Sivan Meir with soldiers of Battalion 9204

By Sivan Rahav-Meir

Have you heard about PTG (post-traumatic growth)?

We hear a lot about PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) but not much about post-traumatic growth—that is, a positive response to traumatic events. At a recent Women’s Renewal workshop, Rabbi Aaron Darmon spoke about this lesser-known phenomenon.

This is not only about resiliency or a return to the routine of daily life and normal functioning. It is rather growth as a direct, beneficial consequence of the trauma itself. It’s about making changes and reaching new heights that would have been impossible had the trauma not occurred.

This is a response, he explained, that the nation of Israel has demonstrated for thousands of years: the ability to grow from crisis and trauma. This was shown immediately after the Holocaust, when the nation did not sink into paralyzing despair, but returned to the land of Israel where it made astounding progress and flourished in every area of human endeavor.

In the book of Exodus that we begin to read this week, this famous verse is found: “The more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and spread.” The more the Egyptians enslaved and abused us with grueling labor meant to break us, the more we increased in numbers and actually experienced explosive growth.

May we be privileged once again to flourish like never before in response to our most recent trauma.

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Among all the meetings I attended with IDF units of the Northern Command, I’d like to share some words I heard from the soldiers of Battalion 9204. They were called up on Simchat Torah, ascended Mount Dov, and have been there until now. We met at the Al-Foran base in the Golan Heights after they came down from Mount Dov. Here are a few of the messages I heard from them:

“We left home on Simchat Torah and in a certain sense we are still back there. Cell phone reception on Mount Dov was not good but, in any case, there was really no time up there to talk or check the Internet. Since coming down, we have been in shock from what we have seen on social media. We left our homes with high morale, unity, and certainty of victory after the horrible massacre. This is the mindset in which we find ourselves up till now.”

{IMG Sivan Meir with soldiers of Battalion 9204

{Caption Sivan Meir with soldiers of Battalion 9204

“We were cut off. None of the treats, soups, letters, or gifts could reach us since only soldiers are allowed to go up there. But we managed to receive a few cookies and other items that were brought by the regular supply chains. These things warmed out hearts and we felt embraced.”

“I came down from Mount Dov with lots of thoughts. How to be a better father, a better husband, and to focus on what is of primary, and not lesser, importance.”

“No television crew awaited us when we came down after 74 days on the mountain. Everyone is in Gaza, everyone is in the south. We are not among the elite units fighting there . . . but I learned something here. A Kornet missile launched by the enemy lands on a military outpost in the north, but everyone is certain that those serving here are on reserve duty, and there’s really nothing to be done for them. But you alone know that thanks to you and your fellow soldiers, the flag of Hezbollah is not flying on Mount Dov. This is a big lesson in life. Applause is not necessary when you are doing important things.”


Thank you Battalion 9204. n


Sivan Rahav-Meir, married to Yedidya and a mother of five, lives in Jerusalem. She has been a journalist in the Israeli media from the age of six and has interviewed thousands of people on television, radio, and in print. Globes named her Israel’s most beloved journalist, Forbes listed her as one of the most influential women in Israel, and the Jerusalem Post ranked her among the 50 most influential Jewish people in the world.

Sivan lectures in Israel and abroad on Judaism, Israel, and new media. In recent years, she began writing The Daily Thought, a brief commentary on current events that is circulated in Jerusalem and translated into 17 languages for global distribution. This volunteer-run project provides spiritual uplift for Jews and non-Jews all over the world.

To receive Sivan Rahav-Meir’s content, search The Daily Thought.


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