Ever since I can remember, I have been a fearful person. I can also be laid back, adventurous, even a bit daring. But once my fears are triggered, my fight-or-flight systems are a-go, and it takes tremendous resolve for me to contain them.
When I began to have children, I knew it was important for me not to pass my fears on. I remember, as a child, feeling imprisoned by them. I resolved that I would do whatever it took not to have them experience such inner battles.
When we moved to Israel, I pledged to myself that this mission would continue. That despite my own uneasiness, I would not let my worries impact my children’s development.
As it turned out, this became a real battleground for me, and at no time more then the present, with daily, hourly, even minute-by-minute reports of stabbings and other attacks. This violence has created widespread anxiety and panic among even the habitually bravest and serenest people I know.
Even before the current crisis, there was always the general challenge of being a fearful person living in modern Israel.
First, there was the reality on the ground. I lived in my beloved homeland, but it was a homeland surrounded by enemies, surrounded by unknowns, surrounded by surprises.
Second, there was the reality of my offspring. Born to me were children of tremendous independence. Often fearless, with a great humanitarian spirit, my children were not going to be the ones on the sidelines. From an early age I understood that they were proactive and involved, and that was going to be “trouble” for me and my fears . . .
My nemesis reared its nasty self whenever my children went by themselves to a friend, to the makolet (convenience store), to the local library..
It surfaced when I turned around and couldn’t find them, when they were an hour late and they didn’t have cellphones, when they went on supervised tiyulim (field trips) to places outside of my comfort zone.
My youngest tests me in the same way as her elder siblings, with her determination, drive and independence.
The older ones continue to challenge my fears in different ways. Now, as they have become more committed, as their sense of self matures, their independence and humanitarian inclinations are taking different forms.
Gone are my fears of the lemonade stands, local charity collections, solitary treks to the center of town.
Now they want to be out in the newly dangerous streets to protest, to show solidarity for their people, to initiate, to demonstrate, to participate . . . to live their faith. Today they are going to the Kotel to support those who live amongst its ancient alleyways.
They will pray. They will recite Psalms. They will pass out treats they prepared for our cherished soldiers and officers. After, they will participate in a rally at the Knesset, where their voice will be heard at the nerve center of power. All of this will be unsupervised. They will be traveling on public transportation. And my fear and faith will once again be at a crossroads.
So, where is the faith in all of this? Am I internalizing it, cultivating it, nurturing it? Am I living my truth, or is fear undermining it? I ask myself this a lot.
Israel is G‑d’s turf. Here, you are under the watchful eye of Providence. Whatever you need to work on as a person usually finds its way into your life. For me, the faith-fear interface is one of those gifts. Every time I feel I have made progress at this seam, I realize I have a long way to go. The progress is real. But so is the “long way to go.”
Once I remember learning about the sacrifice of Isaac. The question was posed how Abraham could have carried out such a request. One idea was that Abraham’s faith was in his bones. That, I think, is the goal. That our faith should be such a part of us that it can pierce even the calcified parts.
Until I get there, I will have to tame my parasympathetic tendencies. I will call my children up multiple times. I may have sweaty palms. I may think catastrophic thoughts, but I will probably let them go. I will do this for me and for them.
Because my faith is my counter to my fear. Because I want my children to be who they’re supposed to be. Because I won’t let the other side win in me. Because I am in G‑d’s country.
For more news, opinion, inspiration, advice and first-person articles on the October 2015 Wave of Terror in Israel, visit the special Chabad.org section here.