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Pandemic Emails

Dealing with the Stress

An Email to my congregation from April 12, 2020

Dear Friends, 

We are spending this Passover in what can only be described as “unusual times.” It has been wonderful to see so many of you on Zoom for services, Torah study, Psalms or Seder.  As this period of intense distancing continues on past the one month mark, we are all feeling different things (and many of us find our feelings changing moment to moment). 

There is a sense of settling into a new routine, beginning to feel like we finally have a handle on this new mode of life. For others of us (or at other times for many of us) we are now beginning to wonder “how long will this last and how long is this a sustainable way of life?” For some this has been a time of increased productivity, whether at work or around the home. For others, we are paralyzed by anxiety, unable to start, much less complete, any projects. 

We are each reacting in our own ways. And that’s okay. 
I want to offer a teaching from Rebbe Nachman of Bratzloff, and early Chasidic leader. We often encounter it in the song “Gesher Tzar M’od.” All the world is a very narrow bridge, and the key is not to fear at all.  It turns out, this is a paraphrase of the original teaching, which was: Each person must pass over a very narrow bridge in this world, and the key is not to make oneself afraid. Stressful events happen. Fear is a part of life. The key, however, is not to make ourselves afraid more than we already are. 

Be kind to yourself. Take a step back from the news or Facebook or whatever, if that is stressing you out. If disaster movies on Netflix help you cope, great. If they stress you out, perhaps watch something a bit less stressful (my own viewing habits have shifted towards teen drama and romance, but your mileage may vary). Most of all, accept that however you are feeling, and however you are dealing or not dealing, are not topics for us to be judgmental of ourselves (or others) around. 

We are all passing over a very narrow bridge. Feel your feels, and know that this is how we pass out of Egypt and into freedom.

Wishing everyone a meaningful Passover and health, 

David