The high holidays during lockdown, have provided extra time to review and analyse some of the prayers and Torah (bible) readings.
The tales and stories don’t seem to change but as we get older and wiser our interpretations of these historical events morph our perspective. For me, it has focussed on how these past events may have impacted the individual and the mental challenges that they must have faced.
From Adam and Eve loosing a son at the hands of another to Noah’s hundred year ship building campaign, the emotional strain on them must have been extraordinary. For any parents to loose a child is an unnatural occurrence with a lifelong sentence of pain and guilt but to also have to deal with the surviving child who is also the murderer must have been unbearable.
Noah was a man set with an impossible task. To ready himself and all wildlife on the planet for a flood that was predicted to come in 100 years. Talk about a long DIY project! Imagine the stress and ridicule by his family, friends and society around him. Imagine the mind games plaguing him.
And what about poor little Isaac innocently thinking he was going out for an afternoon stroll and bonding session with his dad soon realising he would be the main event and was to be sacrificed. What was going through his mind before, during and especially after this event? What trauma must he have been left with, not to mention trust issues with his father?
Then we move on to Joseph. Living life day to day thinking he is in a loving nucleus family with a close relationship with his parents and siblings then suddenly kidnapped and sold into slavery by his brothers. The fear and anxiety that he would have to overcome during those early years and the courage and determination he gained and executed to overcome these challenges to rise to the heights of royal power. What incredible self belief and confidence he must have had to overcome adversity and move forward!
Jump forward to Moses. Don’t tell me he didn’t question himself, his actions and his purpose just a few times over his 120 years. The pressures of leadership, his constant negotiating with his community’s complaining and his belief in a supreme being that no one else could actually see or communicate with. All these challenges, coupled with his ability to be a loving husband and father must have made him feel at times insecure and incapable of achieving his purpose.
And what about Job (Eov). He was a righteous man, a god fearing man and a generous man whose entire being was taken away including his wealth, his family and his status. What mental challenges must have plagued him and confronted his belief and self esteem.
Not to mention the millions of stories of loss and grief that our Holocaust survivor community have carried through their lives. From a child that was separated from and may have lost their parents, to one that was hidden underground or even fighting in the resistance, what a heavy mental load to carry into a new life in Australia.
The benefit we have over previous generations is living in a society that is compassionate to mental health and wellbeing and offers many avenues to explore manage and overcome these syndromes that may be paralysing us.
From clinical health support from our GPs to psychological and counselling services, these avenues allow us to find strategies to deal with the pressures that society places on us and now encourages us to recognise and seek out the help we need.
We are further blessed with a Jewish and wider secular community providing resources to assist us in confronting and dealing with our issues and support for our recovery.
From Jewish care Victoria with services ranging from social work and case management support to individuals and families experiencing complex issues such as mental health, family violence, homeless to housing, employment, mentoring and education for healthy communities, and CCARE, Souper and MJCF supplying basic emergency funding and meals. This is coupled with Hatzolah and CSG providing clinical and engagement programs and our peak bodies and schools supporting students and families through these difficult times.
Most importantly we are lucky that speaking up and seeking help is no longer taboo. There has never been a better time in history to access help.