Volume 54 Number 84
                    Produced: Sun Jun  3 23:19:07 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Drugs Therapy vs Chesed Revisited
         [Russell J Hendel]
Par, Shor and Bakar
         [Alex Heppenheimer]
Psychotherapy and Confidentiality: An Amusing Counterexample
         [Janice Gelb]
Torture in War
         [Russell J Hendel]


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Tue, 29 May 2007 21:53:43 -0400
Subject: Drugs Therapy vs Chesed Revisited

About a month ago there were several postings on the use of Drug Therapy
vs Chesed acts. I suggested that (a) we should fill the community with
chesed opportunities and encourage frequent prayer acts--the purpose
being to prevent future mental illnesses like depression (The point
being that people who do chesed and pray are less likely to have such
illnesses) (b) therapists should INITIALLY use chesed and prayer to cure
depression and other psychological illnesses (In other words if a
depressed person came to him the therapist should inquire how often they
pray and how many acts of chesed they do per week...if these are small
they should be increased) (c) I objected to treating illnesses with
drugs on the grounds that they discourage and cover up what is really
needed - a fulfilling life.

Several postings went to and fro. People asked me (1) why drugs should
be a LAST resort? (2) could I substantiate my point about Chesed and
Prayer?...if not why do I so tenaciously believe it.?

Good solid questions. I could have responded but I would be going around
in circles. Instead I decided to do some homework. During the month I
inquired about successful chesed programs at Amit-- I also heard a
fascinating lecture on modern psychological theories.  (Dr Pelcovitz, a
noted psychologist, was a scholar in residence at one of the synagogues
where I lein).

The concepts I learned enabled me to articulate precisely some new
positions which should be of general interest. I will begin with some
points about modern psychology---I believe these topics may have
interest to the mljewish readership independent of whether they were
involved in the original discussion.

The first point caught me by surprise. It was pointed out that
traditional psychology focused and studied pathology. A new trend
studies normal behavior and what maintains it. Here is a simple example.
At a university the following experiment was performed: One group of
students was asked to spend 10 minutes a week recording things they were
grateful for; a control group was asked to spend 10 minutes a week
simply going over important events during the week. After 10 weeks (the
length of the study) the "gratitude-group" showed statistically
significant better grades, better physiological symptoms (less sickness,
lower blood pressure etc). This is an example of an experiment on NORMAL
vs PATHOLOGICAL behavior...here we see one experimental result showing
that gratitude helps maintain normal behavior.

The above shows why, when defending values inferred from Jewish sources,
we can't always find experiments. The lack of experiments doesn't mean
the inferrences are false. Rather it could indicate a trend that
psychology is not currently studying.  To put it another way, Jewish
sources may be pointing towards trends and results that are not
currently studied. The lack of current study should not detract from our
belief that our methods are correct. On the contrary, if psychologists
find a certain resiliency in Jewish people who follow these methods then
maybe we will lead them to change their trends.

I have mentioned several times on this email list the pioneering work of
AMIT in Israel. AMIT innovated a highly successful orphanage design(At
Keren Hayeled in Jerusalem). The people at this orphanage have typically
failed in all other programs. They come from a home where one parent is
drunk, in jail or whatever. The orphanage's focus is on reconstructing a
family environment which the children lack. The orphanage is structured
around units of 1 male social worker, 1 female social worker and 12
children.  The children are given responsibilities and chores and are
taught the value of "thank you", "please" and "your welcome" and other
verbal niceties. The orphanage has a remarkable success rate. (At a
recent AMIT dinner I asked if drug therapy is part of the program (I
should point out that some children at the orphanage are physically
abused at home -- some even have burns and scar marks) The response I
received was that "It is not a primary focus of the program...if some
individual children are on drugs we would not necessarily know about it
(because of privacy)"

At the psychological lectures I heard there were similar studies told.
There is an Island with a great deal of poverty and death. Studies were
made of the surviving children to ascertain why certain children grew up
"normally" while others succombed psychologically. Certain common
threads of a "religious framework" and "having responsibility and
chores" emerged as important in maintaining psychological normalacy.
Here again we see experiments focused on normality vs abnormality. We
also see affirmations of Jewish values ("Pleasant is a Torah life with
chores (Derech Eretz)").

I walked away from my month of studies with the idea that our attitude
should be that Jewish sources have a rich set of ideas that modern
psychology and sociology has not touched upon. GIVEN the lack of
experimentation we MAY suffice with anecdotal evidence. Who knows
perhaps it is our job to lead the non-Jews and point to them new trends.

I could go on with other concepts I have heard -- but I believe the
above is sufficient for a posting.

Russell Jay Hendel; Ph.d.; http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Thu, 31 May 2007 09:01:40 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Par, Shor and Bakar

In MJ 54:79, Tom Buchler asked about the differences between the terms
Par, Shor, and Bakar, and their common translations of "bull" and "ox."

The Gemara (Rosh HaShanah 10a) defines a "par" as an animal in its third
year, and "ben bakar" as one in its second year. (The Rambam,
Hil. Maaseh HaKorbanos 1:14, seems to have had a different version,
since he defines a "par" as an animal in its second year. Also
noteworthy: Baal HaTurim to Vayikra 1:5 comments that "ben bakar" = 354,
hinting at the idea that it must be within its first year, as a lunar
year consists of 354+ days. There is also a comment of Ibn Ezra to
Vayikra 9:2 about the meaning of the term "ben bakar," but I don't quite
understand what he's saying.)

"Bakar," without "ben," is a generic term for cattle. (I've also seen it
translated as the archaic word "beeves.")

"Shor": the Gemara (Bava Kamma 65b) states that it can refer even to a
newborn animal (citing Vayikra 22:27: "when a shor... is born"), so
presumably it would be a generic term for (male) cattle. On the other
hand, Ibn Ezra on that verse seems to be saying that the animal is
called a "shor" in anticipation of what it will be when it grows up,
which presumably means that he defines "shor" as a draft animal.

>From a quick search, it doesn't seem that there's anywhere in Tanach
where "par(im)" are used for work (although "paros" (fem.) are, in I
Shmuel ch. 6, when the Philistines were returning the Ark to the
Jews. As Rashi points out there (v. 7), though, they were indeed
deliberately attempting to "test" the Ark's powers by using animals
unsuited to pulling a load). On the other hand, a "shor" is commonly
used for that purpose (e.g., Bamidbar 7:3; Mishlei 14:4). So it may well
indeed be that the semantic difference between a "par" and a "shor"
parallels the difference in English between a bull (not trained for
work) and an ox (trained), making these translations reasonably correct
- except that, as Tom points out, present-day oxen are usually castrated
to improve their efficiency, which is not the case at least where a
"shor" is being used for an offering.

Kol tuv,


From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Thu, 31 May 2007 22:25:28 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Psychotherapy and Confidentiality: An Amusing Counterexample

Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...> wrote:
> Is it really that obvious that a therapist should never break his
> confidence!  Suppose Abe is a therapist, and Isaac his patient is
> planning to have an adulterous affair with a married woman, say
> Rachel. Suppose Abe KNOWS he can prevent the affair by breaking the
> confidence. Does Jewish law really ENCOURAGE him to be silent for
> reasons of parnassah (his occupation!)

The reason therapists should respect the confidentiality of their
patients is not so much parnassah as professional ethics and
effectiveness of treatment. For therapy to be successful, patients must
feel free to divulge negative information about themselves. If patients
know that the therapist is making moral judgments about information told
in confidence, or that such information might be told to a third party,
they are not likely to divulge negative information, which would affect
the effectiveness of their treatment. And for a therapist to divulge
such information told in confidence would contrary to the implied
contract between patient and therapist.

> Here is an amusing story from the BaMidBar Rabbah collection of
> Midrashic Tales: "Isaac made overtures to a married women, Rachel. What
> did Rachel do.  She flirted with him and they arranged to meet in a
> certain place to have the affair. Rachel then told Rivkah, Isaac's
> (legal) wife that her husband wanted to have an affair with her (She
> broke the confidence:)). Rivkah dressed up to look like Rachel and met
> Isaac at the place where he was suppose to have his affair with
> Rachel. After (or was it during:)) the affair she revealed her true
> identity and explained 'You are not satisfied with what you have ...so
> you seek thrills elsewhere (Good therapy!)."
> This Midrash shows a creative use of breaking a confidence to avoid a
> serious sin and still give moosar (moral exhortation...imagine how poor
> Isaac felt).

The ethics of individual people breaking a confidence to prevent an
aveirah are not the same as those that apply to a medical professional.

-- Janice


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Tue, 29 May 2007 22:35:54 -0400
Subject: RE: Torture in War

I would like to continue the thread on use of torture in war.  I claimed
that a state of war allows killing people to win the war In other words
without a state of war it is prohibited to kill people; with a state of
war you may kill people. However other Torah prohibitions are still in
effect. In particular the prohibition of torture (which is prohibited in
times of peace since all torts are prohibited) is still in effect.

Rabbi Broyde retorted that this position "seems to be without halachic
support." I would respond that On the contrary---the burden of proof
lies with Rabbi Broyde--I clearly state that "OTHER Torah prohibitions"
are still in effect. In other words the ALREADY EXISTING HALACHAS
CONTINUE TO EXIST and therefore if someone wishes to abrogate them they
must provide a source.

Rabbi Broyde responded: "My basic claim is that war time
entails the suspension of the prohibitions vitally needed to win the
war, when such is authorized by the proper chain of command."

I responded to this by pointing out that (Jewish war) requires you leave
people an "escape route," Rabbi Broyde responded "this halacha does not
govern modern warfare".

If I could summarize my arguments they would be threefold. First I use a
halachic argument: Jewish law never said "You can and SHOULD do whatever
is necessary to win a war." A careful examination of the Jewish laws of
war shows that ONLY taking life is permitted. The idea that "we should
do whatever we have to to win the war" is not supported in any (primary)
halachic source. In other words the means does not justify the ends but
rather taking life is permitted. It is Rabbi Broyde (or the authorities
he cites) that must bring proof.

A second argument would be a consistency argument: If we follow Rabbi
Broyde's argument consistently then it would emerge that you can perform
all types of degrading activity to obtain information or inflict fear on
the enemy (Each reader should use their imagination on what I am
referring to!). Such a conclusion does not appear intuitively right.

A third argument focuses on what disturbs me the most. True war requires
giving the enemy an escape route (The Girgashi took advantage of this in
the Joshuan wars to conquer Israel). True war allows the enemy to accept
Noachide law (and Israel taxation). Rabbi Broyde's assertion that this
does not apply in modern times, albeit supported by the sources he
quotes, does not appear to have a logical foundation (I found no logical
argument in any of the sources he cites).

I point out that the Conservative and REform movement offer identical
arguments for suspending many Jewish laws ("They can't be observed in
modern times! It is impractical. God couldnt have possibly intended that
Shabbath and modesty be observed in modern settings"). It is this which
upsets me.

My understanding is that orthodox Judaism requires observance EVEN at
the price of inconvenience and redicule.  This applies particuarly to
matters of modesty, Shabbath, and I see no reasom why it shouldn't apply
to matters of war. I believe a clear response why "war" should be
different than other modern areas of inconvenience should be presented.

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


End of Volume 54 Issue 84