Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
Tonight, Rabbi Hagai Londin of Sderot, on the border with the Gaza Strip, sent me a picture of a Torah class being held in a bomb shelter because of the dozens of rockets that had earlier been launched into his city. It was ironic that the subject that the rabbi had prepared for the class was how to cope with fear. I asked him to tell me what he spoke about specifically and he answered as follows:
"The source of fear is imagining that something is worse than it is. Fear is a feeling about a possible event that has not yet actually happened and perhaps will never happen, but is so vivid in our imaginations that we become afraid.
It is absolutely natural that we should now be afraid since our present reality requires us to sit in a shelter. And yet we still need to remember that terror is primarily about creating fear, anxiety, and hysteria among the public. This is terror's primary damage, which is often greater than the actual destruction that occurs.
The antidote to this fear is common sense along with faith and trust in God. Furthermore, it is essential to stick to a routine as much as possible and to follow the safety instructions of the authorities. We must stay calm while helping those in distress. Our mood should generate confidence to our children. We should support the IDF in its actions against the threat from Gaza. We should not be shy about reaching out for psychological help if we need it. We should stay calm by telling ourselves that we have enough time to make it to safety, that there is the Iron Dome defense system in place to shoot down incoming rockets, that there is God protecting us -- and it is always recommended to study Torah or to recite Psalms at times like this in order to reassure ourselves in the strongest possible way.
And above all, we need to maintain a sense of proportion: We are living at the best time in the last two thousand years of Jewish history, and things are only getting better. The city of Sderot is growing faster than ever, together with the entire region. We are intent on building while our enemies are intent on destroying. We need to appreciate the significance of what is happening and to adopt a long-term, as opposed to short-term, way of thinking; this will help us to prevail. Good wishes to all from Sderot.