People are scared. Coming just weeks after the horrific Jersey City shootings, many wonder if they will ever feel safe to shop in a kosher supermarket, walk to synagogue, or send their children off to school. And this isn’t only happening in our quiet, sleepy suburban town. My daughter tells me that in Chicago, a local kosher grocery just steps from her home had its window smashed; and days ago, friends suffered from hate crimes in Brooklyn. For a while already, there has been a proliferation of open acts of anti-Semitism – acts that make your hair stand on end – in European cities, where many are afraid to openly dress as Jews. The climate of fright is all around us.
And yet, there was also a dedication for a new Torah to a shul just down the street from the stabbing, with a strong police presence, as throngs of Jews united to celebrate. On the last night of Chanukah, as the menorah was fully lit, with all eight candles shining brightly against the dark outdoors, my teenage daughter’s class had a Chanukah gathering in our home. My son returned from helping a shliach bring the light of Chanukah to others, and my daughter and son-in-law sent pictures of their many Chanukah activities as shluchim to the Bahamas. These things remind me that despite the horror, our Torah is eternal, and the Jewish people are here to stay and thrive, and transform the darkness of our world into a beautiful Godly home.
As I gazed into the menorah’s candles, praying for the safety of my family and Jews the world over, I prayed that the overpowering darkness will quickly be vanquished by these small but potent lights, and by the many powerful acts of kindness throughout our world – ushering in a time of light and goodness.
The above remarks, written by Chana Weisberg and posted on chabad.org were read by Shaindy Kappel as a beginning to a recent teleconference I gave for Aneinu. (It can be heard on Kol Halashon at 718-906-6400 Option 1 then Option 5 then Option 14).
The lecture was “Dealing Psychologically with Terror Attacks.” As we know terrorists want to create fear, panic and mass anxiety. They want us to feel hopeless and helpless. The goal of terrorists is to destroy a sense of security and safety. Statistically, terrorist attacks cause more Post Traumatic Stress Disorder than natural disasters like earthquakes, and tsunamis. While I can sum up some practical ideas like trying to safeguard our shuls and schools by locking these institutions, having guards etc., I think I would like to deal with different issues in this column.
We are all frightened about what is going on in our world and it seems like terrorism is everywhere. However, we need to have bitachon. The word daagah, which means worry, is spelled with the Hebrew letters Daled, Alef, Gimel, and Hey – but it is missing the letter Bais, which is the first letter in the word bitachon. When we worry, it is a sign that we need to enhance our bitachon in Hashem.
While we can’t do much about the terror in the street, I would like to address the terror we can control – the one that takes place in our homes. Yelling, hitting and aggression towards children and towards our spouses only intensifies our difficult lives.
We must try to create home environments where our children and spouses feel safe. The more love we share and the more confidence we build in our families, the safer they will feel. Remember, if you can minimize the anger and anxiety in your home, your children will have an easier time dealing with anxious situations outside the home.
And having a calm home starts with you taking care of yourself so you can be calmer. If you find time to sleep, exercise, and do something you enjoy, you will be more equipped to deal with day-to-day difficulties that come your way.
If you suffer from anxiety, it is important to seek professional help, so that you do not transmit the anxiety to your children. It is possible that some of your children will have anxiety as well because of genetics, so make sure they get all the help they need.
Again, if we can minimize the anger and the stress, we will see that our children will grow up with a calm atmosphere that can be invaluable to them.
Thank you to Aneinu for bringing up this difficult issue and allowing me to share these thoughts with all of you. May we be zoche to see Moshiach and calm times ahead!