways, and mostly through milsa d’shtusa specifically.
(לקוטי מוהרן כ"ד)
My beloved, cherished son.
I received your letter… and it gave me much nachas… There isn’t time now to rejuvenate you with words of truth, and you have already heard a lot which contains plenty to enliven your soul and make it rejoice at all times, whatever happens. For all the many things we spoke about, that we need to enliven ourselves with every single good point, and even more that we were saved from being opponents on such truth and so on, aren’t just empty words chas veshalom; the main thing is to go with them and fulfil them.
And mainly when a person is in a bad mood due to his wrongdoings and so on, that’s when it’s extra necessary for him to enliven himself with this, and turn the anguish and sighing into happiness. The more the sadness overwhelms him and wants to pull him into depression because of what he’s done, he should turn it all into happiness. He should say to himself, on the contrary; with all this, I merited and I am not a misnaged, and even if I am blackened with my deeds, I am pretty with the deeds of the awesome Rebbe ztz”l, and within my deeds too there are some pretty ones…
We’ve already spoken a lot about this… Please, my beloved son, go in this way to rejuvenate your soul and make it rejoice at all times, and turn the sadness specifically into simcha. Through this you’ll be able to strengthen yourself to engage in Torah and tefilla happily. Hashem should help that it should all turn to good, and all the sins should turn to merits; all in his great, awesome merit and strength, as I heard from his holy mouth explicitly. That’s enough for now,
The words of your father who hopes to enliven you and make you happy with Hashem’s help, that we merited drawing such ‘live waters from the spring of salvation’,
Nosson of Breslov.
(עלים לתרופה ק"ג)
…You should know, my beloved brothers and friends, that according to what I see in the sefarim of the Rebbe and his holy talmid, the only eitza for us in this world is good desires, yearning, longing, and thirsting for Hashem, and to be only happy all the time, and to distance ourselves greatly from depression and laziness, and enliven ourselves with good points; specifically points, for a good point with the merit of the Rebbe is no simple matter, and how we need to enliven ourselves with the fact that we have merited calling ourselves with the name of the Rebbe and his holy talmid. The Yetzer Hora can try to prevail over us by saying that we aren’t called by his name since we don’t heed his words. Therefore, the Rebbe left us the Torah of ‘Azamra’, which tells us that even just a point that is good is very precious. But at least we aren’t opponents on such a new light, a light that shines in all the worlds, that can shine into us too if we merit to be happy with them.
For heaven’s sake, my brothers and friends, do not worry. Worries come from the Other Side, and Hashem hates them. Even that which my friend Reb Eizik wrote, about him being very sleepy due to his depression. He should learn Torah 60 and all the explanations on it, and he should also read the sippurei maasios through which the Rebbe says he rouses us from our sleep. And he should beg Hashem that in the merit of the stories, Hashem should rouse him from his sleep...
The general rule is that all the words of the Rebbe and Reb Nosson are only in order to enliven yiddishe souls and not the opposite chas veshalom. Even when the Rebbe talks about remembering the next world, it says that the main thing is happiness… and to look for our good points. Don’t go around with worries and depression, be happy and start preparing for Purim and davening to receive the happiness of Purim…
I don’t have the merit of having whom to talk to about the Rebbe and his holy Talmid, I just talk to myself and with my family and sometimes I steal in some words with others, but only anonymously. You Baruch Hashem have whom to talk with openly…
To Reb Yochanan: We surely need to daven plenty to Hashem for children, but with happiness and joy, and trust in Him that there will surely be an auspicious time, with the strength of the Rebbe and his holy Talmid, to help you with everything in its right time, with a complete salvation. But not by demanding it instantly. Depression and worrying don’t help at all. Hashem isn’t scared of your depression, on the contrary, He hates it… Therefore, my friends, we must be very happy that we merited at least from the distance to know that such a true Tzaddik exists in the world, such a chiddush, a river that cleanses from all stains. His waters flow all over through his holy talmid, to rejuvenate us at all times with a different cure; hot baths that heal the body and soul. We just need to busy ourselves with them. There is no need for us to travel far away to search for hot baths to heal us; we have it literally at home, without any expenses. We just need to extend our ears, eyes and hearts to these holy sefarim and we will surely reach all good…
(נתיב הצדיק קכ"ג)
The main arrows that the Yetzer Hora shoots at the Yiddishe soul is through depression and laziness, through which all lusts strengthen themselves over a person... Therefore, the main cure for the soul is through simcha. But we need to receive the main cure from the True Tzaddik, who is the trustworthy specialist, and only he knows the ails and regressions of every person, because he is the ‘person who has the spirit in him’, who knows how to go against the spirits of every person, for he knows and recognizes all the failures and sicknesses that there are in the ‘ruach chaim - spirit of life’ of every person. And through this, he knows how to engage in their complete cure, through simcha.
(ליקוטי הלכות תולעים ה"ד אות ב)
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