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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Emotion v. intellect




By Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski

A world-renowned psychiatrist answers inspirationally: How can we know factual reality when our emotions distort our perception?

“We were like grasshoppers in our eyes, and so we were in their eyes.”

  —   Numbers 13:33

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | This verse was the origin of all my writings and emphasis on self-esteem. In this unique syntax, the Torah (Bible) teaches us a psychological principle of the greatest importance: The way you feel about yourself is how you think others perceive you.


The foremost commentator, Rashi, expands upon this concept. The spies said, ''We heard the Canaanites say, 'Look! There are ants crawling in our vineyards.' '' The Torah says that the spies felt as small as grasshoppers, which are still much larger than ants. Furthermore, how could the spies know what the Canaanites were saying? How could they understand their language?


Rashi is teaching us that low self-esteem is progressive and self-reinforcing. If you have a distorted, negative self-concept, it is apt to further deteriorate. You may begin by feeling as small as grasshoppers, but your self-image will shrink and you will eventually think even less of yourself. In addition, you will assume that others are making negative comments about you, even if you are not privy to what they are saying. A distorted, negative self-concept can lead to paranoia.


The Midrash on this verse expounds another important psychological principle. ''G-d said, 'I forgive you for saying, ''We were like grasshoppers in our eyes.'' But why did you say, ''and so we were in their eyes?'' How do you know that I did not make you appear to them as mighty angels? For that I do not forgive you' '' (Tanchuma).

Why was the second statement a more grievous sin than the first?


Rabbi Henoch Lebovitz explains that a distorted negative self-image is an emotion. I have noted in my books that there is a strange phenomenon. People who are most gifted may have the most profound low self-esteem. Their undeniable, factual achievements seem to make no impact on their self-concept. Whatever the source of low self-esteem, it is an emotion that is not altered by factual reality.


The concept that G-d is omnipotent is an intellectual belief. The Midrash says that when G-d told Moses that the Israelites should go into the sea, Nachshon went into the water up to his neck and then the waters divided. It was Nachshon's faith that enabled him to overcome the emotional fear of drowning, and it was this faith that warranted the miracle.




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Rebbe Shneur Zalman (Baal HaTanya) says that it is innate within the human being that intellect can triumph over emotion. When we allow our emotions to outweigh our intellect, it is a laxity and dereliction on our part.


The Midrash says that G-d forgave the spies for having a poor self-concept. That is an emotion which is not easily overcome. Their sin was in failing to exercise their ability to act according to their intellect. Having witnessed the many miracles of the Exodus, they knew intellectually that G-d could make them appear to the Canaanites as mighty angels. It was not even a lack of faith that was their sin. It was their failure of surrendering to their emotions when they should have followed their intellect (Chidushei HaLev, Bamidbar p. 86).


This is a teaching which we should apply regularly in our lives. As far as our distorted self-concept which depresses our self-esteem is concerned, this is something which we should seek to change by finding ways to elevate our self-esteem.


But until we achieve that goal, we should not allow this emotion to determine our behavior. We should be able to act on factual reality.


But how can we know factual reality when our emotions distort our perception?


By getting an opinion of ourselves from a reliable objective observer. If we are told that we are good, worthy and competent, we should act accordingly even if we do not feel that way.


Nachshon brought about a miracle by following his intellect rather than his emotion. You can accomplish virtually miraculous things by acting according to intellect rather than emotion.

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Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D. is a psychiatrist and ordained rabbi. He is the founder of the Gateway Rehabilitation Center in Pittsburgh, a leading center for addiction treatment. An Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, he is a prolific author, with some 30 books to his credit, including, "Twerski on Chumash" (Bible), from which this was excerpted (Sales of this book help fund JWR). Comment by clicking here.

© 2009, Mesorah Publications, Ltd.