Torah Tidbits

1 September 2014 / 6 Elul 5774
Issue 1053
Shabbat Parshat Va’etchanan - Nachamu
July 18, 2013

Divrei Menachem

Divrei Menachem

Perhaps it is surprising; perhaps not, that modern psychology appears to be tripping a number of steps behind the Torah’s teachings. For years develop- mental psychology was all about cognition, about how one acquired knowledge, and then about how one processed the information within a social context. Only relatively recently has attention been given to what we now label, “Emotional Intelligence”, as if to remind us that our affective side is no less important to our conscious, and unconscious, functioning.
Indeed the Torah goes beyond that when in this week’s parsha we are instructed by Moshe that, “You should know today, and take to your heart, that Hashem, He is G-d - in heaven above and on earth below - there is none other” (D’varim 4:39). In the spirit of loving G-d with all our faculties, as spelt out in the Sh’ma, the Torah stresses the connection between thought and sentiment. It clearly is not sufficient to know intellectually that Hashem is One; we need to “take” this concept to our heart and act appropriately upon it.
Yes, from one perspective, the psychologists were right: we need to know how to process our perceptions and cognitions. And not only are we bidden to recognize Hashem’s essence in both the heavenly and earthly spheres but, in interpreting the meaning of the phrase, “There is none other”, we need, perhaps, to understand that all that we do not yet know and understand ultimately has its source in the unity of G-d. And when we really appreciate that, how can we not but be emotionally touched?

Shabbat Shalom, Menachem Persoff

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