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Embracing Flexibility: Overcoming Stiff-Neckedness (Parshat Ki Tisa)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
February 29th, 2024

Parshat Ki Tisa delves into the story of the sin of the Golden Calf and the subsequent conversation between Moshe Rabeynu and Hashem related to the consequences. During this back and forth, Hashem characterizes Bnei Yisrael as a “stiff-necked people” as the motivation behind many of our struggles. The parsha provides us an opportunity to explore the psychological concept of being Stiff-Necked and the lessons we can learn to overcome t …
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Clear and Present Danger Bava Kamma 119 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
February 29th, 2024

Our Gemara on amud aleph teaches that though it is permitted to kill an informer, there is an opinion that one may still not take his possessions. (In times where the local government was cruel and unjust toward Jews, an informant in the community posed mortal danger.) The rationale for this distinction is provided by the Gemara:   Perhaps he will have righteous children, and it is written: The wicked may prepare it, but the just shall put i …
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When Stolen Waters are not so Sweet Bava Kamma 118 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
February 28th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis discusses the prohibition to buy stolen goods. The Rambam (Law of Theft 1:1) warns that to buy stolen goods of any kind is a grave sin, as it encourages the thief’s behavior.  Based on this, Yam Shel Shelomo (58:1) rules that it is still prohibited to purchase from a thief even if he technically acquired the item via making substantial changes so that it is no longer the same object, such as weaving wool into a …
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Teacher or Student? Bava Kamma 117 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
February 27th, 2024

Our Gemara describes an interlude with Rabbi Yochanan, where he misjudges a student, Rav Kahana, several times:   Originally Rav Kahana was seated in the front row of the Shiur, as his reputation preceded him. However he was under instructions by his master, Rav, to not ask any questions in Rabbi Yochanan’s Shiur for seven years. Therefore, he appeared in the Shiur as a lackluster scholar whose hype was not commensurate with his perfor …
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True Love Bava Kamma 116 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
February 26th, 2024

The Gemara on Amud Aleph uses a phrase to characterize an event where a person’s animal that was doomed to drown was miraculously saved, “Min Shamayim Rachimu Aleh - from Heaven they manifested Rachimu.” Many translations of this Gemara translate “Rachimu” as mercy, seeing the Hebrew root R-CH-M from Rachamim, mercy.   I believe this translation to be in error. The Aramaic Rachimu, though of the same root, actua …
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Heart and Shoulders: Why civil law matters
Author: Yehuda Krohn, Psy.D.
February 23rd, 2024

When studying the Torah, it pays to attend not just to the recorded content -  be it the narratives or the Mitzvos, but also to the language that the Torah uses in conveying its content. In particular, we can tap and mine the rich veins of Biblical wisdom, when we are willing to examine the Torah’s linguistic parallels and contrasts.    A case in point is the wording found in Parshas Tetzaveh, as the Torah introduces the firs …
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Precision in Holiness: Being Detail-Oriented (Parshat Tetzaveh)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
February 22nd, 2024

How you do anything is how you do everything. Parshat Tetzaveh focus on the elaborate desgining of the clothing for the Kohanim, emphasizing intricate details and precision.  In the modern fast-paced world, where attention spans are fleeting, the Parsha’s emphasis to meticulous detail in the description of the garments carries a profound message about the importance of being detail oriented and precise in all our actions.   The ps …
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Therapy? Never Again!
Author: Yehuda Lieberman, LCSW
February 22nd, 2024

Dear Therapist: I have a friend who has a very serious problem with her shalom bayis. Her husband started going to therapy to try to help the marriage. She has a very long list of complaints against her husband, but she admits that she also has faults and she's not innocent. When I asked her why she doesn't go to therapy she told me she can't even think of it. She had gone for a lot of therapy in her late teens/early twenties  …
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Teletherapy or In-Person Therapy
Author: Yehuda Lieberman, LCSW
February 22nd, 2024

Dear Therapist: What advantages and disadvantages come with receiving therapy in person versus using an online platform? If a therapist offers both options, which should I choose? I would assume that in person would be more effective but sometimes maybe it would be easier to share through a screen? Aside from convenience, are there any other factors that I should be taking into consideration when choosing a venue for psychotherapy?   Respons …
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The Value of intuition Bava Kamma 115 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
February 25th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis discusses the prevailing awareness at that time that vessels with liquid in them left open and unguarded can become contaminated by snake venom, as the snake is attracted to it and might have taken a drink.  The Gemara says it is forbidden to have one’s animal drink from it, and Rashi says perhaps you will slaughter the animal and eat it, thus exposing someone to the poison.   However, this seemingly contra …
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You Don’t Say? Bava Kamma 114 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
February 23rd, 2024

Our Gemara quotes Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi, using a distinctive phrase that other Tanaim do not use.  He introduces his opinion with, “Omer Ani”, which roughly translates to “I say” or “In my opinion”, but as we soon shall see, in Hebrew it has a different, more subtle and humble connotation.   Rav Yosef Engel (Beis Haotzar, Ma’areches aleph-vav, klal 33) notes that the meaning is something like &ldq …
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Don’t Ruin the Mitzvah Bava Kamma 113 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
February 23rd, 2024

Our Gemara on amud aleph rules that certain days and times are improper to serve defendants with summons from Bais Din:   We do not set a court date for participants in the kalla, the gatherings for Torah study during Elul and Adar, during the months of the kalla, nor for participants in the public discourses prior to the Festival during the period leading up to the Festival. The Gemara relates: When people would come before Rav Naḥman dur …
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Jewish Criminals Bava Kamma 112 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
February 22nd, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud discusses the unfortunate situation of children whose father was a thief. Are the children who were supported by their father over the years, responsible to pay restitution to those whom he stole from? We won’t get into the Halachic specifics, but instead I thought to discuss the social and psychological impact of having a father who is a thief.   Unfortunately, there are crooks even in the frum world. Sometimes the …
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Double Standards Bava Kamma 111 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
February 21st, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud aleph discusses the psychological assumption that many women prefer companionship over loneliness to the extent that they might be agreeable to marry someone far less suitable than she would have initially preferred.  The statement is in a thick Aramaic, which suggests it was an adage spoken by the populace (see Rashi Kesuvos 75a “Tan” and Rashi Kiddushin 41a, “D’amar”):   The phrase, &ld …
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Religious Disparities in Marriage Bava Kamma 110 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
February 20th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis considers the scenario where a woman’s husband dies childless, and therefore she now is incumbent to a levirate marriage with her brother in law who was smitten with a repulsive skin disease.  Can this be seen as grounds to undermine the valid intent of the original marriage, as surely she never would have agreed to this marriage had she known that it could lead to her being beholden to this person? The Gemara r …
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When Second Place is First Class Bava Kamma 109 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
February 19th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph discusses the status of the Biblically penalty of an extra fifth imposed for one who confesses that he denied a theft under oath. The particular case is regarding someone who stole from his father, and then denied it under oath, and before he can make restitution, his father dies. Technically, he inherited part of the fine due to his father, and one might think that his percentage of the inheritance should be deducted off …
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Episode 54: Sex Positive Premarital Kallah Instruction
Author: Talli Yehuda Rosenbaum
February 16th, 2024

  In many Orthodox communities, premarital sex education taught by Kallah teachers is limited to ensuring wedding night “success” and encouraging strict observance of Nidah laws in order to guarantee sexual satisfaction. Join Rabbi Scott Kahn and Talli Rosenbaum as they interview two Kallah instructors, Dr. Hadassah Fromson and Dr. Yosefa Wruble,  discussing how they integrate discussions about sexual pleasure and satisfacti …
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Sacred Psychology of Giving (Parshat Terumah)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
February 15th, 2024

Parshat Terumah presents a profound exploration of the psychology of giving as it unfolds within the construction of the Mishkan. The Parsha details the meticulous instructions for creating a space on Earth to connect with Hashem. The Parsha starts by saying, “V'yikchu Li Terumah – and you should take for yourselves a contribution for me' (Exodus 25:2).” This passuk goes beyond the mere physical construction and provides valuabl …
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Confessions of a Chayal's Parent
Author: Yehuda Krohn, Psy.D.
February 14th, 2024

My wife and I are in the unique position of living in between two distinct communities. We spent numerous years in Kollel and have been part of the larger Yeshiva community for decades. Those years and decades were deeply meaningful to us; they remain very much a part of us. We continue to cherish the friendships and connections we formed during our Kollel-plus years.   My wife and I, though, also enjoyed upbringings that included a broader …
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Transformative Justice: Rehabilitation Paradigm (Parshat Mishpatim)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
February 13th, 2024

Parshat Mishpatim delves into the rules set forth after the Ten Commandments, establishing a just world run through the divine providence of Hashem. While there were many commandments that the Torah could have begun this Parsha with, the focus on the acquisition and treatment of a Jewish slave provides us a profound lesson in the treatment of individuals whose life circumstances have led them astray. In considering the psychological concept of re …
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Helping Someone Who Doesn't Want Help
Author: Yehuda Lieberman, LCSW
February 13th, 2024

Dear Therapist: I have a brother who is very anxious but comes across as very cool and like he has it all together. When I finally convinced him to go for therapy, the therapist questioned whether he really needed therapy and took an approach of “it doesn’t seem to be causing too much dysfunction in your life.”  Those who know him know about the constant tension that he lives with and how much he is suffering. Yes, he is su …
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Anxiety, Stigma, and Therapy When I Don't Need It
Author: Yehuda Lieberman, LCSW
February 13th, 2024

Dear Therapist: I'm a 21-year-old girl currently in shidduchim. I occasionally face mild anxiety and believe that seeking therapy could be beneficial for addressing and managing it, or gaining helpful tips. Thankfully, I am currently managing well, but I sense that further improvement is possible through therapeutic work. However, during this phase of life, there is some societal resistance to the idea of seeking therapy—it's not widel …
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How To Lose Friends and Un-Influence People
Author: Yehuda Lieberman, LCSW
February 13th, 2024

Dear Therapist: I am 17 years old and in 12th grade, I have a friend that I have known since 2nd or 3rd grade and we're very close. But overtime I realized that I don't enjoy her presence as much and she is extremely clingy. She always sees everything negatively and overthinks everything, which makes it difficult to talk and confide in her. She constantly asks to sleepover and come hangout. Luckily, I have a job that ends late at n …
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Is It Sympathy, Empathy, Or Secondary Trauma?
Author: Yehuda Lieberman, LCSW
February 13th, 2024

Dear Therapist: As a teacher, I've noticed that some of my high school students seem to be experiencing the weight of their friends' struggles. There is a student in my tenth-grade class who is going through a very hard time. Her family situation at home isn't easy and she is showing signs of unhealthy eating habits. We are aware that this student is struggling, and we are working on finding ways to help her. Recently, I noticed that her best fri …
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Support Group Or Therapy
Author: Yehuda Lieberman, LCSW
February 13th, 2024

Dear Therapist: Thank you so much for your weekly insights. I am looking for some help due to a loss in my family and I was offered a support group by a local organization. I am also considering a private therapist. Can you please explain the differences and benefits of one over the other? Do you have an opinion as to which is better in this situation?    Response: I’m sorry that you lost someone close to you. Of course, it’ …
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How Involved Should I Be in My Son's Marriage?
Author: Yehuda Lieberman, LCSW
February 13th, 2024

Dear Therapist: My son recently got married and I am a bit concerned about how he is treating his wife. It's nothing major but I see his immaturity and lack of awareness about living and thinking about someone else. Most people advise me to stay out of it and let them grow up together. I'm not so sure about that. I am worried about the damage that could be done to their relationship if I just let it go. I would appreciate hearing your opinions as …
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Are My Headaches "Real?"
Author: Yehuda Lieberman, LCSW
February 13th, 2024

Dear Therapist: I have suffered from migraine headaches for a few years. I have tried a bunch of different types of treatments and have seen all sorts of doctors. Somethings have helped a little, some not at all, and some for a short time but it didn't last. I am wondering if there is some possible help to be had from psychology in this area? I have definitely heard of psychology for back pain, can it work for headaches also?    Respons …
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Buy Now, Repent Later Bava Kamma 108 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
February 18th, 2024

Our Gemara on amud aleph discusses a case where one stated the claim that a thief stole the deposit and took an oath and then witnesses came and testified that he had taken it, and he returned and again stated the claim that a thief stole the same deposit and again took an oath and then witnesses came and again testified that he had taken it. More notably, Rambam (Hilchos Geneiva, 4:5) rules that even if this occurred 100 times, if he makes the o …
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An Order to the Disorder Bava Kamma 107 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
February 16th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph grapples with legal and textual inconsistencies, where the subject matter of the various legal cases and oaths described in Shemos (chapter 22) are difficult to ascertain. According to one approach, עירוב פרשיות כתוב כאן, there is a blending of distinct cases within the verses. In the same verses, one part might be referring to an oath for partial admission, while the second half could be referring to a …
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Peace At Any Price? Bava Kamma 106 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
February 16th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud aleph discusses a scenario when a defendant swears falsely, and later is proven to have lied, certain exemptions of liabilities remain in effect nonetheless. The idea is that having made the oath, there was a certain settlement between the owner and him. Even though the oath was false, certain liabilities are dismissed by the act of swearing itself, almost in exchange for making the oath, true or not.   The derivation for …
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Withholding Forgiveness Bava Kamma 105 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
February 15th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph discusses a scenario where someone swore falsely and denied possession of an object.  If he confesses and wishes to repent, part of his responsibility is to return the principal object as well as one fifth additional payment.  This requirement is so extensive, that even if the victim moved to far flung regions, the strict letter of the law requires that he incur the trouble and the expense to restore the object …
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Maintaining a Good Image Bava Kamma 104 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
February 14th, 2024

Our Gemara discusses a particular kind of signet, used as an identifier, known as a Dyu-Koni, which seems to consist of some unique emblem or picture. The words Duo-Koni likely comes from the Greek word, icon, and Du is two. So perhaps a double image, or an image on two sides. (Shall we say, Du-Coin, double coin?)   The Dyu-Koni is used in many instances particularly to connote a human form. For example, the Targum Yonasan on the verse (Bere …
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Fundamentally Pious Bava Kamma 103 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
February 13th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis discusses an incident that occurred to “a certain pious individual” “chassid echad”, who was involved in a purchase transaction, and there was question as to whom he should pay. There was a debate about whether the case involved a false oath. The Gemara challenges this position, because the litigant was described as a pious person. The Gemara then says, perhaps this situation came up after he repent …
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True Dedication Bava Kamma 102 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
February 12th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis discusses the status of a person’s possessions, when he declares all of them as Hekdesh, sanctified for the Temple. The Gemara wonders if certain necessities and obligations ought to be exempt, as could he have meant literally everything he owns? The Gemara rules that the clothing of his wife and his children are not included, as we assume he still meant to provide for them and meet his responsibilities toward family …
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Unkosher is Not What it Appears to Be Bava Kamma 101 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
February 11th, 2024

Our Gemara on amud beis discusses the halachic status of changes in appearance, such as dyes.  This is known as חֲזוּתָא מִילְּתָא “A surface appearance has its own independent significance”. There are numerous halachic implications discussed in the poskim such as if the dye is stolen and is on an object, is returning the object like returning the dye?  Some even relate this discussion to if it is permissibl …
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Of Course You Will…Bava Kamma 100 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
February 9th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph derives the ethical directive to go beyond the letter of the law, Lifnim Mishuras Hadin, from the following verse (Shemos 18:20):   וְהִזְהַרְתָּ֣ה אֶתְהֶ֔ם אֶת־הַחֻקִּ֖ים וְאֶת־הַתּוֹרֹ֑ת וְהוֹדַעְתָּ֣ לָהֶ֗ם אֶת־הַדֶּ֙רֶךְ֙ יֵ֣לְכוּ בָ֔הּ וְאֶת־הַֽמַּעֲשֶׂ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר יַעֲשֽׂוּן &nbs …
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Journaling and Cheshbon Hanefesh Bava Kamma 99 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
February 9th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis records an incident where a person sought an expert opinion from Rabbi Chiyyah who was appraising the quality and value of a certain coin.  He appraised it incorrectly, causing her financial loss. The Talmud rules that experts are not strictly liable for errors made in good faith. Nonetheless, as an act of piety, Rabbi Chiyyah took financial responsibility. He made a cryptic notation in his record book, “Deyn Es …
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Is Adolescence a Thing? Bava Kamma 98 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
February 8th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis discusses an incident when Rav Ashi burned another person's promissory note, and Rafram required him to pay the full amount. In this instance, the destruction of this key evidence prevented the debt from being collected.  Even though the loss was not direct, as a mere few pennies worth of parchment was destroyed, but since it caused an immediate and prompt consequential loss, it is treated as if he actually destroyed …
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Love and Fear Bava Kamma 97 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
February 7th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis describes the coinage in the time of Avraham, on one side was an elderly man and woman, on the other side a young man and woman. (See Tosafos and other commentaries if this was an image, or a written word.  By the way, archeological evidence is that not only did the Jews refrain from using images on their coins, but even when under Roman dominion in the first Century, the Romans honored the Jewish custom and used coin …
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Faith Matters Bava Kamma 96 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
February 6th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis discusses which kinds of changes to an object constitute enough transformation so that even a thief acquires it. (The thief, of course, must still compensate the owner. However since the object was so dramatically changed, it no longer has any connection to its past and he does not have to return the physical object.) The change must be irreversible in order for it to reach this threshold of becoming a new object.   U …
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