Tanya Chapter 31: Turning sadness and depression of one’s spiritual state into joy

Chapter 31: Dealing with sadness and depression of one’s spiritual state

5th Adar

1. Not to be despondent over one spiritual state:

  • It may happen, that resultant of one’s deep and lengthy contemplation [of one’s lack of battle in serving G-d properly and his transgressions in matters that he does not view as sinful, as explained in the previous chapter] which is done for the sake of breaking his heart and humbling his spirit, that one may come to a state of depression regarding his level of service of G-d. Nonetheless, one should not be dissuaded by this, as this type of depression is positive and good.


2. The root of depression-From the side of evil:

  • All depression comes from the side of evil and not from the side of holiness, as the side of holiness contains joy, and the divine presence only resides when one is in a state of joy.
  • The Mitzvah of Simcha-Not to think of one’s sins during prayer and Torah learning: It is for this reason that the Arizal stated that there is no place during prayer or Torah learning for one to contemplate his sinful behaviors, being that these divine acts must be done with joy which come from the side of holiness.
  • Thinking of one’s sins during confession: The only time that is proper for one to think of his sinful behaviors, is during times of confession.
  • Kelipas Nogah: Specifically, depression comes from Kelipas Nogah.
  • The difference between good depression and bad depression: [Depression that is due to non-spiritual reasons comes from the evil side of Nogah, while] depression that comes due to spiritual reasons comes from the good part Nogah.

3. Using depression to destroy the Kelipos:

  • Despite the above evil root of depression, it is necessary to be used for the sake of destroying and crushing the side of evil, as the sages teach us that the handle of the ax which is made from wood from the forest is what is used to take down its trees, and hence here too we need to use depression which comes from the side of evil for the sake of taking down the evil.
  • The advantage of this depression: The advantage of this depression is that after one accomplishes the above destruction of evil one will be led towards joy, and on this it says that in every matter of depression there is benefit.

4. Difference between Atzvus and Merirus:

  • In truth, there is a difference between depression and bitterness of heart and hence the broken heartedness that one feels due to his realization that he is lacking in service of G-d is not depression at all.
  • The definition of depression: Depression is defined as a sadness which numbs and destroys the heart, making it desensitized and emotionless, [energy less, and careless for anything in the world].
  • The definition of broken heartedness: Broken heartedness on the other hand, leaves energy in one’s heart to experience the bitterness.
  • Broken heartedness comes from the severities of holiness: Broken heartedness from spiritual matters comes from the level of Gevuros of holiness. This contrasts with joy which comes from Chesed of holiness. Now, the heart is able to handle both of these emotions as it contains both inside of it.

5. Occasionally bring oneself to bitterness:

  • On occasion, one needs to arouse the severities of holiness and bring himself to bitterness to sweeten the judgments, which refers to his animal soul and evil inclination which is ruling over him, as the severities and judgments can only be sweetened with their root.
  • On this the sages stated that one should always bring his good inclination to admonish his evil one. The intent of this statement is not that one should do so constantly, but rather on those occasions that it is necessary for his soul.

6. Taking advantage of depression over worldly matters:

  • The most suspicious time for one to experience the bitterness of the soul for the sake of crushing his animal soul is when he is in any event depressed due to worldly matters, or due to an unknown reason.
  • By doing so, not only does one take advantage of the opportunity to crush his animal soul and reexperience his G-dly soul, but furthermore he frees himself from his depression and worry of the worldly matters.


6th Adar

7. Coming to a state of joy after the broken heartedness:

  • After experiencing the above broken heartedness, one can experience true happiness.

8. The message one is the tell oneself to bring himself to true joy:

  • One is to tell himself the following message points:
    • It is true that I am very distanced from G-d.
    • It is also true that I am low and despicable.
    • All the above however, refers only to my body alone and to its animal soul.
    • However, I also contain an actual portion of G-d within me, which is found even in the lowest of the low, which is the G-dly soul with a spark of G-dliness that is invested in it to enliven it.
    • The above spark however is in a state of exile, and the more distance I am from G-d the deeper this exile becomes.
    • Accordingly, the mercy and compassion that I must have for my G-dly soul is tremendous.
    • I will therefore place all my efforts to remove it from its state of exile and return it to its position that it was incorporated within G-d before it descended into the body.
    • I will accomplish this by placing all my effort in the fulfillment of Torah and mitzvot.
    • Especially, I will place effort in my service of prayer to scream to Hashem from the state of exile that my G-dly soul is it within my loathsome body.

9. Teshuvah and Maasim Tovim:

  • Through performing the above service of redeeming the G-dly soul from its state of exile, one performs not only repentance, but also good deeds, as it is the good deeds that return the soul.

7th Adar

Rejoicing throughout the day when one serves G-d:

  • Throughout one’s day of service of G-d in Torah and Avoda, one should rejoice over the fact that he is able to remove his G-dly soul from its state of exile and return it back to its source.
  • On this the sages state that one should be throughout his day in a state of repentance, [which refers to the returning of one’s soul to G-d from its state of exile, which can be done throughout the day].
  • There is no greater joy than leaving a state of exile and captivity, and it is similar to the son of the king who has been captured and works as a garbage collector in the prison, and is then freed to return home to his father’s palace.
  • Although one’s animal soul has still remained in its state of disgust and abomination, as its essence has not changed at all from evil to holiness, nonetheless, one should not allow the sad state of his body to remove his mind from the ecstatic joy experienced by his soul.

10. Spiritual Yetzias Mitzrayim:

  • The above experience of joy of the soul is similar to the Exodus in which it states that the nation fled from Egypt.
  • Why did we have to flee from Egypt? Seemingly, it does not make sense as to why the Jewish people had to flee from Egypt, as they could’ve simply told Pharaoh that they are leaving, and he would have had no choice but to let them go. Rather, the reason we had to flee is because the evil within the Jewish people was still in its full strength, as their impurity did not cease until the time of the giving of the Torah. Nonetheless, they earnestly desired to cleave to G-d and leave their state of spiritual exile within the forces of impurity of Egypt, [and hence the term flee is used by the verse to describe our leaving Egypt even though technically we could have walked out with full permission from Pyro Pharaoh without needing to flee.
  • In the future, we will not flee Egypt: In the future, when G-d will remove all evil from the face of the earth, we will no longer need to flee from the evil.

8th Adar

11. The message to tell oneself to bring in even deeper and stronger level of repentance and joy:

  • In order to reach a deeper level of repentance from the debts of the heart, and increase the light of one’s joy, one should tell himself the following message which will comfort his heart from its distress and sorrow of the state of his body and animal soul:
    • It may be true that I am remotely distant from G-d, however I did not make myself, and it is G-d who made me, and he did so for purpose.
    • The purpose of Him placing my G-dly soul in my putrid body is a descent for the sake of an ascent. The ascent is accomplished when I elevate to G-d the entire animal soul and its garments through thought speech and action of Torah.
    • This elevation is in fact the entire purpose of the world.
    • For my entire life I will place focus on doing the above mission to immerse my soul in the Torah and mitzvah’s, and attach my thought and speech with G-d through immersing in the laws of the Torah, and immerse my power of action through the fulfillment of mitzvah’s.
  • It is due to this reason that the Torah is called “Meshivas Nafesh,” as it has ability to return one’s soul to its root and source.
  • On this the verse states that the commands of G-d are straight and bring joy to the heart.

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