Dear High School Girl,
Thank you for expressing the challenges you have been through. I would like to share some thoughts and teachings as a response to what you wrote.
“We are your typical Lubavitch, “chassidish” high school girls. We cannot talk for the boys or younger girls…”
You are representing an extremely important section of our community. You are women, above bas mitzvah, in the generation which is counting on the women to make huge changes for us all. It’s specifically the women, in whose zechus we will be redeemed.
“To the outside, we are the girls who daven, learn, say chitas and farbreng. Until recently, this was our genuine reality…”
I would like to tell you how inspiring it is as a mechaneches to see girls – in this generation of confusion – who act in this way. Not because we think you are “perfect”. Because despite the inner and external struggles, you rise above the tide and identify with your true identity in your actions. May I ask you, did you never have struggles before this bigger challenge arose? Did you never have thoughts or feelings which may have been different than the way people perceived you or the way you acted? True, the challenge which you write about seems to be much deeper than anything experienced before in your Avodas Hashem. But please look at it as just a “bigger” challenge, not an “only” challenge.
“Then the Covid lockdown came… each of us did it alone, thinking that we alone were the bad girls pretending to be all frum…We constantly had the guilt of not acting the way we did and should…we… are not the same girls that we were when we left school last Adar…One cannot erase from one’s mind the videos, pictures and songs…”
This situation described above is extremely painful, lonely and guilt-ridden. There is a strong tone of despair and fear in your words. Here are a few thoughts:
The Baal Shem Tov teaches (as you know) that everything is Hashgacha Pratis. When you made those choices, you had Bechira Chofshis. But now that it happened already, we must view it as hashgacha pratis. This is a huge personal challenge but it was only given to you because you have what it takes to become stronger and even more connected because of it. All of the learning and farbrengens which you were “into” were all a preparation for what you are feeling right now. Obviously, Hashem wants you to have an even deeper connection with yourself and reveal inner strength in you that you never knew you had.
Kelipah comes to attach itself to the greatest Kedusha. Being that you were chosen to be the Noshim Tzidkonios of our generation, and you are filled with so much chassidus and hiskashrus, you were chosen to be attacked by this terrible kelipah. How privileged are you to be empowered to overcome something that would have been impossible for greater people in previous generations to even overcome. Moshe Rabbeinu is in awe of your strength! He saw you on Har Sinai and he saw the challenges you would face. And he was amazed by the way you will overcome it.
The Baal Shem Tov teaches that the Yetzer Hara desires the guilt, despair and shame that a sin causes more than the sin itself. The Simcha of “Tracht gut vet zain gut” is the highest form of teshuva. It elevates our past mistakes. Picture yourself stronger than ever, sharing your journey and new ideas with others.
The Tzemach Tzedek writes in a letter that even if someone has a good reason to fear, he must remove all traces of fear from his heart. He advises in this letter to think about positive outcomes, act as if you have already overcome the challenge/fear, and speak only positively. This is a path to put the fear to sleep. If the fear is overwhelming, or the addiction seems to overtake you, please seek professional help. You are so lucky to have self-awareness which many adults don’t have. Getting help now with the right person will have a tremendous effect on your success in this important process.
I must disagree with you when you say “one cannot remove…” Yes, it is extremely difficult not to dwell on those images and sounds… and they will continue to make their way into our minds. We are not in control of what flashes into our minds. What is in our control is choosing to let it sit on our minds or not. Always have a positive thought ready so that you can replace those images. It takes a lot of persistence but it is not impossible. You can only dwell on one thing at a time in your mind. Every time you change the thought, you are bringing such strong Elokus into this world. You are redeeming not only yourself, but all of us.
“On the outside, we are your top students who still learn sichos and maamorim…”
You may feel that this is only the outside. That’s because of all of the negativity which is now raging inside. But please remember – this is who you truly are. This is your key to finding the deeper strength and health that you didn’t know before. Your connection to the learning up until now was beautiful. But it’s not enough. Please, ask more questions! You had the chutzpah to break boundaries… use that chutzpah to demand answers! Make us, your teachers, work harder! Discuss it together with friends in a way that can address what you are going through right now, but you would never bring up in class. Don’t be satisfied with what we offer. We are a step behind you. Even though we are the teachers, we are learning from the way you connect to Chassidus in a more practical way than previous generations.
Now, I have a question for you:
When you go on mivtzoim, or work in a Gan Israel, do you ever think “this Jew will never become frum… look at what they watch / look at their tattoos / look at what life they live…”?
We are trained as Chassidim and Shluchim to reveal the inner connection that every Jew has with their loving Father in Heaven. We are trained to help them, one mitzvah at a time, to live the life their neshama dreams of living and to make a Dira Betachtonim. I’m sure you all know someone who is a strong Shlucha, or a very frum Yid, who started out in a place even worse than you feel you are at right now. Now it’s your turn to do mivtzoim on yourself! Don’t give up on yourself because of the stupidity of golus. THAT is the real facade. It’s just darkness. You are much greater than that. Hashem loves you! The Rebbe knows what you’re going through and he is helping you out.
In conclusion, I would like to share some words from a letter I recently read from the Igros Kodesh. In this letter the Rebbe teaches a lesson in Avodas Hashem from the concept of laundering and pressing clothing:
“With the passage of time, as we use the soul for worldly matters, the soul becomes “wrinkled” when it is not used for the things that G‑d desires. As such, it is possible that dust or filth becomes attached to it when one does not perform a mitzvah which he must perform, or when he violates a transgression that is forbidden.
“Nevertheless, the Torah teaches us that we must not lose hope for the purity of a soul and its fitting place in the life of a Jewish person. We must put it in a place where the temperature is warm; i.e., heat it with the warmth of the Torah and its mitzvos, that it should “cook” in them and feel vitality in them. The warmth must be moist. It should bring about a moist feeling and an attachment to all holy matters. This is brought about by praying with heartfelt sincerity about which it is said: “Pour out your heart like water”; and through heartfelt Torah study, of which it is said: “Yea! All who are thirsty go to the water,” and “the sole meaning of water is Torah study,” not ordinary water.
“Several other ingredients must be mixed into this water:9 giving tzedakah, keeping kosher, and observing other mitzvos. In this manner, a soul becomes entirely pure once again. [Moreover,] if a weight of Torah is placed upon it, even though it may appear that this is a burden, not only does it not cause a disturbance, it presses [the soul] out [like a garment] so that everything is in its place, with its appropriate form and shape. In the analog, it is through the Torah and its mitzvos that the soul is shaped into what it should be.”
Please keep in touch and broadly share the discoveries which you will make on this incredible journey. You are bringing Moshiach.
With love, encouragement and admiration,