Judaism and Mental Illness – a Question

There has suddenly been a run on the post Judaism and Mental Illness, which I originally posted in October of 2013. In July alone, there have been nearly a thousand “hits” or readings of that column. What is going on?

I’m glad people are finding it useful – at least, I hope that’s what’s happening – but I have to confess, I’m curious too. If you know, would you post a comment and let me in on the secret?

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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

8 thoughts on “Judaism and Mental Illness – a Question”

    1. True enough. Usually I’ll see that it got a lot of reading via facebook. This time it all seems to have come through the search engines. I think that 900Windows may have figured it out, though.

  1. I can’t be sure, but one possibility could be the recent tragic death of an ex Orthodox woman: lots of speculation as to the reasons – including some suggestion of mental health issues.
    Whether that’s something anyone will ever know, I don’t know. And I’m not fond of many of the assumptions and connections being made( I have several mental health issues….it’s still such a taboo subject. )

      1. Agree so much, Rabbi Ruth. There is such a lot of speculation, and also finger pointing, and other things which I hesitate to get involved in: not out of cowardice, but I don’t want to cause more hurt, or stir up situations where I don’t have all the facts. One thing I really feel uncomfortable with, however, is the seemingly automatic “mental illness” explanation; I can’t – yet? – find words to explain what I feel, so am better to say not much, for now. Whatever the reason/s, it’s tragic and dreadful….I have lost three friends to suicide: this is the first time I have actually told anyone that….I just realised that as I was writing it. One, when I was a child – a girl with whom I was friends; aged around nine. That was back in the 60s. And things of that nature were not spoken about openly(I know that first hand, too, as my family was deeply sunk in a mess of illness, denial and abuse)….I do know that she had an extremely disciplinarian mother. I never knew the exact circumstances, but it’s stayed with me. The others were adults….one, a man, who had bipolar….and who was not found until six months after, in his home. And the third, a close friend, who had depression, and other problems. All in all, I really can’t express the way I feel about it….it’s just such a terrible thing. Sorry for going on about it here ….once I started, it just all came out. Im still trying to accept the death if my mother in a fire, and then just a year ago, my husband. So, just me and the cats. Some days easier than others, but, never easy…..
        Thank you for listening….Shabbat shalom from the sunny east coast of Scotland
        Alex the Agoraphobe

        1. It is a terrible thing, and often a mystery as well. Alex, on this Shabbat Nachamu, the Shabbat when we read the words of the prophet, “Comfort , Comfort, My people,” may you be comforted among the mourners of our people.

          1. Rabbi Ruth, thank you so much for that: I find I vacillate between moments of utter despair, and blinks of light and comfort. And it can change in a nanosecond. Your words mean a lot to me

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