The Steipler’s handwritten letter to a worried bachur offering him practical advice and guidance, along with inspiring words of spiritual encouragement.
Coping with Spiritual Downfalls
In this stirring letter, the Steipler encourages bachurim and urges them to avoid surrendering to depression after enduring a spiritual downfall. He expresses that although sifrei mussar deliver dire warnings of punishment for sins, one must always recall that one who falters yet attempts to rise again is granted infinite reward.
“Many young Torah students stumble… yet many a time, they do manage to conquer their natural tendencies, and this is a very, very, very great and awesome merit!” Practically, he advises them to continue learning Torah in depth and with clarity, “…and throughout the rest of his time, he should not at all worry about his stumbling blocks.”
Hagaon Harav Yaakov Yisrael Kaneivsky zt”l, the venerable Steipler (1899-1985), was an illustrious Torah sage and luminary of the past generation. Aside from his genius in Torah and outstanding piety, he possessed a keen understanding of the human soul and was a strong advocate for positive chinuch, emphasizing the need to reach deep into the heart of every student and educate with a soft hand. He was a bastion of emotional strength to many adolescents and adults suffering depression or downtimes who failed to feel satisfaction in their spiritual service. He devoted countless hours speaking to them, encouraging them and offering practical advice both verbally and in writing.
The Steipler was likewise known for his positive approach to taking antidepressants when necessary, with medical approval (as mentioned at the end of this very letter).
Handwritten letter, not signed. Page size: 19.5×15 cm.
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