As Orthodox Jews, we usually find the experience of mitzvah observance and participation in the Orthodox community to be a source of great religious meaning, comfort, and fellowship; Torah Judaism is the way that Orthodox Jews interact with G-d, and that reality, alongside the communal and social aspects, has made Orthodoxy a source of pride and joy. We must also recognize that aspects of Orthodox life can be a real source of anxiety and stress. This includes the pressures associated with shmirat hamitzvot, as well as stresses that arise from the everyday requirements of following the Torah. The sense of being commanded, and the concomitant fear of shame and guilt if we fail, can be weighty. And then, of course, there are the other anxieties that are simply associated with observance – such as the very high financial cost of living an Orthodox life, and the perhaps less defensible high financial cost of living in an Orthodox community with increasingly high material standards, as well.
Is there a way to deal with this anxiety, and – more to the point – how can we prevent it in the first place so that it doesn’t become debilitating? How can we work on preventing other mental health crises? Is the apparently increasing number of people suffering from mental illness a result of greater awareness, or is there something going on in our communities that is exacerbating the problem? Conversely, are we sometimes guilty of relying on therapy too much? And is the assumption that we can lead perfect lives in perfect communities – and inability to accept imperfection – causing serious problems with long-term ramifications?
Scott was honored to speak to Rabbi Dr. Eitan Eisen about these and other important issues relevant to Orthodoxy, anxiety, mental health, and prevention.
To order Rabbi Dr. Eisen’s book, Talmud on the Mind: Exploring Chazal and Practical Psychology to Lead a Better Life, go to https://kodeshpress.com/product/talmud-on-the-mind/
Please listen to and share this podcast, and let us know what you think on the Orthodox Conundrum Discussion Group on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/432020081498108).
Thanks to all of our Patreon subscribers, who have access to bonus JCH podcasts, merch, and more – we appreciate your help, and hope you really enjoy the extras! Visit the JCH Patreon site at https://www.patreon.com/jewishcoffeehouse.
Visit https://www.jchpodcasts.com/ to learn all about creating your own podcast.
Music: “Happy Rock” by bensound.com