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The Clothes Make the Man Bava Metzia 47 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 15th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph quotes the scriptural source for the chalifin acquisition, whereby transfer of possession is confirmed via exchange of an object, also known as kinyan sudar. In Megillas Rus, Boaz acquires the rights to the field from Plony Almoni and also presumably secures his agreement that he will marry Elimelech’s (their relative) former daughter-in-law, Rus (Rus 4:7):   Now this was an ancient custom done in Israel in cas …
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Episode 55: Loving Again After Loss: Dating and Remarriage After Widowhood
Author: Talli Yehuda Rosenbaum
April 12th, 2024

Losing one’s spouse is one of life’s most difficult and painful experiences. The process of grieving includes feelings of loneliness, abandonment, and isolation. While grieving the loss of a spouse, one also mourns the loss of identity as a member of an intimate partnership and acceptance of a new identity as a widow/er. Well-intentioned friends and family members may urge those who have lost a spouse to “move on,” while o …
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Spiritual Somatization (Parshat Tazria)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
April 11th, 2024

In Parshat Tazria, we learn about the concept of ‘Tzaraat,’ often mistranslated as leprosy. However, Tzaraat is not merely a physical affliction, but a visible manifestation of a spiritual malady.  Although Tzaraat was an affliction of the skin and the person afflicted would be isolated, unlike leprosy, the isolation of the Metzora (one who had Tzaraat) had nothing to do with contagion. This spiritual affliction portrayed by a ph …
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Special Eclipse Edition Psychology of the Daf
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 8th, 2024

Eclipses and Torah Thought Psychology of the Daf, Special Edition The Gemara Succah (29a) states: ⁦When the sun is eclipsed it is a bad omen for the entire world. The Gemara tells a parable. To what is this matter comparable? It is comparable to a king of flesh and blood who prepared a feast for his servants and placed a lantern [panas] before them to illuminate the hall. He became angry at them and said to his servant: Take the lantern from be …
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You Really Can’t Take it With You Bava Metzia 46 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 14th, 2024

Our Gemara on amud beis rules that according to Rabbi Yochanan, by Torah law, money effects acquisition. It is only a rabbinic mercantile protection that required an additional physical acquisition beyond payment for material objects, as the seller might be negligent of the merchandise, while it is still in his possession, since it was fully acquired now by the purchaser. Therefore, the rabbis enacted a protective measure that ownership does not …
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Marriage, God, Tablets and Cryptocurrency Bava Metzia 45 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 12th, 2024

Our Gemara on amud beis describes the effectiveness and limits of the method of acquisition used via exchange (kinyan chalifin):  Money cannot be the item used to effect a transaction by means of exchange, as that form of transaction is effective only with regard to items such as produce and vessels. Rav Pappa said: What is the reason for the opinion of the one who says that money cannot be the item used to effect a transaction by means of e …
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The Perspective of Youth versus Age Bava Metzia 44 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 12th, 2024

Our Mishna on amud aleph discusses when encountering an exchange of one coinage for another, what is considered the coin and what is considered the object? This has an effect on the halacha, as in Jewish commerce, payment of money alone cannot acquire a physical object without the object being acquired through some other means such as picking it up. Yet, an object that is not currency can be acquired via exchange or barter. Thus, when one purchas …
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Repent Early, Beat the Yom Kippur Rush Bava Metzia 43 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 11th, 2024

Our Mishna on amud aleph discusses money that is placed for safekeeping by the money exchanger:   In the case of one who deposits money with a money changer, if the money is bound, the money changer may not use it. Therefore, if it is lost he does not bear responsibility for it. If the money was unbound, the money changer may use it. Therefore, if it is lost he bears responsibility for it. If he deposited money with a homeowner, whether it i …
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Torah and Paradox Bava Metzia 42 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 10th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph makes a number of suggestions regarding money management from a practical and metaphysical point of view.   Rabbi Yitschok advises a person to keep a certain amount of money liquid, presumably, so that he can respond quickly to investment opportunities. He also states that financial blessing is found on matters that are hidden from the eye. Similarly, Rabbi Yishmael says that financial blessings are only found when & …
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Weighing Sin Bava Metzia 41 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 9th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis considers the relative legal severity of two different kinds of watchmen: The free watchman, and the hired watchman. On a simple level, the hired watchman has more legal liability and severity than the free watchman. The hired watchman is liable for theft, and forms of non-negligent loss, while the free watchman can claim the object was stolen and be exempt, so long as he takes an oath that he employed an expected standard …
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Mouse Psychology Bava Metzia 40 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 8th, 2024

Our Gemara on amud aleph discusses how to estimate normal depreciation and spoilage of produce, which has relevance when a watchman is returning an amount of produce deposited, but the original produce is no longer extant.  Thus, if he held 50 lbs of grain, and now is returning it, how much allowance should be made for spoilage?   The Rabbis hold that the amount is dependent according to the measure, and according to the time elapsed. R …
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Navigating Bereavement (Parshat Shemini)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
April 3rd, 2024

Parshat Shemini begins with the sanctification of the Mikdash by Aharon HaCohen a day that could have been the spiritual pinnacle of his life. We know that the day suddenly takes a turn with the tragic deaths of his sons, Nadav & Avihu. The sudden loss of Nadav and Avihu profoundly impacts Aharon and Bnei Yisrael. Their deaths evoke deep sorrow and mourning, reflecting the human experience of bereavement.   Bereavement is a multifaceted …
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Money and Mental Health
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
April 3rd, 2024

Question: I live in a neighborhood/community where there is a big emphasis on money. It is a young neighborhood where people are just starting work, and some are making serious money and throwing it around. So there has recently become this pressure to “keep up with the Joneses.” I have a salaried job and al pi derech hateva I am not going to become a millionaire any time soon. This was always ok with me, and I didn&rsq …
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Toxic Masculinity? Bava Metzia 39 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 7th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph discusses the connotation of the Hebrew word, netisha which translates approximately as, “abandon” or “leave behind”. The Torah (Shemos 23:11) commands that produce be abandoned in the field during the Shemittah year, as no commercial conduct is allowed.    Malbim on this verse notes that though Hebrew has another word for abandon, “Azivah”, the word “Netisha” has …
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Bread of Shame Bava Metzia 38 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 5th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph makes an assertion about the psychology of ownership pride in order to explain the following position stated by the Mishna:
In the case of one who deposits produce with another, even if it is lost due to spoilage or vermin, the watchman may not touch it, as it is not his. 
What is the reason that the first tanna said that the watchman should not touch the produce? Rav Kahana says that it is based on the p …
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What Halachos Will Eliyahu Explain? Bava Metzia 37 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 5th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph discusses several scenarios where there is an unresolved disposition of ownership:   In the case of two people who deposited money with one person, and this one deposited one hundred dinars and that one deposited two hundred dinars, and when they come to collect their deposit, this one says: My deposit was two hundred dinars, and that one says: My deposit was two hundred dinars, the bailee gives one hundred dinars to …
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On Loan from God Bava Metzia 36 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 4th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph discusses the curious Halacha that there are times when one watchman can hand over the object to another watchman and be completely dismissed of any further obligation, even without the owner’s expressed consent.   The phrase used is Shomer Shemasar Leshomer. Midrash Shmuel on Avos (1:1) notes that the Hebrew word “massar” (M-S-R) “to give” has a different connotation than the Hebrew wor …
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Who Deserves Wealth? Bava Metzia 35 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 3rd, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph discusses a judgment that people seem to have when comparing the wealthy to the impoverished. In certain halachic/legal situations, there is an assumption that the borrower trusts the lender’s financial assessment but not the reverse; the lender does not trust the borrower. One reason given for this by the Gemara is that people assume God would not have rewarded this man with wealth unless he was trustworthy. Conver …
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Safeguard Your Body and Soul Bava Metzia 34 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 2nd, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph discusses the responsibilities of a free watchman, who is exempt from financial obligations if he claims it was stolen while adequate safeguards were taken. He must make an oath to affirm this. If he is reluctant to swear (pious individuals avoid making oaths even when true), he has the option to pay for the object. In an interesting twist of fate, if the thief was found, the thief now pays the object plus his additional …
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God Leaves the Driving to You Bava Metzia 33 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 1st, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph discusses an interesting intersection between the letter of the law and ethical obligations  beyond legal requirements:   If one finds his lost item and his father’s lost item, tending to his own lost item takes precedence.   The Gemara provides a scriptural source that alludes to the need to ensure one doesn’t save others’ possessions to the extent that he himself becomes impoverished. &n …
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Renewal through Routine (Parshat Tzav)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
March 28th, 2024

In Parshat Tzav, we delve into the detailed instructions for the Kohanim regarding the daily Korbanot and rituals within the Mishkan. Among these instructions is the commandment regarding the removal of the ashes from the altar. This seemingly mundane task holds within it profound symbolism and echoes of the psychological concept of renewal.   The passuk at the beginning of the Parsha (6:3) states: “The priest shall dress in linen raim …
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Shalach Manos to an Enemy Bava Metzia 32 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
March 22nd, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis discusses circumstances where one is obligated to assist a fellow Jew in loading and unloading his beast.  The Gemara established that all things considered equal, one should assist in unloading a beast first, before assisting in loading. Logic has it, that the beast and even the owner, is in greater distress when needing to unload versus loading, since the packages might fall or the beast might become injured.   …
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Speaking Up Against Sin Bava Metzia 31 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
March 29th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis discusses the biblical directive to rebuke a sinner. The verse states (Vayikra 19:16): “הוֹכֵ֤חַ תּוֹכִ֙יחַ֙ אֶת־עֲמִיתֶ֔ךָ You shall admonish, and indeed admonish your fellow country man.”   Biblical Hebrew has an idiomatic word form where a verb is repeated, presumably to connote emphasis.  The halachic implications of this emphasis are discussed in our Gemara: …
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God in Search of Man Bava Metzia 30 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
March 29th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis discusses an important exemption in the mitzvah to return a lost object. Should the person be of a dignified status, and lost items be of such a nature that the person would not even pick up his own possessions in those circumstances, he is then exempt. For example, imagine a bag of apples that is scattered all over the street, and requires bending down on one’s hands and knees to retrieve them. It is very possible t …
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Sarcasm in the Torah Bava Metzia 29 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
March 28th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis warns of various careless financial practices: And Rabbi Yoḥanan says: In the case of one whose father bequeathed him a great deal of money and he seeks to lose it, he should wear linen garments, and should use glass vessels, and should hire laborers and not sit with them to supervise.  A unique feature of this Talmudic passage is that it seems to be resorting to sarcasm. Sarcasm is a particular human style of commu …
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The Circle of Life Bava Metzia 28 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
March 27th, 2024

Our Gemara on amud aleph discusses the obligation to announce a lost object to alert the owner.  One opinion is that it should be through the entire annual cycle of all three Jewish holidays, Pesach, Shavuous and Succos. Presumably, since people make pilgrimages to Eretz Yisrael at least once a year, this will allow for sufficient interaction that hopefully the person who lost the object will be notified.    Akeidas Yitschok (69) d …
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Miracles, Magic or Technology? Bava Metzia 27 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
March 26th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis discusses the reluctance of a person to loan a wallet or purse to another person, because it is a bad sign.  That is, it symbolically portends that he will give his money to another person.   Tosafos (ibid) raises a concern that this paying attention to signs should be under the prohibition against divination, as stated in (Vayikra 19:26).  Tosafos answers, this is similar to what is taught in Shabbos (67a), …
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Mass Formation Psychosis Bava Metzia 26 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
March 25th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis discusses social group dynamics.  If a coin fell from one of three people, the finder is not obligated to return it. What is the reason? The person from whom the coin fell certainly despairs of recovering it. He says, “After all, two other people were with me. If I seize this one, he will say: I did not take it. And if I seize that one, he will say: I did not take it.” Since he cannot make a definitive cla …
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Affection in Ritual Gratitude (Parshat Vayikra)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
March 20th, 2024

Parshat Vayikra begins the Sefer that will discuss all the laws pertaining to Korbanot, Kohen duties, and guidance towards holiness. The Sefer is also referred to as Torat Kohanim, largely in part due to the description of the sacrifices performed in the Mishkan. In the midst of these sacrifices, we learn about the "Shelamim – Peace Offering," which holds profound significance, not only in ritual but also in its psychological implications, …
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The Torah Speaks Through Us, and in Fact, is Us Bava Metzia 25 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
March 24th, 2024

  Our Gemara on amud aleph discusses a teaching of Rabbi Yitschok Migdla’ah:   שְׁלֹשָׁה מַטְבְּעוֹת זֶה עַל גַּב זֶה. אָמַר רַבִּי יִצְחָק מַגְדְּלָאָה: וְהוּא שֶׁעֲשׂוּיִין כְּמִגְדָּלִין. תַּנְיָא נָמֵי הָכִי: מָצָא מָעוֹת מְפוּזָּרוֹת – הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ שֶׁלּוֹ, עֲשׂו …
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Doomed or Not, It is Up to God Bava Metzia 24 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
March 22nd, 2024

Our Gemara on amud aleph speaks of situations where an object faces inevitable doom, such as a lion is about to consume a sheep.  Even if this is in front of the owners and they protest that they are not giving up, since the consensus reality is that the objects are doomed, it is a de facto giving up (see Shulchan Aruch CM 259:7).  The rescuer may take full possession of the object.   Yismach Moshe (Shemos 30) uses this legality as …
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The Harm of Self-Deception Bava Metzia 23 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
March 22nd, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis discusses why a Talmid Chacham has special credibility; he never lies except for purposes of modesty and privacy. However, even a meticulously honest Torah sage is permitted to alter the truth under circumstances that would violate privacy or modesty, such as if he wants to modestly hide his wisdom, he may publicly deny his achievements. Additionally, he may use deception to prevent others from becoming aware of his and hi …
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Minor Issues Bava Metzia 22 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
March 21st, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis discusses the legal status of minors, who do not possess the mental discernment to give proper consent, therefore they cannot forgive a debt or even waive an entitlement. “Yasmi lav bnei mechila ninhu.”   The G”RA uses this idea to understand an emphasis made by the verse in Mishley (23:10):   אַל־תַּ֭סֵּג גְּב֣וּל עוֹלָ֑ם וּבִשְׂדֵ֥י יְ֝תוֹמִ֗ים …
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Buried Treasure Bava Metzia 21 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
March 20th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis discusses the behavioral psychology of money.  One is more likely to become quickly aware of losing currency in comparison to other objects. Since it is the way of people to constantly feel their pockets and check if their money is there, if one found money in the street, he may assume the owner already became aware of the loss.  This has ramifications in terms of the obligation to return lost items, as the owner …
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Seeing is Believing Bava Metzia 20 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
March 19th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud aleph discusses the legal status of  documents called “Shtarei Berirun”. According to one opinion, is a written record of each litigant’s claims.   The straightforward understanding of why the claims are written and agreed upon is that this way neither party can retract and modify their claims. (Rashbam, Bava Basra 168a, “Shtarei”.)   There also can be a psychological reason for this …
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Cognitive Bias or Sholom Bayis? Bava Metzia 19 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
March 18th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis discusses the laws concerning a death-bed gift. Since the person is giving away his possessions with the tacit understanding that he is mortally ill, should he recover, his gifts are retracted.    The Divrei Mahari relates this (Toldos Bereishis 25:30-34) to Esav’s selling of his rights to the firstborn.     וַיָּ֥זֶד יַעֲקֹ֖ב נָזִ֑יד וַיָּבֹ֥א עֵשָׂ֛ו …
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Redemption Unveiled (Parshat Pekudei)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
March 14th, 2024

Parshat Pekudei, the final portion of the book of Exodus, provides us with a profound exploration of the psychological journey toward redemption. As we delve into the details of the construction of the Mishkan, we find ourselves leading to the close of Sefer of Shemot gaining clarity on collective redemption for Bnei Yisrael.   In his introduction to the Sefer, the Ramban makes comments that, "The Book of Shemot is dedicated to the first Gal …
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Medication or Therapy
Author: Yehuda Lieberman, LCSW
March 14th, 2024

Dear Therapist: I have a specific fear that I have a hard time with but it isn't something that I really have to face very frequently. Let's say it's flying. It's not something I do very often but when I need to it's really hard. I was prescribed a medication I can take from my doctor and I can use it before flying and I feel ok. Is this a good enough way to deal with it or would it be better to invest in therapy to get rid of the fear? Would the …
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What, Me Intellectualize? Well, Come to Think of it...
Author: Yehuda Lieberman, LCSW
March 14th, 2024

Dear Therapist: I have been wondering about a friend who is very smart but is still struggles with motivation. He has been confiding in me recently but I think that he is very focused on philosophical reasons for his unhappiness, like the purpose of life, but doesn't pay enough attention to his emotions. It's hard to tell really but I am wondering if you could give me some pointers in how to steer him for the proper help. Thanks.   Response: …
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Therapy? Very Funny!
Author: Yehuda Lieberman, LCSW
March 14th, 2024

Dear Therapist: Thank you so much for your weekly column. I enjoy hearing your different perspectives. I was wondering if lekavod Purim you could share your thoughts on humor and mental health. Does a good sense of humor help people in dealing with difficulties? How does this work? Is this something that can be developed or do you either have it or not? Additionally, I think for most of us we imagine therapy as a serious somber thing, i …
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