The Kabbalah Approach to Mental Health

The Kabbalah Approach to Mental Health: Part 39 – Job: Articulation and Sweetening

The book of Job is a virtual manual of psychology, describing in detail the process of psychoanalysis.

Job suffers from a psychological anxiety, an existential pain that he cannot bear. When he is first confronted with it, he behaves like a disconsolate mourner, who cannot even voice his suffering. Even after sitting silently for a prolonged period in the presence of his three friends who have come to visit and comfort him, he is unable to shake himself of his pain, and begins to speak by cursing the day he was born. There ensues a fruitless dialogue between him and his friends about all his burdens and complaints against G-d. After this there appears a new figure, Elihu ben Berachel, who speaks with honest, unaffected concern, and finally G-d Himself addresses Job and reproves him. Job recovers psychologically and physically and returns to his former state of health and well-being.

Although Job did not blaspheme G-d, he did not accept his suffering as justified, and therefore did not accept it with love and submission before G-d. His three friends attempted to administer therapy to him (each using a different psychological technique) and convince him unsuccessfully that his suffering was not without cause. It was after all this that the young Elihu, who had kept quiet throughout the preceding dialogue in deference to his elders, offered his sensitive but convincing reproof.

Elihu prefaces his remarks by saying, I thought that age would speak, and the passage of years would impart wisdom. But when he saw that they could not answer any of Job's grievances, he became disillusioned with the elders and concluded that rather, it is man's spirit and G-d's soul [within him] that gives them understanding. Job 32:7-8. The source of the true answer to Job is in Divine inspiration, which can rest on a young person as easily as it can on an elder. Only through G-d's help and inspiration can a counselor or therapist hope to penetrate the depths of a person's subconscious and thereby help him solve his psychological problems.

Elihu, who begins the process of true healing, plays the role of Elijah the prophet, the harbinger of the true and ultimate messianic Redemption.

Mashiach is the consummate psychologist who unravels all the convoluted nightmares of the bitter exile, revealing their good inner core. Mashiach will know how to open up everyone and enable them to wholesomely articulate their anxieties; he will gather all the scattered fragments of everyone's shattered soul and bring them back to the inner, unsullied kernel of their heart, which was always true to G-d and His Torah. Like the Ba'al Shem Tov, he will remind man of his forgotten identity, and thereby solve the riddle of his psychological malaise. This is the psychological dimension of Mashiach's task of gathering the dispersed of Israel back to Zion, for Zion (which literally means point or marker ) symbolizes in Kabbalah the innermost point of the heart. The exile of the Jews from their homeland is a metaphor for the scattered consciousness of a person who has lost touch with his inner being.


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