There is, thankfully, much greater awareness of mental illness today than there was in the past. This naturally leads to the question of how much mental health should affect halacha, or Jewish law. Is someone with an eating disorder permitted to eat on Yom Kippur – or perhaps the question should be, is that person is allowed to fast? If a person suffering from PTSD needs to smoke on Shabbat, is there room to be lenient? If the key question is how mental illness is related to sakanat nefashot – a danger to life – how can a determination like that be made that is both medically reasonable and halachically proper?
Many rabbis, though well meaning, are simply not aware of how mental health concerns intersect with halacha. And when it comes to pastoral counseling and giving non-halachic advice, rabbis might be even more in the dark, and can unwittingly cause serious damage.
Rav Yoni Rosensweig is at the forefront of bringing awareness of mental illness into the rabbinic community. He has written a book on the subject, and is starting an institute so that rabbis acquire the knowledge necessary in order to more appropriately confront these issues. In this episode of the Orthodox Conundrum, Scott speaks with Rav Yoni about these very pressing issues.
Please listen to and share the podcast, and let us know what you think on the Orthodox Conundrum Discussion Group on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/432020081498108).
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Music: “Happy Rock” by bensound.com