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Psychoanalytic Review, 83(6), December 1996 © 1996 N.P.A.P

Psychoanalysis and Kabbalah

Joseph H. Berke

Psychoanalysis and Kabbalah are theories about the nature of existence. They are also meditations, really methods for restoring shattered lives. These are lives which have been separated from their source. The particular domain of psychoanalysis is the head and the heart, that is, the totality of an individual's mind and emotions, "the self." In particular, I refer to a person confirmed in his subjectivity, as agent of his thoughts and feelings, and confirmed in his objectivity, the object of his own activity and focus of his consciousness.

In contrast the domain of Kabbalah, the Jewish mystical tradition, is the soul, a person's holy, timeless essence. I refer to an entity which is both elevated, that is, exists in spiritual realms, and is part of a whole, the primordial source, God.'

Needless to say, such a capsule definition is limited and limiting. It doesn't take into account many other facets of psychoanalysis or Kabbalah. Thus, psychoanalysis, as currently practiced, is not just concerned with an individual man, woman, or child. On the contrary, it strives to see this person in relation to his family and friends. And to complicate matters even more, it considers each person to be a dynamic nucleus of relationships. Essentially he is a center of energies, a world in and of himself, containing and being contained by a myriad of other swirling worlds.

Kabbalah also focuses upon worlds and worlds within worlds. So a further way of looking at both psychoanalysis and Kabbalah, a further refinement, is that these two disciplines aim to explore the obvious and the esoteric, the conscious and unconscious aspects of existence. But they especially aim to reveal that which is mysterious and profoundly concealed.

As you can see, my introduction stresses the similarities, rather than the differences between psychoanalysis and Kabbalah. This is because I think that psychoanalysis may be seen as a secular branch of Kabbalah. Or, to put it another way, psychoanalysis is secular Kabbalah.

What I have just stated is not necessarily news. Several decades ago, Dr. David Bakan, who was Professor of Psychology at the University of Chicago, published a fascinating study of the origins of psychoanalysis entitled, S19mund Freud and the jewish Mystical Tradition (1965). Let me quote Bakan:

. . . the contributions of Freud are to be understood largely as a contemporary version of, and a contemporary contribution to, the history of Jewish mysticism. Freud, consciously or unconsciously, secularised Jewish mysticism; and psychoanalysis can intelligently be viewed as such a secularisation. (1965, p. 25)

Nowadays Bakan's work is generally ignored. This is probably because psychoanalysts prefer not to be reminded that their origins lie in a spiritual, as opposed to scientific, tradition. Bruno Bettelheim has documented this position in his late work, Freud and Man's Soul (1983). It is also worth mentioning that Bakan himself thought that Freud emphasized the latter in order to avoid anti-Semitic attacks and professional invalidation.

In this study I shall consider psychoanalysis from the standpoint of two pioneers, Signiund Freud and Melanie Klein. I intend to show that their personal origins, concerns, and methods are intimately rooted in Jewish religious and mystical traditions. To do so I shall concentrate on two fundamental features of their work respectively. Each of these has long been recognized as an outstanding innovation and important contribution to our understanding of human nature. For Freud this includes "free associations," his basic methodology, and his theory of unconscious processes, the view that reality has both a manifest and latent content. For Klein I shall discuss two of her basic concepts, the container and the contained, and reparation.

But let me begin with a brief discussion of their personal backgrounds. There are some striking similarities which help to explain their direct and indirect connections with Judaism and Kabbalah.

Freud was born in Freiberg, Moravia, in 1856 but spent almost his entire life in Vienna. Significantly, both his parents came from Galicia, a region of Poland that, as Bakan points out, was "saturated" with Jewish mysticism, especially Chassidism. Indeed, Freud explicitly acknowledged that his father, Jakob, came from a Chassidic environment. Moreover, Freud was familiar with mystical texts. He had read with great interest the work of Rabbi Chaim Vital, a renowned sixteenth - century Kabbalist and principle disciple of Rabbi Isaac Luria (the Ari) and had many books on Judaica, and specifically Kabbalah, in his library (Bakan, 1965, pp. xix-xx).

Melanie Klein was born in Vienna in 1882 and lived her formative years there. Many consider her to be Freud's foremost follower. Klein greatly extended his work by developing the field of child analysis as well as by pioneering the psychoanalysis of psychotic patients. Like Freud, Klein had a notable Jewish pedigree. Her father came from an orthodox Jewish family and her mother was the daughter of a rabbi. Although she was not observant or formally religious in adult life, she did have a Jewish upbringing and maintained a particular fondness for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement (Grosskurth, 1985, p. 13). As we shall see, these backgrounds clearly influenced their accomplishments.

Freud and Klein were healers. Their principal focus was damaged selves, that is, people who were mentally, emotionally, and socially broken or, to use the prevailing medical metaphor, "sick." Freud turned to the psychological realm because he found that the symptoms of mental illness could not be explained or treated physically. Instead he found that by utilizing a special relationship, one where his patients were able to speak freely about whatever occurred to them, their symptoms diminished or disappeared and their lives became less chaotic. The quality of listening was a very important element in this "free association" process. Later analysts called it 1istening with the third ear." It is a listening which is very attentive, nonjudgmental, and highly sensitive to nuances of thought and feeling.

Bakan observed that Freud's methods are astonishingly similar to those developed by the early Kabbalists, notably the thirteenth century Spanish Kabbalist, Rabbi Abraham Abulafia (1965, pp. 75-80). R. Abulafia strove to "unseal the soul, to untie the knots which bind it." Basically he developed a theory of repression and a means to deal with the effects of repression six centuries before Freud explored similar issues.

Firstly, R. Abulafia emphasised "mystical logic" of letters, the logic of "God's real world," which for Freud became the logic of the unconscious especially as elaborated by linguistic processes (Freud, 1910). Secondly, he described a form of free association which he called, "jumping and skipping." The scholar, Gershom Scholem, comments that this was:

... a very remarkable method of using associations as a way of mediation.... Every "jump" opens a new sphere.... Within this sphere, the mind may freely associate. The `jumping" unites, therefore, elements of free and guided association and is said to assure quite extraordinary results as far as the "widening of the consciousnes? of the initiate is concerned. The "jumping" brings to light hidden processes of the mind.... (1955, pp. 135-36)

A comparable method allowed Freud to peel back layer after layer of disturbance, to penetrate anxiously concealed thoughts and feelings, and to initiate understanding, first in him, then in his patients. The transformation from sick to sane took place when the concealed became revealed, when the unconscious became conscious, and his patients were able to "know" themselves. Essentially he discovered a process of de-mystification and de-alienation facilitated by the free association of thoughts and feelings. Or to put it another way, through encouraging his patients to free associate, Freud was able to initiate a process of de-repression. What does this mean?

Freud saw that people lived in two spheres simultaneously. One is the conscious level. He called conscious thoughts and actions the manifest content of our lives. The other is the unconscious level. This is not a static, but a dynamic interplay of experiences which he called the latent content. Freud saw (fiat it is an ongoing effort to keep things latent or unconscious. Indeed, much of one's life may be devoted to this effort, while the outer manifestations of such struggle often emerge as "symptoms." But what are symptoms? Aren't they simply bits and pieces of behavior, well-worn responses, that sit astride our personality like so many clothes or garments? Usually no one considers them to be indications of disturbance unless they become too painful to wear. And much of this pain has to do with the inner conflicts which keep a person from being at one with himself and his source.

Making the unconscious conscious assists people to become less conflicted with themselves. It helps them to gain peace and wholeness, or, what in Hebrew may be termed shalom and shalem. Essentially it enables them to regain choice as to what garments they need carry, which they can shed. And it determines to what extent the light of their innermost being can permeate and nourish their lives, and the community in which they live.

The study of Torah involves an almost identical process. I refer to the interplay between Nigleh, the revealed Torah, and Nistar, the hidden Torah.' Traditionally, Jews, including students of Kabbalah, of course, believe that the Torah is the "word of God." It contains, but also conceals, his direct radiance or illumination. But, it is possible to gain a direct contact with God, thence the source of all existence, by penetrating the outer garments or overt meanings of the "word," a process well described by the Talmudic scholar and Kabbalist Rabbi Adin Even Yisroel (Steinsaltz) (1988, pp. 20-25).

The Zohar, or Book of Illumination, is the principal text of Kabbalah. Traditionally attributed to Rabbi Simeon Bar Yohai in the second century, it consists of a detailed commentary on the Torah in order to distinguish between what is manifest and what is latent, and to reveal the basic wellsprings of divine truth.'

In the chapter on Beha'Alothekha, from Bemidbar, the book of Numbers, the Zohar continues:

Thus had the Torah not clothed herself in garments of this world the world could not endure it. The stories of the Torah are thus only her outer garments, and whoever looks upon those garments as being the Torah itself, woe to that man.... Observe this. The garments worn by a man are the most visible part of him, and senseless people looking at the man do not seem to see more in him than the garments. But in truth the pride of the garments is the body of the man, and the pride of the body is the soul. Similarly the Torah has a body made up of the precepts of the Torah, called gufe torah [bodies, main principles of the Torah], and that body is enveloped in garments made up of worldly narrations. The senseless people see only the garment, the more narrations; those who are somewhat wiser penetrate as far as the body. But the really wise, the servants of the most high King, those who stood on Mount Sinai, penetrate right through to the soul, the root principle of all, namely, to the real Torah. (Sperling & Simon, 1984, p. 211)

As this passage reveals, the development of Freudian psychoanalysis has meant that Kabbalistic forms of interpretation can be used to understand the profoundly human dilemma of being alive. By this I refer to the almost universal fate of being imbued with life force and simultaneously suffering from a self divided and cut off or alienated from itself and from others, as well as from the source of all things.

The Kleinian contribution relates to the difficulty of containing or holding what the Kabbalists would call the primary radiance of God, or what psychoanalysts might term man's instinctual forces, and all their derivatives. Together with Klein's views, I want to consider the creation of the world, from the standpoint of Lurianic Kabbalah. This is the principle stream of contemporary Jewish mysticism and is a development of the work of Rabbi Isaac Luria. He lived and taught in Safed in the sixteenth century and is one of the greatest of all Kabbalists. Through his insights, the Zohar has become accessible.

According to the Lurianic understanding, when God created the world, he withdrew his light into a single point, thereby creating a primary nothingness or vacuum that became "the fertile teeming grounds of creation." This act of withdrawal or contraction is known as tzimtsum. Then he retracted and sent this light back into the world in the form of a very fine thread. This is the process of emanation. From this thread a vessel was created from God's radiance. As is said in Psalm 104, "He draws forth Light as a garment."

In the vacuum left by the original contraction, light continued to pour in. But it could not be contained by the vessel that was created to contain, limit, and shape existence. So the vessel shattered. This is known as shevirath ha-kelim, the breaking of the vessel. The resultant disintegration of the Divine Light resulted in a multitude of shards or fragments of the vessel, also containing bits or seeds of the original light. The fragments with the embedded light are known as klippot or shells and are responsible for the existence of evil. Evil therefore can be seen as the manifestation of uncontainable disintegrative forces, or primary chaos. This results in the "exile of the Shekinah' the feminine, maternal aspect of God's presence (Gottlieb, 1989, pp. 17-18).

The whole point of existence is to free the light trapped in the shells, undo this exile and reestablish God's unity. When a child is born, the unity between the child and his mother is broken. Then the child cannot contain the primary impulses, which Freud called eros and thanatos, and which Klein recognized as the life impulse and the death impulse. Essentially we can consider the life impulse as the impetus to form and structure, negative entropy, if you will. Concurrently the death impulse is the impetus to randomise things, entropy itself (Berke, 1988, pp. 58~59).

Klein pointed out that the child cannot contain these powerful impulses. In order to protect himself from terrible internal tension (experienced as incipient death), he splits or shatters his mind and being. Concomitantly, he tries to deal with the tension by evacuating, literally projecting, large parts of himself outwards, into others, even into inanimate objects. Consequently, his outer world becomes full of bad persecuting bits and pieces, while his inner self becomes emptier and emptier. Then, in order to deal with the emptiness, he may take back or introject many of the bad bits. All these activities lead to an internal world which is also highly threatening, indeed, very persecuting. Klein called this state of affairs, the paranoidschizoid position. The term denotes a dynamic configuration of persecutory fears, annihilative and disintegrative defences (splitting, projection, denial) and "part-objects" or what I call, "part people." that is, a relation to a function: feeding or cleaning, rather than a complete human being (1946).

How does the child overcome this dreadful situation. How does he reestablish his container and containing function. How can the bad bits become less toxic, more containable? Kabbalists would say that we can undo the broken vessel and subsequent exile, by establishing and reestablishing a close relationship with God. In the same vein Melanie Klein and her colleagues would argue that the child can become a functioning container of his own impulses (and thereby life forces), by establishing and reestablishing close relationships with those who love and care for him.

This process has been very well described by Dr. Hanna Segal, who is one of Melanie Klein's principal disciples. Segal comments on what happens during a good mother-child relationship, and, by direct implication, a good therapist-patient relationship:

When an infant has an intolerable anxiety, he deals with it by projecting it into the mother. The mother's response is to acknowledge this anxiety and do whatever is necessary to relieve the infant's distress. The infant's perception is that he has projected something intolerable into his object, but the object was capable of containing it and dealing with it. He can then reintroject not only the original anxiety, but an anxiety modified by having been contained. He also reintrojects an object capable of containing and dealing with anxiety. The containment of the anxiety by an internal object capable of understanding is the beginning of mental stability. (Segal, 1975b, p. 135)

It is worth asking what happens if the child is not blessed with a containing parent, or the patient with a containing therapist. Usually he will try to project more and more of his bad feelings, somewhere, anywhere. And even more ominously, he will do this deliberately and maliciously. But, malicious projection is an operational definition of envy. So a failure of containment will lead to the explosion of envy, really evil, the yetzah harah, into the world (Berke, 1988, p. 268). A world full of bits and pieces of envious hatred is identical with broken bits of the primary vessels, each replete with embedded chaos. Interestingly, the Chinese word for chaos, Luan, also means envy.

The opposite of chaos is order. A strong container and containing function is a prerequisite for such order, which is closely connected with peace and wholeness, shalom and shalem. Klein discerned that the time for accomplishing this goes back to the first months of life. Then the child begins to realise that the mother he loves and the mother he hates are the same person. This instigates what she called the depressive position. The depressive position, when the child becomes more concerned with preserving another, rather than preserving himself, is a psychological milestone. It marks the onset of mental and emotional integration. It means that the child is able to face reality, whatever he feels inside himself, and sees outside himself. Moreover, it means that he is able to take responsibility for what he does, good and bad; and is able to acknowledge and contain a wide variety of experiences: love and hate, guilt and despair (Klein, 1937; Hinshelwood, 1991).

The onset of the depressive position signals the growing capacity of the child to be a container of his own impulses. If the elucidation of this dynamic milestone is one of Klein's major contributions, perhaps her greatest, is the concept of reparation. Reparation is the means of repairing an inner world shattered under the pressure of destructive impulses and an outer world of damaged relationships, peoples, and things. Reparation is a goal and the moving to this goal. According to Klein reparation is never complete, rather it is an active process of striving toward completeness, whether of the head or heart or entire being. It is intimately related to the Kabbalistic concept of tikkun.

The poet and Kabbalist Pinchas Sadeh has described what the process, tikkun ha-lev, or restoration of the heart, has meant for him:

This evening, while I was still engrossed in thought on a certain topic, a thought entered my mind regarding "repair of the heart."

A few years ago, when I edited a book of the writings of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, I chose to call it Tikkun Ha-Lev, repair of the heart. I thought that the meaning of the name, simple in itself, was absolutely clear to me. But I am thinking that perhaps only now its meaning is becoming clear to me.

. . . Time, fate, life and death - all these powerful forces prevent the possibility of repairing that which is broken. If so, what is possible? What remains for man to do, after all? What can save and rescue the things that are smashed? Maybe only -and even this only through tremendous effort, through difficult struggle, through great pain -this; repairing the heart. In other words, repairing the heart, which was broken when all those things were broken.'

These words convey a particular state of mind, perhaps not unlike that of Melanie Klein when she was grief stricken after the death of her eldest son in a mountaineering accident. This shock was the occasion for Klein's struggle to define "the depressive position." For Klein, this struggle was her way of mending a broken heart. The resultant tikkun was a powerful and far reaching conceptualisation.

We all know a popular children's rhyme which expresses similar fears and needs:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the King's horses and all the King's men,
Couldn't put Humpty Dumpty together again.

The despair in this refrain echoes with that of Pinchas Sadeh about the difficulty, even impossibility, of effecting a repair. I think the sentiments are so moving because they are so elemental. How can one put together a loved one, loved ones, after we have hurt them? And how strong are our reparative capacities, really equal to our life forces, when, to quote Dr. R. D. Laing, "the dreadful has already happened"? (1967, p. 134) Surely this is the case with Humpty Dumpty. For he is not an ordinary creature. Rather he embodies the cosmic egg, the primal contents, and container of all life (Cirlot, 1962, p. 90).

As in Kabbalah, Klein sets out to describe how to overcome fragmentation and loss, evil and exile. Only the terms of reference are different. Klein is concerned with the self, and this self in relation to others. To her, exile may mean separation from Mother. For Kabbalists, evil also means fragmentation, disintegration and ultimately death. Exile means separation from God.

The psychologist Harriet Lutzky, in a paper on "Reparation and Tikkun," points out that both the Kabbalah and Klein use similar processes and symbols to effect repair. In the first instance reparative energies involve "unification/integration," and in the second, "containment/internalisation" (1989, p. 455).

Similarly, in the Jewish mystical tradition the focus is on the Shekinah, "ima, " the feminine, maternal aspect of God's presence, while in psychoanalytic practice it is on a "the good internal object," really a representation of "the good breast" (Berke, 1988, pp. 78-98).

Hanna Segal has provided an excellent example of this process of reparation during the course of her treatment of a manicdepressive woman (1975a, pp. 93-94). It occurred in a dream after the patient had read a book about the Warsaw Ghetto. The woman dreamed that she was driving to work. As she was doing so, she felt upset because the electric current suddenly cut off. What could she do? Quickly she saw that she had a torch battery of her own and could use it.

Eventually she arrived at her work place. In the dream she realized that what she had to do was to open up an enormous mass grave. She started to dig and dig. But she was all by herself and only had the light of her torch to guide her. After a while she saw that some of the people in the grave were alive. So she dug them out, and was very pleased when they began to help her. Then, more and more people emerged, more and more bodies were pulled out. In the end she had the strong feeling of rescuing everyone who had been buried alive. They had become her helpers. As for the dead bodies, she had the satisfaction of removing them from an anonymous grave and knowing that they would be named and buried properly.

The patient was able to make amends to those bodies which were beyond life by properly mourning for them. This meant she had to recognize, name, and bury each one separately. Thus, the dreamer was able to atone for her hatreds and become at-one with everyone she had hurt. Truly the occasion of the dream was a day of atonement.

In this regard, Hanna Segal makes one more point, really a very important point. A complete reparation involves a third step. It the first has to do with acknowledging destructive impulses, and the second focuses on restoring the damaged object or person, then the third has to do with repairing a wounded relationship. So this last step is unification. It literally involves re~pairing, bringing together a damaged dyad, and reestablishing the love and completeness that once existed between them: mother and father, parent and child, sibling and sibling. True reparation is only complete when all three tasks have been accomplished.

These formulations of Melanie Klein and Klein's disciple Hanna Segal bear an exceptional resemblance to Kabbalistic and Hassidic thought. In particular, I shall refer to the work of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, the great grandson of the Ba'al Shem Tov. Rabbi Nachman passed most of his short life (1772-1810) in the Ukraine and Russia. Many of his teachings emphasize the conflict between good and evil and the possibility of achieving tikkun hanefesh, restoration of the "soul," even after a person has sunk to the lowest depths.

There are people who have done so much wrong that they fall to the level of the "concealment within the concealment." Because of this they come to believe that there is no longer any hope for them, God forbid. This is because when a person does something wrong several times, the matter becomes permissible in his eyes. This is the first "concealment." But when he does still more wrong, then God becomes hidden from him to the point of the "concealment within the concealment." Then it is hard indeed to find him. (Greenbaum, 1980, p. 20)

How does a person overcome these concealments?' Rabbi Nachman speaks of various means, of which the most basic is prayer, especially prayers of repentance. These, such as Avinu Malkenu, Our Father, Our King, begin the repair, the tikkun, by acknowledging the transgression. So, the first step in overcoming concealment, as with Freud and Klein, has to do with facing reality.

Secondly, repentance or tshuvah, itself has the power "to transform a person's transgressions into merits. [So] what was damaged can be restored" (Greenbaum, 1980, p. 58). Rabbi Nachman goes on to explain that the reason for this is that transgressions draw down the divine light into lowly places. Then the light becomes trapped within thick vessels (the sinner). But repentance refines and purifies the vessels so that they can receive and hold "a new radiation of light." This process, called "relining the vessel," corrects the original damage (that is, the effects of transgression on the transgressor) by allowing divine light to radiate to places where it might never otherwise reach.

In many ways the consequence of a thickened vessel is similar to that of a broken vessel. In either case the divine illumination is trapped by its container. Thus "relining" is like restoring (the broken shards). It draws the infinite into the finite and permits the third stage of reparation to take place. This is the process of re-pairing, not just between man and man, but between man and his maker, the primal source, the Shekinah. In the Jewish mystical tradition this last step, unification, is a fundamental prerequisite for overcoming man's wandering in the wilderness, "the exile," for Jews, and for all mankind.

Unification is the central issue for restoration or reparation, which I have traced according to the formulations of kabbalah and psychoanalysis. In so doing, I have shown how these two disciplines are closely related. 1 would like to conclude by considering how they may differ. That concerns my point of departure, the subject which requires healing or restoration. In psychoanalysis this is "the self." In kabbalah this is "the soul."

The "self' is a slippery entity. Although everyone agrees that it pertains to psychological realms, the term encompasses a plethora of meanings. Most narrowly, these include identity, self-awareness, a part or parts of the mental apparatus (the ego), the subject as agent, and the subject as object of his own activity. On the other hand, Jungian psychology provides a broader, almost too broad view. It sees the self as "the unifying principle within the human psyche." Thus, for Carl Jung, the self is both the centre of as well as the container of all conscious and unconscious contents and processes (Samuels, 1986, p. 135).

Interestingly, the psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut, whom many consider to be the progenitor of self-psychology, contends that the self is essentially "not knowable" (1977). Before reaching this conclusion he reviews various attempts to refine the term ranging from mental structure to psychological center. Subsequently he describes the constituents of the self: ambitions, ideals, talents, and skills. A secure self is a cohesive whole. The converse lacks cohesion and remains a fragmented, chaotic mess. Ultimately Kohut refuses to assign a specific, that is, inflexible definition to "the self." While he may not believe that "the self' is ineffable, he does point out that the term is best left undefined.

In contrast, "the soul" belongs to spiritual realms. The Kabbalah describes five levels of soul: nefesh, ruach, neshamah, chaya, and yehidah. For each of these levels, there is a separate degree of healing or tikkun, a separate reparation and re-pairation. 1 shall base this final section of the paper on the model of the soul delineated by the contemporary Israeli Kabbalist, Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh (1992, pp. 30-31).

The lowest level concerns the work of the physician. He works on the nefesh. Here healing consists of binding the soul to the body through the medium of blood. ("The blood is the nefesh.") Nefesh refers to physical or material consciousness.

Next is the domain of psychology and psychoanalysis. This concerns the ruach or spirit, and is the level of soul associated with the emotions. Thus, the tikkun effected by psychoanalysis has to do with perceiving psychic reality, unblocking the flow of feelings, and reaching towards "spiritual consciousness."

The third higher level of soul, is the neshamah. This is about as elevated a state of consciousness as it is possible for a person to attain. And only a few, those who have risen above egoic concerns, can manage that. At the level of neshamah, tikkun refers to the power "to draw the Divine influx to the supra-rational aspects of the soul." Clearly, this is not the province of psychoanalysis. But by means of psychoanalysis a person might be able to clear the blocks in himself that prevent him from seeing or reaching toward transcendental awareness.

Chaya is the fourth level of soul, and is connected with wisdom and pure consciousness. The degree of healing associated with chaya involves a state of absolute binding of the soul to Torah and the word of God. I think that this is the domain of the tzaddik and "corresponds to a true state of selflessness" and "sense of infinite serenity."

Yehidah refers to a state of unification with the Almighty. A person on this level might continue to exist even though his body was mortally ill, "as though the Holy One dwells in his guts." Here healing denotes physical (and concurrent psychological) resurrection.

The problem with Rabbi Ginsburgh's paradigm is that it refers to realms which most people don't recognize. Perhaps it is true that "self' and "soul" denote different phenomena? Does this matter? Isn't it sufficient to demonstrate the close connection between psychoanalysis and kabbalah by noting similar methods and goals? Or, could it be that the differences between "self' and "soul" are more apparent than real?

Jung delineated a close link between self and soul. He argued that the self is fundamentally a component of a transcendental entity which he called, the God-image. For Jung the God-image is "a unifying and transcendent symbol" capable of drawing together different psychic components, themselves related to "higher" or non personal spheres (Samuels, 1986, p. 61).

Moreover, as we have just seen, Kabbalists themselves specifically equate the self with the second level of soul, ruach. But perhaps Heinz Kohut has provided the most moving connection between "self" and "soul," and by extension, between psychoanalysis and Kabbalah, in his book, The Restoration of the Self (19 77).

In the epilogue, he ponders the capacity of art and artists to depict the central dilemma of our age, how man can manage "to cure his crumbling self." Kohut confides that nowhere has he found a more accurate account of the yearning to restore a shattered self than in Eugene O'Neill's play The Great God Brown. Toward the end, the central character, Brown, contemplates his wrecked life and shattered self. Kohut concludes, through the words of Brown:

Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue.


  1. The themes of this paper are being expanded as a book under the same title by Dr. Stanley Schneider, Jerusalem, and myself. This will be published by Jason Aronson Inc. in 1997.
  2. Torah is the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. But the term is also used synonymously with the entire body of Jewish sacred literature.
  3. The Zohar,also translated as the "Book of Splendor," has also been attributed, in whole or in part, to the thirteenth-century Spanish kabbalist, R. Moses b. Shem Tov de Leon.
  4. I am grateful to Rabbi Shmuel Lew and Dr. Naftali Loewenthal for their translation and discussion of this passage.
  5. A further way of considering "the concealment within the concealment" is that it refers to the moment when a person continues to do the prohibited act, but also forgets the prohibition.


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The Psychoanalytic Review
Vol. 78, No. 1, Spring 1991