I was debating whether I should share the following words from Rebbe Nachman because I’m confident that they will be misunderstood. But I’m struggling and I hear how everyone else is struggling too, so I hope it can be a source of encouragement.
In the last words of a seemingly depressing Torah he said the following (תנינא קי״ט): “Everybody says there is a world here and a next world. The next world we believe in, and maybe even [the good of] this world exists in some other place, but it seems that this world is ‘hell on earth’ and everyone is merely suffering all the time”. He then said “[The good of] this world doesn’t exist at all!”
What did he mean by that? Is this the Rebbe Nachman who was all about joy?
Earlier in the piece he describes that even the wealthy people that we all envy have constant worry, anger, pain, and depression. There’s no way around it. Like Job said “Man was created to exert himself”. Upon which the medrash asserts “Happy is he who exerts himself in Torah”.
You see, the sad truth is, we just can’t do it on our own! If we attempt to go about life and depend on our own efforts we are guaranteed frustration and despair. The only way to enjoy life is by genuinely relying on God. If we depend on Him sincerely when there’s nothing left in the bank, or we cry out to Him honestly to please ‘handle it’ for us when we’re ‘at wit’s end’, then we can have relief from the burden and anxieties of daily life. But if we stubbornly insist on being in control, then not only do we usually complicate the issue even more but we are left defeated and disheartened.
So why do we refuse to surrender to God? Well, since we don’t exert ourselves in Torah, we are too afraid to give Him control. Some of us don’t believe that we can do it and some of us even don’t believe that He can do it. But if we would steadily devote ourselves to Torah study, then we would learn techniques of true faith in God and have relief from the loneliness of this miserable world.