Ask Chana

Ask Chana 2017-05-30T12:44:50+00:00
I am concerned with the relationship of hypnotherapy and Orthodox Jewish practice. Are there any Halachic issues that are of concern in particular? Are there any ethical issues from a Jewish perspective with regard to hypnosis? Is it in any way counter to Torah? 2017-05-30T12:30:57+00:00

Since my time has been very limited and will continue to be so for the coming week, I will answer your questions now in short. If needed I can elaborate in the future.

Before I answer your specific questions I would like to preface by saying that for various reasons I do not practice hypnotherapy even though I am certified. In principle, I believe that an emotional and mental healing process has to be conscious, fully utilizing the human power of choice. I am not against using hypnosis for specific needs like addictions of certain kinds and certain levels, as well as in extreme situations. Yet, hypnosis can be dangerous if not practiced in the right way. That means that it can superficially bring about good results, but sometimes with an undesirable side effect. This issue needs to be elaborated at length, but the point of it is that when a shortcut is created through the hypnotic process it can have an impact on the behavior of a person, but it often tampers with defense mechanisms of the sub-conscious that won’t be there for the person when needed. Defense mechanisms that are eliminated have to be carefully replaced with other effective emotional mechanisms.

Nevertheless, certain hypnotic tools can be used to deepen and improve the rapore between therapist and client, assisting in creating a supportive environment. Much more has to be said in order to do justice to this topic…

As far as your questions: I am not aware of any halachic issue with regard to hypnotherapy as long as the client is fully aware and gives their consent to the course of treatment, in a detailed manner. Of course, all the ethics of therapy have to be adhered to with the highest measure. I am admantly against hypnosis shows that are generated just for the sake of entertainment and are compromising human dignity, and could leave long term ill-effects. Such demonstrations of this powerful tool are totally irresponsible, and that’s an understatement.

Even though I’m not aware of any halachic issues, as said before, it is my opinion that there could be somewhat of a conflict between hypnosis and the Torah requirement of personal avodah (self work). That is, in regards to tampering with personal choice, as mentioned before. At the same time, if this is correctly avoided hypnosis could help in assisting the client to create an inner environment that is supportive of his healing process.

In conclusion, to some extent any type of communication is (or could be) hypnotic. The main issue is how hypnosis is used, and in what way and to what extent it is applied in manipulating the sub- or super-consciousness.

Wishing you success.

“Why do you say that Cheshvan is the eighth month of the Jewish calendar? Isn’t it the second month?” 2017-05-30T12:30:11+00:00

Great question! From this answer you will understand why so many Jews are accountants or bookkeepers smlie.

The Talmud, in Tractate Rosh Hashana, says the following: “There are four new years*. The first of Nissan is the New Year for kings and for festivals… On the first of Tishrei is New Year for years.”

In other words, Nissan is the first month for counting the months. How do we know this? Torah says, “This month shall be to you beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year to you.” (Exodus 12:2) This is said in reference to the month of the Exodus, the month of Pesach, which is also the month of spring.

There are many quotes in Tanach that support this and count the months based on Nissan being the first month. For example, “And Esther was taken to King Achashverosh, into his royal house, in the tenth month, which is the month of Teves.” (Esther, Chapter 2) In this counting Cheshvan is the eighth month.

Tishrei is the first month for counting the years. Adam was created on the first day of Tishrei, therefore we count years from then.

“In the 600th year of Noach’s life, in the second month, on the 17th day of the month, on this day all the spirngs of the great deep were split, and the windows of the heavens opened up.”

Rashi comments on this verse: “Rabbi Eliezer says this refers to Marcheshvan; Rabbi Yehoshua says this refers to Iyar.” So you see that Cheshvan can be the second or eighth month, depending on your reference point.

Nissan is the first when counting the months (for kings or festivals) and Tishrei is the first when counting the years. To help you understand this, it is similar to the Western calendar today: January is the beginning of the calendar year while September is the beginning of the school year. So if you ask a child what number month October is he may say that it’s the 10th month of the year or that it’s the 2nd month of school. If you ask an accountant or businessman, he might give you a different answer based on when the fiscal year begins.

To turn to the Kabbalistic view of this matter for a moment: Nissan is when G-d created the world spiritually; Tishrei is when G-d created the world physically. However, this entails a much longer discussion.

I hope this was helpful to you.

Chana

*I.e. the year is reckoned to commence at different dates for different purposes, as the Mishnah goes on to specify.

“I would like to know about my purpose in this world. It seems that every time I try to pursue something it all falls through.” 2017-05-30T12:36:09+00:00

As discussed at length in Kabbalistic teachings, the ultimate purpose of the soul is fulfilled during the time it spends in this physical world, making this world a dwelling place for G-d by finding, revealing , and expressing G-dliness in everyday life by the fulfillment of G-d’s precepts and living from your truth.

However, for our actions in this world to have true significance, they must be the product of our free choice. Hence this crucial requirement in our lives is enacted under conditions of almost total spiritual blackout and in a world in which the divine reality is hidden, in which our purpose in life is not obvious, and evil often prevails over good. Under such circumstances, our G-dly actions , acts of goodness and kindness will be truly our choice and achievement.

There is so much more to say about this, but these few words can help you understand that challenges, trials, and tribulations are Divine imprinted characteristics of life. They are necessary for the fulfillment of G-d’s plan. As you write “every time I think am getting ahead something always seems to come up to keep me from obtaining” does not necessarily mean you are not going in the right direction. On the contrary, it is often the case when you try to do things right, expressing your truth and integrity, that all types of opposition come up to test you and challenge your choices.

The above is general and is meant to provide you some background for further discussion. I would like to end with a blessing that G-d should grant you the strength and wisdom to make the right choices and to figure out your life goals with clarity and joy. I look forward to hearing good news from you.

Respectfully,
Chana