The penultimate Lubavitch rebbe writes in his principles of education (Chapter 10, starting here), that to feel down is not good but to feel secure and have a healthy self esteem is not good either. Right after that he writes that to have a healthy self-esteem is good but not all the time and in certain ways and to feel low is good all the time very enigmatic piece

can someone please explain what does it mean when is it good to feel low why does it say self-esteem is bad what's the correct way that he is telling us to do?

  • 1
    Are you only asking according to that rabbi, or are you asking according to any sources?
    – mevaqesh
    May 12, 2016 at 4:58
  • According to that rebbe I want to know what he meant
    – menachem
    May 12, 2016 at 5:15
  • Menachem (I assume that you were named after the Rebbe, a"h)? - I am uncertain as to what answer you seek that isn't already explained in nice detail within the book that you linked to.
    – DanF
    May 12, 2016 at 14:42
  • He doesn't explain it he just makes a statement in today's society of psychology it's pretty hard to understand
    – menachem
    May 12, 2016 at 16:41

3 Answers 3


As the Ma'amar explains, all these attributes are inherently bad. I understand this as chassidus explains that midos are from klipas noga, which inherently isn't holy but can be transformed to holiness (eg food, parchment etc).

He explains that if you're going to use self confidence for making yourself feel good important among the affluent, then it's not good. However, if you'll use your confidence for the good, helping you in the service of Hashem, then it's good. For example, having confidence for al tivosh min hamaligim.

Same with feeling down. You should only feel down if it'll make you want to fix yourself up and do teshuvah. Not if it'll lead to depression, as Tanya explains that depression is against the Torah.

  • In the Hebrew it's called hamonas atzmoi literally translated believe in yourself now he writes that that is categorically bad my question is why
    – menachem
    May 12, 2016 at 3:57
  • In the Hebrew text the word is literally translated as believe in yourself he writes that that is categorically bad my question is why
    – menachem
    May 12, 2016 at 3:59
  • @menachem The Hebrew text says ahavas atzmoi.
    – user613
    May 12, 2016 at 4:04
  • @menachem I just saw where you're talking about. I'll read it
    – user613
    May 12, 2016 at 4:06
  • Look at second paragraph on page 57 that's the word that he refers to as bad
    – menachem
    May 12, 2016 at 4:06

you have to distinguish between arrogance and self-esteem. according to the Shaarei Avodah by Rabeinu Yona, the foundation of Avodas Hashem (religious service) and life is recognizing one's own self worth.

from Rabbi Zev Leff http://www.rabbileff.net/shiurim/answers/2000-2249/2065.mp3 see there for more

hence, the "good" self-esteem is to recognize one's worth as a human being and Jew. the bad sort is presumably arrogance and falsehood.

whatever the Rebbe meant, i think it's safe to assume it was not against this.

  • That's is what's so interesting the rebbe makes it sound like that the healthy belief in yourself that self esteem is bad he actual uses the word bad so maybe it's not so safe the source was put above you can read it. Also what is fascinating is that it goes against modern psychology and many rabbsi that self-esteem is integral to life.
    – menachem
    May 12, 2016 at 21:16
  • @menachem did he have self-esteem?
    – ray
    May 12, 2016 at 21:36

He means in depends which direction you are heading in. I.e. you should be able to modulate your feelings of self-esteem or the reverse to pull yourself in the opposite direction which nature is pulling you towards.

Let's say you have forgotten God from an abundance of goodness, then you should lower your self esteem.

And vice-versa.

  • How do you know this is what he means?
    – Double AA
    May 12, 2016 at 2:52

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