The language of contemporary western society reflects a highly egocentric, individualistic and self-assertive approach. The result: widespread loneliness, alienation, adversarial relationships and power-struggles.
By contrast, language of Jewish Psychology and Jewish Dialogue offer a radical alternative. Based on the Jewish tradition of community-centric mutualaid and the rabbinic system of multipleinterpretations of the Scriptures. the Jewish Psychology approach pioneered by Professor Mordechai Rotenberg applies the psychological principles found in Midrashic and Hassidic literature to helping solve the ills of contemporary Israeli society.
Jewish Psychology and Jewish Dialogue building blocks for a healthier society:
- Rehabilitating at-risk sections of society that feel marginalized and helping them return to the community.
- Dialogue and responsibility for the other
- Acceptance of diversity
- Inclusion as opposed to exclusion
- Belief in a person’s ability to change and correct him/herself
- Belief that the required profound changes in society can be passed on to future generations.
At the initiative of the Rotenberg Institute, a Jewish Dialoguespecialization academictrack is now offered in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Graduate School.
The Rotenberg Institute has developed applied tools for teachers, therapists and counsellors, based on the community-centric model oftzimtzum, contraction, creating space for ‘other.’ This idea was first postulated by the 16thcenturyJewish mystic, Rabbi Isaac Luria, who claimed that because the Deity vacated space to make room for the creation of man and the world, man has responsibility not only for his own destiny, but even for influencing the divine construct. In stark contrast to the language of western psychology, the community-centric tzimtzum approach mirrors the rabbinic dictum “Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh BaZeh” – all of Israel are guarantors one for the other.
The tzimtzum paradigm can be articulated at several levels:
- Inter-personal level - parents/children,husband/wife, between friends
- Intra-personal level - between an individual’s separatecomponents, between different periods in a person’s life, or between differentpersonal inclinations
- Human level:
- For every contraction (tzimtzum), another part expands.
- Tzimtzum means not taking up all the space, creating space for others, and thereby creating space to co-exist. This differs essentially fromthe concept of self-effacement, since the individual is not subsumed and does not disappear.
- Tzimtzumis dynamic. Sometimes there is tzimtzum, and sometimes there is extension or expansion. No single constant force controls the other.
- Tzimtzuminvolves passing on individual responsibility. Since we need to cooperate with others, mutual contact requires mutual contraction.
- Tzimtzumdoes not weaken but strengthens –the connection created between the contracting parties is stronger than the strength of either party.