Rabbi - Tzvi Freeman - Psychoanalysis Kosher? (And are there Torah alternatives?)

By Rabbi Tzvi Freeman


"What is the traditional Jewish view on psychoanalysis? I’m particularly interested in the purported parallels between Freudian and Chabadphilosophy."


There have been many views expressed, ranging from enthusiastic embrace to unconditional condemnation. What follows is based on the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s letters on the topic.
The Rebbe writes that psychoanalysis has helped people, but since Freud and his colleagues saw religion as something of an illness in itself, we must be careful in choosing the doctor to go to. You may have heard of Dr. Viktor Frankl, who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning. The basis of Frankl’s theory was that the primary motivation of an individual is the search for meaning in life, and that the primary purpose of psychotherapy should be to help the individual find that meaning. The Rebbe supports Frankl’s views over Freud’s, and bemoans the fact that the majority of psychotherapists have not followed in this path.
In other letters, the Rebbe agrees that there are many similarities between the Freudian model of the human psyche and that described by Rabbi Schneur Zalman in his highly original yet traditional classic work, the Tanya. The first book of the Tanya provides spiritual guidance, often describing intimately the inner workings of the human soul. All of this is based firmly on the Talmud and other rabbinic writings-such as the works of Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (Maimonides), Rabbi Yehuda Lowe of Prague (Maharal), Rabbi Yitzchak Luria(Ari), Rabbi Yeshayah Horowitz (Shaloh), and of course the oral teachings of the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid of Mezeritch. Nevertheless, it stands out as the first literature to describe in detail the multiple facets and layers of the human personality and how they often conflict with one another, along with practical applications for overcoming depression, anxiety, feelings of inadequacy and more.
Furthermore, ethical literature beforehand had taken a generally behavioral approach: Do this, don’t do that. Be like this, avoid being like that. If you don’t, you’ll be sorry. Schneur Zalman’s approach, which became known as “Chabad,” is that our emotions and behavior are symptoms of what is happening with our mind. You can’t direct the heart directly, he wrote, and even behavior is not truly changed by offering reward and threatening punishment. Rather, all true change must be affected by working with the entire person, beginning with the inner mind.
This was also Freud’s achievement, when he demonstrated that much illness can be traced to mental disorder. Freud also pioneered the concept of a multi-layered consciousness, with multiple forces pulling in different directions. The very words he used—ego (ich), superego and id—are strikingly similar to the G‑dly soul, animal soul and person (guf) discussed in Tanya. Many other similarities could be discussed.
Several authors have dealt with the Jewish roots of Freud’s ideas. Some even point to his fascination with the Kabbalah and his talks with Rabbi Shalom DovBer, the fifth rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch. Others assert that most of what he theorized can easily be traced to common Jewish folk knowledge.
However, where Freud sees the underlying force within man as his sexual drive, the Tanya sees it as his G‑dly soul. That’s a major difference with serious impact.
Furthermore, while Freud could prescribe therapy only through the intervention of an objective practitioner, Rabbi Schneur Zalman set down a clear path for the common man to work through on his own. We are all in control of our minds, he writes, to think about whatever we wish to think about. And then he lays out a prescription to develop a mindset that brings out the most essential and divine qualities of the heart. Of course, the guidance and assistance of the tzaddik is vital to the process, but the principal work, Rabbi Schneur Zalman stressed, lies on the shoulders of the individual wishing to improve.
Of course, Tanya was not meant as a remedy for psychosis. It was written for the common person who needs guidance in overcoming obstacles on his spiritual path. But the basics are all there, ready to be applied.


Shlomo Katz - Niggun of the Birds


A Luz do Mashiach

O santo Rebe Nachman de Breslov ensinou: "E aquele que respeita e observa o santo Shabat, atrai para si mesmo a Luz do Mashiach. Também é sabido que esta mesma Luz (do Mashiach) recairá por sobre aquela pessoa que (sinceramente) trilhar o caminho da Teshuvá." 

(Likutei Moharan I, 66)


Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan - Women and Tefillin

Tefillin is a mitzvah specifically for men; women are not required to wear Tefillin. The late Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, in his classic pamphlet "Tefillin" provides us with a beautiful explanation of a woman's relationship with this pivotal mitzvah.
* The following is based on Rabbi Kaplan's work.
On a most simple level, commandments establish a link with God. The most profound way to accomplish this is through emulating Him.

Women resemble God in a way that no man could ever hope to.
"Only a woman can create within her body; only a woman can bear a child. In this sense, a woman partakes of God's attributes more intimately than any man."
The Kabbalists teach us that the hand Tefillin represent the feminine element.

The single hollow section in the Tefillin box represents the womb, and the coils wrapped around the arm signify the umbilical cord. What a man partakes of with an object, a woman partakes of with her very body.
The box of Tefillin is called a Bayit--literally a house. The woman also has her Bayit--the home in which she raises a family. One could say that a woman's home is her Tefillin.
Women resemble God through their Tefillin, just as man does through his.
The entire world is God's house, and the Divine attribute that tends to it is called the Shechinah or Divine Presence. It is interesting to note that the word Shechinah is of the feminine gender.

The Kabbalists call it the Akeret HaBayit--literally, the Mistress of the house.
There are two basic elements in Judaism, the home and the synagogue.

Unlike other religions where the church is primary, Judaism treats the home and synagogue as being co-equal. Some of our most important rituals belong exclusively to the home, such as the Seder, the Succah, the Sabbath table, and the Chanukah lamp.
"The continuity of Judaism is dependent on the home,
much more than on the synagogue."

This Bayit--the home--is a woman's Tefillin.

It is her contribution to the overall picture of God's purpose.
It is interesting to note that when God first gave the Jewish nation the Torah, God told Moshe to instruct the women of Israel initially, and then subsequently teach the men of Israel.
If the Torah does not enter the Jewish home first, symbolized and embodied by the Jewish women, there can be no continuity of Judaism.
This spirit of Torah in the Jewish home (Bayit) is the same as the parchments of Torah in the Tefillin box (Bayit). But this is the domain of the woman.


Carta do Rebbe - Não à Assimilação

* Reedição de mensagem postada em 18 Av, 5767
. . . . . . .

Por Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson

- 12 de Marcheshvan 5722 (1961)

O perigo da Assimilação

... Creio que durante nossa conversa tocamos no assunto que, como a Torá sempre foi chamada Torat Chayim, a Lei da Vida, e tem sido sempre a fonte de nossa vida e existência, bem como o guia para nossa vida diária, muito mais o é nos tempos atuais.
"Portanto, é dever de todo judeu consciente e consciencioso fazer o possível para deter a onda de assimilação, e trata-se realmente de uma questão de salvar uma vida".
O perigo para a vida judaica e a existência nos países livres, especialmente nos Estados Unidos, não é da exterminação física, D'us não o permita, por um outro Hitler ou Eichman, mas sim um perigo não menos destrutivo, o risco da assimilação.
Exatamente porque não há antagonismo externo e discriminação contra os judeus, especialmente nas classes média e baixa (embora na classe alta, a tendência para a assimilação seja reprimida pelo preconceito), o perigo da assimilação de massa é bastante real.
Além disso, fatores como a educação compulsória e social e as pressões econômicas de conformidade, etc., associadas à grande ignorância sobre os valores judaicos, aumenta bastante o perigo da assimilação de uma geração para a seguinte. Se for permitido que continue sem contenção, quem sabe aonde isso poderá levar.
Portanto, é dever de todo judeu consciente e consciencioso fazer o possível para deter a onda de assimilação, e trata-se realmente de uma questão de salvar uma vida.
É evidente que tal esforço não deveria ser limitado ao adulto e às gerações mais velhas, mas principalmente no que diz respeito aos jovens, em especial os muito jovens.
Desnecessário dizer, a pessoa sobre quem a Divina Providência concedeu a capacidade especial para influenciar, por uma questão de dever deve usar esta capacidade na direção delineada.
"Quando uma casa está se incendiando, não há tempo para estudar as leis da combustão e os métodos para apagar o fogo, mas tudo deve ser feito para extingui-lo antes que a casa seja destruída, com possíveis perdas de vidas".
Essa não é a ocasião para estender-se em pesquisa teórica sobre todos os aspectos da situação, e adiar a ação dependendo dos resultados da pesquisa. Pois, quando uma casa está se incendiando, não há tempo para estudar as leis da combustão e os métodos para apagar o fogo, mas tudo deve ser feito para extingui-lo antes que a casa seja destruída, com possíveis perdas de vidas.
... Similarmente, você tem a capacidade de expandir sua influência, além de sua proximidade imediata em casa, até a comunidade em geral. Isso você pode fazer de maneira direta e, talvez ainda mais, de modo indireto, elevando os padrões de sua vida religiosa e espiritual.