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23 Dec What is the Reason? Depression, and A Bad Guest


When I was a Yeshiva bochur many years ago, there was a sense that being sad about, and frustrated with, one’s learning and prayer indicated that the Neshama speaking to the person. Now, I just feel dead; as if my heart is broken over how much less of a holy Jew I am than when younger. Why was it a “good thing” while in Yeshiva, but now a negative? YD

 

My father zt”l quoted the Yesod HaAvodah as saying that a person should examine the results of such inner bitterness: If it motivates him to strive; it is “Holy bitterness.” If it limits his effort; it is “Dark bitterness.” Yeshiva nurtures an environment of striving and growth. Your negative feelings were directed, and became “Holy bitterness.” I suggest that you find such a nurturing environment now and take advantage of your broken heart.

The Alter Rebbe said that a broken heart is not depression. Depression turns the heart into stone; there is no life in the heart. A broken heart indicates that your heart is still sufficiently alive to be inspired and motivated.

By the way, your asking your question is proof that the Alter Rebbe was right!

I overheard a host say to you, in a respectful way, that “Whatever the host says; the guest must obey, except for ‘Leave!” If I heard correctly, you said, “Not necessarily true!” Is it not a Gemara (Pesachim 86b)? CS

You heard most of it correctly. The Meiri says that the final phrase, ‘except for Leave’ was mistakenly added to the text after it became a favorite saying of jokers! A guest does have to leave when so ordered by a host.

I must mention that the Shelah haKodesh rejects the Meiri. He says that the failure of Elisha ben Avuyah, known as ‘Acher,’ ‘The Other,” for his rejection of Torah after hearing in heaven that he had lost his portion in the World to Come, was that Elisha should not have listened to the voice because, “Whatever the host says; the guest must obey, except for ‘Leave!”

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