Posttraumatic Growth and the Three Weeks

What is Post Traumatic Growth (PTG) and how is it connected to the Three Weeks in the Jewish calendar? The concept of PTG is a popular concept in the teachings of Positive Psychology. Survivors of traumatic experiences are not only able to heal but they can also grow from the experience and develop strength and resilience they never knew they had. The Posttraumatic Growth Research Group of the University of North Carolina explained that PTG is understood as a “positive change resulting from an individual’s struggle with a major life crisis or traumatic event.” (2014)

“For though a righteous man falls seven times, he will get up...” (Proverbs 24:16)

We can take difficult circumstances and use them to transform ourselves into better people. It is a natural human response to avoid adversity at all costs. However, if we view adversity that life inevitably brings, we will note positive changes in the following ways:

1.       Increased personal, mental, and/or emotional strength

2.       Improved and closer relationships with others

3.       Feeling greater appreciation for life

4.       Spiritual development or deepening of religious beliefs

5.       Finding new opportunities and possibilities in life

The Posttraumatic Growth Path
and The Three Weeks

In 2011, Stephanie D. Nelson, United States Army Behavioral Science officer, proposed a posttraumatic growth path (PTGP) for those suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The four steps in the plan detail the progression of treatment:

1.       Deal. The survivor writes out their traumatic experience in a greatly detailed narrative.

2.       Feel. The survivor reads their narrative out loud and relives the traumatic feelings.

3.       Heal. The survivor puts the pieces back together, in a newer and stronger configuration.

4.       Seal. The survivor ties up the loose ends and reorganizes the traumatic memory.

The three weeks is a period of mourning on the Jewish calendar, which annually falls in the summer. The Jewish people mourn the time of the destruction of the Holy Temple and being exiled from the sacred city of Jerusalem. The Jewish nation went through multiple traumas, such as enduring starvation and hunger, wars, and discrimination. And yet, this is the time in which we use the trauma as an opportunity to grow. G-d encourages us to continuously grow.

During the Three Weeks, we are mourning the loss of the House of G-d due to baseless hatred. We lament over what once was. But all hope is not lost. For those who take the time to remember what the Holy Temple represents and mourn its destruction, growing from the experience, treating our fellow with respect and particularly avoiding gossip mongering and slandering, we will merit seeing the Temple rebuilt in the times of the Messiah.