Dear YULA Girls Family,

These are difficult and unprecedented times.

"Uncertainty and worry can be their own curse; they can break one’s heart, and crush one’s spirit." ( Rabbenu Yonah , to Mishlei 12:25)

Aside from the medical advice that we must heed, and the precautions that we must take, there is another area of focus that we cannot lose sight of. That is ensuring that we react to distress in the healthiest way we can, from both a religious and psychological perspective.

We humbly suggest a few ideas that hopefully can be helpful both spiritually and psychologically:

  • At a time of crisis such as this, we are each understandably absorbed in its impact on our own personal lives. As a result, we might lose sight of the impact of the crisis on those around us from whom we might be physically isolated. When we are isolated and alone, it is even more critical that we stay connected with our communities. If someone is feeling sick or has been exposed to COVID-19, they may feel that others are stigmatizing them for potentially spreading the contagion. Therefore, during this time, it is extremely important that we are careful not to appear to be blaming, but rather support those who are ill and struggling. Instead of pointing fingers, realize that we all play a role in our communal responsibilities to stop the disease as best we can.

  • “One who trusts in Hashem will be surrounded by kindness” (Tehillim 32:10.) If there ever was a time to work on the importance of truly trusting that Hashem runs the world, is active in our lives, and cares for us, now is that time. Whether reading from Tehillim, or Shaar Habitachon of the Chovot Halevavot (Duties of Heart), or simply talking with our families about this – we have to have unwavering certainty that Hashem is doing whatever He is doing in the world for the best of reasons, He cares for us, and though we cannot see the whole picture, it is for the best. When a person adopts this attitude, he or she is “surrounded by kindness” for even great challenges will be seen by that person as kindness. (see Metzudot ad loc.)

  • Our Sages tell us (Sotah 42b) that when a person is worried, he should talk it out with others. Make sure that you speak to your family. Let them know what worries you; this will help you and them! It is extremely helpful to children to hear that their capable and confident adult parent or mentor is also frightened or alarmed but has coping mechanisms.

  • Make sure to stay connected to friends and loved ones, teachers, Rebbeim, and other mentors who you may not be seeing in person. Reaching out to others and realizing that we are all still connected is so important. 

  • Daven! The greatest power of the Jewish people is with our mouths, in prayer! (Mechilta Beshalach 2, cited in Rashi to Yeshayahu 41:14) When we daven we demonstrate faith in Hashem, and surrender to His will. As difficult as it is sometimes, it’s what we must do. Of course, we must do our part to stay physically safe. But then we must take care of our spiritual selves, and that is through Tefilah. Perhaps we can set aside time to say Tehillim with our family for a moment when we gather at mealtimes, before bedtime, or another time we plan to be together.

The Holy Rebbe of Alexander of blessed memory, suggested ( Siach Sarfei Kodesh, Tefilah ) that prayer for others is extremely helpful in coping with worry. Thinking of others and their wellbeing, and praying for them, is an important thing for us as Jews to focus on . Events across the globe are influencing and impacting us as well in ways we may not even realize. Our Sages teach us that he who sincerely prays for another, Hashem will respond to the supplicant first. As difficult as this time is for us, there are those whose lives are being affected even more drastically than ours. Let’s keep them in our Tefilot .

We are privileged to be part of a community that is strong, kind and caring. We will get through this having grown in faith, generosity of spirit, and Bitachon in Hashem.

May Hashem bless us all with good health, and may we merit to truly see His kindness always. #YULABYACHAD

Sincerely,
Dr. Natalie Williams
Associate Principal
Dr. Leora Orenbuch
Director of Guidance
Rabbi Elchanan Shoff
Limudei Kodesh Rebbe
YULA Girls High School | 310-203-0755 | www.yulagirls.org