Jewish Psychology

The language of contemporary western society reflects an egocentric, individualistic and self-assertive approach that fosters widespread loneliness, alienation, adversarial relationships and power-struggles.

The language of Jewish Psychology and Jewish Dialogue counters this via a mutual-responsibility model that reclaims the psychological principles found in Midrashic and Hassidic literature.

We offer a radical alternative to the Western-Christian principles that have proved inadequate in solving the problems of Israeli society: in mental health, education and academia.

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.
  • Promoting renewed hope for personal, social and community growth.
At the initiative of the Rotenberg Institute, a Jewish Dialogue specialization academic track is now offered in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Graduate School.


Jewish Psychology is based on the concept of tzimtzum, contraction, creating space for ‘other,’ which was first postulated by the 16th century Jewish mystic, Rabbi Isaac Luria. He claimed that the Deity vacated space to make room for the creation of man and the world, making man responsible for his own destiny.

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 three levels:
  • Inter-personal level - parents/children, husband/wife, between friends
  • Intra-personal level - between an individual’s separate components, between different periods in a person’s life, or between different personal inclinations
  • Human level:
    • For every contraction (tzimtzum), another part expands.
    • Creating space for others, thereby creating space to co-exist. This differs essentially from the concept of self-effacement, which involves the individual being subsumed.
    • Tzimtzum is dynamic. Sometimes there is contraction, sometimes there is extension or expansion. No single constant force controls the other.
    • Tzimtzum is about individual responsibility. Mutual contact requires mutual contraction.
    • Tzimtzum strengthens, not weakens.

The Rotenberg Institute

Rotenberg Institute for Jewish Psychology, Ha-Rav Herzog St. 75, Jerusalem 9262226 • Tel: 02.624.1998 Fax: 02.563.0007

Created by Rivyon