By Moises Waisberg
Rabbi Gabriel Benayon has released his new book “From My Anxiety to Your Happiness” in an event in Panama City, accompanied by a panel of rabbis and experts in the field of psychology.
Having suffered from disorders as a child, Benayon incorporates his personal understanding and experience to help other overcome fear and panic attacks in his role as a rabbi and teacher.
The book launch was attended by 600 people from the Panamanian Jewish community 2 months ago. Benayon has since traveled to Barranquilla, Chile, Buenos Aires, Guatemala and Miami, Florida, to present the ideas of his book.
He says that it was at the age of 21 when finally overcame his anxiety, following which he asked himself, “Why did I have to go through this painful experience?” His realization was that it was a learning process sent from Hashem to grant him with the ability to guide other people facing similar challenges.
Once he realized this would be his mission in life, Benayon decided to thoroughly study the sources from the field of psychology as well as in the wisdom of the Torah and Kabbalah. Through this study, he reached the lessons that make up his work.
It followed his learning at the Rabbinical College of America in Morristown, NJ, and later in Yeshiva Tomchei Tmimim Lubavitch in New York. In 2004, he began working at the Bethel Community Center of Panama, lectures and Torah classes. He later opened the Mitzva Tots preschool with an enrollment of 100 children.
Asked if he’s not embarrassed to share her personal challenges, Rabbi Benayon explains that “on the contrary, it is a privilege to be aware of our weaknesses as human beings. Our greatest victory is to transcend and overcome every challenge G-d puts us through.”
He says his primary objective is “to show that anxiety is not an enemy, rather it is an opportunity.” He added that by dealing with opposition and confronting negative thoughts, “each person is obligated to assess his life, to reconsider the meaning of every experience and to rethink about his reason of being in this world.”
“In the end, we discover who we really are and the immense potential that we all have thanks to that struggle,” he says. All happens for the good, goes the familiar quote, but for the rabbi, his own experience is that even anxiety, with its fearsome symptoms, can in fact be a Divine blessing.
Through this work, he teaches us to make the best of it so that – as the title of the book suggests – one can learn from anxiety and finally find real happiness.