On Wednesday evening, March 25, Mrs. Jackie Bitton, well-known speaker, shared some practical tips to help everyone through this difficult time. She offered seven tactics to survive this trying time.
The first tactic is to live with a closeness to Hashem. Hashem is yearning for us to call to Him. The word “corona” sounds like the Hebrew k’ra na – call out, please! Hashem is telling us, “I am yearning to hear your voice.” She shared, “He’s yearning because He loves us so much.” She went on to teach, “I think how we took so much for granted. We need to recognize what a gift it is to live a life with Hashem in the center. What a privilege it is to keep His mitzvos.” At whatever stage of life we are in, it is a privilege to call on Him and make a relationship with Him.
The second tactic she shared is that it’s time to make our home a priority. Think of people at their best. It’s not at their home. Perhaps Hashem is saying, “I know how good you are when others are around. What kind of Jew are you in your home? Will you still pray and learn?” She spoke about working on sibling relationships and the relationship with our spouse and parent-child relationships. Parents often lament that they don’t have more time. Now we’re home. Perhaps Hashem is giving us a chance to rebuild and recreate our homes. We have to make the time count with our families. “Don’t miss the opportunity. It’s a real gift.”
The third tactic is to be positive. She shared how her brother Benzie, who passed away at a young age from a terrible disease, was always positive. She recalled a specific time that he had a friend visit who also had the disease and also looked deformed. She asked Benzie how he could look at his friend, and he answered her with a profound idea: “Jackie, he can’t change the way he looks, so I change the way I see.” If there was any room to find good and focus on positive, that’s what he would always do.
She pointed out: “We are in a seemingly ugly time. Our avodah now is to change the way we look at it. We have to bring light and joy into our homes.” She recounted some of the difficulties we are all encountering. Overnight, her plans for a wonderful Pesach program were canceled. She now has to make Pesach and there is no cleaning lady who will come. She was sitting on the couch moping about this, when her husband put on some music and started dancing with the children. Soon she had to stop feeling bad and she joined in the dance. She continued: “We will have challenging moments. We’re living through a plague. It’s a serious time. The rabbis declared a public fast. Still we should bring joy into our houses. Chazal teach to bring the Sh’chinah into your home and bring joy.”
She enumerated some positive things. There was no public chilul Shabbos in Israel the past Shabbasos. Also, Regents exams are canceled. Hashem is making the anti-Semites in Iran busy with the virus so they are leaving Israel alone. “My friends,” she taught, “we have to open our eyes. Try to live with joy.” She shared a beautiful idea from Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller: “If you smile, Hashem will always give you something to smile about.”
Her fourth tactic was to look outside of yourself. “You have to remember that a Yid is never alone. We have to be there for each other. You do for others in pain and Hashem helps your pain.” If we can give to people in our families and our neighbors while we are in tzaar also, we’ll bring joy to others and we’ll bring Hashem into the picture so much more. Give support to your spouse. Smile. Give hugs and listen to your children. Call your neighbors. It will bring you more joy.
The fifth tactic is to make a schedule. This is something so necessary during this time. Everyone needs a sense of normalcy, and a schedule will help with this. She shared her family’s sample schedule, which includes exercise time, davening, learning, snack time, crafts time, etc. She stressed, “Keep some semblance of structure, because everyone is feeling so out of control.”
Her sixth tactic is to rise above your natural tendencies. If you are feeling cranky being cooped up, remember how you can earn tremendous blessing when you break your midos. She shared a beautiful story that illustrated this idea.
She noted that everyone is on top of one other in the house, and children are anxious or moody. “I’m begging us all, my friends, rise above our natural feelings and take a deep breath and look up at Hashem. Say: “See, I’m changing my nature. I’m asking you to change this coronavirus in nature and bring an end to this mageifah.”
Tactic number seven is to hang in there. Dr. Abraham J. Twerski taught: “If it’s not good now, it means it’s not over yet.”
She imparted that it’s not over. This is not the end. Chazal tell us that, at the end, it’s all wonderful. We are going to get through this together. We are going to come through as better people. “So much blessing is awaiting us. Mashiach is at our doorstep. We are going to get through this, and then we have to live with better appreciation.”
This shiur was hosted by Chazaq, Ohr Naava, and TorahAnytime.
By Susie Garber