Men’s Health Week

June 12, 2019 by Rabbi Gabi Kaltmann
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Rabbi Gabi Kaltman reaches out to men who suffer in silence. Trigger Warning: the piece below may cause distress for persons experiencing mental health hardships. Support numbers are provided at the end of this Dvar Torah.

Rabbi Gabi Kaltman

This week I came across some terrifying statistics that were published by the Australasian Bureau of Statistics relating to 2018.

Last year, there were more than 3000 people across Australia who died from suicide. While that in itself is a shocking statistic, the most eye-opening part was the fact that of these people, more than 75% of them were men.
There are many different hypotheses for the reasons why these horrible statistics exist. One one hand, while certainly men and women can all suffer, these results show that far more men are experiencing hardship in silence without seeking the professional help they require. Sometimes people may find that the pressures of their daily lives, work and families along with competing responsibilities can take a toll on them.
Regardless of whether you are male or female, the main thing is to realize that help is available. It is important to talk to someone when you are not feeling 100%. Moreover, this week being Australia’s Men’s Health Week (June 10-16), it is an especially important time to seek help we may require or reach out to others who seem that they could use support and a check-in.
It is time for all of us to start talking openly about mental health and the benefits of speaking out when we are experiencing a problem or suffering. I urge each and every one of you to please take a moment to talk to your spouse, friend or a medical professional when you are feeling down or require professional advice on supporting those around you who may be needing extra support.
In this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Naso discusses the different camps of the Jewish people and the formation that they took when travelling in the desert. The Parsha continues with the priestly blessings that the Kohanim (priests) would bless all Israel with.
The Torah records G-d instructing Moshe to tell his brother Aaron, the High Priest to bless the children of Israel with the following blessing:
“May G-d bless you and keep you. May G-d illuminate the Almighty Countenance for you and favour you. May G-d lift up G-d’s Countenance toward you and establish peace for you.” 
The famous Rabbinical interpretation of these words is that “all the children of Israel are bound together”.
The word “bound” in this context means that each of us is responsible for one another.
When one of us is hurt or dealing with illness, it is our responsibility as a united people to assist and bring them into the camp of the Jewish people. We cannot ignore the pain of our fellow humans. If one of us is sick or suffering, we all end up suffering too. We are responsible to take action to mitigate the pain of those around us, wherever we possibly can.
The Priestly Blessing concludes with:
“ They shall place My Name upon the children of Israel; and as for Me, I shall bless them.”
When we assist and support each other accordingly we have assistance and blessing from Above. We must not take this obligation lightly and we must act accordingly to help one another.
Rabbi Gabi Kaltman is the spiritual leader of Melbourne’s Ark Centre
If you or anyone you know are indeed dealing with mental health issues or feel that you could do with extra support, help is available. Feel free to reach out to health care professionals on Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue 1300 224 636. There is someone always willing to help, assist and listen.

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