Bipolar Disorder and Judaism

This is not only important information; it is also a gentle call to action.

Coffee Shop Rabbi

Image: David Plays for King Saul (Ernst Josephson, 1878), public domain

What does Judaism have to offer on the subject of bipolar disorder?

I’ve already written about the general topic of Judaism and Mental Illness, as well as Judaism and Depression. Today I’m going to look at Judaism’s take on bipolar disorder, also sometimes known as manic-depressive disorder.

Just as there are examples in Jewish scripture of depression (e.g. Psalm 38), there is also an example of bipolar disorder. No less an authority than the British Journal of Psychiatry has suggested that perhaps that was what was troubling King Saul in the Book of Samuel. King Saul was sometimes terribly sad and withdrawn, and his servants regarded it as an “evil spirit” come upon him. (1 Samuel 16) Saul’s illness increased, so that he was plagued with both depression and with bursts of energy (1 Samuel 18).

Verses in…

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Invisible Man

Mateo, December 2015

A Tribute to Ralph Waldo Ellison (March 1, 1914 – April 16, 1994)

“When one is invisible he finds such problems as good and evil, honesty and dishonesty, [are]of such shifting shapes that he confuses one with the other, depending upon who happens to be looking through him at the time. Well, now I’ve been trying to look through myself, and there’s a risk in it. I was never more hated than when I tried to be honest. Or when, even as just now I’ve tried to articulate exactly what I felt to be the truth. No one was satisfied–not even I. On the other hand, I’ve never been more loved and appreciated than when I tried to ‘justify’ and affirm someone’s mistaken beliefs; or when I’ve tried to give my friends the incorrect, absurd answers they wished to hear. In my presence they could talk and agree with themselves, the world was nailed down, and they loved it. They received a feeling of security. But here was the rub: Too often, in order to justify them, I had to take myself by the throat and choke myself until my eyes bulged and my tongue hung out and wagged like the door of an empty house in a high wind. Oh, yes, it made them happy and it made me sick. So I became ill of affirmation, of saying ‘yes’ against the nay-saying of my stomach– not to mention my brain” (Ellison, The Invisible Man, 1947, p. 573).

And while we’re on the subject of greatness:

Walk in Jerusalem

Mahalia Jackson

The Internet Archive


Flickr Wednesday: Branko Mikic

This Wednesday I am pleased to present the work of Flickr member Branko Mikic. Here is what he writes in his Flickr profile:

“I am a graduate of Humber College of Applied Arts and Technology…Creative Photography, in Toronto …..I will be venturing out soon into real world…Upon going back to Europe, Croatia, I will try to establish a gallery in my home town of Pozega…Hold tutorials and photo tours, with intent to teach printing and creative vision when out in the field….My passion is going strong…My love for life,and love itself has been transformed into visual…The form that pertains the life itself, in monochrome or colour….”

Where I belong

Where I Belong

How It Ends

How It Ends

Stage Of Life

Stages Of Life





As Tears Subside

Painful Memories

Not Meant To Be

Not Meant To Be






Epochal Times

Dream Weaver

Dream Weaver





Starry, starry night

Paint your palette blue and gray

Look out on a summer’s day

With eyes that know the darkness in my soul

Shadows on the hills

Sketch the trees and the daffodils

Catch the breeze and the winter chills

In colors on the snowy linen land

Now I understand

What you tried to say to me

And how you suffered for your sanity

And how you tried to set them free

They would not listen, they did not know how

Perhaps they’ll listen now…..