Light is a Mutual Affair

Moving along with the Peskita deRav Kahana, we are encouraged that after we recover from our own pain and are comforted, it is time to get back to work. In the Pesikta the point is that Israel has a task to perform: creating light in the world.

We can learn from this that even as we are personally recovering from the disruption of our lives in these Corona times, we can be looking forward to performing our task.

We all have tasks to perform at our Family Institute. Our overall collective task is to create a form of Family Therapy that belongs to the Charedi world. This involves a cycle of doing and reflecting. We are all engaged in “performing” therapy, trainees in learning this skill, supervisors in teaching it. But this “skill” is yet to be perfected. As we see individuals, we are challenged to imagine these individuals within the context of their relationships with others, especially with other family members. We are constantly aware that emotional suffering happens both inside and outside. As we help our clients to relate in a more open and thoughtful way to their inner lives, we wonder how they interact with their family members and how these interactions may also be healed. We wonder both about past “internalized” self and others and about present interactions that maintain such internalizations.

This is not only a daunting task; it is a task yet to be fully defined. It is not yet clear to anyone how the interface of inner life and outer relationships is best negotiated within the Charedi world (in fact, in any world). At our Institute we assume that the Charedi world cherishes relationships no less than one’s “inner” world. We also assume that it is only within the Charedi world that the forms of treatment most appropriate to this world can be treated. And of course, we know that there are many “Charedi” worlds, and each needs its own form of treatment. As a result, trainees are engaged in “research” no less than in practice. We want to “keep the questions open.” That requires an openness to the real experience of the interaction with clients, recognizing where there is progress and what are the limitations of this progress. Trainees learn “the state of the art” but also engage in improving that state. Family therapy in the Charedi world is our work in progress.

As we commence our training with Marci’s outstanding sessions, we are mindful of the “research” aspect of our “teaching.” At our Institute questions are what make us learn. In remote classes, questions may play a different role than in frontal teaching. We would like to keep an open forum for discussion in a closed forum for trainees on the website. So far, this has met with little enthusiasm. We would welcome suggestions for how to keep the conversation alive and robust while at a distance. To borrow from the Pesikta’s metaphor, creating lights requires the cooperation (co-creation) of oil and wick. The oil of questions ( what we do not yet know)  is what makes the wick of knowledge (what we think we already know) burn bright.