I want to compliment Mrs. Esti Dishon on her positive words concerning dealing with anxieties and emotions in these difficult times (See “Emphasize Your Positive Emotions,” 28 Nisan 5780/April 22, 2020). As she correctly advises, negative emotions tend to intensify if you try to suppress them. However, I would like to add to her words, as there may be a better way to deal with them rather than repressing them. This also applies to the emotion of fear.
Chazal tell us in Brachos (33b), Rabi Chanina said, “Hakol b’yedei Shamayim chutz mi’yiras Shamayim — Everything is in the hands of Heaven — meaning G-d — except for having true fear of Hashem.” If we truly believe these words of our Sages, we must understand that everything, from the smallest accidents in our lives to something like coronavirus, was put here by Hashem. Therefore, He is totally in charge. Just as we believe that our spouses were picked by G-d before we were born, and all the bounty which we receive throughout our lives is from G-d, then we must also believe that things we think are bad and that appear to be bad, are truly from G-d as well.
Internalizing this is not an easy process. I tell many of my patients that when they find themselves in a fearful moment, they should say the above sentence and sit in a chair and relax. They should then repeat the passuk three times while relaxing. If we are worried about the unknown, it is only because we don’t know how it will play out. However, Hashem has a plan and, as Mrs. Dishon says in her article, “He is leading us.”
Last summer, I was visiting Eretz Yisrael, and one of the executives of Rofeh Cholim Cancer Society (RCCS) asked me to visit their office in Yerushalayim and speak with the staff, since some of the workers were getting depressed and anxious. They had experienced several people’s deaths from cancer over the past weeks and felt very guilt-ridden over it.
When I arrived at the office, I met the directors — four women and two men — who worked in the office. I asked them what they thought their responsibilities were to the patients. They described how hard they worked to ensure that every patient got the best medical care available, and the best health insurance for their American patients. As a result, the death of the last few patients upset them very much.
I asked them why they felt responsible for the passing of these people. “Don’t you believe hakol b’yedei Shamayim,” as I emphasize what hakol means. “Our job in RCCS is to provide the best medical care and USA insurance. Who lives and dies after our efforts is not in our hands.” That’s why hakol is so important. Every big and little happening in the world and in the individual’s life is from Hashem.
One of the ladies then commented, “When I get home to my children at the end of my day, I am depressed, and it is so hard to be a mother.”
I told her that years ago, when I was a director of more than a thousand employees in the Special Ed Department of the Board of Education in New York City, I had to take off my “director’s hat” before entering my home so that I could be a good husband to my wife and a good father for my children.
The lady smiled and laughed, “But I can’t take my sheitel off before entering!”
“Nevertheless,” I told her, “you switch it before entering.”
We must teach this lesson to our children at as early an age as possible, so that they will go through life with positive feelings and be able to deal with all the difficulties that come up in their lifetime.
Hopefully, we will all learn this lesson, use it daily as I do, and teach it to all our relatives and friends. n
Rabbi Dr. Joel Rosenshein is a psychologist who has served as Director of the NYC BOE Special Education Division, Mishkan, and RCCS, founder of PTACH and has half a century experience counseling clients in his private practice.