The Kabbalah Approach to Mental Health

The Kabbalah Approach to Mental Health: Part 30 – Therapeutic Speech

It is taught in Kabbalah and Hassidism that in addition to the common understanding of the Torah he shares with all Jews, every individual Jew has a unique connection to (or angle through which he connects to) the Torah, unlike that of any other Jew. Thus, the Jew's obligation to learn the Torah consists not only of the requirement to master certain types and quantities of information but the requirement to reveal whatever insights his unique perspective on the Torah affords him, as well. By identifying with his unique source in Divinity, the Jew can reveal his unique connection to the Torah and thereby reveal his portion of the Torah.

When this happens, the individual Jew and his mentor partake of something of the experience of Moses, the human conduit through which the Torah was introduced into the world. Moses' prophecy was the most perfect and transparent of all the prophets. In the words of our sages: the Divine Presence spoke through the throat of Moses. A central aspect of the Messianic future is that in it all humanity will attain this level of union with G-d: I will pour out My spirit on all flesh; your sons and daughters will prophecy. (Joel 3:1).

Even someone who has not yet reached this level of communion with G-d may still benefit from the capability of speech to reveal the inner, untapped essence of his Divine soul. This he does through spontaneous, candid speech.

In Hassidic thought, speech, is seen as the middle of the three garments or means of expression available to the soul. The more refined, abstract garment is thought and the more external, concrete one is action. The general path followed by an idea born in the mind is sequentially through these three garments: we think about the idea, we talk about it, and we finally act upon it.

Thus, we generally think of and use speech as a way to express the ideas already worked out and thought through in our conscious mind. As such, speech, it would seem, can disclose no more to another person than our inner world of thought. The world of conscious thought, however, is quite limited relative to the vast realms of unconscious thought that constitute the subconscious mind. Speech would thus appear to be restricted to expressing the limited ideas of the conscious mind.

The truth is, however, that speech is not tied in any specific way to thought; it is an independent garment that functions on its own. Just as, at times, we do not talk about our ideas but simply think about them and then act upon them, bypassing the garment of speech, so may we at times bypass conscious thought and express in speech an idea originating in the preconscious levels of the mind. This type of speech is spontaneous and unrehearsed, in contrast to the well thought-out and deliberate type of speech that expresses the ideas carefully edited and censored by the conscious mind through the faculty of conscious thought. In such cases of spontaneous speech, the ideas expressed are the deep, subconscious thoughts that have not been processed or refined by the conscious mind.

As we all know, such spontaneous expressions of the subconscious mind can and do occasionally slip through the censoring process of the conscious mind and surface unintentionally in the course of conversation, often to our chagrin. In order for the faculty of speech to express the deep recesses of the mind in a more sustained fashion, however, a person must somehow be coaxed into letting his guard down. This can rarely be accomplished directly and with the person's conscious consent; it is usually the job of the therapist or confidant to relax him and make him feel sufficiently comfortable and trusting to allow the sentry of his conscious mind to be lulled into a temporarily dormant state. The confider's consciousness then shifts into a more natural, spontaneous mode, as he sheds the affected psychological armor he normally wears in order to protect the image he wishes to preserve for himself and for others.

This done, the person can begin to articulate his unique insights into the Torah much the same as someone who has reached the level of communion with G-d described in the previous chapters.


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