Today’s generation suffers from more anxiety than most generations did in the past. We do not, in general, have the emergency situations past generations had (such as pogroms, inquisition, holocaust, extreme poverty, starvation etc.) But precisely our generation suffers from tremendous anxiety which makes us non functional in many ways. Why is that?
One reason of course is that we are perhaps a spoiled generation: we are not prepared to deal with difficulties and challenges.
But another reason is that today’s generation suffers from internal conflicts and chaos more than other generations. There is more confusion and darkness these days. There is a search for one’s true self and for meaning in life. There is a constant feeling of wanting to fix things yet not quite knowing how. There is a lot of feeling of despair and insecurity.
Perhaps one of the biggest sources of anxiety today is the fact that we do not yet have Moshiach. And this is a healthy type of anxiety because it spurs us to do more to bring redemption. Our anxiety regarding Moshiach and the redemption is because we realize we are responsible if Moshiach has not come yet. As our sages say, any generation that does not merit the rebuilding of the Beit Hamikdash is as if we destroyed it. Since we cannot handle this truth, which unquestionably casts us in a negative light, we enter denial regarding our actual abilities and responsibility, and/or we project the blame elsewhere—on other people, on other nations, sometimes on God Himself, and/or we repress our guilt. But we need to realize that we have a collective responsibility as a nation to bring redemption to the world….and we have an individual responsibility, as well as a collective responsibility, to do our utmost to bring Moshiach. That means doing more, getting together with others to think of ways to bring about the redemption, and it means taking positive action. Not sitting and feeling guilty. It means acknowledging our collective guilt rather than running away from it and then we are able to take positive action. Admitting our guilt, admitting our faults, is a positive and healthy situation. It does not have to lead to depression. It can lead to bitterness, as Tanya says, but bitterness leads to action and change. Depression leads to inaction and is never a positive situation. Tanya chapter 26 explains that a person , even one who is troubled by sins he committed or by spiritual worries, must not become depressed by such matters , except at certain times one sets aside (when the mind is calm and not troubled) in order to reflect on the greatness of God that one has sinned against, and in order to arouse one’s heart to repentance. “So that thereby his heart will truly be rent with genuine bitterness (not sadness, but bitterness)”. “There it is also explained that immediately after his heart has been broken during those appointed times, he should completely remove the sorrow from his heart and he should believe with perfect faith that God has erased his sin and that He pardons abundantly. This knowledge (that God has surely cleansed him of his sins) is the true joy in God which follows the sadness.”
The numerical value (gematria) in Proverbs of the phrase “worry in the heart of man” (da’agah b’lev ish) equals the numerical value of the word “moshiach” (358). Moshiach also suffers anxiety: he wants to redeem the world but we need to do our part to make ourselves proper vessels for the light of Moshiach.
Neither the personal anxiety of the Moshiach or of mankind will be relieved fully until he actually redeems the world from its suffering and unites Hashem with mankind, bringing completion to the world. Whenever we feel anxiety that we are still in exile, let us connect to the anxiety that Moshiach feels and work together to fix the world and actually bring about the geula.
To learn more about anxiety and emotional issues, please look at the section called Emotional Health which has recently been added to the site....