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Friday, October 07, 2022
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The Psychology of Tzimtzum: Self, Other and God

By Mordechai Rotenberg

Koren Publishers Jerusalem, $24.95 (hardcover)

What is tzimtzum? What is its connection to Jewish psychology?

According to the kabbalistic notion of tzimtzum, God contracts Himself in order to make room for the human world. I realized that the concept had immense psychological and educational potential. For human beings seeking to emulate God, it could serve as a model to make room for others with whom they seek to develop a dialogic relationship.

How does tzimtzum affect the individual’s inner self?

The theory of tzimtzum perceives human beings as having both a spiritual and a physical one which are in dialogue with one another. The spiritual makes room for the physical, granting it legitimacy, and even a value of its own. In turn, the physical side dedicates itself exclusively to constructive, creative activity by contracting itself. Together they create an arrangement in which the material and the spiritual are not in competition, but rather complement each other.

How does your theory differ from Western psychology?

Western psychology tends to disregard mystical experiences and seeks to cure individuals who have gone through such experiences. I prefer to regard them with respect and without any trace of suspicion… I seek to develop a rational psychology that does not try to overcome the irrational supernatural, but which instead contracts itself in the face of the supernatural, makes room for it, and, concurrently, asks the supernatural to accommodate it.

Who is this book geared to?

As the book’s title suggests, it is intended to serve as an introduction to the other books I have written. I hope it will be beneficial to a broad spectrum of therapists; to individuals who want to learn both how to lead and create for others a more fruitful life; and to the educated reader who is interested in an alternative to modern psychology.

By Deena Nerwen

Deena Nerwen is a graduate of SAR High School in Riverdale, NY. She is currently a student at Midreshet Torah V’Avodah in Jerusalem. Deena plans on pursuing her passion in writing as she begins her college education at Washington University next year.

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