How can we live with uncertainty, when it's so difficult to plan one year ahead, let alone one month? We are now facing questions which are so hard to answer with any degree of confidence - questions about living spaces, learning environments, job prospects, and our countries. COVID-19 has left many of us feeling tense, scared, and out of control. Even if we won't find answers to these questions, what Jewish wisdom can help guide us through these uncertain times?
If there is anxiety in a person's mind let them quash [yashḥena] it, And turn it into joy with a good word.
The Gemara explains another verse in Proverbs: “If there is anxiety in a person's heart, let them quash it [yashḥena]” (Proverbs 12:25). Rabbi Ami and Rabbi Asi dispute the verse’s meaning. One said: They should forcefully push it [yasḥena] out of their mind. One who worries should banish their concerns from their thoughts. And one said: It means they should tell [yesiḥena] others their concerns, which will lower their anxiety.
The Talmud presents two approaches to handling anxiety: one can quiet it, or they can share it with others. Each of these has an appropriate place and time, but in a moment where nobody has more certainty than the other, we might be able to collectively reduce our anxiety by verbalizing our concerns and sharing them with one another. We should remind ourselves: It is okay to not be okay.
Learn More with these Sefaria Sheets:
Take Utmost Care: Mental Health, by Aaron Lerner
Words of Torah to Quell our Anxiety, by Melissa Buyer Whitman
Dealing with Anxiety. Dealing with Plague. Some Wisdom from Jewish Sources., by Howard Goldsmith