Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

17 Shevat 5759 - Feb 3, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly

















Home and Family
How to Worry
by Linda Dayan

Let's face it, worry seems to be an inborn human trait. And it seems women succumb to the tendency more often than men, especially when it comes to their children.

A woman was visiting her friend and listened to her woes: "What should we do? My husband and I have decided which seminary would be best for Shuli but we are concerned whether she will be accepted or not." Her friend consoled her, "Don't you think it's a bit premature to think about this now? I can hear her crying in the other room. It seems the poor baby wants to be fed!"

I know other people who are truly creative when it comes to their worrying. One enterprising lady was telling her friend, "My husband and I have an agreement - we split our worries 50- 50. I take 8 worries and he takes 8."

"That would never work with my husband," replied the other. "He would never do as good a job worrying as I do!"

Worry is a draining, debilitating pastime which saps our best energy and leaves us drained when it comes to dealing with the really important things in life - like being a good wife, mother, sister, daughter, and Bas Yisrael. Worry causes heart disease, high blood pressure, and ulcers. That means that worrying is more dangerous than fat. Let's start limiting our worry grams as if they were fat!

Worry also affects your children, even if you don't express it. Like most emotions, they inhale anxieties, absorb them, and project back those emotions in the form of nervousness and negative character traits.

In reality, worry is a rather illusory situation. Let me explain with a parable from the Chofetz Chaim. A poor peddlar was once trudging along, carrying a very heavy bundle on his back. A kind-hearted nobleman passing by in a luxurious coach stopped to offer him a ride. The peddlar happily climbed aboard and sat down, but continued to tightly clutch his heavy bundle on his lap.

"Why don't you put your load down and relax?" asked the nobleman.

"I don't want to impose," the peddlar replied meekly. "It's enough that you're taking me for a ride; you don't have to take my bundle as well."

Why worry? Hashem already provides us with everything - our bodies, our health, our possessions, and our whole life situation. Why should we think we have to hold on tightly to our personal bundle of worries? That we are in control of things and that they depend on us? Doesn't Hashem also carry these, as well as carrying us? Let's throw away our minor worries... and leave the biggies to Hashem.

This doesn't mean that we don't have to make our best efforts to rectify a potentially worrisome situation. A person is not allowed to say, "I'm not going to do ANYTHING, because the world will take care of itself and Hashem loves me." You have to go to a good doctor, wear seat belts, help your kids find nice friends, and brush your teeth every night, etc. In Jewish philosophy, this is called doing your hishtadlus, making your basic human effort.

Yet there are times that we do our bit, we give it our best shot... and the situation doesn't change. Now what? The only thing left to do is... worry!? Far from it. If you can't change the situation, change your attitude. Being able to rely on Hashem is really the most wonderful resource we Jews have! We could make a new slogan, "Let HIM worry!" Instead of wasting endless amounts of energy, try depositing your bundle of troubles with Hashem. One man who used to be plagued by sleepless nights due to worry, finally declared: "Hashem is going to stay awake all night, anyway. There's no point in both of us being up! Let me leave the worrying to Him for now." When you give over a job to someone you can trust, you don't worry. That's how it is with Hashem. We must trust that He's doing the best for us. And we can use the extra energy we save from worrying to work on what we CAN change.


I like to call this section, "Don't be a WORRIER, be a WARRIOR!"

Take a look at the word "Worry." Its letters spell out some of the important things we can use to battle this negative tendency: * Work * On * Realizing - that everything works out for the best, although we may not always see it. * Remember: things you worried about in the past and how nonsensical they were, or you can't even remember what they were! Think back to what even troubled you last week, and how the situation rectified itself either neutrally or even better than you expected! * You - Take care of yourself. A woman who does not get enough sleep, exercise, nourishment, or free time is prone to letting little things bother her. Like low resistance.

One of my friends tells me that as she's lying in bed at night, she imagines a huge blackboard in front of her with all the things she has to do and remember written on it. In her mind's eye, she takes a big eraser and erases everything. Try going to sleep with a clear conscience.

Get rid of the things you worry about and you'll save yourself lots of anxiety time. Go make that appointment with the teacher, pay that overdue bill, and find a caring friend to share that nagging problem.

Be realistic. Anxiety can't be eliminated completely, especially if it's your nature. Investigate the healing powers of techniques like biofeedback, exercise, a change in diet (goodbye to caffeine products like cola, coffee, regular tea, and chocolate), vitamins and minerals (make sure you have enough Vitamin B, and calcium is known as "nature's tranquilizer," but must be balanced with magnesium and other minerals), slow breathing.

Write down some of those terribly nagging things you worry about, and put the list away for a month. When you find it again, notice how little came out of your dire premonitions.


No matter how much effort you put into increasing your own spiritual level, giving over your worries to Hashem and living with the trust that He will do the best for you, you're not allowed to expect the same of other people. Rather, it is part of YOUR spiritual accounting to worry about the material situation of other people. So, if your car breaks down, don't worry. But if your FRIEND's car breaks down, you should worry right along with her - be sympathetic, understanding, not demeaning, and if you have to, worry! It's JEWISH to worry about others!

Isn't it nice when you know someone worries about you? Not obsessively, but in a caring way. I like the way my Mom worries about me, even though I'm married and a mother myself, because I know I can always call her and share my thoughts and concerns. It's a good feeling to know there are friends who will lend me an ear when I need to work out feelings. It gives you a feeling of being loved and cared for, and being important in someone else's eyes.

In Israel, we see in a big way how people worry about each other. A perfect example is: whenever a woman takes her baby out for a walk or a bus ride, she's bound to meet several people who are ALL worried about this little child. If he sneezes, a number of ladies will reach into their bags for tissues. Others will tell her that he's not dressed warm enough. Someone else will start singing the praises of vitamin C. A bus filled with worrying Jewish mothers. And if he dares to cry, there is always someone there handing you a candy or a bottle of water.

So, if you are under stress (who isn't in this generation?), needless worries can be a big part of the problem. Remember TWO important points:

1)Don't bother worrying about all the little stuff.

2)It's all little stuff.


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