Tuesday Tip: How to Restrict Checking Horrific News in Times of War
By Yehudit Garmaise
The rumors started Shabbos morning as we walked to shul. I hadn’t walked more than a few blocks before a neighbor told me what she already heard.
Hamas attacked Israel.
As members of Klal Yisroel, we are all family, but for those of us with children and other relations in Israel, we tried not to let our anxieties mar our simchas Yom Tov.
Our rabbis told us to “daven and daven” and to wait until Motzei Yom Tov, when we could start to separate fact from fiction.
Since Havdalah, the news has been devastating: horrific news and images have torn our souls to the core.
After checking in with loved ones and trying to get a grip on as much of the matzav as possible, many of us find our sleep haunted by terrible nightmares.
We want to know what is going on in Israel, but but we also want to remain present for our families, productive at work, and, if possible, helpful to our brethren in Israel. At the same time, we want to know how Yidden are staying informed, while also still remaining calm and sensitized.
1. Set times, perhaps morning and evening, to check the news for a limited amount of time, say 10 to 15 minutes only. To stay sane and healthy, avoid “doom-scrolling” or endlessly viewing one negative story or social media post after another without end. Sometimes, only the headline and/or a quick skim of articles is enough to get updated without getting horrified and upset. Whatever block of time you choose, try reducing that amount each day.
2. Avoid images and videos, which are often gory, disturbing, and unsettling, and once seen, cannot be unseen.
The Israeli government urged the removal of all social media apps today because Hamas terrorists are releasing “distressing, traumatic, and harmful videos of hostages in captivity.”
"The videos and testimonies we are currently exposed to are bigger and crueler than our souls can contain," said one Israeli psychologist.
A resident of Yerushalyim explained that Hamas is posting the horror-filled clips “as part of their psychological warfare on Jews.
“Don't play into their hands."
3. Read only reliable and reputable Israeli news sites, to get accurate, sympathetic coverage. Pick one or two trusted news sites, and stick with those to avoid the urge to check every possible site. Whatever you read, try to avoid social media, which is full of fake news and anti-Semitism. An Israeli Chassid, named “Jiltovsky,” provides a news service at 035-097-000. Usually, Jiltovsky updates his short recordings thrice daily, but now he is providing hourly updates.
4. Instead of news hotlines, call helpful hotlines, such as one focusing on bitachon.
5. Stay in touch with people you know in Israel regularly to assuage your anxiety about them and to get reality checks that supplement what you are reading.
“In general, those of us over here are a lot calmer than our American relatives,” Yerushaylim resident Malka Majer told BoroPark24. “We know what's going on, but we also see life continuing in relative normalcy, while those in America only hear news reports. Rumors tend to develop and become convoluted as news makes its way through the Jewish world.”
6. Replace the time you obsess about the news with positive activities that can help the situation, such as saying Tehillim, learning some Torah, and performing more chesed than usual. Many opportunities for helping Israelis abound. In the merit of the safety of Am Yisroel, many are writing down small kabbalos for self-improvement.
7. Try to focus on and spread positive news, such as miracle stories, the achdus of the Jewish people, and the many people worldwide who are helping Am Yisroel in many different ways.
8. Prepare sanitized and age-appropriate answers for children's questions.
“Children hear most everything,” Dovid from Boro Park advises. “While kids likely heard about the war in Israel, children should always be shielded from graphic and terrifying details."
9. “Peace begins with me,” says one Israeli.
Be the change you want to see in the world. We must always stay aware that we choose the most peaceful ways to handle every situation and interaction at home, at work, in shul, and on the street. A serene mindset often provides a positive effect that ripples outward to many others.
10. Daven, daven, and daven.
"Davening is important now more than ever to ensure that no more Yidden are hurt in any way," Yitzi R. from Boro Park shares. "Prayer also provides our souls with the relief we need these days. We are not fighting on the front, but our tefillos can make big changes out there to help protect Yidden from any more harm, iYH."
May Hashem protect all of Klal Yisroel, and may we hear good news soon!