Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Rabbeinu Yonah: Make peace with therapist or police?

In a previous post regarding finding source for counseling or therapy to produce shalom bayis in a marriage, the clearest statement seems to be from Rabbeinu Yonah. However after reading it several times I don't think he was talking about what we would call therapy. I think he is describing policeman who can talk as well as they can shoot. In general there seems to be no concern for developing the psychological or emotional relationships within marriage - but simply removing hate and discord in the marriage. The fact that Taanis (22a) talks about clowns making peace - reinforces my point.

Rabbeinu Yonah (Igros Teshuva  #8): The Jewish people are obligated to chose specific men whose task it is to make peace between a man and his wife and between a man and his fellow. These men need to be given the power to force and pressure people concerning peace. These designated men must all be cheerful people who know how to placate and to mollify others and thus make peace. They should not be angry or vicious as it say in Mishlei (15:18) , The angry man stirs up a quarrel. It also says in Mishlei (15:1), The soft answer turns away anger. It says in the Talmud [Taanis 22a] concerning certain people who make peace, We are jesters and we make peace. The Sages said about these men that made peace with joy and a good heart that they were promised that they would get Olam HaBah


Why do you need a source for shalom bayis being therapy?

I think it is obvious. The way you respond to strife in marriage reflects what you think marriage is. What you perceive as malfunction in the relationship tells you what marriage is and what this particular marriage is not accomplishing. The apparent Torah description indicates it is simply a type of alliance for the mutual benefit of both parties and society. However modern understanding is that it is the necessary relationship for emotional and psychological needs and therefore a marriage where both sides fulfill their halachic obligations but isn't fulfilling and emotionally satisfying as well as lacking in love - needs to be fixed or ended. Therefore if all the sources dealing with strife in marriage focus on ending conflict - police actions - then there is no concern for love, affection or psychological issues. Consequently one could conclude these issues are not required by the Torah.

Of course one can say that even though they are not the Torah understand are still relevant. That is because the current conceptualization is ais l'asos - that since we are strongly influenced by the non-Jewish culture we need to have love (Hollywood style), fulfillment etc etc - then it would seem to be fine to now be concerned with them. It is simply a pragmatic reality for our times. It doesn't matter on a practical level what happened in the past. We are simply existing in a transient blip in history and we do what we do for the current needs for the members of our society - not what our ancestors 500 years ago did.

However the corollary of viewing this as a transient emergency measure is that we need to be aware of the ideal - when conditions change. Therefore when we get more control and isolate ourselves from the surrounding cultural atmosphere we should be returning to the Torah understanding - the relationship devoid of emotion and psychological fulfillment. Thus the information is for the future - for knowing the ideal so we can return to it.

But there is another approach as to why this question is important. This is the view which is expressed by Rav Tzadok. He holds that the Torah view evolves or progresses for the better. He says we do in fact learn and incorporate ideas from the goyim. Rav Tzadok notes our job is to sanctify these innovations. Therefore the ideal is looking forward and disgarding the past references which are no longer appropriate or allowed. According to this view if a husband insists on following the view of Chazal and Rishonim in this area - he is seriously derelict in his duty. Similarly a wife can't view herself as a baby machine whose job description is described entirely by behavioral requirements and she doesn't need to show love and affection. In other words you can't go back and you fail miserably in Avoda HaShem by trying.

In short this question is a major probe into the essence of what marriage is and what it needs to accomplish.
 


72 comments :

  1. C'mnon DT, are you joking?

    וְיִהְיוּ אוֹתָם הַבְּרוּרִים, אֲנָשִׁים שְֹמֵחִים, שֶׁיּוֹדְעִים לְפַיֵּס וּלְרַצּוֹת בְּנֵי אָדָם, לְהַטִּיל שָׁלוֹם

    Happy, soulful Police?

    בְטָח לָהֶם שֶׁהֵם בְּנֵי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא

    I guess we need to sign up.... NOW.

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  2. On a more serious note

    "developing the psychological or emotional relationships"

    is a given, since actions flow from thoughts, any potential change in actions requires changes in thoughts.

    Thats the cornerstone of Chovos Halvovos, Mesilis Yeshorom, etc.

    (I've already tried making my case that therapists should indeed BUILD their practice around the concepts in these Seforim - which is what I'm attempting to do right now).

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  3. the question is did the discipline of psychology exist way back then?
    It seems not to have existed in TeNaCh times, since Saul was suffering from depression and paranoia, yet there was no "psychology" for him to turn to.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've asked this question twice. It didn't exist. That is Question A. Question B is why do you need a source in the first place?

      Delete
    2. Why do you need a source for shalom bayis being therapy?

      I think it is obvious. The way you respond to strife in marriage reflects what you think marriage is. What you perceive as malfunction in the relationship tells you what marriage is and what this particular marriage is not accomplishing. The apparent Torah description indicates it is simply a type of alliance for the mutual benefit of both parties and society. However modern understanding is that it is the necessary relationship for emotional and psychological needs and therefore a marriage where both sides fulfill their halachic obligations but isn't fulfilling and emotionally satisfying as well as lacking in love - needs to be fixed or ended. Therefore if all the sources dealing with strife in marriage focus on ending conflict - police actions - then there is no concern for love, affection or psychological issues. Consequently one could conclude these issues are not required by the Torah.

      Of course one can say that even though they are not the Torah understand are still relevant. That is because the current conceptualization is ais l'asos - that since we are strongly influenced by the non-Jewish culture we need to have love (Hollywood style), fulfillment etc etc - then it would seem to be fine to now be concerned with them. It is simply a pragmatic reality for our times. It doesn't matter on a practical level what happened in the past. We are simply existing in a transient blip in history and we do what we do for the current needs for the members of our society - not what our ancestors 500 years ago did.

      However the corollary of viewing this as a transient emergency measure is that we need to be aware of the ideal - when conditions change. Therefore when we get more control and isolate ourselves from the surrounding cultural atmosphere we should be returning to the Torah understanding - the relationship devoid of emotion and psychological fulfillment. Thus the information is for the future - for knowing the ideal so we can return to it.

      But there is another approach as to why this question is important. This is the view which is expressed by Rav Tzadok. He holds that the Torah view evolves or progresses for the better. He says we do in fact learn and incorporate ideas from the goyim. Rav Tzadok notes our job is to sanctify these innovations. Therefore the ideal is looking forward and disgarding the past references which are no longer appropriate or allowed. According to this view if a husband insists on following the view of Chazal and Rishonim in this area - he is seriously derelict in his duty. Similarly a wife can't view herself as a baby machine whose job description is described entirely by behavioral requirements and she doesn't need to show love and affection. In other words you can't go back and you fail miserably in Avoda HaShem by trying.

      In short this question is a major probe into the essence of what marriage is and what it needs to accomplish.

      Delete
    3. Not only has the description or 'partnership' of marriage changed since biblical times so has ORGANIZED CHINUCH!
      Who says resources should be utilized for special education, kriah, new technology, etc? Why should the rod mode of discipline change to 'Love, Warmth, Concern and Understanding'? Where are the biblical injuctions for what we do in our religious schools? Was there ever references to awards, citations, honor rolls, elitism?
      In short this question is a major probe into the essence of what is (fill in the blank) _______ "chinuch, child raising, mental illness, education for parnassa, abuse,
      self-reflection, etc." and what it needs to accomplish.

      Delete
  4. Wow, that's quite a statement to make, that the "torah ideal" of marriage is "devoid of love and emotions"...

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    Replies
    1. Are expressing surprise at something you were unaware or are you questioning the accuracy of the statement? If the latter please show me sources that say otherwise.

      BTW I am not saying that love and emotions are disapproved of but that they are irrelevant according to the Torah for a good marriage.

      Delete
    2. Honestly, I don't think it is true.

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    3. In other words your gut feeling is that I am wrong but you have absolutely no evidence to refute my assertion?

      Delete
    4. Recipients and PublicityOctober 26, 2012 at 5:26 AM

      Amazing that no one is recalling and citing the famous scene in the movie/play based on "Shalom Aleichem's" writings about "tevey der milchiger" depicting typical Eastern European shtetel/Torah living: "Fidler on the Roof" -- where in response to the various changes in the lives of Tevye's daughters' finding shidduchim and husbands -- when Golda asks her husband Tevye "Do you LOVE me?" it catches Tevye by total surprise.

      Tevye is dazed and has to think then launches into the long soul-searching monologue and song with the self-deprecating rhetorical question back to Golda: "Do I LOVE you?" ...(pause) "of course I do..." and how so? because as Tevye thinks he is defining the unspoken love that was always there between them by say that for "Twenty five years I worked for you..." and Golda sings that back, and they sing to each other and hey, guess what? they discover that they too, as the old folks, and not just their young passionate daughters trying to reconcile modernity with TRADITION, are all capable of being in LOVE. There is a big moral lesson there somewhere.

      For the record. In the play, only one of Tevye's three daughters remains frum, the one who marries the tailor. One marries a Bolshevik revolutionary and the other marries a gentile in a church. The typical stories fighting to stay frum, and the powers of assimilation - intermarriage - apostasy in our times, and poor Tevye has to bear the brunt -- including in the end having to flee from a pogrom that disrupts his daughter's wedding and then thinks of going to America -- because all he has is "TRADITION" without any recourse to modern notions and practices of "love and romance"!

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  5. "What you perceive as malfunction in the relationship tells you what marriage is and what this particular marriage is not accomplishing."

    that is a very limited definition. maybe what you perceive as a malfunction has nothing to do with what marriage is but is a reflection of your psychological makeup. change the makeup (ya'ani get therapy) and you change the perception.

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    Replies
    1. I didn't say it is the only way to know what marriage is - but it clearly is a useful probe - especially concerning aspects which are not explicitly discussed anywhere.

      Delete
    2. Isnt there a posuk in Berishis, that states "Yakov loved Rochel" and in contrast "Leah was hated"? Seems that emotions were used at times to describe male/female relationships.

      Delete
    3. It is not clear that the word love is referring to emotion.

      you should love your fellow man as your self - is not describing an emotion.

      Perhaps it is best to translate the Hebrew as like or appreciate rather than love.

      קדושת לוי (בראשית כד:סז): ויביאה יצחק ותהי לו לאשה ויאהבה. ויש לדקדק מאי בא להשמיענו שיצחק אהב את רבקה. ונראה, כי יש שני אהבות מאיש לאשה, יש אדם שאוהב אשתו תאות גופניות שלו שעל ידי זה ממלא תאותו ונמצא זה אינו אוהב אשתו כלל רק אוהב את עצמו. ויש אדם שאוהב אשתו ואינו מחמת תאות גוף שימלא תאותו, רק מחמת שהיא כלי לקיים על ידה מצות הבורא יתברך שמו כמו שאדם אוהב שאר מצות וזה נקרא אוהב את אשתו. וזהו ויאהבה יצחק, שלא חשב כלל מחמת תאות הגוף שלו, רק כדי לקיים מצות הבורא יתברך שמו ויתעלה זכרו:

      Delete
  6. I think you cannot learn how to marriage work from books and laws.

    when everything works fine, people do not go to court. They go to court when something is amiss.

    So I suppose the torah set a framework of "minimal" standards, e.g. the husband cannot just dismiss his wife because he wants a new one, he has to pay her the ketuba so as to give her some financial security. this does not mean it is desirable for a man to send off a wife because he found a better one, but it gives the wife minimal protection if that were to happen.

    When a marriage is not satisfying, the partners might agree to stay together for some other reason (economic, children, no money to pay the ketuba). It is not really for the beith din to tell them what to do.

    the beith din comes in when they cannot agree.

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    Replies
    1. There is no question that your point is relevant for statements in the Shulchan Aruch or teshuva literature regarding divorce. However the gemora, medrashim, rishonim and achronim are full of statements as to what is desirable and not just what beis din should tell a couple who have a bard marriage.

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    2. well, yes, but there are many contradictory statements...

      As far as I understand, an important part is mutual respect. In the statements that are purported here, this point is often omitted.

      As soon as persons take a few statements out of context in order to make it suit their individual agenda, the "torah point view" is misrepresented. I think that this happens quite often on this blog.

      Delete
  7. I'll agree that DT's question is extremely important, but I'll vehemently disagree about the connotations about the Torah view of marriage as being devoid of love.

    To explain how things should really work, I think it's necessary to "back up" a bit and 1) take an honest look at what contemporary "frum" society looks like vs. what the Torah would want it to look like, and 2) Understand how these deficiencies are actually the SOURCE of most (if not all) marriage strife and...

    Going back to basics: We have a total of 613 Mitzvohs, but only SIX are נוהג בכל מקום ובכל זמן לזכרים ולנקבות, as the Sefer החינוך says.

    Two of these are "emotional" ones: 1) Loving Hashem, Fearing Hashem.

    The Ramabam says concerning Loving Hashem ספר המצות מ"ע ג':

    עד שנשיגהו ונהנה בהשגתו בתכלית ההנאה, וזאת היא האהבה המחוייבת

    And in הלכות תשובה פרק י הלכה ג:
    וכיצד היא האהבה הראויה הוא שיאהב את ה' אהבה גדולה יתירה עזה מאוד עד שתהא נפשו קשורה באהבת ה' ונמצא שוגה בה תמיד כאלו חולה חולי האהבה שאין דעתו פנויה מאהבת אותה אשה והוא שוגה בה תמיד בין בשבתו בין בקומו בין בשעה שהוא אוכל ושותה

    Now we need to take an honest look at ourselves and think :How do I react when I see something like this in the Rambam, what emotional response do i have?"

    I'd venture to say that for most of us, the next thought is something along the lines of:
    "Okay, I'm not such a big TZADIK, I'm not at that מדריגה, and neither is almost every single person that I know. Maybe it was easy to do "in the olden days". Not for me! So I'll just do the stuff everyone does, and I'll be pretty okay."

    Where Chazal oblivious to the difficulties involved in attaining such high "standards" of emotional connection to Hashem?

    Absolutely NOT!

    Allow me to quote one of the many Seforim that deal with this issue the ספר יד הקטנה ספר המדע הלכות יסודי התורה פ"ה סקי"ז וסקי"ח:

    ששתי המצות האלה והוא יחוד ואהבה, המה כמעט נמנעים להמין מלקיימן על אמיתתן לפי שהמה למעלה הן היכולת הבשרית, וכאשר תמצאם אינם כי אם ביחידים מבני אדם, לזאת העמיק עצה הוא יתברך לזכות כולנו גם בשתי הצמות האלה, וציונו בציווין ואזהרות גדולות גם על זכרונם, ולבל להפריד מלבבינו עכ"פ זכרון קיומם, ושנחשוב ושנכסוף תמיד לקיימם, ואז גם אף עודינו אינם מגיעים על מדריגות קיומם על אמיתתן, בכל זאת מעלה עלינו הוא יתברך כאילו קיימם, וכבר מצינו אשר אמר הוא יתברך לדוד יען אשר הי' עם לבבך וגו', ואמר אז נדברו גו, ויכתב בספר גו' ליראי ה' ולחושבי שמו, ואמרו ז"ל בפירושו, מאי ולחושבי שמו, אפילו חשב לעשות מצוה ונאנס ולא עשאה, מעלה עליו הכתוב כאלו עשאה, ואף גם זאת כאשר נתמיד ונשתדל על קיום כל הציווין בזכרונם, בכל לבבינו ובכל נפשינו, אז יעזור לנו הוא יתברך באָמְצו לקיימם על אמיתתם, ואלהים ישים חלקנו מאוהבי שמו

    So, he's basically saying that OUR Mitzvah is to CONSTANTLY, SINCERELY STRIVE to love Hashem.

    This is not the proper forum to analyze all the necessary components of what this "striving" entails, and I'm not sure I'm qualified, either. However, it's pretty obvious that the Torah view of "life" IS meant to be very "fulfilling and emotionally satisfying".



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    Replies
    1. The obligation is to love G-d. Where does it say you need to love your spouse?

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    2. I'm not sure what you're driving at. We have a mitzvah to love EVERY Jew: ואהבת לרעך כמוך. Not just our wives and our "buddies".



      We also have a Mitzvo ומכבדה יותר מגופו.

      Delete
    3. The love of G-d as described by the Rambam is not the same thing as loving one's fellow man. The love of G-d is supposed to be an all encompassing emotion - while that of your fellow man is simply to not do nasty things to him.

      Yes you are correct - there is nothing special about loving a wife - since that command applies equally to the stranger on the subway

      Let me put it another way - are the descriptions regarding Shir HaShirim applicable to marriage - or are they meant exclusively to describe the relationship to G-d.

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    4. "Let me put it another way - are the descriptions regarding Shir HaShirim applicable to marriage - or are they meant exclusively to describe the relationship to G-d."

      ...or are they meant exclusively to describe love outside marriage? (since it says reayati, but not ishti...

      Delete
  8. Now lets move on to the Torah view of responsibilities of MARRIAGE. Here's what the Chovos Halvovos says in שער הבטחון, פרק ג':

    שאין אדם נמלט מאחד משני דברים: שיהיה נכרי או שיהיה בתוך משפחתו וקרוביו...... ואם יהיה הבוטח באלוהים בעל אישה וקרובים ואוהבים ואויבים, יבטח באלוהים בהצלתו מהם, וישתדל לפרוע מה שחייב להם ולעשות חפציהם ולהיות לבו שלם עמהם, וירף ידו מהזקתם, ויסבב על מה שיהיה טוב להם, ויהיה נאמן בכל ענייניהם, ויורם אופני תועלותם בענייני התורה והעולם לעבודת הבורא. כמו שכתוב (ויקרא יט) ואהבת לרעך כמוך. ואמר (שם) לא תשנא את אחיך בלבבך. לא לייחל הגמול מהם, ולא לקדם אצלם, ולא מאהבתו בכבודם ושבחם, ולא להשתרר עליהם, אך לקיים מצוות הבורא ולשמור דבריו ופקודיו עליהם. כי מי שתהיה דעתו בעשותו חפציהם על אחד מהדברים שזכרנו תחילה, לא ישיג רצונו מהם בעולם הזה, וייגע לריק ויפסיד שכרו לעולם הבא. ואם הוא נוהג בזה לעבודת האלוהים בלבד, יעזרם האלוהים לגמול אותו בעולם הזה, וישים בפיהם שבחו, ויגדל עניינו בעיניהם, ויגיע אל הגמול הגדול בעולם הבא. כמו שאמר האלוהים לשלמה (מלכים א ג) וגם אשר לא שאלת נתתי לך וגו'.

    Did you notice how he says that the husband...

    needs to be TOTALLY SELFLESS?
    needs to teach אופני תועלותם בענייני התורה והעולם לעבודת הבורא?

    Without a doubt what he means is that THE HUSBAND'S ROLE IS TO GUIDE ALL MEMBERS OF THE HOUSEHOLD AND HELP THEM ATTAIN THEIR EMOTIONAL NEEDS FROM SERVING HASHEM.

    Also, notice how he writes that otherwise:
    לא ישיג רצונו מהם בעולם הזה, וייגע לריק ויפסיד שכרו לעולם הבא

    Selfishness is NOT condoned, but neither is the secular view of marriage for the PURPOSE of attaining emotional well-being.

    The secular model doesn't work well - as witnessed by MILLIONS of people in the USA alone that are constantly "searching" for their "soul mates" and constantly cycling into and out of relationships.

    I think it's totally off the mark to think that this view is more "enlightened" and satisfying. The quote from Rav Tzodok is therefore a non-starter.

    Thank You!

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    1. please summarize what you think is unique about the marriage relationship?

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    2. I'll try.

      The Ramban in Beraishes ב-כד explains the Pasuk
      עַל כֵּן יַעֲזָב אִישׁ אֶת אָבִיו וְאֶת אִמּוֹ וְדָבַק בְּאִשְׁתּוֹ וְהָיוּ לְבָשָׂר אֶחָד as follows:

      בעבור שנקבת האדם היתה עצם מעצמיו ובשר מבשרו ודבק בה והיתה בחיקו כבשרו ויחפוץ בה להיותה תמיד עמו וכאשר היה זה באדם הושם טבעו בתולדותיו להיות הזכרים מהם דבקים בנשותיהם עוזבים את אביהם ואת אמם ורואים את נשותיהן כאלו הן עמם לבשר אחד

      The concept of marriage is the emotional bond between spouses that replaces the natural bond formerly held between child and parent.

      The relationship still centers around SERVING Hashem and seeking emotional fulfillment from that service, and NOT from one "emotionally deficient" spouse demanding constant attention from the other.

      An analogy of how Hashem wants things to look,would be if the successful CEO of a large corporation suddenly woke up one day with an extra pair of hands, legs, brains, etc. (imagine!). He could now get twice of the amount of work done, and he wouldn't just "brainstorm" his "brilliant ideas" with his colleagues, as that new brain that he has would give him alternative viewpoints of and about everything important. And in fact, that new brain could just as well be the SOURCE of some new, brilliant ideas.

      Another important benefit would be having someone always at hand to thoughtfully point out which unnoticed character traits might be holding him back from closing on that next mega-deal.

      That's what we call תוכחה.

      That's the concept of how husband and wife can strengthen each others and compliment each others ability to reach higher in serving Hashem and in attained emotional satisfaction from this service.


      I've mentioned in the past that Non-Jewish theologians aren't bashful about building their therapeutic systems BASED on what they call "Scriptures". One very well known approach actually goes by the name "Nouthetic Counseling". "Nouthetic" being the Greek word for תוכחה.

      I think they got this part right.

      It's a pity that we Jews, with so much MORE to learn from, since we have the wealth of wisdom contained in all of Chazal are still chasing the flawed rainbow of secular psychology.

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  9. Reply to "Therefore the ideal is looking forward and disgarding the past references which are no longer appropriate or allowed. According to this view if a husband insists on following the view of Chazal and Rishonim in this area - he is seriously derelict in his duty."

    Applying this principle in the present situation, ie replacing our sage's teachings on marriage with New Age ideologies, is an enormous fallacy and error. Western feminism and liberalism are in fact the problem not the solution - they have caused a massive destruction of families, which has spread full force into the Jewish world.

    Adopting Western marriage principles might only be logical if marriages and families in the Western world were demonstrating more stability than Jewish families conducted according to Torah principles. That is not certainly the case.

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    1. No the issue is whether frum marriages which integrate non-Jewish concepts of emotional and psychological relations are better and stronger than ones that are based entirely on models from the Middle Ages and Talmud

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    2. "that are based entirely on models from the Middle Ages and Talmud"

      well first of all you have to define better and stronger. but secondly the entire hypothesis is impossible to test. who has a marriage based on models from the middle ages?

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    3. The secular view: Namely that spouses are meant to act as the main source of "emotional sustenance" for each other, is totally illogical.

      The truth is that when each spouse has an adequate "reservoir" of happiness, they're each in a much better position to help each other out AS AUXILIARIES, in trying times. When either of the two are constantly "needy", they are too wrapped up in their own sorrows to be able to help the other.

      An analogy would be that a pauper cannot help another pauper with a multimillion dollar loan that his friend needs urgently.

      On the other hand, wealthy people often do give each other multimillion dollar loans - and they do indeed both end up benefiting.

      The secular model is a mirage, enticing in that it entails LESS RESPONSIBILITY, since it shifts responsibility for a person's failure unto someone else, but ultimately untenable.

      Many professional have themselves come to this realization after years in the line. Among the books on the subject, written thoughtfully and well argued:

      "Manufacturing Victims" By Dr. Tana Dineen.
      "House Of Cards" By Robyn Dawes

      Delete
    4. And BTW, Torah True Judaism has NO problem integrating "non-Jewish concepts of emotional and psychological relations" into our worldview, as noted in the Chovos Halvovos (end of Hakdomo):

      ושמתי רוב ראיותי עליו מן הדברים המושכלים, וקירבתים בדמיונים הקרובים אשר אין בהם ספק, וסמכתי להם מה שמצאתי כתוב בספרי הנביאים. ואחר כך סמכתי להם דברי הקבלות שקבלנו מרבותינו זיכרונם לברכה, ומן החסידים והחכמים שבכל אומה שהגיעו דבריהם אלינו, מפני שקויתי שיהיו הלבבות נוטים אליהם ומקשיבים אל חכמתם וכו', וכבר אמרו רבותינו זיכרונם לברכה: כתוב אחד אומר (יחזקאל יא) וכמשפטי הגוים אשר סביבותיכם עשיתם, וכתוב אחד אומר (שם ה) לא עשיתם. הא כיצד? כמתוקנים שבהם לא עשיתם, כמקולקלים שבהם עשיתם. ואמרו: (מגילה טז) כל האומר דבר חכמה, אפילו באומות העולם, נקרא 'חכם'. (ולכאורה כוונתו כדברי הרמב"ם, דהיינו כשהם נודע וא"צ לסמוך על האיש אלא על הראי' שהביא). (חובות הלבבות, סוף ההקדמה).

      We simply do so with a very critical eye, based on the knowledge that not everything sold as "settled science" is really so.

      The world of psychology and psychiatry is replete with examples of "miracle cures" that end up in the dustbin of history, after getting their "fifteen minutes of fame".

      Delete
    5. "frum marriages which integrate non-Jewish concepts of emotional and psychological relations"

      I think it's a huge mistake to think that all changes in the values Jews hold through history are due to a "seeping in" of non-Jewish values. It's a victim mentality that takes all responsibility and agency out of the free-willed individuals involved in cultural shifts. When the culture of (religious) Jews change, we should own it, rather than just start crying that we are victims of some kind of vicious cultural colonization.

      In addition, the world and the people therein change over the course of history. That's just the way the world works. For example, the notion of emotional connection being vitally important in a marriage is new just about everywhere, for just about everyone. Emotional bonding among spouses is not just not Jewish. It's also not English, not German, not Japanese, not Cherokee, etc., etc. It's more akin to large cultural shifts (with or without a moral component) like the abandonment of chattel slavery, the use of forks in eating food, or the level (and kind) of education that children are expected to receive. Many of these Jewish changes won't simply go away after Jews are completely walled off from non-Jews. Also, it almost goes without saying that even a hermetically sealed Jewish community will continue to change and evolve in unexpected ways over time.

      So instead of asking "why do Jews (even frum ones) now need a strong emotional connection between spouses, when they did not seem to in the past, and what can we do to stop this from being the case?" we should be thinking "Seeing that Jews (even from ones) now need a strong emotional connection between spouses, what can we do to help Jewish society function in the best way possible?"

      Now a part of the solution may be to teach that over-valuing the importance of emotional connection can be counter productive, but it can't be the only solution. This is also why I think your quest to find a traditional source for marriage counseling is a bit Quixotic. It may not exist, and even if you don't find it, it's moot.

      Delete
    6. Daas Torah, your point is clearer now re: integrating non-Jewish concepts into frum marriages.

      I've read the non-Jewish relationship book "Hold Me Tight" by Dr. Sue Johnson, and I found no anti-male or feminist biases in it. Perhaps books like that may offer useful concepts for frum marriages.

      On the other hand, certain "frum" books like "Garden of Peace" by R. Arush seem to present some of the most extreme feminist ideologies I've ever seen. So right now I have more confidence in ideas presented by Dr. Johnson than certain rabbis.

      Delete
    7. EmesLeYaakov - well said!

      Delete
    8. Can anyone reliably describe a Torah marriage of the Rishonim, Achronim or even the Vilna Gaon? Are there written diaries, (from the wife or husband), eye witnesses who wrote about what they saw or experienced? How can you conclude that there WAS or WAS NOT an emotional bond?

      Delete
    9. tzipschum:
      As far as the Vilna Goan -yes. The Chofetz Chaim used to tell the story of how the VG's daughter took a lengthy trip to see him a and how he stopped learning for a minute and then excused himself and went right back to learn, saying that "there's no time".

      I guess that someone learning 22 hours daily can copy that, otherwise, I dunno...

      Delete
    10. What exactly is difference between an anonymous sperm donor and a father who cannot even spare two minutes for his child?

      Delete
  10. In two weeks we will read that upon Yitzchak meeting Rivka and taking her in as a wife, the Torah seems to go out of its way to tell us "Vaye'ehoveha" - that he loved her.

    You can certainly try to learn from this that love is no prerequisite for marriage, noting the order of events. But that Yitzchak not only loved her but actively strove to do so (according to the dikduk construct of the word) would seem to be placed there so that we can learn from the Torah the proper hanhaga.

    I would think Yitzchak Avinu is a pretty strong source.

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    1. The description of love is descriptive - not prescriptive.

      If you look at the description love and Yaakov you get a different picture altogether. Yaakov kissed Rachel before they got married - can we learn from that? Leah changed places with Rachel - can we emulate that? Leah tells Yaakov that she paid for a night with him - is that halacha also? The Torah doesn't say that Avraham loved Sara. Moshe didn't love Tzipora and in fact married her in order to protect his identify.

      In sum there is no coherent picture regarding love and marriage from the Torah.

      Delete
    2. DT - Please don't expect to get a

      "coherent picture regarding love and marriage from the Torah"

      or for that matter don't expect to get ANY coherent picture on any concept - without first substantial effort and time in checking the Meforshim on each of the psukim you mention.

      The Torah's "pot of gold" is not, and never was lying out in the open for any takers.

      As the Gemara in Shabbos says:
      דאמר רבא בר רב שילא ואמרי לה אמר רב יוסף בר חמא א''ר ששת מאי דכתיב {משלי ג-טז} אורך ימים בימינה בשמאלה עושר וכבוד אלא בימינה אורך ימים איכא עושר וכבוד ליכא אלא למיימינין בה אורך ימים איכא וכ''ש עושר וכבוד למשמאילים בה עושר וכבוד איכא אורך ימים ליכא

      And Rashi explains:

      למיימינין. של תורה שמפשפשין טעמיהן בדקדוק ובוררין כימין המיומנת למלאכה: עושר וכבוד ליכא. בתמיה כיון דאיכא אורך ימים כ''ש עושר וכבוד: למשמאלין בה. שאין יגעים בה כל צרכן אי נמי מיימינין בה עוסקין לשמה משמאילים שלא לשמה:

      Torah takes effort - but it's worth it!

      Delete
  11. "frum marriages which integrate non-Jewish concepts of emotional and psychological relations"

    I think it's a huge mistake to think that all changes in the values Jews hold through history are due to a "seeping in" of non-Jewish values. It's a victim mentality that takes all responsibility and agency out of the free-willed individuals involved in cultural shifts. When the culture of (religious) Jews change, we should own it, rather than just start crying that we are victims of some kind of vicious cultural colonization.

    In addition, the world and the people therein change over the course of history. That's just the way the world works. For example, the notion of emotional connection being vitally important in a marriage is new just about everywhere, for just about everyone. Emotional bonding among spouses is not just not Jewish. It's also not English, not German, not Japanese, not Cherokee, etc., etc. It's more akin to large cultural shifts (with or without a moral component) like the abandonment of chattel slavery, the use of forks in eating food, or the level (and kind) of education that children are expected to receive. Many of these Jewish changes won't simply go away after Jews are completely walled off from non-Jews. Also, it almost goes without saying that even a hermetically sealed Jewish community will continue to change and evolve in unexpected ways over time.

    So instead of asking "why do Jews (even frum ones) now need a strong emotional connection between spouses, when they did not seem to in the past, and what can we do to stop this from being the case?" we should be thinking "Seeing that Jews (even frum ones) now need a strong emotional connection between spouses, what can we do to help Jewish society function in the best way possible?"

    Now a part of the solution may be to teach that over-valuing the importance of emotional connection can be counter productive, but it can't be the only solution. This is also why I think your quest to find a traditional source for marriage counseling is a bit Quixotic. It may not exist, and even if you don't find it, it's moot.

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    1. Tzurah wrote:

      "When the culture of (religious) Jews change, we should own it"

      When culture changes - perhaps we should adapt - or wait for the next change sure to come pretty soon.

      However, when we find a contradiction to Torah law and Hashkafa in the new culture, and ESPECIALLY when the new culture carries hidden "risks" to the user that are not readily apparent - thus rendering it of questionable valuable, what we should do is...

      hang up a 10 ft. sign screaming "DANGER - STAY OUT!

      You may remember the terrible story of Thalidomide , which was first introduced in the 1950s as a sedative and because it was deemed to be so safe, it was prescribed for nausea and insomnia in pregnant women. However, it was found to be the cause of severe birth defects in children whose mothers had taken the drug in their first trimester of pregnancy. This was a terrible tragedy, the suffering of which is still being felt today. As a consequence the drug was never approved for distribution in the United States.

      We need to be wary of newer, better "anythings", until they've stood the test of time. We need to be especially wary in cases were the problems are immediately obvious, such as what I've noted earlier about two weaklings not being able to help each others.

      But this shouldn't be confused for minimizing the importance of love in a marriage. It simply defining love very differently - as two people joined as one and thoughtfully helping each other attain a very rewarding common goal

      Delete
  12. Torah Includes EverythingOctober 25, 2012 at 5:10 PM

    DT is correct in pointing out the seeming absence of discussion in Chazal about the role of love and emotion in marriage. I do not believe he is advocating a "Torah" marriage that is devoid of love and passion. The concepts of love within marriage are abundant, though they do not appear as specific mitzvos. I join DT in the curiosity about that, and I assume there is an answer that will be enlightening.

    Here are some examples of the abundance of the concepts. Firstly, the metaphor throughout Shir Hashirim that compares אהבת ה to אהבת איש ואשתו clearly suggests that the latter is the given, universally recognized. Otherwise, it would serve to purpose in the metaphor.

    Secondly, the ברכה recited at שבע ברכות both under the חופה as well as throughout the week of שבעת ימי המשתה refers to the emotions that exist between a חתן וכלה, in which those that are different aspects of joy - ששון ושמחה, גילה רנה etc, include אהבה ואחוה שלום וריעות. If there is no Torah source for this attribute being desirable in marriage, where did its inclusion in the ברכה come from? Was there secular influence back then?

    אוהבה כגופו ומכבדה יותר מגופו - יבמות ס"ב. Is this secular, too?

    Here is a quote from the פלא יועץ:

    אהבת איש ואשתו הוא דבר שבחובה שתהא ביניהם אהבה עזה. וידוע מאמר חז''ל שחייב אדם לאהוב את אשתו כגופו, ולכבדה יותר מגופו. אמנם יזהר שלא ימנע מעבודת השם יתברך מחמת אהבתו אותה. ועיקר האהבה היא אהבת הנפש, ועליו מוטל להדריכה בנועם שיח בדרכי הצניעות, ולהרחיקה מלשון הרע וכעס וכדומה, ולהזהירה בדקדוקי המצוות, ובפרט בכל התפילות וברכות הנהנין ושמירת שבת וכדומה. ומה טוב ומה נעים ללמוד עימה דברי מוסר, ולהגיד לה את דברי חז''ל בכל הענינים הנוגעים לה, וגודל חומרתן, כי אז יחרד לבה ותזהר בהם יותר מן האיש.

    Or was he also deriving his דברי מוסר from secular sources?

    I think it is a given that the Torah marriage involves a strong emotional component. I join in the question wondering why it is not expressed more clearly as a mitzvah.

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    1. Thank you "Torah Includes Everything" for the פלא יועץ.

      I think his statement that

      ועיקר האהבה היא אהבת הנפש, ועליו מוטל להדריכה בנועם שיח

      elucidates the nature of love as the Torah sees: A deep overriding concern for the others well-being. Since Shmiras Hamitzvohs is seen as the source of emotional well-being, the עיקר manifestation would be to nurture and enable Shmiras Hamitzvohs.

      Delete
  13. "Western feminism and liberalism are in fact the problem not the solution - they have caused a massive destruction of families, which has spread full force into the Jewish world."

    Well I think there is also a legal issue here, the same issue that appears in the context of gittin and perhaps also in the context of succession law.

    In matters of civil law, ultimately, only the law of the land is enforcable. So if jewish law is diametrically opposed to local civil law, it will be a huge problem to enforce jewish law. You cannot have a "state in the state", a subset of society that applies laws going against the general law of the land. And therefore, automatically, jewish custom will have to adapt, over time, to the legal situation of the time, of the place. And this will also affect the jewish sense of "morality".

    For example, I know few Hareidim who think that it is moral that daughters should not inherit when they have brothers. They are tainted by modern culture and write wills ensuring that their daughters will inherit as well as sons, although the torah itself says otherwise.

    the same goes for the general role of women in society. In this realm, the hareidim have their own reasons to push feminism, in the sense that they want to learn and let their wives be the breadwinner of the family, which is really contrary to jewish law.


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    1. To "Remark":

      I think that there might be a bit of confusion here as to what exactly constitutes Jewish "Law".

      Much of what seems like Jewish law is actually custom. Much is even less than that - it's just habit and current social norms.

      We most definitely DO NOT adapt jewish law to secular law, unless Jewish Law allows such adaption. A case in point would be female inheritance - Jewish law definitely allows that, so it's okay.

      Had current views of marriage passed the test of 1) being complementary and not contradicting Jewish law and Ethics, and 2) actually worked - there would be no problem adapting them.

      Delete
    2. @Remark - "I think there is also a legal issue here, the same issue that appears in the context of gittin"

      Now you're starting to focus on the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Its obvious that many Jewish divorces are being initiated by women using the non-Jewish courts in violation of halacha.

      This raises the question as to whether nowadays enhancing emotional and psychological conditions in Jewish marriages is only necessary because Jewish women have the option nowadays to dismantle the marriage if they are dissatisfied, even when halacha does not require a divorce?

      Therefore can one surmise that in the past, in autonomous Jewish communities where Jewish women did not have the option to destroy the marriage in non-Jewish courts, the Batei Din did not order psychological therapy for the couple, but probably just ordered each spouse to comply with its halachic obligations as stated in the poskim?

      Delete
    3. so you mean that the situation where the husband could destroy the marriage, but the wife couldn't, was better?

      What are, according to you, the halachic obligations of each spouse? there seems to be much confusion about this in the literature!

      Delete
    4. @Remark - "so you mean that the situation where the husband could destroy the marriage, but the wife couldn't, was better?"

      No, I didn't mean that. Apparently you're not aware of the 1000 yr. old Cherem Rabbenu Gershom which prohibits a husband from forcing a Get on his wife without valid halachic justification.

      Halachic marriage and divorce, when properly implemented, are in fact far more sane, rational, and just than the feminist police states we have today where non-violent husbands are routinely tossed out of their homes like garbage.

      Delete
    5. well, honestly, I see it as a problem when there is no base for trust in marriage, i.e. when the spouses cannot make long-term plans, because they have to fear that the other spouse might walk out on them any time.

      On the other hand, i think that women were never protected against this problem in jewish law. Yes, they were protected materially, since the husband had to pay a ketuba before tossing them out, but they were not protected against betrayal. They could not defend themselves when the husband disappeared and left them an aguna without means, they could not defend themselves against philandering on the side of the husband, they could not even defend themselves against being tossed out of the house and separated from their children without reason.

      Then came the bans of Rabbi Gershon and brought a bit more "equality" (was he a feminist?). Now, a wife could also block a husband from remarrying, by refusing a get, and polygamy was declared unacceptable.

      However, there still is a disparity, since the wife refusing a get can be overruled, either by 100 rabbis or by just a beith din, while the husband can completely block the wife.

      this is my problem.

      All in all, I don't think that blocking each other is the right solution. Although I have seen men falling in love with younger women and leaving the wives of their youth, and I was outraged. But jewish law still fails to protect women against this. So if the men are allowed, why should the women not be allowed to do the same? i.e. force a get when she wants out, for whatever good or bad reason.

      The wife can only elude the problem of get-refusal by leaving the framework of jewish law (and starting a relationship without a get). When the husband does the same (has an affair, marries a second wife), he is pardoned with a wink.

      I also think that the past should not be idealised: when strict adherence to one marriage was the norm in society, adultery was the norm too. Poeple never followed the letter of the law.

      Delete
  14. The field of psychology and psychiatry has a strong tendency to sell theory as fact, claiming to have well established approaches to solve the worlds emotional issues, while in reality they're still just testing various unproven theories. There's no reason to believe that the last 10-20 years have suddenly opened up the "gates of wisdom", any more than the 10-20 years preceding them did.
    Contemporary authors like Robert Whitaker, Ben Goldacre, Dawes, Dineen, Valenstein and Breggin have laid out the evidence - and the harm done - from beliefs disguised as findings and subjective theories masquerading as truths.
    Those "dustbins of history" that I've mentioned earlier are full of treatments that were each hailed as miracles, such as "electroshock", "hydrotherapy", "insulin-coma therapy" and "prefrontal lobotomy". Each did tremendous damage and each is gone. The SSRI's still used in treatment have a very shaky evidence base, as a meta-analysis by Jay C. Fournier et. al. shows in . The Journal of the American Medical Association 303 (1): 47–53. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1943. Talk therapy
    The fact that the theories currently in vogue have short life spans and are replacing other theories that likewise had short life spans should "ring a bell" in the mind of any reasonable person. Practitioners "spin" this fact as the result of improvement and enhancement. The skeptic has reason to see it as another attempt to keep disillusioned clients coming back to the office.
    When one dissects the "nuts and bolts" of the theories in vogue he immediately sees that much of what is bandied about cannot and does not compliment Torah based values - especially if we include Hashkafa, Chassidud and Mussar under the definition of "Torah Based", as it should be.
    The Freudian model, refuses to acknowledge any responsibility of the counselee for his own actions,
    Mowrer, was particularly influential in laying out a model of counseling based on personal responsibility but his approach was limited to man's relationship to other men, divorced from man's accountability to G-d, and thus was fundamentally flawed.
    Huminists are anxious to put the self at the center of the universe, the humanistic movement was momentarily triumphant. But instead of becoming, in Maslow's phrase, "fully human," the questing selves built a culture of narcissism. The Rogerian approach, is based on a blatantly anti-Torah assertion that man is basically good and able to solve his own problems.
    These values contradict Torah values. Yet, at this point in time many frum therapists "borrow" from such theories, without a clear knowledge of Torah based Hashkofo to guide them. I believe that we should be very wary of mixing and matching. We should no more choose a "Humanistic" diet of psychology than we would choose a choice cut of meat with questionable Hashgocho at the local supermarket.

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    1. Various psychological tools (cognitive behavioral therapy for one) are directly from Mussar sefarim to understand, research, change and refine character traits.

      Delete
    2. To a certain extant, yes. CBT and DBT not only doesn't contradict Torah, but can actually be deduced from the SEFER Hachinuch on the Mitzva of ולא תתורו אחרי לבבכם.

      But I think that some critics note that one of the main problems with CBT and DBT is finding the motivation for the actual application. "Mindfulness", etc. takes alot of willpower.

      A comprehensive Toarh Based approach includes motivators like הכרת הטוב and הכנעה, etc..

      Delete
  15. חשוקי חמד יומא דף ב עמוד א

    למה צריך ציווי מיוחד לאהוב את אשתו הרי כבר נאמר ואהבת לרעך כמוך
    שאלה. נאמר במסכת יבמות (דף סב ע"ב) האוהב את אשתו כגופו, והמכבדה יותר מגופו, והמדריך בניו ובנותיו בדרך ישרה, והמשיאן סמוך לפירקן, עליו הכתוב אומר: וידעת כי שלום אהלך. וכתב הרמב"ם (פט"ו מהלכות אישות הי"ט) כן צוו חכמים שיהיה אדם מכבד את אשתו יתר מגופו ואוהבה כגופו. וצ"ע למה לנו ציווי זה, הרי כבר נאמר בתורה 'ואהבת לרעך כמוך', ואשתו של אדם בכלל זה?
    תשובה. שאלתי שאלה זו את גיסי הגר"ח קנייבסקי שליט"א, והשיב לי שיש מקרים שאין אדם חייב לקיים מצוות ואהבת לרעך כמוך, לדוגמא מה שנאמר במסכת נדה (דף טז ע"ב): אמר רבי שמעון בן יוחאי ארבעה דברים הקדוש ברוך הוא שונאן ואני איני אוהבן, הנכנס לביתו פתאום ואין צריך לומר לבית חבירו, [דלמא עבדי מידי דצניעותא, (רש"י)], וכתב שם המהרש"א (ד"ה ואמר): דהקב"ה שונאן שהם כולם מידי דפריצותא, אבל לגבי עצמו אמר ר' שמעון ואני איני אוהבן, דאפשר שאין אלו מילי דפריצותא כדאי לעבור על לאו דלא תשנא, עכ"ל. נמצא שבכה"ג שהאשה נכנסת לבית פתאום, אין חיוב לאהוב את אשתו מצד מצוות ואהבת לרעך כמוך, אמנם מצד הציווי של וידעת כי שלום אהלך, יש חיוב לאהוב אותה.
    ויש להסתפק מה הדין כאשר האשה עושה עבירות, שמצד ואהבת לרעך, אדרבה יש חיוב לשנוא אותה, האם גם אז יש מצוה לאהוב אותה מצד וידעת כי שלום אהלך. ונראה שאפילו אם אין לו מצוה לאהוב אותה, מכל מקום יש מצוה לכבדה, כי ענין הכבוד הוא מצד הכרת הטוב על מה שמגדלת את בניו ומצילתו מהחטא, וזה שייך אף שעוברת עבירות, ואם כן יתכן שיש לכבדה ולקנות לה בגדים מכובדים משלו, אף שעוברת עבירות.
    והרב שמואל ערבה שליט"א תירץ באופן נוסף, מדוע צריך פסוק מיוחד לאהוב את אשתו, על פי דברי המהרש"א במסכת שבת (דף לא ע"א) שביאר את תשובת הלל לנכרי, שבקש ללמדו את כל התורה על רגל אחת, והשיב הלל דעלך סני לחברך לא תעביד, ולכאורה למה לא אמר לו בלשון חיובי תרחמי לחבירך כוותך. ותירץ המהרש"א שהפסוק של ואהבת לרעך כמוך, לא מיירי אלא בכה"ג דלא תעשה, דלא תקום ולא תטור, ועל זה נאמר ואהבת לרעך כמוך, אבל לא ציוותה התורה לעשות לחבריו טובה, כיון שחייך קודמים, עיין שם. נמצא שמצד החיוב של ואהבת לרעך כמוך אין חובה להיטיב לאשתו כמותו, אבל מצד החיוב של כבוד לאשתו, חייב לעשות לה טובה כמותו.

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  16. (18) ספר קדושת לוי - פרשת חי שרה
    ויביאה יצחק ותהי לו לאשה ויאהבה. ויש לדקדק מאי בא להשמיענו שיצחק אהב את רבקה. ונראה, כי יש שני אהבות מאיש לאשה, יש אדם שאוהב אשתו תאות גופניות שלו שעל ידי זה ממלא תאותו ונמצא זה אינו אוהב אשתו כלל רק אוהב את עצמו. ויש אדם שאוהב אשתו ואינו מחמת תאות גוף שימלא תאותו, רק מחמת שהיא כלי לקיים על ידה מצות הבורא יתברך שמו כמו שאדם אוהב שאר מצות וזה נקרא אוהב את אשתו. וזהו ויאהבה יצחק, שלא חשב כלל מחמת תאות הגוף שלו, רק כדי לקיים מצות הבורא יתברך שמו ויתעלה זכרו:

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  17. EmesLeYaakovOctober 25, 2012 7:35 PM writes:

    "This raises the question as to whether nowadays enhancing emotional and psychological conditions in Jewish marriages is only necessary because Jewish women have the option to dismantle the marriage if they are dissatisfied, even when halacha does not require a divorce?"

    I think you've raised a very important issue.

    The issue of "enhancing emotional and psychological conditions in Jewish marriages" can be defined as one of nurturing "self-realization", which many psychologists see as being so crucial to emotional well-being.

    I think that this is one of the things they GOT RIGHT.

    Torah Hashkofo actually REQUIRES this type of "self realization". One source is the Chovos Halvovos:

    חובת הלבבות שער חשבון הנפש פרק ג' חשבון י"ג
    והשלושה עשר חשבון האדם עם נפשו ביתרון ידיעתו על מעשהו, ותוספת הכרתו על השתדלותו בעבודת הבורא, והגעת יכולתו על מה שהוא משלם מחובות הבורא על טובותיו עליו. .... ראוי לך לחשוב עם נפשך על מה שחננך האלוקים מהבנתך אותו ואת תורתו, ומה שנתן לך מן הכוח והיכולת לפרוע מה שאתה חייב לו. ועשה בזה מה שיצא אל גבול המעשה ממך, ויראה לך כי אתה נתבע בכל זה ובא עליו לידי חשבון. כל שכן עת המשך הטובות אליך מאת הבורא.
    וראוי לך להשתדל בכל כחך, ותטרח בכל יכולתך לפורעו, ולהשוות מעשיך לחכמתך, והכרתך עם השתדלותך. והותר כל טורחך לעשות כפי חכמתך. ואל תתנהג במותר עולמך, פן תלאה לשלם חובות תורתך, שהאל יתעלה נתן לאדם מן הכוח כפי צרכו לתורתו ולעולמו. ומי שהוציא ממנו מאומה במותרות, אשר יתכן לעמוד זולתם, יפקדנו בעת הצורך אליו בדברים הצריכים.

    Basically, we are being exhorted to realize our full potential.

    But the "kicker" is that modern psychology doesn't necessarily respect the boundaries of Torah Hashkafa and often also not the boundaries of Torah Halacha - Rogerian therapists encourage self realization based solely on PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.

    The Chovos Halvovos OBLIGATES us to find self-realization, but only within the solid walls of Torah. Psychology is chipping away at these walls.

    It's happening right now - and it's happening in the most Heimishe neighborhoods....

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  18. Also from Emes LeYakov:
    "can one surmise that in the past, in autonomous Jewish communities where Jewish women did not have the option to destroy the marriage in non-Jewish courts, the Batei Din did not order psychological therapy for the couple, but probably just ordered each spouse to comply with its halachic obligations as stated in the poskim?"

    I think an interesting dichotomy exists concerning the application of Torah Hashkofo in "Heimishe" households.

    I'm not aware of ANY observant Rav that would "not believe" in anything that the Chovos Halvovos, etc. say. Whether Yishivash, Chassidish, Religious Zionist or (i think!) even MO.

    Still, very few of us incorporate Hashkofic teaching scrupulously into our day to day lives. The Chovos Halvovos and Mesilas Yeshorom each bemoan the fact that even MOST Talmidei Chachomim fail to engross themselves in "duties of the heart".

    So what we have is a dichotomy between the teachings we believe in vs. habit and culture.

    I'm assuming that most of us lead reasonably happy lives, most of the time. And most of us follow the "habit and culture" of NOT being engrossed in "duties of the heart".

    However, when tragedy strikes, families suffer upheavals or one of the spouses (usually the woman) decides that "I deserve more" we stop being so happy.

    As you've alluded, in such cases mental health professionals are often forced on the unwilling husband.

    Can a husband demand psychological intervention which is in tune with HIS "Torah Based" religious beliefs, when this clashes with what the "frum" psychologist considers "normative"?

    What happens if the psychologist consults with a Rav who "believes" in the mental health system because the Rav, like most people, has never really delved into Torah Based Hashkofo and doesn't see Torah as a solution to mental health issues - can HE force his opinion, which is based on his IGNORANCE of the intricacies of Torah Hashkofo - on the unwilling husband?

    Does the Rav's opinion carry the weight of a "Psak", even if it's based on ignorance? Shouldn't the husband, at the very least be able to argue that his "branch" of Judaism DOES follow Hashkofo?

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    Replies
    1. Well, ultimately, if there is a marital crisis and the therapist cannot help because the husband - for what reason ever - is not ready to follow his adivce, I suppose this implies that the marriage is doomed.

      If one of the two partners is not satisfied and wants out, ultimately nothing will hold him/her back, even if he/she is told that it is bad, bad, bad to divorce according to the torah. But, as we saw in a previous post, it is not so clear that the torah is against divorce.

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    2. You seem to insiste very strongly on the notion of "being right". But marriage is not about "Being right", it is about finding a modus vivendi that suits both partners.

      this is why I said that you cannot make a marriage work while looking up every word in a book - even if it is a holy book.

      There are many opinions in the torah, and some of them contradict. you sound very much like a person who picks and chooses what suits him and disregards the rest, leading to a dissatisfied wife adn then you don't know how to deal with the situation, but you still insist that "you are right according to the torah". i doubt that "you are right according to the torah".

      In the torah, there are many notions of mutual respect, of selflessness, of giving rather than taking: if you applied them all, your wife would not be so dissatisfied.

      I think a marriage works well when both are ready to give more than the other needs to take. And i feel that this a concept strongly reinforced by torah hashkafa...

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    3. Remark says:

      "f there is a marital crisis and the therapist cannot help because the husband - for what reason ever - is not ready to follow his adivce, I suppose this implies that the marriage is doomed."

      How about if the therapist takes the husband's side - would you say the same?

      The issue here is which TYPE of therapist to go to...

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    4. "If one of the two partners is not satisfied and wants out, ultimately nothing will hold him/her back, even if he/she is told that it is bad, bad, bad to divorce according to the torah."

      Really? Would the same be said for ANY transgression "That if someone is not satisfied and wants ____ nothing will hold him/her back, even if he/she is told that it is bad, bad, bad according to the torah?

      And if it is indeed true that we've become a nation of fakers - can the wife use false abuse allegations, orders of protection, etc. simply because "nothing will hold her back".

      Does might really make right?

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    5. "You seem to insiste very strongly on the notion of "being right". But marriage is not about "Being right", it is about finding a modus vivendi that suits both partners.this is why I said that you cannot make a marriage work while looking up every word in a book - even if it is a holy book."

      Believe it or not, the very definition of "Orthodox Jew" implies adherence to certain standards, and those standards are indeed set by the minutiae contained in a holy book.

      "In the torah, there are many notions of mutual respect, of selflessness, of giving rather than taking: if you applied them all, your wife would not be so dissatisfied."

      I've already made the same point that the Chovos Halvovos exhorts men regarding mutual respect and selflessness, so that's not the issue.

      Perhaps youre missing the point of this discussion, which is defining what love in marriage means. Please go back and read the thread before you make nasty comments.

      Basically, I'm arguing that

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    6. If for some reason the wife does not follow the therapist's council, the situation is exactly the same: the crisis will persist and the marriage will not work. That's why I wrote "spouse"

      You can tell someone as long as you want "what love and marriage means", according to the torah. if they are not satisfied, they are not satisfied, and that's the problem you have to ttackle.

      and by the way, i do not think you are right that the torah allows you to ignore her feelings. See the gemara cited here about women readily crying and this bringing a heavenly judgement upon the husband. this means that he has to respect her feelings in the way she wants them to be respected, otherwise he is considered callous and cruel. I think the torah is pretty clear that if she needs tzumi, you have to give her tzumi.

      but I suppose that is one of the things that do not suit your agenda and that you chose to ignore.

      this is why I find your attitude very unhealthy.

      And if your wife is dissatisfied because she had to bring home the whole family income for the past 20 years, the torah is not on your side either.

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    7. PS: if your wife wants out of the marriage and you withhold the get just to spite her, but you are not ready to take any steps to make her happier, you are over on "lo tikom" and "ahavta lereecha kamocha" "lifney iver al tassim michshol" and more...

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    8. Torah Includes EverythingOctober 26, 2012 at 3:06 PM

      Anyone counseling a couple in crisis is off base if he/she takes a side. Doing so just adds the therapist into the existing conflict, and this is counterproductive. This does not eliminate right/wrong issues from the picture entirely, but it certainly points to the role taken by many, including those who work with couples that lack training (such as rabbonim, chosson/kallah teachers, etc). A decent therapist can easily point to an objective "wrong" without taking a side (again, training). If the couple is approaching a professional, there is obviously some degree of motivation to improve the situation. An early issue is that each of them is interested in "winning" - being right and the other wrong. Addressing this is paramount to achieving anything. The goal is for each to take responsibility for their portion of the discord, and to help them work on their own "stuff". If any counselor gets sucked into the right/wrong issues or takes a side, failure of the effort is almost guaranteed.

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    9. Dear "Reply":

      I know you're going through a difficult time, so perhaps the hurt you're feeling is clouding your judgement.

      Of course someone that withholds a get to spite his spouse is being evil. I'm not sure how that's relevant to the discussion.

      Are you implying that the wife can defame, slander, etc. etc. and the husband has no right to clear his name? Halacha says otherwise.

      You seem to think that the Torah is anti-women (like many feminists do), and by extension you think that I'm anti-women, since I'm insisting on a Torah based approach.

      Nothing can be further from the truth.

      I think your situation would be much happier if ALL parties concerned knew that Torah based truth will eventually be followed, no matter where the chips may fall.

      You wrote "well, honestly, I see it as a problem when there is no base for trust in marriage, i.e. when the spouses cannot make long-term plans, because they have to fear that the other spouse might walk out on them any time"

      Torah demands Truth. When BOTH spouses know that deceptions will be unearthed and they'll be shamed for those little and big lies - they"ll BOTH decide that the charades going on aren't worth. THAT is the kernel from where trust can be rebuilt.

      YOU would end up winning.

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  19. DT, I think you're edging into the question: How culture-bound are the claims of the secular-Western social sciences?

    In my opinion, a pretty-good overview of the issue is:

    Heinrich, et. al.: The weirdest people in the world?
    BEHAVIORAL AND BRAIN SCIENCES (2010) 33:2/3
    Full text, 75 pages: http://www2.psych.ubc.ca/~henrich/pdfs/WeirdPeople.pdf

    ABSTRACT: Behavioral scientists routinely publish broad claims about human psychology and behavior in the world’s top journals based on samples drawn entirely from Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) societies. Researchers – often implicitly – assume that either there is little variation across human populations, or that these “standard subjects” are as representative of the species as any other population. Are these assumptions justified? Here, our review of the comparative database from across the behavioral sciences suggests both that there is substantial variability in experimental results across populations and that WEIRD subjects are particularly unusual compared with the rest of the species – frequent outliers. The domains reviewed include visual perception, fairness, cooperation, spatial reasoning, categorization and inferential induction, moral reasoning, reasoning styles, self-concepts and related motivations, and the heritability of IQ. The findings suggest that members of WEIRD societies, including young children, are among the least representative populations one could find for generalizing about humans. Many of these findings involve domains that are associated with fundamental aspects of psychology, motivation, and behavior – hence, there are no obvious a priori grounds for claiming that a particular behavioral phenomenon is universal based on sampling from a single subpopulation. Overall, these empirical patterns suggests that we need to be less cavalier in addressing questions of human nature on the basis of data drawn from this particularly thin, and rather unusual, slice of humanity. We close by proposing ways to structurally re-organize the behavioral sciences to best tackle these challenges.

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  20. Just A Civilian - Excellent point.

    Ethan Watters covers this exact theme in his book "The Globalization Of The American Psych - Crazy Like Us".

    The "bible" for categorization of Mental illness - the DSM, is tightly bound to what your study calls "WIERD" mentality, and so are the treatment models used, regardless of the fact that they usually only offer partial recovery.

    A strong argument for other recovery models can perhaps be deduced from a paper by Boyle & Loveland at http://www.oregon.gov/oha/amh/recovery/recovery.pdf, where they write...

    "the "concept of transcendent recovery acknowledges the existence of people who, following the experience of addiction and/or mental illness, get “better than well,” not in spite of the illness but because of the experiences and insight that emerged within their recovery processes (Young & Ensing, 1999). It is within this experience of transcendent recovery that some people reframe their illness from a curse to a condition that brought unexpected gifts to
    their life."

    The concept of "transcendent recovery" that they note meshes closely with the concept in Chazal that כל מה דעביד רחמנא לטב עביד which is actually Halachic, and not just Hashkafa based, since it's the basis for the Brocho of דין האמת.

    An additional argument can therefore be made for "Torah Based Therapy", where the "silver lining" of seeing the good in everything can be an integral part of therapy.

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  21. The trade association of psychologists in the USA is the APA. Interestingly enough they have published a document called "Guidelines for Providers of Psychological Services to Ethnic, Linguistic, and Culturally Diverse Populations" whose stated goal is to address issues regarding responsiveness of psychological services to the needs of ethnic minority populations, including subcultures such as Amish, Hasidic Jewish, and rural Appalachian people.

    After reading this document - would it be reasonable to claim that a psychologist ignoring a spouse's request for "Torah Based" therapy, is doing so in contravention of the APA's own guidelines, and that in instances were this causes material loss, this may be grounds for a lawsuit?

    In Section 2. they write: Psychologists are cognizant of relevant research and practice issues as related to the population being served.
    c. Psychologists recognize the limits of their competencies and expertise. Psychologists who do not possess knowledge and training about an ethnic group seek consultation with, and/or make referrals to, appropriate experts as necessary.
    d. Psychologists consider the validity of a given instrument or procedure and interpret resulting data, keeping in mind the cultural and linguistic characteristics of the person being assessed. Psychologists are aware of the test's reference population and possible limitations of such instruments with other populations.

    And in Section 5. they write:" Psychologists respect clients' religious and/or spiritual beliefs and values, including attributions and taboos, since they affect world view, psychosocial functioning, and expressions of distress.
    a. Part of working in minority communities is to become familiar with indigenous beliefs and practices and to respect them.
    Illustrative Statement: Traditional healers have an important place in minority communities.
    b. Effective psychological intervention may be aided by consultation with and/or inclusion of religious/spiritual leaders/practitioners relevant to the client's cultural and belief systems.

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  22. Rabbi, you asked if shir hashirim could be exclusively about the relationship with Hashem only and not really relate to marriage. Doesn't that view completely break down the whole purpose of the shir? The metaphor works because people instinctively understand it to be describing an emotional loving male/female relationship and presents that as the model or backdrop for the nature of God's relationship with the Jews (not individual love of God - isn't that a separate subject?)
    If no one understands those things to be about interpersonal marriage relationships and loving bonds therein, then how does any of that metaphor appeal to anyone or instruct anyone? The possibility you suggeest seems very farfetched.

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    Replies
    1. I had written: Let me put it another way - are the descriptions regarding Shir HaShirim applicable to marriage - or are they meant exclusively to describe the relationship to G-d.

      Shir HaShirim is not describing marriage but is describing passionate human sexual emotions. Obviously it is not a metaphor without such emotions being experienced by the average human being. The question is whether it is taking these emotions as descriptive in regards to human relations but to be prescriptive in terms of the relationship with G-d. Or is it also to be understood as prescriptive for human relationships (i.e., marriage) also?

      Therefore a married couple might experience strong passion but there is no necessity of that being true. It is only concerning sexual relations that there is concern for ritzoi. That is not what is happening in Shir Hashirim. In fact poskim say that it is legitimate for a couple to hate each other as long as they put this aside during sexual intercourse.

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    2. Hmm, I'll have to think about it.

      Delete

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