Coping with Loss and Terror: Jewish and Psychological Perspectives

by: Dr. David Pelcovitz

 

Abstract: The Chinese word characters for the word “crisis” consists of two symbols: danger and
opportunity. Those looking for guidance on how to cope during times of loss or instability are
understandably concerned about the emotional fallout that may follow a terror attack here or in
Israel. At the same time, periods of crisis present numerous opportunities for becoming more
tuned in to what matters most in life, including reordering our priorities in a manner that puts
our role as family and community members front and center. This paper will utilize lessons
learned from psychological and Torah perspectives, drawn from counseling survivors of trauma,
especially relating to children and adolescents, as a result of terror in Israel, the events of 9/11 in
America, and treatment for life-threatening diseases such as cancer. Nonetheless, while much of
the discussion focuses on younger people, its findings can be applied as well to adults of all ages.
The chapter seeks to draw on Torah insights from Tanach, Talmud, Musar literature, and
rabbinic commentaries, that all reinforce these lessons in a particularly meaningful way. Finally,
it will attempt to articulate conclusions and practical recommendations

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