The Rebbe’s Opinion On: Depression




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    The Rebbe’s Opinion On: Depression

    Chabadinfo in collaboration with Beis Moshiach Magazine presents: The Rebbe’s Opinion On, a series featuring the Rebbe’s opinion and directive on various subjects In 5711 (1951), the Rebbe wrote to an artist who was feeling depressed, giving him advice to battle his melancholy from his very own profession – art • Full Article

    In 5711 (1951), the Rebbe wrote to an artist who was feeling depressed, giving him advice to battle his melancholy from his very own profession – art:

    The Primary Skill of an Artist

    You are certainly aware that the primary skill of an artist in the craft of painting is to be able to withdraw from the external dimensions of an entity. [From that standpoint,] he looks past its external form and glimpses at the entity from within. He sees its inner and essential dimensions and then expresses them in the art [he produces]. This enables a person who looks at the artist’s painting to become aware of elements of that entity that he had not appreciated previously. For that inner dimension had been covered by less important facets. In this manner, the artist highlights the essence and the nature of the thing that he paints. As a result, the person who sees it, sees it in a different and true light and realizes that his previous [perception] was in error.

    This entire explanation and description [relates] to one of the fundamental elements of a person’s service to his Creator. As we know from the Torah as a whole and Chassidus in particular, the entire Creation stems from “the word of Hashem.” At all times and at every moment, “the word of Hashem” brings [all existence] into being and maintains it. It is only because of Hashem’s power of tzimtzum (contraction) that “the word of Hashem” is hidden and only the external aspects are visible.

    The concept of avoda (Divine service) is based on the simple faith that “there is nothing else aside from Him.” This is the standpoint from which one approaches every aspect of life. Every person, each one according to his capacity, endeavors to bring out the G-dliness that is present in every entity to a greater extent, and to reduce, to whatever extent possible, the concealment and veiling of the external dimensions [of existence] that cover the G-dliness within them.

    Difficulties Enable You to Reach Your Ultimate Purpose

    …Since Hashem desired that the soul not receive “bread of shame,” He gave the Jews the potential for avoda — and not simple avoda, but labor, toiling with one’s body and soul. Through this avoda, one will receive all forms of good, including the highest levels. And all this will be justly earned. The [Alter] Rebbe explains another point in Tanya: One should not think that there are certain individuals who will not realize [their spiritual potential].

    This, [the Alter Rebbe] states, cannot be. Ultimately, even from [Divine service] that is not carried out for Hashem’s sake, one will certainly come to Divine service that is carried out for Hashem’s sake, for “No one will be [eternally] estranged from Him” (Tanya, conclusion of ch. 39). As such, we must watch ourselves to ensure that the secondary matters do not cover up the fundamental dimension of man and his ultimate purpose.

    The difficulties and challenges that a person faces and the matters that he must refine are intermediaries that enable him to come to his ultimate purpose, i.e., that his soul should manifest [its true nature], what it was before “You created it.”

    …Consequently, one cannot let the difficulty in overcoming the challenges — or even the descent if from time to time one fails — prevail over the happiness one must feel as “My son, My firstborn, Israel” and from the promise we have from Hashem Himself that “Your nation are all righteous.”

    Accordingly, if there is a Jew — and certainly if he has heard of the light of Chassidus, and how much more so if he has studied the teachings of Chassidus, and even to a greater degree when Hashem has visited suffering upon him — who writes that he is, Heaven forbid, in despair and can’t find a place: not only does this run contrary to our faith, it also runs contrary to logic.

    Hashem promises with all His strength and power that “No one will be [eternally] estranged from Him.” And it is not required of a person to do anything beyond the power that he possesses (for “the Holy One, blessed be He, does not approach His created beings with unfair demands”)

    …The above is what Hashem says. A person, however, says: “I have a different reckoning,” and as a result, falls into despair. He lifts up his hands in dejection, convincing himself that the situation continually proceeds to get worse.

    (Igros Kodesh Vol. 4, p. 222-224; #956; translation from I Will Write in In Their Hearts)


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    The Rebbe’s Opinion On: Depression