Weekly Letter of the Rebbe: Breaking a Bad Habit

As we count our way through the days of Sefirah, a time we devote to the refining of our character, we present a letter of the Rebbe in which he gives advice on how to deal with and overcome an undesirable habit. The letter, written originally in English, is from the archives of the Rebbe’s personal trusted secretary, Rabbi Nissan Mindel.

By the Grace of G-d


Brooklyn, N.Y.

Mr. _________

Baltimore, Md.

Greeting and Blessing:

I am in receipt of your letter, in which you write about an undesirable habit.

The way to overcome this habit is to completely divert the mind from it. This means that one should not attempt to wrestle with the problem in his mind to convince himself that it is a bad thing, or a sin, and the like, but to dismiss it entirely from the mind. But, in order to be able to disengage the mind from one thing, it is necessary to engage it immediately in something else, which has no relation whatever to the other thoughts. The best thing, of course, is to engage the mind in a matter of Torah, because the Torah is called “Light” and even a little light dispels a lot of darkness. However, if it is impossible to engage the mind in Torah, at the moment when that thought occurs, it should be engaged in anything, as long as it is completely unrelated.

In accordance with the above, it is also clear that every addition in the degree of devotion and diligence in the study of the Torah and the observance of the mitzvot, in addition to being a must for its own sake, will also help to overcome the problem.

If your tefillin have not been checked within the last twelve months, it would be a good idea to have them checked now, and every weekday morning, before putting them on, to put aside a small coin for tzedaka, ‘bli-neder’. I also suggest that you should be careful to observe the shiur in Tehillim every day, as it is divided according to the days of the month.

With blessing,


The above letter is from The Letter and the Spirit by Nissan Mindel Publications (NMP).

These letters were written originally in English and were prepared for publication by Rabbi Dr. Nissan Mindel, whose responsibility it was the Rebbe’s correspondence in English and several other languages.

We thank Rabbi Shalom Ber Schapiro, who was entrusted by his father-in-law Rabbi Mindel with his archives and who is Director of the Nissan Mindel Publications (NMP), for making the Rebbe’s letters available to the wider public. May the merit of the many stand him in good stead.

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