Shlomo Ezagui

Focusing on the light

Nathan Dumlao

Once, I was listening to an interview with a world-renowned psychiatrist. He is the author of many self-help books sold in the millions. He runs a special clinic, and his unique treatment has helped many. The premise of his cure is to treat mental disorders like depression without medications, using cognitive therapy.

In this interview, he talks about how important it is to identify negative thoughts that are grossly exaggerated and distorted, to recognize and isolate this harmful energy, and to contain it to lessen its adverse effects.

All of this makes lots of sense in the eyes of the Torah as well. The evil inclination, the inner soul put there to test and challenge us, only has its power through lies. God is truth, and his Bible is truth. Dealing and living with truth means dealing and living with the way things are; in the long run, this will always benefit a person.

Through the power of forgetfulness, which temporarily makes us forget the truth, and through the power of lies and exaggerations, which more strongly distract us from the truth and reality, the evil in the world is brought to life and flourishes. That is why when we speak of the future times, the Bible says the spirit of impurity will be lifted from the world, and all will see and recognize “the truth.” The opposite of the truth, light, and joy is the spirit of impurity, darkness, and depression.

This psychiatrist said in this interview that after decades of practice, he had discovered the power of motivation, which may be even more potent than what he, as a therapist, has spent most of his time doing in therapy — identifying the dark and destructive thoughts.

So, years have gone by, and now he realizes that there may be another approach that brings even better results… HELLO?

The Bible emphasizes again and again the greater strength there is in faith, trust, and optimism. More than anything else, the most significant positive blessing in a person’s life is focusing on what is good and uplifting instead of identifying or engaging with the dark thoughts that bring a person down.

The repeated expression is that getting rid of darkness by putting on the light is easier than chasing the darkness out. “A little light dispels much darkness.”

Another speaker, a health psychologist, claimed she has “a decade of demonizing stress to redeem.” In truth, something she had been teaching for the last ten years may be more harmful than good in light of “her” recent scientific discoveries.

She had been teaching all those years that stress is harmful to our lives; 43 percent of the people who thought stress could kill died, while those who did not believe so were no more likely to die than anyone else, all things being equal. The “new” science of stress teaches how you think about stress matters.

Suppose we view stress as a signal for our bodies to pay closer attention to a situation, as a trigger to activate positive results. In that case, we can benefit from it rather than be harmed. Once again, HELLO?

The Bible teaches us that there is nothing in the world that happens by itself. Nothing can happen without God’s intervention. And since God is the source of all that is good and kind, “All that God does is for good.”

Everything that appears stressful and worrisome is merely a test. It is up to the individual to turn a stressful situation into a positive experience. The outcome is a more extraordinary individual than existed before the stressful event.


About the Author
Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui is an author and lecturer. "A Spiritual Soul Book" ( & "Maimonides Advice for the 21st Century" ( In 1987, Rabbi Ezagui opened the first Chabad Center in Palm Beach County, Florida, and the first Orthodox Synagogue on the island of Palm Beach, Florida.
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