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Light from Darkness and the Power of Emotions

Updated: Apr 27, 2022

We are certainly going through very strange times, if not

downright scary. Each and everyone of us has been affected by the

Corona pandemic, one way or another.

It’s not that we can’t simply pinpoint the problem precisely,

because there’s so many wrong things going on in the world that we

are left without knowing what to do. There’s something going on for

sure, we know that the Geulah is almost here for a fact.

Yet, the process is truly painful for pretty much every good

person in the world. When things get tough and we are drowning in

suffering, how can one continue moving forward? That’s the most

important question to answer.

Despair according to Kabbalah

In the Tree of Life array, there are two Sephirot which are often

interchangeable. These are the Keter (Crown) and the Da’at

(Consciousness), and generally when one is counted, the other one

isn’t so that the total count keeps to 10. They both are located in the

middle column and are related to consciousness and choice.

Rabbi Tzadok HaKohen of Lublin explains their difference in a

wonderful way. Da’at is our normal mode of consciousness. It’s freely

accessible though many people live in “automated” mode. In

psychology it’s often called “mindfulness”, and in it is also included

the ability to explain something immediately, the power of choice,

connection, compassion and self-nullification. When a person enters

the state of Da’at, there’s a feeling of happiness, of returning to one’s

true self and a lot of healing can be achieved here. This state can still

be difficult to reach but is doable.

However, Keter is the inner strength a person gets during

pressing situations. Most os us probably heard the story of the

woman who saw her baby stuck underneath a car and lifted it up in a

superhuman show of strength. When facing despair, we can access

huge reservoirs of strength to beat almost any challenge. The same is

true when a person is on the verge of death or chasing something

with incredible value. When a person reaches the level of Keter, all

his will is united into a single focal point so that there’s no space for

doubt and very few things can stop him.

Controlled despair

There’s one fascinating Chiddush based on despair from the

Meshech Chokhmah. In the Laws of Kings from Rambam’s Mishneh

Torah and many other poskim, we find that, when waging war, it’s

forbidden to encircle an enemy completely. This is actually a Mitzvah

from the Torah, and many poskim write that the reason is because

we want to be merciful to those who wish to run away. Even if they

are our enemies.

However, the Meshech Chokhmah states that we don’t want to

put the enemy in a position of despair. Were they to be completely

encircled, they’d reach the level of Keter and receive enormous

amount of strength to fight back! With a path free to run away, we

force them the indecision to fight or flee, and therefore can easily


But, how can we access this state without actually being on

such dangerous situations?

There’s no straight answer but only through progressive

efforts in Avodat Hashem such as prayer can a person slowly unlock

his full potential. Training in self-awareness and emotional health

can bring us closer to the point where we can ignite our soul in

situations of need. And this is the power that emotions can bring.

The prayer of Tzaddikim

We find that many prayers by Tzaddikim were often uttered in

despair, and succeeded in achieving their goals. Their Tefillot were

supercharged with emotions, often negative ones, but they achieved

in reaching their goals.

Perhaps the most telling example is Chana. As the sages say,

she was even willing to be branded a Sotah (suspicious woman) by

secluding herself with another man and drinking the Mayim

HaMarim (bitter waters) in order to “force” Hashem to bless her with

children. That was a very daring bet, but one that worked


Moshe Rabbenu’s daring plead of “if you don’t forgive them,

erase me please from your book” also says much about how to use

despair for positive ends. The same goes for Sarah’s order to

Avraham of banishing Yishmael from her home.

We see then that, when praying, one needs to have strength in

the voice. This is the basis of many Chassidic teachings and customs.

It’s written in Tzava’at HaRivash (the testament of the Ba’al Shem

Tov) that one should put all his force in each of the words of prayer.

Through this a person can absorb the power contained in them and

be reinvigorated. Not only that, but the prayer itself has much more

chance of rising up to where it needs to go.

While converting darkness into light might well be one of the

most difficult feats in each person’s life, we should nevertheless see

this as an incredible opportunity. After all, it’s only we look into

things from perspective of “Keter”, that we can surpass the most

difficult challenges.

This article was written and published in the zechut of all Emuna Builder Partners. May they have complete emuna and continue spreading emuna!

Sign up for one of our courses to learn more skills and put them into practice. Putting more peace into this world, yourself and those around you.

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