A Sichah From Reb Levi Yitzchok Bender, zatzal
I keep referencing Rav Levi Yitzchok Bender on this blog. Finally, here is a direct translation of one of his talks. It's truly inspiring and he empathetically addresses those times when you feel "dry" about your connection to Hashem and your avodah.
Full of fiery encouragement, a tzaddik's unwavering confidence in your ability to make it (spiritually speaking), and understanding, this talk shows different angles to the idea of "keep on going" even when things feel "dry" or meaningless.
How to Deal with Obnoxious People by Y.Y. Jacobson
(H/T Shirat Devorah)
This is one of the most helpful articles I've ever read on this topic. Why? Because many people like to take quotes from tzaddikim and then use them in a very superficial (and therefore harmful) manner -- especially the idea that seeing a flaw in others indicates a the same flaw in you.
The idea that seeing a flaw in others indicates a flaw in you has been used in such a superficial bibbity-bobbity-boo manner, more as a slap-in-the-face "Shut up" mechanism (usually accompanied by a superior knowing smile).
Being whomped in the eye by another's bad middot COULD mean that you are as bad as they or even that you're worse.
But not necessarily.
As explained in the article, seeing someone exhibit, for example, extreme cruelty does NOT automatically mean you indulge in extreme cruelty too!
Judaism contains much more profundity and complexity than that. When people start using the words of tzaddikim as battering ram-platitudes, it's a sign that you need to take a deeper look into the tzaddik's words and figure out what he REALLY meant.
Remember, tzaddikim always speak from a place of caring and compassion.
If you're not feeling inspired by their words -- or even worse, if you're feeling battered or crushed by their words, then it's time to push their "mouthpiece" aside and delve into what the tzaddikim REALLY meant.
Mishkoltz Rebbe Shlit"a: Geula This Year - If...
Very important words of chizuk and direction. Especially important to read the comment section for further elucidation.
Solid Change Takes Time
Dr. Zev Ballen takes on the issue of a person stopping medication as they're working on emuna, then expands the lesson within to cover all spiritual processes. It's an important read because even though Rav Shalom Arush is generally against medication, everything really is from Hashem and a person stopping her medication before she's ready can cause harm, both to herself and others. (In other words, maybe Hashem doesn't want her to stop her medication yet. And who knows why?)
As someone who is against long-term medication (short-term medication can be okay in some situations) to treat mental illness, this article is an important reminder against being too superficial & indulging in black-and-white thinking. Each person's situation needs to be looked at individually, and not according to one's agendas or while one's mind is in superficial "snap-solution" mode.
Then & Now
I've discovered a tremendous amount of good sense on the blog, My Perspective. Very well-written and concise, it's a hidden gem in the Jewish blogosphere.
The best advice I've gotten has also been from fellow mothers and caring friends. Note that in the 3rd example, the correct advice was not just given by an experienced mother, but by a woman who knew the child well. This is what's missing in most situations of "official capacity" with either therapists or yoetzim (advisers) and exactly what is very hard -- yet so essential -- to have in order to offer the best advice.
Empathy and a real desire to both hear and see the other person (including that person's positive potential) are also essential and can easily be missing in "official capacity."