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THE ART OF MENTAL HEALTH DURING WARTIME
University of Utah put out an article on their website, quoting something from Steve Sugden, MD, a colonel in the US Army Reserves and a psychiatrist at Huntsman Mental Health Institute (HMHI). Sugden knows first-hand what it is like to be on the battlefield and is a medical expert on how trauma can affect our mental health. Sugden suggests that there are some common mental health consequences of war and that those viewing traumatic content are also at risk. The three populations susceptible to negative mental health consequences of depression, anxiety and psychosomatic problems such as insomnia are: Civilians within the targeted homeland. The soldiers on both sides of the conflict. Those consuming the images, videos, and audio of the war through social media apps, television, radio and the web. “All three groups can develop mistrust, suspicion and a sense of hopelessness when it comes to conflict close to home or far away. Studies have shown that consumers of a war via television, social media, or other forms of media can be just as impacted as the actual individuals within the conflict.”
Of course, people feel unsafe after viewing Israel- Hamas/ISIS war! Civilians were attacked, where women, children, elderly, innocent party-goers were attacked in the safest places, in their own homes, first thing in the morning. What can be more traumatic than that?
Trauma begins when a person is exposed to something new and shocking, an unexpected change for the worse. Events where you were frightened, under threat, humiliated, rejected, abandoned, invalidated, unsafe, unsupported, trapped, ashamed or powerless can bring one to different levels of trauma. Trauma can happen in different ways: being directly harmed, witnessing harm to someone else, living in a traumatic atmosphere, being affected by trauma in a family or community. The Jewish Nation, worldwide, is, right now, obviously traumatized.
Trauma can feel like memories that are like a song that gets stuck in the head. They play over and over, sometimes with the words, sometimes just with the music, and sometimes it gets so loud, the person can’t hear themselves think! All the traumatized person can think about is what has happened and that it will happen again. Trauma sticks with you, even after the terrible moment has passed.
When dealing with trauma, we have two options to stay protected. 1. Praying to G-d, learning His Torah, and doing Teshuva. 2. Being aware of and implementing our best efforts to protect ourselves. Option 2 causes us to develop a constant need to check the news, to make sure we are doing our utmost to protect ourselves from what is happening, and from what may happen. We become so obsessed with Option 2, that 95% of our time is spent on Option 2, and if we are lucky, if we have some time left, we might spare some time and effort for Option 1. Why so?
The traumatized subconsciously continue to search and predict something new, shocking, or unexpected, to happen. “If things escalate in the Middle East, if Hizballah gets involved, if USA then protects Israel, and then Iran gets into the war, and brings in Russia and China, and then WW lll… If WWll happened, so then WWlll can happen… If the colleges escalate, then the shuls and schools are also unsafe… If the ProPals are winning on social media, we have to fight them back on social media, on the ס”מ itself.”
This is where the downward negative cycle needs to stop. How?
There is a famous quote from Mark Twain, who attributes the quote to British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. “There are three kinds of lies: Lies (a fib, or white lies), Damned Lies (downright lies), and Statistics”. Ironically, there are actually at least four types of lies, because that quote itself was a lie by Twain, because Disraeli never said it!
Let me give you a whole new meaning, to the cliché, that “No news, is good news”. Statistics is a lie, because statistics are commonly misapplied, often on purpose, to support a position or push an agenda. For the same reason, social media is a lie. X is a lie. Even main-stream news outlets are all fake news…because they all have an agenda… to traumatize you! Believe it or not, the news we trust actually makes money by traumatizing us, which addicts us to keep checking the news and giving it all of our attention. Your attention, then, is sold for marketing purposes to advertisers! The rule in marketing is, “When there is no product to buy, you are the product!” Our attention is sold for A LOT of advertising money, even if it is kosher, Ultra-Orthodox, news websites. Just find out the prices of advertising on the news, and you will understand how much they gain by traumatizing us. This is why, “No news, is good news!”
Before Mashiach, all media will be Fake News. דור שבן דוד בא בו בית הוועד יהיה לזנות, והגליל יחרב, והגבלן יאשם, ואנשי גבול יסובבו מעיר לעיר ולא יחוננו, וחכמת הסופרים תסרח, ויראי חטא ימאסו, ופני הדור כפני כלב, והאמת נעדרת. האמת נעדרת. The generation that Mashiach will come, there will be places of openly promiscuous behavior,… the Galil, in North of Israel will be destroyed,… the Gavlan, the Golan, will be desolate…. (Galil is Meron area, while Golan is like Hermon, and higher North.) And the people of the borders of Israel will be displaced from city to city and they won’t be acclimated properly…There are currently 500,000 people that left their homes from the North and South of Israel!!! The wisdom of the Rabbis will be disgusting to people, (The amount of Ultra-Orthodox who don’t consult with Rabbis is unprecedented) Those who are afraid of sin, the Haredim, will be disgusted… The face of the generation will be like the face of the dog, (leaders, the face of the generation, don’t lead. They are always looking behind to make their voters happy, like a dog looks behind to its master, in which direction to go…) And the truth will be lacking. EVERYTHING IS FAKE NEWS. (Sanhedrin 97a) Why is everything fake news?
Because the real truth is, Oct. 7 happened only because we did not have enough merit to protect us, not because anything else. If we look at it this way, then we won’t be traumatized. Because, Baruch Hashem, people have done Teshuva, and things look much better than we thought would be… Even the number of Israel deaths went down from a predicted 1400 to 1200. People are praying like they never prayed before, connecting like they never connected before – and that is why things are and will be better than expected, something that you won’t find ON ANY NEWS OUTLET.
Everyone predicted that many more calamities would happen to our soldiers in Gaza. Going into their traps, into their tunnels, into an unknown warzone – things could have been really bad … but the soldiers are saying that they are seeing miracles, they are seeing G-d’s Hand! (something that the news is not saying) If we did not do Teshuva, if we did not pray, things could have gotten really bad, things could have gotten worse in Gaza, and that’s what made sense, according to the News, Has Veshalom! So, all news is fake news!
King Solomon taught וְאֵ֥ין כָּל־חָדָ֖שׁ תַּ֥חַת הַשָּֽׁמֶשׁ And there is nothing new under the sun. (Kohelet 1;9) All news happens Above the sun, in the Heavens. But down here, there is no news. Once the Jewish people act properly, all News is fake news. Allow me to explain.
Who would have predicted, according to the news, that Oct. 7 would happen? No one in the world who watches news could have predicted that Hamas would want or could even do such a thing! The exact opposite! Knowing Israel has such a strong wall and “smart” gate at its border, knowing that things have been quite for so long, knowing that so many Gaza Arabs had work permits on the Israel side made things look serene, which is why IDF was off guard! But the opposite was true! Those work permits, that border, all the quite were the very elements that lead up to the worst tragedy since the Holocaust! So, the news is all a lie!
Hashem says, the news got it all wrong! You think Ukraine is actually fighting Russia? You think IDF is actually fighting Hamas? מלחמות אני עשיתי, שנאמר: ה’ איש מלחמה Wars I made, as it says, G-d is a Man of War. (Avodah Zarah 2b) What happened was that G-d wanted to wake us up, and we did, just a little late. But as long as we continue to live in unity and pray with our souls on fire, G-d won’t let anything bad happen to us. Things will unexpectedly turn for the better!
Ever notice that no news outlets list all the good things that happened and that are happening? All the miracles that the soldiers are saying that they are seeing the Hand of G-d? Here is a list of miracles from R’ David Oflalo from Ofakim, miracles he mentioned in a class he gave, miracles that show that as bad as it was, it could have been A LOT worse: 1. They killed only 300 out of 3500 people at the “party in the nature”. They had enough terrorists and enough ammunition to kill many more than that. 2. Ofakim. They got to Kiviti, a shul with 500 people praying, no one that prayed there had ammunition. But instead of entering the shul, they turned around and went to Mishor Hagefen, a neighborhood four minutes away, a place where a lot of police live. That was the first place that that group of 40 fully-equipped terrorists had confrontation. Unfortunately, 16 policemen died, but they fought off the terrorists. Hashem blocked their eyes from killing 500 people that were in the shul. Afterwards, maps were found in the terrorists’ clothes showing they knew where the shuls are, and it was actually their number one target. 3. The famous Rachel Ederi story. She invites 5 terrorists into her home, and they don’t touch her! “Come eat cakes! Look how tired you look! …” and in the meantime, she had them in her house for 13 hours, until the terrorists were killed! 4. One person Mr. Belia, was able to let his whole family down from the window, although unfortunately by the time he was ready to climb out, he was shot. But his whole family was saved. 5. One religious Kibbutz where the terrorists wanted to enter, a tank came in and started to fight with the terrorists, and it killed 50 of them. Afterwards, the tank left. The people from the kibbutz afterwards wanted to know who was the one who drove this tank, but no one in the army knows where the tank came from! The army said, at that time, we still were not prepared with tanks! 6. One of the Golani soldiers said that we had a miracle. We were only 30, each with just one cartridge, and we were able to kill over 100 terrorists who were fully supplied with ammunition. Not one bullet missed its target. Each bullet, hit a different terrorist in the head. 6. Someone in Otef Azah said that he entered the safety room. The door wasn’t closing properly. He held the door closed, holding on to the handle, while his family was inside, and for a few hours he was holding the door, while the terrorists were trying to open the door. After, they asked him how he held strong for so many hours? He said, simple. One hand holding the handle, another hand he kept on the mezuzah. Everyone in the family was saved. 7. A family jumped from the window of the safety room, and they laid on the ground for 13 hours, while terrorists were walking back and forth all day long, and no one saw them. 8. In one of the kibbutzim, there was a person who for the first time, took upon himself to make the sukkot holiday. He took apart his sukkah, after sukkot, and threw the Schach next to the house. When the terrorists came, he and his family hid under the Schach till the next day. כִּ֤י יִצְפְּנֵ֨נִי׀ בְּסֻכֹּה֘ בְּי֪וֹם רָ֫עָ֥ה יַ֭סְתִּרֵנִי 9. In Kibbutz Nir OZ, two or three months before the attack, someone ordered a “pladelet” door for the front door of his house; instead, they brought him a meshuryenet door, a door that costs a few thousand shekels more, because it is an armored door. Instead of arguing about the extra fee, he just looked past it. On Simhat Torah, the terrorists were able to break through all the neighboring doors, but this door, they could not penetrate. 10. In Tzafriah next to Ben Gurion airport a bomb fell into a house, on Thursday night, and destroyed the whole house. But on Thursday night, before the bomb, they set up the table for Shabbat. The whole table stayed intact: not one cup was moved! The tefillin stayed intact, and the picture of Rav Ovadia Yosef was untouched! The rest of the whole house – every part of it, was destroyed. 11. In Ofakim, on Shabbat, a bomb fell in a religious man’s courtyard and broke his whole house, windows were broken, terrorists were outside. He ran past them, and they asked him, “Where do you think you are going? We are terrorists!” He said, “I don’t care! My wife and kids are inside the house! He ran inside his home, he brought his wife and kids into the safety room. He stood outside the safety room, with a knife in one hand and a Tehillim in the other. He calls the police, the army, no one is answering him! He watches as the terrorists pass back and forth in front of his hand, and the terrorists passing his house while his windows are all open! 12. The terrorists had plans of getting up until Shomron, we are lucky they did not get further than where they got. 13. There were terrorists that came to Netivot, and they did not shoot anyone, kill anyone. In the end, the terrorists were caught and they were asked why they did not kill anyone. They said there were three Sheikhim that were angry at them from the Heavens. They were right next to the grave of the Baba Sali. They were shown pictures of the Baba Sali, R Yoram Abergil, and R Yissacher Meir, buried close to one another in Netivot. The terrorists quickly said, “Yes! These were the three Sheikhs that told them, from the heavens, Get out of here quickly! If you know what is good for you! 14. There were Tatzpaniot, (IDF Watchguards) that saw that the terrorists were coming into the Otef Aza; they killed everyone there. Whoever they did not kill, they kidnapped. The two guards said to one another, “We have just seconds to live; let us take upon ourselves to keep Shabbat!” The terrorists did not see those Tatzpaniot! They just passed them again and again! 15. All the kibbutzim that kept Shabbat, the terrorists did not enter. 16. In S’derot a terrorist came in, with a lot of ammunition. He went into the elevator, and the elevator had an electricity failure. The terrorist started to scream that he was stuck in the elevator and he had no air. Police came, and they sent him away. 17. There was someone who went outside his house to see what was going on. He was shot at the entrance of the house, and he fell dead. He had inside two-and-a-half families, who spent the holiday together, with no safety room. The terrorists who passed near the house, again and again, the whole day, did not enter, because they saw a dead person at the entrance, thinking that everyone that was inside was killed. The family kept calling Magen David Edom, but they did not come, until the night, to move the body, which actually saved the family. 18. There were people who would go with their tender (a big van) into the party, even without any ammunition, and take out people from the party, going back and forth, filling up the tender with people each round. Crazy! Someone from Patish did 6 rounds, and loaded up each time, while the bullets were flying all over. At the sixth round, a terrorist caught him together with a girl from one of the Kibbutzim he had come from. He told the terrorist, “Don’t shoot! What do you want? Money? Here! Take! … What else do you want?…” He gave him some more things, and the terrorist let him go with the girl! This man is still crying, saying, I wish I could have saved more people with my tender!
We are seeing miracles being done for the soldier in Gaza. One of the commanders wrote to his father that in the miracles that we see in Gaza, we see that “there is for sure G-d”. They throw grenades at us, but they don’t explode. They are duds!
A group of 50 soldiers sat to eat in Gaza. One of the soldiers was playing with his gun and mistakenly shot a few bullets. The soldiers got afraid, and they all jumped to protect themselves. They looked around and they saw that this “accidental” fire ended up killing a terrorist who was coming out of a nearby hidden tunnel! הַֽמְלַמֵּ֣ד יָדַ֣י לַקְרָ֑ב אֶ֝צְבְּעוֹתַ֗י לַמִּלְחָמָֽה
G-d asks from us one thing! Don’t fear! Don’t get traumatized! In the very merit of not getting afraid, G-d will protect us! G-d said to Avraham, אַל־תִּירָ֣א אַבְרָ֗ם אָנֹכִי֙ מָגֵ֣ן לָ֔ךְ שְׂכָרְךָ֖ הַרְבֵּ֥ה מְאֹֽד: Don’t fear Avraham, I am your Shield, your reward is great! (Bereshit 15;1) If we trust that G-d is our shield, then our reward is great!