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When the Unthinkable Happens

When the Unthinkable Happens

How can it be that a young man, of only twenty-something years old, could enter a school, of all places, and take the lives of so many, let alone the lives of children?  How do we as citizens of this country and in particular as Jews, make sense of the unthinkable?  The reality is quite simple: we don’t.  We can’t.  It is not within the scope of human reason for the majority of human beings to understand or make sense of such actions, and perhaps that is part of what makes a situation like this truly unthinkable.  For those people who believe they can make sense of this in a worldly way are perhaps themselves not quite well.  As Jews who believe in a singular, omniscient G-d, we must come to a place of acceptance that no matter how much we wish to understand, how much we wish to know HaShem’s cheshbonot, calculations, we are not privy to this information.  Perhaps it is in this exact point that our very faith in G-d is tested time and time again.

As a therapist, people come to me in times of pain, confusion, trauma, and despair.  At times I leave my office thinking that even if I try I could not create with my imagination the complicated and devastating situations that people are navigating each and every day in their own lives.  Yet somewhere out there, others can and do come up with unthinkable ways to harm others.  Has v’shalom, to fly an airplane into the Twin Towers, to strap a bomb to a child and say he will be a hero, to drive-by on a motorcycle and shoot innocent children at a school as happened in Europe, and to enter a school in Connecticut with the intention of killing innocent children—all of these are tragic yet very real examples of the unthinkable that was thought of and carried out.  What can we make of it with our limited view? According to the deepest facets of Judaism, we know that there exist two primary forces in G-d’s world—one for Light and one for darkness—and each will be revealed in ways that HaShem determines.  We understand there is a Master Plan in G-d’s creation of this world and it presents us with our ultimate opportunity to trust that His wisdom and plan are ultimately in the best interest of each and every person’s soul.  But in times like these when we mourn for the lost lives of innocent children, this is a difficult pill to swallow, let alone consider, as a part of a Grand Plan.  We feel helpless, shocked, and wonder where to turn and what to do next.

The following are some ideas to help alleviate the pain of this unthinkable circumstance.

  • Trust.  Make the conscious decision that you can and will trust HaShem and His Creation.  Have a conversation with yourself, engage your soul—that higher part of you that can accept this—and let go of the rest of the conversation that triggers personal emotional pain.  Move your focus to the world above us, the spiritual world, which at times can manifest itself in our world in ways we simply cannot intellectualize.
  • Give.  Become heart-centered and use this as a way to enrich your connection with others.  Give tzedaka to those in need—from a large donation sent to people across the country to a one-dollar donation to the soul outside of the market.  Each is valuable and each helps us move a step closer to our hearts and our G-d.
  • Look inward.  Although most of us cannot physically travel across the country to mourn and comfort those in Connecticut, we can in fact comfort those close to us—our parents, our spouse, our children, our friends.  We can hug them a bit tighter.  We can share our appreciation of them with them.  We can choose to let go of our own personal agenda and make the space for those around us to come closer in a meaningful and authentic way.
  • Pray.  Pray for those in pain around the world as the result of unthinkable events.  Pray for those close to you.  Pray for your own strength and courage to be the best you can be in this lifetime.  Prayer is a powerful tool and although our days are packed with demands, prayer can be a comfort to us and those we pray for.
  • Keep your faith.  In times of unthinkable chaos it is quite easy to lay down our faith and call it quits.  However experience proves that from all things negative can rise something positive.  From the scorched earth of a fire rises a richer, more fertile soil.  Hold this dichotomy in mind that while we grieve and heal from the unthinkable, there will eventually be Light revealed, and this is the foundation upon which our faith can make us stronger and more resolute.

In overcoming the specific tragedy of the shooting in Connecticut, please be smart.  Keep your own emotional reactions to a minimum in front of children, and depending upon their age shield them from the details of the events as best as is possible.  If you are having a hard time dealing with your own feelings perhaps speak with your Rabbi, a friend, and/or a counselor.  For as much as we wish these types of unthinkable events would simply not exist, the reality is that they do. The one thing we have in our power is to show the greatest respect for those who have suffered and/or perished by using the tragedy to grow and strengthen ourselves and our communities.


Mia Adler Ozair, MA, LPCC, NCC is a licensed clinical psychotherapist and educator with a private practice in Beverly Hills, California.  Mia is licensed in both California and Illinois and she can be reached through her website at www.bhcounselingcenter.com, e-mail at mia@bhcounselingcenter.com, office 310-464-5226, or followed on Twitter @MiaAdlerOzair.


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