Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis
I am counselling a couple of couples right now, no I am not going to give any details. Essentially I am pulling some old skill sets out of cold storage and putting them to use. I was at one point trained in Rogerian psychotherapy, lots of observed counselling hours and everything. Then I decided not to make a career out of it. Mostly because I found its methods to be ineffective.
Somewhere in there was also my time with the Russians and cognitive behavioral therapy, which I learned in principle but not in practice. Then a few other various techniques all of which ultimately conflicted, strongly, with my initial “total unconditional acceptance” indoctrination under the Rogerian crowd.
Then I also became a Rabbi with a whole series of responsibilities that came with that. Primarily to keep the treatment, and the hoped for solutions within the bounds of Torah. Which adds a whole list of new ingredients to the stew.
End result… Rogerian method lasted approximately two sessions, with either couple. What came after was a synthesis of a whole bunch of other stuff that I learned more or less built upon a Rogerian foundation. What can I say, first principles are hard to break entirely free of.
Then I thought of my evolution in Torah. No, not the Mattisyahu sort of evolution, but the evolution that happens within the four Amot of Torah. That which is shaped by life experience, Rabbis, and simply what seems logical to the individual, and I realized that it was not all that different. I did Teshuva through Chabad, which as part of Chassidus, is more or less a mystical movement, though it does value, highly value, textual study.
Though I’ve been through litvish and Sephardi Yeshivot, and thus had my Torah outlook fundamentally changed so that I no longer fit into a purely Chabad model, once again first principles are hard to break away from. Meaning that ultimately my view of the world around me, at least the Torah world, is shaped largely by Chabad, whether I like it or not.
Take my stance on the Agunah issue. The Lubavitcher Rebbeim, at least since the Tzemach Tzedek have been very… well… pro-agunah I guess is the term. They were cool with forcing a divorce to free the hapless female. In that entire issue, those were first principles. I can still remember watching a maamar by the Late Lubavitch Rebbe in which he described how we hired thugs to go and beat the living day lights out of a guy until he said he would give a divorce, then we instruct the thugs to double their efforts so that not only is he wiling but he really wants to give the divorce. I wasn’t even married the first time yet, so that was the first I was hearing about Gittin issues. First principles.
Though I understand now that his approach isn’t widely accepted, I still read the various texts more from that light than any other, while having made a synthesis with other things I have since learned.