Studies show that depression and anxiety are more rampant than ever. Suicide, drug and alcohol abuse and divorce are at all-time highs as well. The number one cause of death in the world is heart disease and depressed people are four times as likely to have a heart attack.
We all agree that the western world is currently undergoing an information revolution. We have far superior technological capacity to store, communicate and compute information than ever before. This technology not only gives us access to scientific, behavioral and literary information that was inaccessible prior to, but it also compounds and speeds up the level of produced information in the world as well.
But more information isn’t bad, is it? Well, it depends on how the information is presented and who it’s presented to. If scientific information is presented, as it mostly is, with the intention to belittle faith and increase skepticism, it can be a dangerous medium of information. When it’s presented to people whose faith is weak, whether because they’re religious education was poor or whether they went through some traumatic events within the religious system, those recipients of that information will likely buy-in to the anti-religious peripherals that swarm around their beloved information.
Rebbe Nachman teaches that all the pain and suffering in the world is from not believing in Divine Providence (Torah 250). I believe that so much of the scientific information which we read and circulate, that is presented without the intent to glorify God’s presence in the world, has the opposite effect. Just merely reading about scientific breakthroughs that coincidentally omit the existence of our Creator infuses us with doubt as to His existence, and ultimately His Guidance. In my opinion this is a huge factor behind the increase of depression, atheism and overall hopelessness that pervades the world.
The central theme of Pesach is faith. As Reb Nosson explains (Netilas Yadayim 2), Chometz represents the atheistic scientists and Matzoh represents those who believe in Hashem’s providence. For seven days we need to rid ourselves totally of any denial or doubt of Hashem’s supremacy in our daily lives. It’s not an easy battle. We really need to topple over that doubtful side of us, just like the Egyptians had to be drowned in the sea. I’m sure many might read this article and think “Oh please! I believe in Hashem and nothing I read or see has any effect on that for me”. Let’s not lie to ourselves. At least for those seven days, let’s stop the evil inculcation and only imbue within ourselves strong teachings of faith and belief. Beware though, you might actually start to feel happy. You’ll probably be less cynical and more hopeful too. Consider yourself warned. Happy Passover!