The Kabbalah Approach to Mental Health

Kabbalah and Psychology: Anxiety Relief – The Kabbalah Approach to Mental Health – Part 19 – Separation: Ignoring Anxiety

The separation phase of therapy is that in which the person ignores his anxieties, problems, or evil thoughts which plague him and replaces them with positive thoughts. This phase is necessary in order for the final phase to occur, that is, articulation and discussion of the problem through which the problem may be healed and rectified altogether.

In order to relate to something objectively and analyze it truthfully, the person must first be released from his subjective ties to it. When a Jew concentrates on some concept in Torah, including theological issues such as the nature of G-d, etc., he is creating an abstract vantage point from which he can assume an impartial relationship to his own problems and complexes.

It is in fact explained at length in Hassidic thought that the Jew's ability to rectify the world and transform it into a home for G-d is dependent on his ability to feel that he himself is not subject to the inherent constrictions and limitations of the world. Detachment is prerequisite to influence. When a person feels detached from the world in this way, something of a stranger in a strange land, he can view the world objectively and see what needs to be fixed and, to a greater or lesser extent, how to fix it. Without this detachment, he himself is trapped in the unG-dliness and natural laws of the world. Thus, before we proceed to the stage of sweetening, wherein the obfuscation of G-dliness that informs this world will be ultimately transformed into the Divine revelation it was meant to be, we must first pass through the stage of separation.

It is tempting to think that this separation phase in the psyche begins only when a person begins to learn Torah. He is then learning how to distinguish between good and evil. However, the truth is that the separation phase begins much earlier than this, virtually from birth.

The Torah commands that every Jewish male be ritually circumcised eight days after he is born. Women are considered circumcised from birth; that is, a Jewish female possesses whatever spiritual completion a male acquires through circumcision as soon as she is.

Circumcision implies that the foreskin interposed between man and the world outside man is a spiritual defect which has to be removed. This defect is the heightened sensuality of the foreskin on the one hand together with its innate callousness on the other. The presence of the foreskin makes sexual relations more physically titillating but also insulates the individual from his partner's feelings. It is thus at once the physical manifestation of both selfish, sensual desire and innate egocentricity. If left in place it will become the root of all the evils that may plague a person in life. Circumcision is the act of desensitizing a person to his own lust for pleasure and sensitizing him to others feelings.

This is of course not to say that a circumcised man or a woman is immune to ego and lust. A person can, of course, re-acquire his egocentricity and lustfulness, either through external influences or through willful identification with his animal nature. This is called tarnishing or marring the covenant of circumcision. But the fact that the person was circumcised as an infant (or born circumcised, in the case of a woman) gives him the capacity, throughout his life, to fundamentally rectify and sweeten his subconscious if only he makes the necessary effort. His circumcision is his power to reveal the dark, hidden depths of his soul in heartfelt confession to a trusted confidant. This is because it has to a great extent done away with the shell of egocentricity, making it possible for him to attain an objective view of his own problems.



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