June 24, 2024
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Rabbi Moshe Berliner’s ‘To Build and to Bond’ Offers a Guide to Jewish Marriage

Highlighting: “To Build and To Bond: Living Well in a Jewish Marriage,” by Rabbi Moshe Berliner, MSW. 2020. Paperback. 251 pages. ISBN-13: 979-8607014346

Rabbi Moshe Berliner, MSW, who resides in Har Nof, Jerusalem, with his family, published his valuable marriage manual “To Build and to Bond” in 2020. Geared to couples in every stage of marriage, from engagement to 50+ anniversaries, this new volume offers a timely and valuable guide to a successful Jewish marriage. The work encompasses over 30 years of experience in marital counseling, integrating religious values with therapeutic modalities.

In 1976, after receiving semicha from Yeshiva University, Rabbi Moshe Berliner was called to Fair Lawn, New Jersey, to head a new shul in formation. Congregation Ahavat Achim, encouraged by Rabbi Benjamin Yuddin, began with 10 couples in several private homes, and eventually grew into a formidable shul. Rabbi Berliner served as the morah d’asrah of the congregation for five memorable years, after which he and his family made aliyah in 1982. Combining his rabbinic experience with his master’s in social work earned at Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Rabbi Berliner embarked upon his career as a marriage therapist. In 1986 he co-founded the Netivot Institute for Family Therapy located in the center of Jerusalem. Berliner has headed the Institute for the past 20 years in addition to his private practice, teaching courses at various colleges and extensive speaking engagements. He has authored 14 volumes on marriage therapy.

Over the course of his career in counseling, Rabbi Berliner saw major themes repeating themselves over and over in his work with couples. These themes became his impetus for writing this manual. Berliner shared, “I am absolutely adamant that my clients do not take what I say as truth. Truth is only in the beit midrash. What I urge my clients to do is to read my basic principles, ponder them, discuss them with their spouses and, when relevant, adopt them as their own. Fortunately, this method has worked for many of my clients who were able to put their lives together.”

For the Orthodox reader, “To Build and to Bond” offers the unique combination of religious thought and general therapy. Berliner inserts pesukim and anecdotes from Torah and Talmud to underscore his principles. One example appears in Berliner’s discussion of one of the pivotal points in the manual—the differences between the spouses.

“We don’t need John Gray, author of ‘Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus’ to tell us that men and women are different. Our sages noted that individuality is the basis of all human experience. ‘Just as their faces are different, so are their thoughts different’ (Berachot 58a). The only way to marry a person who always agrees with you is to marry yourself—and even then you might get into serious disagreements. Disagreement is not what makes marriage difficult. Marriage becomes difficult when a couple disagrees and hasn’t found a way to make a decision that is good for both of them.”

Berliner provides the reader with 13 chapters covering many of the challenges faced by couples with solutions to overcome them with the goal of improving and enriching married life. The 13 chapters encompass marital responsibility, loyalty and power; harmful and constructive approaches to conflicts in marriage; decisions that can make or break the relationship; emotions; intimacy; disappointments; criticism; actions; and reactions.

In his section “Love and Loving,” Berliner cites the fundamental Torah principle. “It is fascinating that with a delay of over 3000 years, professionals have heard an echo from the dictum on Mount Sinai, ‘You shall love your fellow man as you love yourself.’ Loving someone means recognizing the legitimacy and importance of their life as separate from yours. Loving someone does not diminish our love of self. In fact, loving another can greatly enhance our sense of being a valued person. The essential change in marriage is not that we lose ourselves but that our definition of self expands to include an intimate relationship with another.”

“To Build and to Bond,” published by Machon Netivot Family Therapy Institute, is available on Amazon and locally at Judaica House on Cedar Lane in Teaneck. Rabbi Moshe Berliner is available for online speaking engagements in the USA. He can be contacted at [email protected] or by calling Jerusalem 050-729-8467.

By Pearl Markovitz

 

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