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I’m Scared (Terrified!) of Heights

blogvigler.jpegI flew to Montreal on Sunday, to visit my son in camp. You may not know, but I have an intense fear of heights. I stay away from mountains and cliffs, and although I do fly frequently, every time I board a plane I am gripped with fear. Add in a smaller-than-usual aircraft and the fear increases exponentially. 

There is a prayer to say when travelling—Tefillat Haderech, and boy do I concentrate on saying it with the proper intention as the plane leaves the ground...

This time, I was traveling with my 8-year-old son. Thankfully, he has not inherited my fear of heights and requested a window seat so he could have a clear view—something I would never do!

He could not contain his excitement. “Tatty, look how small the cars are! Look at the clouds! See how little those buildings look!” I certainly don’t want to pass my fear on to him, so I forced myself to look and enthuse, all the while silently praying that we don’t crash. 

All I could think was, “What happens if we crash?” As we began our descent, I was busy calculating, “Would this be a safe distance to fall?” until the plane finally touched down and I breathed a sigh of relief. Safe at last. 

So how do I cope? It’s not like I can just avoid flying—I’ve traveled internationally three times in the last two months! I try to lay eyes on the pilot as I board, and I tell myself I have to trust the pilot’s training and experience. I tell myself that it’s safer to fly than to drive, and I try to relax as much as is possible. I don’t think I’ll ever be a calm flier, but I’m managing.

In this week’s haftarah, the prophet Micha describes the Jews as people who don’t rely on man. We rely only on G-d. All of us are on a journey, and we all have fears—health, livelihood, child-rearing...there is no lack of challenges.  

Although, of course, we are expected to make an effort, it’s important to recognize that it is G-d, our pilot, Who provides us with our needs. Yes, we need to go out and work, but ultimately the work doesn’t generate the income—G-d does. Yes, we need to take care of our bodies, see doctors, engage in healthy behaviors, but health is a gift from G-d. It is not a direct result of our efforts.  

No matter what life throws at us, the only one Who can help us is G-d. He is the one we have to turn to—in times of distress, and also in times of plenty. It is our responsibility to have utmost faith that He will take care of us, no matter what challenges come our way.  

So relax on your flight, G-d is the greatest pilot!

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