Millennials have been dubbed “The Therapy Generation”.
With refreshing honesty they are open to discussing mental health and more likely have a therapist than a dentist. On screen, in podcasts and across Instagram, therapists are the newest celebrities.
They are accelerating multi-generational healing and have a profound sense of self awareness.
Yet, this very same group is plagued by loneliness, isolation and estrangement. “One-quarter of adult children are estranged from a parent” blared one headline this week. “Loneliness affects 44 million American adults” reported another.
One must be careful: Done incorrectly, the noble acts of self-help, self-care and self-actualization misdirect a person towards becoming obsessed with oneself. Instead of the person being driven by a mission, the mission becomes about the person. And if it is all about me there is not much space for you.
The Talmud calls this Sinat Chinam; hatred without cause. The intolerance which comes not because of anything the other has done, rather because one is so self consumed, any other is in their way.
When the mission is about my success and happiness I cannot appreciate the gifts you bring nor even the love you share. I’m focused on personal progress and eliminate all which stands in its way. I may blame my parents, become resentful of my wife and cut ties with my brother all in the name of becoming the “best version of myself'”.
This mindset can destroy our families, our Temples and all that is sacred. Holiness requires a collective, it lives in a community fused by greater purpose.
The people lost sight of their shared mission and began resenting each other for no reason at all.
In his parting message to my class of Talmudic Seminary Oholei Torah, our mentor Rabbi Sholom Charitonow shared:
Two generals were fighting for their country on different fronts. The battles were bloody and the war was not going well. One prayed “If we lose on this front, may the country be saved on the other”. The second entreated “If I lose, spare me the shame and make the other general lose as well”.
“You are going to lead the Jewish people” our mentor shared, “So long you are about the mission, you will find joy in each others’ success, if the mission becomes about you, jealousy and resentment can destroy all”
The antidote to “hatred without cause” is “love without cause”. To become mission centered and see oneself as part of the whole. To look at everyone around with the knowledge we are incomplete without each other: The world needs them, the mission needs them, you need them and most of all Hashem needs them.
To truly heal, not only oneself but the world at large. “Love without cause” will build the Third Bet Hamikdash.
(The ideas contained in this article are based on my understanding of the famed 1899 Treatise On Ahavas Yisrael by the Fifth Rebbe of Chabad – Heicholtzu Chapter 8 – 11. The first translation of this discourse was written by Rabbi Chaim Citron. Mazal Tov to his grandchildren Rabbi Eliyahu and Chaya Citron on purchasing a home to serve as the Chabad Student Center at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR)