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Compiler's Foreword

Chapter 1
The Importance of Maintaining Good Health

Chapter 2
Proper Nutritional Routine and Leading a Healthful Lifestyle

Chapter 3
Recuperating and Convalescing

Chapter 4
Obeying Doctor’s Instructions

Chapter 5
Maintaining a Positive Spiritual Attitude When Ailing

Chapter 6
Maintaining a Positive Mental Attitude When Ailing

Chapter 7
The Relationship Between Spiritual and Physical Wellness

Chapter 8
Specific Spiritual Assists To Health and Healing

Chapter 9
Consulting With a Specialist

Chapter 10
Obtaining a Second Opinion And What to Do When Doctors’ Opinions Differ

Chapter 11
Using Latest Techniques, Procedures and Medications

Chapter 12
Surgery and Medical Procedures

Chapter 13
Ambulances, Hospitals, And the Hospital Stay

Chapter 14
The Health Care Provider

Healthy in Body, Mind and Spirit - Volume I
Based on the Teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson
General Themes and Subjects Relating to Health


Chapter 5
Maintaining a Positive Spiritual Attitude When Ailing


by: Rabbi Sholom B. Wineberg

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Complete Faith And Trust In G-d

I duly received the telephone message as well as the letter regarding the state of your health, and I will remember you in prayer at the holy resting place of my father-in-law, the Rebbe, of sainted memory, in accordance with your request.

It is surely unnecessary to emphasize to you the importance of bitachon — complete trust in G-d — not just as an abstract belief, but in a way that truly permeates one’s whole being.

For, in addition to this being one of the very fundamentals of our faith and way of life, it is also a channel to receive G-d’s blessings, especially for the success of your medical treatment, which has to be undertaken in the natural order, inasmuch as our holy Torah itself gives authority and power to doctors to heal and cure.

You surely also know that [living one’s] daily life in accordance with the will of G-d is the channel through which Jews receive G-d’s blessings in all needs, and additional efforts in this direction bring additional Divine blessings.

(From a letter of the Rebbe, dated Rosh Chodesh Kislev, 5733)

Faith And Trust In G-d

One of the differences between emunah, faith, and bitachon, trust, is that emunah is a constant factor in one’s life. A believer accepts those points he believes in with absolute certainty, seeing them as givens. Therefore they are constant [factors in his life].

[This applies] even when his emunah involves [not only abstract principles, but] matters that [also] affect his actual [life],[86] e.g., the point under discussion, that “his provisions are granted to him by Divine providence.”

It is not appropriate to say that he believes this concept only during the time that he is involved with his livelihood. On the contrary, this emunah is a constant.

Regarding bitachon, however, a person’s certainty and reliance on G-d with regard to his livelihood is a feeling that is aroused when a person is in need.[87]

When a person is involved in earning his livelihood, he puts his trust in G-d, [confident that] “G-d, your L-rd, will bless you in all that you do.”[88] He trusts that G-d will certainly bless his efforts; that his efforts will bear fruit.

To cite another instance: When a person finds himself in a difficult situation and does not see any natural way of being saved, he does not despair and ask:[89] “From where will my assistance come?”

Instead, he is certain [and trusts] (because of his bitachon in G-d) that G-d — Who is the Master of nature and can alter [the situation as He desires][90] — will certainly help him. He knows: “My assistance is from G-d, Maker of heaven and earth.”[91]

Moreover, the person’s bitachon itself serves as a medium that draws down the deliverance from G-d and the satisfaction of the person’s needs, for bitachon means[92] that a person relies on G-d to bring him good in an open and revealed manner.

... When a person displays utter bitachon in G-d and has simple and absolute trust that G-d will provide him with revealed good — despite the fact that this is unattainable according to ordinary calculations and circumstances — his bitachon itself will serve as a medium to draw down influence from Above. ...

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXVI, p. 96ff.)

Importance Of Bitachon For Good Health

... [It is true] medically as well, that the greater one’s degree of bitachon, the greater one’s amount of energy, and the better one’s health and spirits — all this increases a person’s accomplishments and success.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVIII, p. 236)

“Healer Of All Flesh And Performer Of Wonders”

... I surely don’t need to draw your attention to the fact that G-d is — as stated in the text of the morning blessings established by the Men of the Great Assembly — the “Healer of all flesh and Performer of wonders.”

Since the Sages established this blessing to be recited with the inclusion of G-d’s holy Name and Kingship, there is no doubt at all [that the blessing will be fulfilled,] since it is forbidden to recite a blessing [that contains G-d’s holy Name and Kingship] regarding something doubtful. ...

Consequently, increasing your bitachon in G-d will, in and of itself, improve your health — in addition to the added measure of success of your medical treatment. The conduits and vessels through which one receives G-d’s blessings are Torah and mitzvos in general, and their enhanced performance during times of need and difficulty in particular.

Surely you will act in this manner proportionate to your present spiritual standing — and “He who increases [his good deeds] will see a corresponding increase [of blessings].”[93] ...

You will no doubt observe the three well-known daily lessons that apply to all, as established by my father-in-law, the Rebbe, of blessed memory. They are: the daily portion of Tehillim — as divided by the days of the month — after your morning daily prayers; Chumash, the daily section of the weekly Torah portion, together with the commentary of Rashi — on Sunday, from the beginning of the Torah portion till Sheni, on Monday from Sheni to Shelishi, and so on; and Tanya, as divided by the days of the year. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. X, p. 71)

Assisting Others In Bitachon Assists In One’s Healing

I received your letter of the 19th of Teves in which you write that you are in the hospital under the care and supervision of doctors. You describe the state of your health and your apprehensions.

It is known in general that each and every one of us must be firm in our bitachon — our faith and trust — in G-d, the “Healer of all flesh and Performer of wonders.” The greater your degree of bitachon in G-d, the greater will be the improvement in your health.

However, at the same time, our holy Torah also says, “and he shall heal”: that the doctor is the agent of the “Healer of all flesh” to bring about healing to the person in need of it.

In order to strengthen one’s bitachon and increase G-d’s blessings, one’s performance of Torah and mitzvos must also be augmented, each and every individual according to his spiritual level.

Moreover, do not be content with working on yourself only, rather, encourage those who are in your locale as well — surely you can affect and encourage them to some extent — both with regard to faith and trust in G-d, as well as increasing their performance of Torah and mitzvos.

Since G-d conducts Himself “measure for measure, [but many more times so,”][94] by seeking to enhance the spiritual or physical health of one’s fellow Jew, the A-mighty rewards this effort many more times over.

May G-d grant you success, so that you will be able to convey glad tidings regarding all the above.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VIII, p. 145)

Genuine Bitachon Directly Impacts A Health Situation

In addition to the primary aspect of possessing bitachon — which is a fundament of our faith — strengthening your genuine bitachon in G-d also acts as a direct form of healing for the above [ailment], (something which doctors acknowledge as well).

See to it that you observe Chitas, [the daily portion of Tehillim as divided by the days of the month, recited following morning prayers; the daily section of the weekly Torah portion; and Tanya, as divided by the days of the year].

I will mention you in prayer at the holy resting place of my father-in-law, the Rebbe, of blessed memory, for good health.

(From a response of the Rebbe in 5732)

Bitachon As A Channel For G-d’s Blessings

I duly received the telephone message as well as the letter regarding your state of health, and I remembered you in prayer at the holy resting place of my father-in-law, of saintly memory, in accordance with the request.

From what I have been informed about your progress in matters of Jewish observance, it is surely unnecessary to emphasize to you the importance of bitachon — complete faith and trust in G-d — not just as an abstraction, but in a way that truly permeates one’s entire being.

In addition to bitachon being one of the foundations of our faith and way of life, it is also a channel to receive G-d’s blessings, especially for the success of the medical treatment, which has to be undertaken in the natural order since our holy Torah empowers and authorizes doctors to heal and cure.

You surely know, too, that living one’s daily life in accordance with the will of G-d is the channel through which Jews receive G-d’s blessings in all their needs; added efforts in this direction bring supplementary Divine blessings. ...

(From a letter of the Rebbe, dated Rosh Chodesh Kislev, 5733)

Realize That Health Problems May Be A Divine Test;
Withstanding The Test Dissolves The Difficulties

... With regard to your health situation, etc.:

The purpose [of that which I mentioned above regarding individual Divine providence, etc.], is not to justify your situation, but to suggest to you that possibly the meaning of it all is that you are being subject to a test [from Above,][95] (something that comes about specifically from something problematic and incomprehensible).

Then — as is the pattern with Divine tests — when one recognizes that[96] “G-d is testing you in order to know whether you love Him with all your heart and soul” and one withstands the test, then the [troublesome] situation [and test] disappears (for it has already fulfilled its “purpose”), and the person returns to his previous strong state.

With blessings for a full and speedy recovery. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXIV, p. 167)

Pay No Attention To The Temptations Of The Evil Inclination
Which Seeks To Thwart Your Bitachon

It was reported to me that your health is not satisfactory:

At an auspicious time, I will mention you in prayer at the holy resting place of my father-in-law, the Rebbe, of blessed memory, that you be able to convey to me glad tidings regarding your health.

Knowing you and your family as a whole, I need not emphasize that I am surprised by your minimal amount of bitachon in G-d, Who oversees with individual Divine providence each and every one of us down to our smallest details. This is particularly so in your situation, where you have witnessed G-d’s kindnesses so many times.

Surely this must logically lead to a strengthening of your bitachon in G-d and to a reduced amount of worry. This should also lead to having established times for Torah study and performing mitzvos with joy and gladness of heart, without paying attention to the temptations of the evil inclination which seeks to convince you otherwise — it is not for nothing that the evil inclination is described as an “old fool.”

I hope that by the time you receive my letter, your health will have already improved and you will be able to convey to me glad tidings regarding all the above.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXIV, p. 274)

Even When A Patient Is Under The Doctor’s Care
The Patient Remains Under G-d’s Care

In reply to your undated letter in which you write that your wife tichye was told by the doctor that she must go to the hospital for several days in order to take tests, but your wife is frightened and terrified of hospitals for various reasons (reasons that are absolutely groundless):

Explain to her — using the appropriate words in light of her present frame of mind — that G-d created the world and conducts the world, both that half of the globe where I find myself, as well as that half of the globe where she and you find yourselves.

[Explain to her that] “He spoke and it came to be; He commanded, and it endured”[97] — that nothing happens in the world without G-d, and whatever He desires, happens. G-d, however, wants us to make a vessel in nature, i.e., that things should happen in a natural way.

When a Jew, man or woman, does not feel well and a doctor needs to be summoned, this does not mean that the doctor will do whatever he desires, rather the implication is that G-d chose this doctor as His agent through whom this task [of healing] will be carried out.

When one has bitachon in G-d, without harboring any doubts that it is He Who conducts the world, one then merits to see with one’s physical eyes [how G-d truly conducts the world] in all aspects of one’s life. [For then the individual merits to see] how G-d holds on to the hand of every one of us and leads us in the best possible material and spiritual paths.

Therefore, if your wife goes to the hospital on the instructions of the doctor, she still remains under G-d’s authority, and G-d will protect her and see to it that matters follow the course that is best for her, both for the health of her body as well as for the health of her spirit.

On her part, she need but be strong in her faith and trust in the blessing she received, currently receives and will continue to receive from my father-in-law, the Rebbe, that she will be healed. May you and your wife speedily be able to convey the glad tidings that she has recovered and feels well.

No doubt your wife places tzedakah in the charity box of R. Meir Baal HaNes prior to candle lighting erev Shabbos and erev Yom Tov, and you recite daily the Rebbe’s chapter of Tehillim, currently chapter 71, at least until the tenth of Shevat, 5711. Understandably, all the above, [the conduct of giving tzedakah and reciting Tehillim,] is to be done bli neder.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. III, p. 441)

Combine Obeying The Doctor’s Instructions
With Complete Bitachon In G-d’s Healing Powers

I was happy to receive your letter of the 23rd of Cheshvan in which you write that your health has improved and that the doctor is optimistic that your health will keep on improving.

I will bli neder fulfill your request and pray for your speedy recovery when I am at the sacred resting site of my father-in-law, the Rebbe, of blessed memory. I hope that you will be able to inform me in your next letter that you are getting better and better.

Generally, in such matters one is to obey the doctor — by avoiding climbing steps, and so on. At the same time, however, you are to be strong in your bitachon in G-d, “Healer of all flesh and Performer of wonders,” that you will surely become well. The more powerful your bitachon, the quicker your healing will come about. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXI, p. 136)

A Healthy Dose Of Bitachon

From time to time I inquire about your welfare and receive news about you from .... Lately I heard from him that your frame of mind is not as it should be.

[When he informed me of this,] I was quite surprised, particularly when remembering you and knowing of your great degree of bitachon in G-d, [which should automatically cause you to be in a better state of mind,] for when a Jew relies on G-d, there is no room for worries and the like.

Although the Torah states that a Jew is to do whatever he can through natural means, the very same holy Torah says that his natural efforts are to go hand in hand with a strong degree of bitachon in G-d, Master of the world, Who takes care of each and every person — it’s just that G-d desires that we do that which we should do [via natural means].

Thus, when it comes to one’s health, one should visit a doctor and follow his directives; when it comes to making a living, one should seek to improve his business; and if there are problems with children, then one should seek the counsel of friends — one’s good friends.

However, in conjunction with the above, one is to know and be assured that the blessing and success comes from G-d, from His “full, open, holy and generous hand.”[98] Understandably, a person cannot possibly know G-d’s “calendar,” [i.e.,] when His blessing will arrive; however, the stronger one’s bitachon, the earlier the arrival of the blessing.

This is particularly so in your case, where you have enlarged the “vessels” to receive G-d’s blessings by strengthening your observance of Torah and mitzvos in your daily life, [e.g.,] kashrus, tefillin, observance of Shabbos and Yom Tov, and the like.

Additionally, you also have the merit that by your example you have affected and brought other Jews as well to conduct themselves in accordance with G-d’s will and you have drawn Jewish families closer to Judaism: a truly great merit.

I therefore hope to receive cheerful news from you, that not only has your bitachon in G-d not diminished, but on the contrary, it has become even stronger and that in this spirit you are following the instructions of the doctor as well as the other things that are to be done via natural means. [Having done so,] I then hope and pray and am confident that you will see G-d’s blessings in a revealed manner. ...

(From a letter of the Rebbe, dated Rosh Chodesh Sivan, 5732)

Utilizing One’s Faith And Bitachon

In reply to your letter of Rosh Chodesh Iyar in which you offer a brief summary of your [difficult] life and your present [unsatisfactory] health situation:

I hope that I need not stress to you that one of the foundations of our pure faith and holy Torah — called Toras Chayim, the Torah of Life, for it is the Jew’s guide to how he should conduct himself in his daily life in all aspects — is having strong bitachon in G-d.

As explained in numerous places in our sacred books, Divine providence extends to every single individual and to all his needs. The manner and the vessels through which one receives G-d’s blessing is through having faith in Him as well as conducting oneself in accordance with our holy Torah, the Torah of Life. And “There is nothing that stands in the way of one’s desire.”[99]

The greater and deeper your bitachon, the stronger and more quickly will you receive G-d’s blessing.

People generally ask, and particularly regarding the numerous matters that are incomprehensible to the human intellect, why something happened in a particular way and not in another. However, this may not, Heaven forbid, influence our connection to G-d and our bitachon in Him.

I get the impression from your letter that you are surely connected with a synagogue and rabbis, etc. Surely they will explain to you and make you aware of the above in greater detail. Most important, however, is your faith and resolve that since G-d is the Essence of Goodness, this goodness will eventually come to fruition and you will be able to convey glad tidings.

I would suggest that you have your tefillin checked, and that before putting on your tefillin every weekday morning you give a few cents to tzedakah.

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXXIX, p. 297 [100])

Anxiety Versus Bitachon

As for the matter of feeling depressed, etc., [because of the state of your health], ... surely you know that one of the basic tenets of our faith and our Torah, called Toras Emes, the Torah of Truth, is to have complete trust (bitachon) in G-d, Whose benevolent Providence extends to each and everyone individually.

It is necessary to reflect on this often, for [if one does] then one can see that, being under G-d’s benevolent care, there is no room for anxiety or worry. This is why the Torah is called Toras Chayim, the Torah of Life, for it is the Jew’s guide for life and for his way of life.

And although in certain situations, [when there are health issues, etc.,] it is necessary to consult a doctor and follow his instructions since the Torah expects a Jew to do everything necessary in the natural order of things, at the same time it is necessary to have complete bitachon in G-d and dismiss all anxiety.

It would be well to have your mezuzos checked to make sure they are kosher and properly affixed. Also, you no doubt know of and observe the “good custom” — bli neder — of putting aside a coin for tzedakah before lighting the candles.

May G-d grant that you should have good news to report.

(From a letter of the Rebbe, dated the 21st of Kislev, 5733)

Bitachon In G-d, The True Healer

I received your letter in which you write about your health, etc.:

Although you do not mention it, I hope and trust that you are in consultation with a suitable doctor, while putting your complete faith in G-d, the true “Healer of all flesh Who performs wonders,” while doctors are only G-d’s agents. ...

(From a letter of the Rebbe in the year 5725)

Faith In G-d Assists The Healing Process

It shocked me to learn that you have been unwell for the last few weeks. Hopefully, by the time you receive this letter you will already be feeling better and you will be able to personally notify me [about your improved health].

[Personal notification would be better,] for with regard to all matters of Torah and mitzvos, [including the conveyance of tidings about improved health,] “It is a greater mitzvah to do something oneself than to do it through an agent;”[101] [since] “maintaining a healthy and whole body is an integral part of Divine service,”[102] [i.e., since it is a mitzvah, it is thus a greater mitzvah for you to notify me personally].

The simple faith of each and every Jew and Jewess is such that it impels them to believe that G-d alone is the Master of the entire universe and all that is found therein — and this physical world and every single man and woman are included in the above.

Since G-d is the “Essence of Goodness,” He surely desires to bestow on each and every man and woman nothing but kindness and goodness — and good health is one of the fundamental expressions [of G-d’s benevolence,] as explained in the Rambam, Hilchos Deos, the conclusion of ch. 3 and the beginning of ch. 4.

There is also the well-known commentary of the Baal Shem Tov on the verse:[103] “When you see the donkey of your enemy lying under its burden ... you must come to its aid”[104] — as explained in the discourse [Basi leGani] of Yud Shevat, 5713.

When you will (not only know, but actually) perceive and feel all the above, your soul will inevitably be suffused with an inner calm that leads to an immediate improvement in your health and a speedy recovery. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VIII, p. 262)

When One Possesses A Truly Good Master
There Is No Room For Concern

... I am surprised that you are so worried about your health, when G-d, blessed be He, says,[105] “Lift up your eyes heavenwards and see Who created all this.” When one looks with open eyes at what is happening around him, he sees that G-d directs the entire world.

Any rational person must come to the conclusion that since G-d is the true and only Master of the entire universe, and He is also the Essence of Goodness, then surely everything will lead in the direction of good. When one has a good master, one need not worry at all, for there is no doubt that the master knows what is “good,” and what is “even better than good.”

It is also understandable that the evil inclination mixes in from time to time and confuses man’s thoughts. But should one be thrown by, or believe in, that which comes from the “old and foolish king[106]”?

May G-d help that you be able to perform the directive of “Serve G-d with joy.”[107] When you will do so in a truthful manner, then you will see with your very own eyes that there do indeed exist matters that you can be satisfied and joyous about.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. IX, p. 103)

Optimism And Positive Thinking Are Called For

... You write that you are thinking of spending the upcoming days of Rosh HaShanah at home, although many of your fellow students in Tomchei Temimim will be spending the holiday in the environs of the Yeshivah. You add that you are thinking of doing so since your father’s health is not at all as it should be.

I was astounded and alarmed at the extent of your lack of bitachon in G-d: At the conclusion of the month of Menachem Av you are confident and certain that in more than a month’s time your father’s health will still — G-d forbid — not be what it should be and for this reason you will minimize your service of prayer, etc., [by leaving the environs of the Yeshivah]!

It would have been far more appropriate and fitting for you to heed the saying of our holy Rebbeim and Nesiim, “Think positively and you will see positive results.”[108]

You should be filled with bitachon that your father’s health situation will surely improve, and thus you will be able to increase your spiritual service, “service of the heart” (prayer), as much as is required [by remaining in the Yeshivah for Rosh HaShanah].

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. IX, p. 281)

“Serving G-d Joyfully” — All The Time

It pained me to hear from others far from pleasing news about your present [negative] mood and state of mind:

To someone like you, I certainly don’t need expound at length about how astounding and perplexing your behavior is, particularly in light of the Rambam’s ruling at the conclusion of Hilchos Lulav concerning [the vital importance of] serving G-d joyfully.

In conjunction with the above ruling, there is also the ruling of the Rambam as well as the Tur and Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, ch. 231, that one is to serve G-d “in all your ways,” i.e., twenty-four hours a day. From this we understand that one must be joyful during the entire course of the day.

This is particularly so according to that which has been expounded upon in many places in Toras HaChassidus — the “Luminary of Torah” — regarding the various aspects of “In all your ways you shall know Him,” as well as the greatness and importance of performing a mitzvah with joy (see also Torah Or, p. 20b).

[The cause for joy is] even more relevant to you personally, and even from the point of view of your “animal soul,” as you surely do not forget your health situation two or three years ago and the fright and anxiety that it caused you then.

Even if you consider this matter but briefly, you will see the individual Divine providence and kindness that G-d has showered upon you in an open and revealed manner.

Can it possibly be said then — Heaven forbid and forfend — that “G-d’s hand is too short,”[109] [i.e., that He is incapable of helping you in your present situation]?

Even when drawing down and receiving G-d’s Divine blessings here below, you are required to be joyful — not only an intellectual manner of joy that does not actually affect the heart, but true, unqualified and unbounded joy (“simchah on pshetlach”).

Then [we will see] the complete fulfillment of that which is stated in the holy Zohar (II, p. 184b): “They — this physical world and man in general — exist by the ‘radiant countenance’ that comes from below. [Man’s ‘radiant countenance’] correspondingly draws down upon him these selfsame qualities from Above. Man’s joy draws down a corresponding measure of joy from Above.”

In addition to all the above — if indeed anything can truly be said that is more valid and convincing than the above (keYehudah v’oid likra):

All physicians are in agreement that a joyful and happy state of mind increases physical, mental and spiritual health and well-being, and assists the healing process.

May G-d will it that you increase your established times for Torah study in general — as the verse states: “G-d’s precepts are just, gladdening the heart” — and the study of Toras HaChassidus in particular. Moreover, see to it that others increase their Torah studies in like manner as well.

Performing all the above will greatly enable and enhance the ability for joy to “reside in your abode,” to the extent that according to Jewish law you will be able to make the blessing, “in whose abode there is joy.”[110]

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIII, p. 181)

All In Good Time

In reply to your letter of the sixth of Iyar:

It astonishes me that you repeat your request over and over again [that you be granted an immediate full recovery,] when I have already written to you in the past that you may be fully confident in G-d “Who does everything perfectly in its proper time.” This emphasizes two things: [your recovery] will be in its proper time; it will be “perfect,” [i.e., you will indeed have a complete recovery].

May G-d will it that the medical procedure be successful at its appointed time, and that you will be able to convey glad tidings. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVIII, p. 377)

Feel Confident That You Will Soon Be Healed

... Rabbi ... conveyed to me that you and your wife are not feeling well:

Both of you should feel confident that you will soon begin feeling better, particularly as we are drawing close to the festival of Shavuos, “the season of the Giving of our Torah,” at which time — as stated in the Midrash — all Jews were healed of all their ailments.

[The fact that G-d made certain that all Jews were healthy when He gave us the Torah] also serves as further proof to that which the Baal Shem Tov states in one of his discourses, that G-d desires that we serve Him with our bodies, [i.e., in good health]— as opposed to afflicting our bodies.

We should serve G-d with joy and in good health, devoted to the performance of Torah and mitzvos. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VI, p. 52)

“Cease Your Laments!”

After a long interruption I was happy to receive your letter, although I was not overly pleased by its content, as I see from it that you are overly concerned with the health of your children and you conclude your letter with the question, “What can I do besides cry and lament?”

The first thing for you to do is to cease your crying, etc. This is in keeping with the saying often repeated by my father-in-law, the Rebbe, in the name of Jewish greats of previous generations, that it is necessary to serve G-d with joy.

The holy Zohar declares that when one is joyful and strong in his bitachon in G-d, this also serves as a segulah (catalyst) for G-d to grant many more things that will serve as a cause of joy and happiness — regarding both oneself and the entire family.

This is particularly so in your case, where your children merited to study in a [chassidic] institution for which my father-in-law, the Rebbe, had mesirus nefesh — this itself assures that [the chassidic path of serving G-d with joy and bitachon] is the path that will enable your children to be happy and successful both materially and spiritually. ...

As to your question, “What can I do?” [Act in a manner] as mentioned above: Bring about joy in your home and continue your work of spreading Judaism amongst your friends. This will hasten and increase the blessings and success in your personal matters as well. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VIII, p. 280)

So Much To Be Grateful For

It pained me to hear that your health situation is not as it should be — most importantly, that you are somewhat dejected.

I am amazed at you — and generally speaking, at all those of our generation who were protected by G-d and are the remnant “brands saved from the fire” [of the Holocaust] — that after personally witnessing such individual Divine providence, they still retain a measure of doubt.

Not that their doubt, G-d forbid, applies to their transcendent degree of faith, but to the feelings in their heart — [doubting] whether G-d, the “Essence of goodness” and [consequently, since] “It is in the nature of he who is good to do good,” [they doubt whether He] truly orders the life of man in each and every specific detail [since this goodness is not readily apparent].

If this faith and comprehension were to permeate the person’s feelings and emotions, then he surely would rejoice in his lot, and consequently his health would be as it should be. He would then increase his efforts in his service of fulfilling his life’s mission in this world.

It is true that everything a person does must also be grounded in nature, as the verse states:[111] [“G-d will bless you] in all that you do,” (the reason for this is explained in many places, and among them near the conclusion of Kuntres U’Mayon), for which reason one must follow the instructions of doctors. Nevertheless, [having followed their instructions,] one should not take the matter [of one’s health] to heart at all, as is known.

If you would heed my advice, you would take a one-or-two-week vacation to soothe your state of mind and strengthen your health through rest and relaxation. Having done so, you should steadfastly resolve to serve G-d with joy. You will then be able to continue your work and public service in good health and success.

With blessings that you be able to convey glad tidings to me regarding both yourself, as well as the rest of your family. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. IX, p. 264)

Blessings Are Only Effective
If One Does Not Counteract Them With Ingratitude

I will read the pidyon nefesh attached to your letter [(in which you ask for my blessing)] at the holy resting place of my father-in-law, the Rebbe, of sainted memory.

I am astonished by your [negative] attitude, as I have written to you so often about the absolute necessity of being joyful.

Nevertheless, every letter I receive from you begins and concludes with the same tired expressions, the points being that: everything is awful — your health, your wife’s and your children’s; you are not earning a living; you are unhappy, etc.

All this is notwithstanding the fact that you actually observed open and revealed miracles in your life. (It seems that you choose not to remember what the doctors told you at the outset of your wife’s pregnancy [about the dangers, etc.,] and how the pregnancy and birth took place, etc., [i.e., in a totally healthful manner] — completely opposite from their prognosis.)

We have already become accustomed [to people acting in a muddled and ungrateful manner] in these times of exile — times of murkiness, concealment and doubled and redoubled darkness. But even this degree of darkness must have a limit. When it comes to you, however, it seems that all the goodness showered upon you has had no effect at all.

Although this [negative outlook] is entirely of your choosing, [and what business is this of mine]; however, it still pains me to see how a Jew torments himself about matters that have absolutely no foundation, thereby ruining his health. [In addition,] it is impossible that this is not having a damaging effect on your family as well, inasmuch as you write in all your letters that you are distressed and greatly worried.

As to your asking me for my blessings and so on — it is impossible to deprive a Jew of his freedom of choice (since this freedom is rooted in the Divine soul, which is “truly a part of G-d Above” — only there does absolute freedom of choice exist, and by extension within the Jew as well).

Therefore, should you desire [and continue to choose] to obstinately act in an irrational manner, to only see in any and all circumstances nothing but negativity, then who can possibly tell you what to do [and of what benefit to you will my blessings be]?

My hope is that notwithstanding all the above, since our Sages, of blessed memory, ruled (Bava Basra 12b) that whoever was dealt with kindly from Above [(as you were)] will continue to be dealt with in this kindly manner for many long years; therefore you too will continue to be granted much kindness from Above.

Nevertheless, [i.e., despite your past behavior,] it is my hope that you examine [and study] again in a truly honest manner (aliba d’nafshei) the statement of the sacred Zohar (II, p. 184b) titled “Ta chazi” (“Come and see”), [that when man below is of a “radiant countenance” and filled with joy and gladness, he then draws down upon him the same qualities from Above].

Moreover, there is the known nuance (diyuk) that in the revealed portion of Torah the oft-used expression is “Come and hear” — only hearing — although the matter [heard] may well be quite comprehensible, while in the mystical portion of Torah the commonly used expression is “Come and see” — sight — which is so much more profound than hearing, although one does not always fully comprehend that which he has seen.

With my blessing that ultimately you will devote yourself to the directive of the Baal Shem Tov and the Nesiim who followed him — that service of G-d is specifically to be done with a sense of joy. [And may G-d bless] you and your entire family with good health.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. X, p. 99)

“All That G-d Does, He Does For The Good.”

I was pleased to receive your regards through .... In keeping with your request, I will mention you and your entire family in prayer at the holy resting site of my father-in-law, the Rebbe, of blessed memory, for good health and sustenance.

It is surely superfluous to point out that G-d requests that we serve Him constantly throughout the year with joy, which is to say that we are to be joyful of the fact that we are children of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, and children of G-d. Consequently, we merit G-d’s watchful Providence over each and every one of us individually, and at all times and in all places.

If a person were to merit the honor of being together with a king of flesh and blood in [the king’s] innermost chamber, the person’s joy and exultation would be tremendous. How much more so should a person rejoice and exult at one’s closeness to the King of kings, as explained at length in the 36th chapter of Tanya.

Another thought, connected to the previous one: When one is together with the King of kings, the Holy One blessed be He, then surely, when one realizes this, there can be no thing that is not good, for no one other than G-d has any dominion in this place, [i.e., in the place where the person finds himself together with G-d].

Consequently, even if one cannot understand the inner goodness of something that has transpired, this lack of understanding is only because that individual has not pondered deeply enough yet to understand the goodness of the event. In the end, one sees how “All that G-d does, He does for the good.”[112]

I hope that the above lines will suffice to arouse in you the above comprehension, and you will immediately arrive at the understanding that every Jew must be strong in his bitachon in G-d, and that you will attain the proper degree of bitachon in G-d — moreover, all Jews have this bitachon, at the very least, in a concealed fashion [and it needs only to be revealed].

All the above will, in turn, enable you to be truly joyful.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. X, p. 389)

Fulfill Your Task And G-d Will Fulfill His

... Do not obsess about your health — of course you should take care of yourself and heed your doctors’ instructions, but do not obsess over it.

Rather, you should be confident that G-d, Who directs the world as a whole for the good, will also direct your personal world for the good, providing all you need in order to be able to enjoy good health. On your part, your responsibility lies in performing Torah and mitzvos, thereby “cleaving to the L-rd your G-d.”

When you keep the above [mutual responsibilities] in mind, then you will have good health and will not be anxious and worried. You will also then have much success not only in your spiritual affairs, but also in material matters such as your business, and the like.

I hope to hear good news from you, [including the news] that you have placed the concern about your health on G-d, while you take upon yourself the concern of matters of Torah and mitzvos, both your own as well as of those in your locale.

I await hearing glad tidings from you and extend to you my blessings of good health, and much material and spiritual goodness.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. V, p. 166)

Rely On An Infinitely Powerful And Capable G-d

I am very surprised that I have not heard from you since the time that we saw each other, and it pained me to now receive news from you that your health is not as it should be. In accordance with your request, I will mention you in prayer at the sacred resting place of my father-in-law, the Rebbe, of blessed memory, for good health — both physical and spiritual.

I believe that when we conversed, the point was also made that serving G-d with joy is one of the foundations of the system of the Baal Shem Tov. Also known is the statement of the Great Teacher, our master the Rambam, who states that Divine service takes place not only during prayer or Torah study, but also while eating and through [the very act of] eating, while walking and through [the very act of] walking, etc.

Since G-d does not request the impossible, G-d has certainly granted every one of us the ability to serve Him in this sacred and agreeable manner of service to the fullest possible extent.

In addition to the above, also contemplate the following: Unlike the view of idolaters who maintain, “His glory is only in the heavens,”[113] since “the L-rd is high above all nations,” [114] [and consequently, overseeing matters on this earth is considered a degradation, we Jews believe that] G-d oversees each and every one of us, [including overseeing us in] our ongoing daily lives and even [overseeing] those details that people call trifling and insignificant.

There is thus no room for any anxiety and concern. Indeed, this is similar to an infant whose father is close by [and as a result has not a care in the world, as he is certain that his father is infinitely powerful and capable and will see to his every need]. However, [the analogy is not quite accurate, for] in the analogy the father is all-powerful only in the child’s imagination, while in the analogue the Father, our Father in Heaven, is truly infinitely powerful and capable — as is easily understood.

I await the glad tidings that you are feeling better — and in accordance with the oft-used expression of my father-in-law, the Rebbe, of blessed memory: “You should have a healthy and happy summer.”

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XI, p. 69)

Bitachon In A Tzaddik’s Blessings
Makes The Waiting Easier
And Hastens The Fulfillment Of The Blessing

I received your letter dated September 8th and I was glad to read there that you are also already noticing — as you write in your letter — an improvement in your son’s health and that he is calmer. This concurs as well with the opinion of Dr. Wilder.

As I have already once told you, since the Rebbe, my father-in-law, gave his blessing that your son will be well, then he will surely keep his word. It is only a matter of time.

Without question, the waiting [for the complete fulfillment of this blessing] is difficult, particularly for the parents of an only child.

However, being steadfast in one’s bitachon that the blessing will be fulfilled helps in two ways: The waiting for the complete fulfillment of the blessing becomes far easier; the stronger the bitachon, the quicker the tzaddik’s promise will come to fruition.

I hope that you will be strong in your bitachon, stronger even than you were until now. [Strengthening your bitachon] reinforces my assurance that your son is becoming better and better in all aspects. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. IV, p. 467)

Individual Divine Providence
Extends Particularly To Health Matters

... I trust that I need not explain to you that every Jew

— man and woman, young and old — should be strong in his bitachon in G-d, Who oversees every aspect of all our lives with individual Divine providence, particularly with regard to matters of health. This should provide you with additional strength and increased optimism that everything will surely turn out well.

Since G-d desires that we do everything we can in a natural manner, it is therefore important that you receive the advice of an expert — in your situation a doctor who specializes in nervous and mental conditions — and follow his advice.

G-d will provide His blessing for success, and much success at that. [On your part,] the more you will strengthen your bitachon, the more you will see the fulfillment of His blessing.

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

Do Not Speak Ill Of Yourself

It pleased me to receive your letter dated the 17th of Sivan. Although the content of the letter was not of the category that brings pleasure, since you lament there your ill health, nevertheless, it was pleasing to receive a letter from you after a period of silence. I hope that I will soon receive a letter from you with joyful contents regarding both your physical and spiritual well-being.

[The importance of not verbalizing or putting into writing laments about one’s ill health is understood in light of] the well-known saying of my father-in-law, the Rebbe, that the prohibition against lashon hara, speaking ill of a fellow Jew, includes not speaking lashon hara about oneself as well.

Also known is the explanation of the codifiers about the difference between lashon hara and motzi shem ra, slanderous speech: Motzi shem ra only applies to speaking an untruth about another, while lashon hara applies even if one speaks the truth. Nevertheless, [even though the person speaks the truth,] our Sages say, “Lashon hara harms all three,”[115] [the speaker, the listener and the individual about whom the lashon hara is spoken].

... This, too, is the damage done by lashon hara even if the matter is true, for by speaking about [the faults or failings of the other or oneself, or even about one’s poor health], the person reveals and brings these [faults or failings] to the fore.

When something is drawn down into the [more physical] realm of speech [from the more ethereal realm of thought], the situation is affected to a greater extent. If, however, it remains in a concealed form, the results are not so easily realized.

I hope that by the time you receive my letter, you will already have had the opportunity to bring about some positive spiritual change among some of the neighboring patients in the hospital. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VI, p. 140)

Bitachon That G-d Will Heal Is Important Not Only For Oneself,
But To Influence Other People As Well

... I see from your letter that [not only has your own health returned, but] your wife’s health has improved as well. Since you see with your own eyes that G-d has healed you and that your wife’s health is also improving, you are to be strong in your bitachon in G-d that matters will keep on improving until you will also be satisfied [from the results].

It irks and pains me to read uncalled-for expressions in your letter. Why do you do so? — particularly when this comes from a believing Jew, one who can influence others as well.

By being weak in your bitachon in G-d, you, first of all, negatively impact your spiritual state as well as your health. Secondly, it takes away from your desire and longing to influence others, to make them happier and in a better frame of mind.

I hope that by the time you receive this letter, your mood will have changed to the better, and you will be following the directive of our sacred Torah,[116] “Serve G-d with joy.” For as explained in our holy sefarim, one should and can serve G-d not only through prayer and Torah, but also when one eats, drinks and the like.

One is able to accomplish this when he lives his entire life in a joyful frame of mind. When one acts in the above manner, we indeed observe that the person is healthier, in better spirits, and able to accomplish more both regarding himself as well as in relation to others.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VI, p. 82)

Since G-d Says Children Are A Blessing,
Jews Are Deserving Of This Blessing

... Regarding that which you write: that as a result of all the above, [i.e., your wife’s difficulty in conceiving,] she has become nervous, etc.:

Relay to her [the following]: G-d conducts the world in the best possible manner; it is He Who knows what is best. And He wrote in the Torah that children are a blessing — thus Jews are deserving of this.

If this blessing [for children] is sometimes delayed, then we are to know that we all have a great Rebbe, my father-in-law, the Rebbe, and he will eventually implement all the blessings he gave to all those who are bound up with him.

It is necessary, nevertheless, to maintain the bond with him. If one, however, begins having second thoughts about whether his blessing will indeed come to pass and begins becoming nervous about it, this is a sign of weakness [in this bond,] G-d forbid. Surely, if this [uncertainty about the blessing] also has an effect on one’s health, then it is a definite sign that this stems simply from the evil inclination.

You and your wife must be strong in your bitachon in G-d and in “His servant Moshe” of our generation, my father-in-law, the Rebbe. This in itself will assist in hastening the realization of his holy blessings for viable and healthy children and all manner of goodness.

No doubt your wife gives — bli neder — tzedakah to the charity of R. Meir Baal HaNes prior to candle lighting, and you recite every day — bli neder — the Rebbe’s chapter of Tehillim, ch. 71.

When your wife tichye will conceive in a good and auspicious hour, you will presumably not publicize this at the beginning [of the pregnancy], but you will immediately notify the Rebbe at his holy resting site.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. III, p. 386)

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) Similar concepts apply with regard to [another dimension of] emunah, that it is an encompassing power [which does not necessarily produce an internalized effect on a person. This] also [applies] even with regard to actual [life situations], and it is possible that before breaking into a house, a thief will cry out to G-d (Berachos 63a, according to the version of the Ein Yaakov). [Such a contradiction] is not possible with regard to bitachon.

  2. (Back to text) [It is true that] the concept of bitachon always exists within the feelings of the person who possesses bitachon. The actual arousal and revelation of the quality of bitachon, however, occurs only when [this quality is] called upon in actual life. See the beginning of Nesiv HaBitachon in Nesivos Olam by the Maharal.

  3. (Back to text) Devarim 15:18.

  4. (Back to text) Tehillim 121:1.

  5. (Back to text) See [the statements of] Rabbeinu Yonah [quoted in] Kad HaKemach, erech Bitachon. See [also] the marginal note in Likkutei Sichos, Vol. III, p. 883 (also printed in Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe Rayatz, Vol. VI, p. 398ff.).

  6. (Back to text) Tehillim, loc. cit.:2.

  7. (Back to text) See also Likkutei Sichos, Vol. III, loc. cit.

  8. (Back to text) See Taanis 30b and Rashi’s commentary there.

  9. (Back to text) See Sotah 8b.

  10. (Back to text) See Sefer HaMaamarim Melukat, Vol. I, p. 188ff., and sources cited there.

  11. (Back to text) Devarim 13:4.

  12. (Back to text) Tehillim 33:9.

  13. (Back to text) From the text of the “Blessing After the Meal.”

  14. (Back to text) Zohar II, p. 162b.

  15. (Back to text) From a letter of the Rebbe, dated 19 Iyar 5725.

  16. (Back to text) Kiddushin 41a.

  17. (Back to text) Rambam, Hilchos Deos, beginning of ch. 4.

  18. (Back to text) Shemos 23:5.

  19. (Back to text) The Baal Shem Tov explains that “donkey” — in Hebrew, chamor, from the root chomer (materialism) — refers to a person’s physical body. “You must come to its aid” thus means that one may not rely on fasts and mortifications to break down the body’s crude materialism, but must rather “come to its aid,” by purifying, refining and elevating the body.

  20. (Back to text) Yeshayahu 40:26.

  21. (Back to text) Koheles 4:13.

  22. (Back to text) Tehillim 100:2.

  23. (Back to text) See Sefer HaSichos 5688, p. 4; also Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXXVI p. 4, and sources cited there.

  24. (Back to text) Bamidbar 11:23.

  25. (Back to text) From the introductory text of the “Blessing After the Meal” during a wedding feast or whenever the Sheva Berachos are recited.

  26. (Back to text) Devarim 15:18.

  27. (Back to text) Berachos 60b.

  28. (Back to text) Conclusion of Tehillim 113:4.

  29. (Back to text) Beginning of the above verse.

  30. (Back to text) Arachin 15b.

  31. (Back to text) Tehillim 100:2.


  Chapter 4
Obeying Doctor’s Instructions
Chapter 6
Maintaining a Positive Mental Attitude When Ailing
 
  
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     Sichos In English -> Books -> Other -> Healthy in Body, Mind and Spirit - Volume I

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