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As we tip-toe out of this current crisis, we all must be prepared to reach out to those who are left with scars and deep wounds. Beyond the horrid physical impact that many have suffered, the long lasting mental and emotional damage will be incalculable. Our bodies are finite, we suffer pain and hopefully recovery at a level that is tangible. You can go to a doctor and given today’s technology, he can explain the why’s and wherefores of your condition and offer some sort of treatment plan. However, the emotional realm of each of us is extremely complex, multilayered and complicated. Just defining a condition is hard, the why and when, almost impossible, and as for healing, well that can be a lifelong voyage. Our emotions are the seat of where our neshomahs abide, tampering with it is to dabble within ones totality.

Many are describing this point in time as ‘post corona virus’, Halivay, we all pray this is true. Yet the loneliness and vulnerability that these past months have wrought will never be just washed away. Going back to the shops, returning to shul will not erase the gnawing distress of the loneliness many have withstood. Tragically many of us are grieving loved ones, and doing so in the era of corona has added whole different layers to what is always a difficult process.

So, we must figure out what we as a community can be doing to help those who are suffering mental and emotional challenges. We should seek healing tools for the many left broken.

I have often mentioned a sefer from the Kodoish the             Peasetzna Rebbe Ztl named Tzav V’ziruz. The English title is ‘To Heal The Soul,’ and in it the tzadik opens up his heart and shares with us his challenges and prescriptions for hope.

In the fourth chapter, the Rebbe shares the following:

‘Besides your many plans of action that you should use until you have healed your soul, you can take advantage of our sages advice based on the verse in Proverbs 12:25: “when a person has a heavy heart . Let him speak it out to others.” Chazal make no mention of what the listener should do to ease the distress of the other. That’s because just talking about it and getting it out in the open are so healing and prevent the need for self-deception to numb the buried pain. The Bal Shem Tov explained the verse “my soul was brought out when it (the Soul) spoke.” (Shir Hashirim 5:6) in this context.”

A major block in resolving so much of our pain, is because we often bottle it up inside. This is particularly true with men, (I don’t want to go all politically incorrect here but my readers will know what I mean). We find it hard to open up, to allow the mask of coping to slip.

The Rebbe continues: “You can experience this with your own anger or upset: you may feel that the emotional pain has subsided, but it’s only from your conscious world. Inside the poisonous emotions still hide. If more events continue to evoke those same emotions and you continue to suppress them out of ‘sight’, eventually your emotional bank will be bursting and will explode when even slightly provoked.”

Stuff happens, we are all just human, we feel hurt, events beyond our control or understanding sweep us into a maelstrom of challenging emotions.

Just reflect on these past few months. Many of us have been ‘serving a jail sentence’ under ‘house arrest,’ locked up, devoid of actual human contact. We walk softly knowing full well that others in the house are also going through the same stress. Resentment, hurt, and so much more grinds into our inner landscape, yet we can’t speak of it, nor admit its existence. The Rebbe is telling us, that this must be addressed, otherwise it will fester and explode.

We need to talk to someone, just so as to hear of our own wounds out loud.  This will give us some validation, in the Rebbe’s words, ‘a load off our hearts, and the pain lifted from our souls.’

When Corona first came to the fore, we were developing a website named ‘Chaiky’s Network,’ as a resource for ladies of the community to share in connecting with one another. This was created as a Zechus for the Rebbetzin A’H who taught so many how vital it is to share friendships with each other. As isolation kicked in the site grew into a resource in finding suitable programs for homeschooling and an address for Shiurim and chizuk. Our volunteers spent hours reaching our and giving support, sometimes we felt as if we are living in the midst of a hurricane.  Certain aspects have come to the fore, nothing less than the need for sharing and listening to those who are suffering with emotional and mental challenges. One such organisation, ‘Neshoma’ has stood out with their professional support system for volunteers who are working with those with acute mental health needs. Mental health, emotional welfare, all have for too long been a silent enemy in our community. If we are to learn anything from these past months, it is that we must each take cognizance of these challenges and start with our own selves.

We all truly daven that we have seen an end to this disaster, and fervently pray that we will soon find ourselves in Yerusholayim dancing in the streets with the Moshiach.

All this notwithstanding, we all need to become aware of the aftermath of what we have lived through. We are all survivors of a twenty-first century disaster. I share with all of you our pain, now let us all help create the cure.

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