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Jewish Culture

Directing anxiety and excessive energy

Moshe Unger
Posted 2/10/23

Rabbi Mordechai Kalatsky is a rabbi in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I haven’t met him in the past, but I listen to many of his speeches online. He is an extremely refined person which makes …

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Jewish Culture

Directing anxiety and excessive energy


Rabbi Mordechai Kalatsky is a rabbi in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I haven’t met him in the past, but I listen to many of his speeches online. He is an extremely refined person which makes listening to him talk a pleasant experience.

In one lecture he related a story of a congregant in his Shul whose daughter went to graduate school in France. It was a few years ago, when there was a few terror attacks in France. The mother was very nervous, but she didn’t want to hold her daughter back from going. She came to consult with Rabbi Kalatsky what she should do.

Rabbi Kalatsky asked her if there is anything she can do to ensure more security. She said that no, because she doesn’t want to hold back her daughter from going and she discussed with her precautions that she is confident her daughter will uphold. “In this case,” Rabbi Kalatsky said, “I’d advise that you express your excessive fear with prayer. Every time you feel a feeling of anxiousness about your daughter say a short prayer to G-d to protect her.” Rabbi Kalatsky related that she reported amazing results in her wellbeing. 

Superficially, prayer looks like a contradiction to initiative and control. In some people’s minds, a person either does what they want to do and gets it done or they can pray for it and be in a state of mind that they can’t accomplish the given goal and hence the need for prayer. This is not necessarily true. 

Prayer has many layers but even the form of asking G-d for something can go hand in hand with action and initiative. One can put the full efforts in the action and at the same time pray that they should be successful in their efforts. 

Also, once the actions and the efforts are done and there is nothing to add on the action level, prayer certainly comes in and can be a great source of healing for all excess energy and anxieties that we carry which cannot be translated in any productive actions. 

I will admit that in the recent weeks, to my chagrin, I’ve been reading too much the news contrary to what I believe is healthy and what I advise people. The results of this slip weren’t late in coming. In my thought cycles during the day, the news items are unwanted guests, and they create anxiety in me. 

The recent balloon story was unsettling and the recent stories of just too many antisemitic attacks in NYC were even more. Real people are really being beaten in the streets of New York. Many of the attackers are released without bail as a result of the bail reform bill of recent years. 

For now, I will take Rabbi Kalatsky’s advice and when I feel anxious, I will express it in a short prayer. Hopefully I will shake off my news reading very soon and hopefully the attacks will stop even sooner. 

This advice is good for anything that comes up on our mind, whether things that we are grateful for or things that we are in need for, a short prayer about it is very healthy and is effective. There have been countless scientific studies showing the very positive effects that prayer has on a person. 

King Solomon tells us, “Send forth your bread upon the surface of the water, for after many days you will find it.” (Ecclesiastes 11, 1) The sages explain the bread to mean prayers. Sometimes a prayer seems to go unanswered, but the truth is that no prayer goes unanswered. Even if something doesn’t work out, the prayer will be used to bring blessings in other areas of life. A person should pray also for their children, family members, and neighbors, and for everything they ever wish.

Comments? Email: moshe@mosheunger.com


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