How needed is the topic that Mrs. Dina Schoonmaker chose for her current virtual series of lectures, titled, Overcoming Anxiety and Sadness: M’nuchas Ha’nefesh and Bitachon.

Mrs. Schoonmaker lamented that the series, which started in October, now has so much practical application. She shared that those living in Israel are living under pressure over time. It is not as extreme as a month ago, but people are worn out. Klal Yisrael is living with a low level of anxiety, grief, and pressure that is not resolved. She emphasized the concept that Hashem can bring the salvation in the blink of an eye.

She shared how some people asked her if it’s okay to still daven for personal tzaros. She answered, yes, Hashem can solve everyone’s problems. We should continue davening also for two boys who are still unconscious from the episode in Meron two years ago. “Hashem can bring a sweep of y’shuos. We should be zocheh to that.”

She related a teaching from Rav Asher Weiss’ sefer on emunah and bitachon. No one can answer why Hashem did this. Sometimes we receive a chizuk to anchor us with a perspective with proper hashkafah. He shared a story and a mashal. A man was teaching his children at the Seder table about the miracle of the Splitting of the Sea. One of his children asked him the following question: Isn’t the ocean itself a miracle? And if so, why do we celebrate the Splitting of the Sea? The father responded with a the following mashal: A talented sculptor created a fabulous sculpture of a horse and placed it in a public place. People passed by it without marveling at the sculpture. The artist was puzzled. He asked someone to tell him why no one stopped to admire it. The man explained that people think it’s real, so it isn’t anything special. He was advised to split the sculpture in half and then people would notice, because a live horse wouldn’t remain standing if it was cut in half. Then they would appreciate the artist’s work. It’s the same idea. The ocean is a beautiful miracle. People don’t appreciate it; but when Hashem splits it, people appreciate the miracle of it splitting and also the miracle of the ocean itself.

She taught that p’sukim at the end of Sefer Yeshayahu say that at the end of time the world will be full of knowledge of Hashem like water covering the ocean. When the world recognizes Hashem, we won’t need miracles. One way to look at the tragedies of October 7 is that life for Jews in Israel has always been a miracle. Every day, Jews living there are living with miracles, as they are surrounded by enemies. Hashem showed us the miracle we had that we took for granted. Israel is surrounded by millions of enemies. Israel is the same in that way now and perhaps it’s the same outside of Israel. Jewish life for Jews outside of Israel is always a miracle. The Palestinian flag waving in chutz la’aretz reminds us that we are a lonely nation. She stressed that “we have to remember that Jewish life is always in Hashem’s hands. We are still in Hashem’s hands, and we have always been in His hands.”

She shared that she thought she was in the hands of a security system in Israel that no one could infiltrate. “I realize now that every time in Israel, and anywhere, I am in Hashem’s hands. Now we understand Hashem’s hashgachah better.” There is a lot of anxiety now. Life is a bit shaky now. Jewish safety is a neis!

The haters want to kill us, and they don’t mind losing their own lives in the process, so there is little we can do to deter them. We need Torah anchors to explain our safety. How much choice or control does this enemy/hater have? The Mishnah in Pirkei Avos says that “Everything is known in advance, but free choice is given to a person.” It’s hard to reconcile this idea. So, how do I have free choice? Mrs. Schoonmaker offered a mashal for this. I know my child hates green lollipops, so if I offer her a green or red lollipop, I know that she will pick the red one. Yet, I didn’t cause her to pick it.

Rav Saadiah Gaon taught that death is an act of G-d. Murder is an act of an evil person. If a person dies al kiddush Hashem, that person was supposed to die then. At the same time, the murder is an act of a human.

The outcome had to happen. People who commit these acts have a din against them. When a person dies al kiddush Hashem, he goes straight to Gan Eden. The halachah is that there is no regular taharah, but they are buried as they were killed – to remind, so to speak Hashem, how they died.

We have to continue to interact with the world and realize that haters can’t do anything without Hashem allowing it. No one can take a life unless Hashem decided that he can.

She taught that it is more dangerous spiritually and emotionally to be in the hands of a human rather than nature. When we are in danger from people, it distracts us, so we don’t focus on our relationship with Hashem. We need to remind ourselves that this is between us and Hashem. You can get so distracted and dysregulated with human components. You need to realize that this is between us and Hashem. We’re a very lonely nation; but we need to focus on the fact that we are never alone, because Hashem is with us.


For more information or to sign up for lectures, go to Midreshet Adina. There are more scheduled shiurim in this series, including November 13, November 20, November 27, and December 4.

 By Susie Garber