Freud and Rabbi Sholom Dovber the fifth Chabad Rebbe and perhaps one of the greatest Jewish mystics of all time, spoke to each for many long hours.
Initially, Rabbi Sholom Dovber came to see Freud – in my interpretation, for this mystic, who literally saw from one of the world to the other, and more precisely time-wise (from the beginning to the end of history, as he predicted the future unerringly accurately,) went to see Freud, as the foundation for human psychology should be accurate.
For those who study both realms, the overlap – particularly Freud’s overlap of principles of Jewish mysticism are too perfect than to be anything but understanding, and analyzing, and regurgitating the principles of Jewish mysticism as they apply to psychology.
Dr Josef Berke www.jhberke.com has written a book Centers of Power: The Convergence of Psychoanalysis and Kaballah (go to his website to order) in which the details of this convergence are explained.
But fundamentally, the story that I wish to share, is one in which perhaps both worldviews are almost succinctly described.
Freud asked Rabbi Sholom Dovber “What do you teach?”
“What kind of a study is that?”
Rebbe: “Whereby the heart is controlled by the mind!”
“Are they not two continents divided by an ocean?!”
“The goal is to cross the divide by laying a bridge spanning the two, or at least sow electrical wires underneath the sea.”
In other words, all philosophies (and I heave read Plato, Aristotle, Freud, others, as well as practically all mystical philosophies,) agree, that the divide in man is between body and soul, mind and heart, but the question of course is, what can be done about it?
Freud came up with theories, statistically proven not to work; while Chassidus statistically has worked wonders!
But what all theories agree, is that man, is divided between his desires and his opinions.
You would think the two should be one!!!
But as we all know, men whom are admired are precisely admired; for most other men lack the ability to become men who are admired.
Universally, Nelson Mandela is not admired for being a terrorist – which he was – rather his ability to forgive and pave a peaceful future, as opposed to Mugabe who also was a terrorist and remained one in power as well.
The power to have the mind, control the emotions; is of course, the millennia goal of all civilized men.
All children are born like wild animals and give unrestricted vent to their emotions – it is only through discipline and identification with disciplined role-models that their behavior becomes both refined and disciplined.
But deep in the shadows lurk the demons.
No better method to understanding the truth of this, is, the anonymity offered by the internet; for it did not form human instincts, merely offered the venue for their outlet.
Of course this is where Chassidus and psychology diverge, for in psychology you are the epicenter of your universe.
If it feels good, do it! is the primary motto of the nations born out of Freud’s worldview, and it is precisely the opposite, If it is good do it! that Chassidus comes to inspire us to do.
Every generation has one Rebbe, which stands for Rosh Bnie Yisroel, the head of the Jewish people.
Like a head, he is endowed with almost Divine talents to discern through the multitude of theories (even within Judaism) and to be able to discern the true Divine will, particularly as it relates to his time.
For every generation has a unique mission!
Of course in our generation, this is Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
To adhere to his opinion is to adhere to God, for the third Commandment as Maimonides teaches us, is, to listen to the Prophet in your times (and as Maimonides teaches, prophecy returned (in anticipation of the messianic age when all Jews will be great prophets) at the end of his lifetime – and the Rebbe’s prophetic abilities are well known, matching the prophetic results of earlier prophets and perhaps even exceeding them, to name but a few accurate outcomes: he predicted the six day war, the gulf war, soviet union’s collapse, the failure of the mid-east “peace” process, and his most important prediction, the soon to be messianic era!)
To discern the Rebbe’s directives, the best place is so go to, ichossid.com where they have culled mainly from the later talks, the Rebbe’s directives, based on the weekly Torah portion and festivals, and one very important book on education.
One of the primary directives of the Rebbe, was that people should appoint a spiritual mentor (particularly someone schooled in Chassidus / Modern Jewish mysticism) and as this is following the biblical adjunction to follow the wisdom of God through “appoint for yourself a Rabbi,” God’s wisdom, shall come through that person to them!!! (and in in health issues ask a doctor who is a friend what to do, and in business issues ask a business man who is a friend, and in general, eat healthy! then as the Rambam, a foremost doctor teaches, “you wont get sick through your lifetime.”)
Another very important notion is, what is the truth? – Something that even within Judaism, there are thousands of variations.
The Rebbe’s truth – as I understand it, can be summed up in three important principles:
Principle number one, there is nothing in this world that cannot be used for good – so while many religious people shun technology etc. (as they see in modernity a threat to their interests) the Rebbe said “find the benefit of technology and embrace it for the said cause” – for the Rebbe said “the world God created, cannot deny God, rather acts as a conduit for Divine revelation, through man’s using it as such.”
In terms of spiritual service, the Rebbe believes we need to see ourselves as Divine beings, for that is whom we truly are, as our souls are literally part of God and our souls are the essence of who we are, and hence our entire mission in life (as the Rebbe often quoted from the Mishnah) to work for divine purposes – is far easier, for we see ourselves not in competition, rather in collaboration with the said purpose, for his and our purpose then merges.
Last but not least, if the Rebbe stood for anything, it was Ahavas Yisroel, unity amongst Jews, and in fact the world over; and as such, the Rebbe always maintained seeking that which we share (for in what we share – what we have in common – we identify, and hence as each person loves themselves, they extend the said love to the other whom they identify with!) and the entire world shares in common the trait of being a creation of God – created to fulfill God’s purposes – and particularly within the Divine souls of the Jewish people – and as all Jews share the same soul root and as God is one, hence all Jews on a soul level – hence in reality, are actually one.