Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Passover Tale

Exodus and the Crossing of the Red Sea wall painting
from the Dura-Europos Synagogue, Damascus, Syria, third century 

The Jewish spring holiday of Pesach, Passover, or the Feast of Unleavened Bread, begins on the 15th day of the month of Nisan, the first month in the Hebrew calendar's festival year, on the night of the full moon after the vernal equinox. This year, the eve of Pesach is celebrated on Monday, April 14.

A legend tells us that at the very moment the children of Israel went into the Red Sea, Mount Moriah began to move from its place, along with the altar for Isaac that had been built upon it. The whole scene had been arranged before the creation of the world. Isaac was bound and placed upon the altar, and Abraham raised his knife.

Far away, at the Red Sea, God said to Moses, “Moses, My children are in distress, the sea is blocking their path and the enemy is pursuing them, and you stand so long praying?” Moses asked God, “What should I be doing?” God said, “Raise your staff!” Moses lifted his staff, the waters of the Red Sea parted, and on Mount Moriah the voice of the angel went forth and said to Abraham, “Do not raise your hand against the boy, or do anything to him” (Gen. 22: 12).
(A midrash from Mekhilta de-Rabbi Ishmael)

The two events, the Parting of the Red Sea and the Binding of Isaac, do here not take place along the timeline of history, but are synchronistically juxtaposed.

In both cases, God tells his earthly representatives to raise the knife or staff:
In the one case, God asks Abraham to reaffirm their covenant by the sacrifice of the son. The actual deed of sacrifice to the gods is then exchanged for its symbolic representation, which is a significant stage in the process of civilization and acculturation.
 In the other case, God tells Moses to stop praying and raise his staff, to do the actual deed of parting, of dividing, of differentiating the sides, which is an essential act of consciousness (separating this from that, for instance to know good from evil).
Both take place simultaneously. The one does not follow the other, and one does not take place at the exclusion of the other. The sacrifice, not as a concrete deed but as a meaningful reaffirmation of the transcendent dimension, beyond the acts of the ego, enables depth and soulfulness. However, consciousness and the actual deeds of humans in the realm of ego-reality, are equally necessary, and required for the manifestation of the soul.

From the Haggadah of Arthur Szyk

The following are excerpts from the novella Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return (also available in Hebrew as חזרה: סיפור של גלות ושיבה):
. . . .

Truth was, Shimeoni essentially agreed with Derrida on many points, such as his interpretation of Abraham’s covenant with God of circumcision.

The Divine Father’s archetypal scar inflicted by generations of fathers of the flesh on generations of consent-less Jewish boys seemed to Professor Shimeoni, as indeed to Derrida, to be a repetition-compulsion, rather than the profound internalization of memory.

He recalled Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi’s epic work Zakhor, wondering if the Jews don’t merely repeat the trauma when they cross the desert every Passover – outside of the Land of Israel even repeating the hegira a second night, perhaps to ensure that the Jews of the Diaspora do arrive to the Promised Land...

“Does not compulsive repetition constitute the dangerous engine of fundamentalism?” he wondered, “in contrast to an enlightened process of internalized memory, in order to liberate the trauma.” Is this not the very opposite of that monumental cultural transition when the knife is taken out of Abraham’s hand, turning the actual, concrete sacrifice of Isaac into the acculturated representation by his Binding, the akedah?

The knife need not actually cut, in order for man to humbly bow before the transcendent image of God. Shimeoni adhered to Einstein’s view of God, as when he says that the religious attitude is the knowledge and emotion “of a knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty,” and when he expresses his belief in the God of Spinoza “who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings.”
. . . .

Truly, he repeated to himself, the binding of Isaac signifies this striking cultural transition from literalness to symbolic representation.
God told Abraham there is no need for complete sacrifice, only a sacrifice of the complete (shalem), in order to be seen (yireh), to be recognized, to be named, to become completely human. He will suffice with sacrifice-by-proxy.

Rather than being trapped in the harsh reality of actual deed, reality can be transformed into images; rather than slaying the flesh of the son, the soul can expand by the creation of images that represent reality. By substituting the sacrificial animal for the actual son, the story of the akedah represents the separation of meaning from act, which is essential to culture and civilization.

But war is the destruction of representation and civilization, said Eli to himself, thereby arguing with Heraclitus that War is the Father of All. The tragedies on the battlefield are all too real and irreversible, and the essence of trauma of battle and war and Holocaust, is the loss of the representative symbol – all that remains is the hellish repetition of trauma.
. . . .

Nothing represents the loss of symbolization more than the survivor from hell who holds on to a dry slice of bread. In hell, there are no mirrors and no images, no images in the mirror, only the bare walls of suffocation. In the cruel reality of war, the knife is raised and the angels circle above, repeatedly descending, attempting to divert the hand that holds the knife from descending upon the son, until the angels have all gone, and the son is no longer bound but sacrificed, the knife ripping out the soul of life and Isaac laughs no more.

Happy Easter - Happy Passover!

Erel Shalit's books can be found at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and at Fisher King Press.


Monday, March 31, 2014

יונג בראי הקולנוע Jung and Cinema at Bar Ilan



Woody Allen's Match Point
with a lecture by Jungian Analyst Nethanel Perry
Chance or Fate
( in Hebrew)

בית הספר לעבודה סוציאלית ע"ש לואיס וגבי וייספלד
היחידה ללימודי המשך 
יונג בראי הקולנוע
הזמנה לערב פתוח לעיון בתורתו של יונג
ביום שני 12.5.2014
לובי ביה"ס לעבודה סוציאלית, בניין 213 קומת קרקע, חדר 002.
Woody Allen Match Point

בתכנית:

18:30-18:45   פתיחה ודברי ברכה
                דר' אראל שליט, פסיכולוג קליני ופסיכואנליטיקאי יונגיאני ומרכז התכנית
18:45-20:45   הקרנת הסרט "נקודת מפגש" של הבימאי וודי אלן
20:45-21:00   הפסקת קפה
21:00-21:30   מקריות לעומת גורל – "יד המקרה או יד מכוונת"
                        נתנאל פרי, פסיכולוג קליני ופסיכואנליטיקאי יונגיאני מנחה
21:30-22:00   שאלות ודיון עם הקהל
מפגש עם אורחים, תלמידים ומורים של התכנית לפסיכותרפיה בגישה האנליטית של יונג.
במהלך הערב ימסרו פרטים באשר להרשמה למחזור הבא של הלימודים בתכנית.
ההשתתפות אינה כרוכה בתשלום, אך יש לאשר הגעה במזכירות היחידה
ובטלפונים   03-5318211,  03-5317265

פרטים נוספים על התכנית לפסיכותרפיה בגישה האנליטית של יונג באתר היחידה

Monday, March 24, 2014

Circumcision and Circumfessions


The Hands of Dr. Moore - Diego Rivera 

Norwegian nurses seek circumcision ban, says a Haaretz headline.

Norway’s union of nurses urged the government last month to ban non-medical circumcision of boys under 15. “We need to gain acceptance for setting a minimum age limit of 15-16 years for circumcision, so that the boy himself can decide,” its director, Astrid Grydeland Ersvik said.

In her interview, Grydeland Ersvik said that although “the Jews are a small group in Norway, they have been allowed to influence the debate on this issue.”

(Isn’t that democracy? That even minority groups are allowed to express their opinion…) 

She drew parallels between female genital mutilation, which is forbidden in Norway, and ritual circumcision of boys. “If we get a law that allows this in boys while it is illegal in girls, then this is discriminatory,” she said.

(Poor girls being discriminated against? Perhaps the nurse would need some advanced education about the subject, and the difference between female genital mutilation and circumcision …)

I would suggest as a first step:
1. Check with all circumcised Jewish boys/men over age 15 (and in Norway 5-10 Jews are circumcised a year), if they would have preferred not to have been circumcised. In case a majority is fine with having been circumcised, please do allow that minority of ten to express their opinion. 
2. Of those who are fine with having been circumcised, check how many would have preferred NOT to be circumcised at the age of eight days, but would have liked to make the decision when they are 15, to be circumcised in adulthood.
The following are excerpts of my colleague Professor Shimeoni’s ruminations on circumcision, as reported in the novella Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return.

"While he had no reason to be arrogant, Eli Shimeoni did feel sarcastic toward the somewhat sad and futile attempts, such as Derrida’s effort late in life to come to terms with his Judaism. Truth was, Shimeoni essentially agreed with Derrida on many points, such as his interpretation of Abraham’s covenant with God of circumcision.

The Divine Father’s archetypal scar inflicted by generations of fathers of the flesh on generations of consent-less Jewish boys seemed to Professor Shimeoni, as indeed to Derrida, to be a repetition-compulsion, rather than the profound internalization of memory. He recalled Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi’s epic work Zakhor, wondering if the Jews don’t merely repeat the trauma when they cross the desert every Passover – outside of the Land of Israel even repeating the hegira a second night, perhaps to ensure that the Jews of the Diaspora do arrive to the Promised Land...

“Does not compulsive repetition constitute the dangerous engine of fundamentalism?” he wondered, “in contrast to an enlightened process of internalized memory, in order to liberate the trauma.” Is this not the very opposite of that monumental cultural transition when the knife is taken out of Abraham’s hand, turning the actual, concrete sacrifice of Isaac into the acculturated representation by his Binding, the akedah?

The knife need not actually cut, in order for man to humbly bow before the transcendent image of God. Shimeoni adhered to Einstein’s view of God, as when he says that the religious attitude is the knowledge and emotion “of a knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty,” and when he expresses his belief in the God of Spinoza “who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings.”

The meaning of sacrifice, rather than its execution, is made sacred by proxy and by understanding, rather than deed. So why was there a need, from which, in spite of his doubts, he could not free himself, to physically cut, in order to preserve the covenant? Eli wondered if his phobic fear of knives, and his fainting spells when seeing blood pour out of the body from even the slightest cut, may have begun on this fateful eight day of his covenant with God. Out of sheer fear, Eli sometimes thought that in self-castrating circumcision he would have to cut off the El, the very God in his name, and remain with a mere “i,” sometimes inflated to a capital I.

Remaining a tiny “i,” his mind wandered around the hills of Jerusalem, his thoughts circling down to where the city reclines, attempting to hold the tension between the harsh stones and the reflection of multi-colored light. From its heart, the ancient city pounds and pulsates along the arteries of its narrow lanes and alleyways. If you put your thumb to the chest, he thought, just left of center, you will feel the exhilaration, turmoil and pain around the Temple Mount. Within the tiniest of physical space, barely covered by the fingerprints of your thumb, within a mere square kilometer, one third of a square mile, you find the sacred basin of the Shekhinah, the Son of Man and the peacock’s tail of al-Buraq, The Flying Horse.

Behind the Wall of Tears, the timeline descends from the mosque to the Temple of Jupiter to the pigeon-sellers, to the Temple and yet the one before, right down to the altar of worship and sacrifice. It is here, at the point of the needle, where history and legend merge at the very hub of indistinguishable uncertainty, that the awe-inspiring drama of the sacrifice of Isaac supposedly took place. What terrifying, formidable lesson did God want to teach Abraham, when he told him to go forth to the land of Moriah and offer his son Isaac for a burnt offering?"

From Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return

Dear Astrid Grydeland Ersvik, Director of the Norwegian Nurses, please do not to be confused by the above circumfessions, to borrow Derrida's term, but please do carry out the poll I suggest above.

My guess is that you will find not a few circumcised (men) who 1. are quite ok with that, and 2. who prefer to have had it done as infants and not as adult men.

It may of course be that this is a way that Jewish men sacrifice the infant in themselves, a self-imposed sacrifice of the divine child in its eternal bliss, which then paradoxically is, as well, a blood-sacrifice that connects with Divinity, but here we might descend too far into the metaphysics of savage paganism, which will require empirical research to explore its actual consequences regarding the development of the maturation process.

Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return, and my other books, can be found at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and at Fisher King Press.

"Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand," says George Orwell.

I personally love to be driven by that demon, bow and submit to it, follow its lead. I find the true pain and illness is when I have to brush it aside, struggle against it, and let the obligations of everyday life nearly deny its existence.

The many readers of my books is a wonderful reward, and I am grateful to you, my readers, who find ways to often comment so beautifully - in letters, reviews, and personal communications.

THANK YOU! Erel Shalit


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Jung-Neumann Letters


SAVE THE DATE!
A Book Launch and International Conference
24-26 April 2015, Kibbutz Shefayim, Israel 


The long awaited publication of the Correspondence between C.G. Jung and Erich Neumann promises to be a landmark event in the history of analytical psychology. The Jung-Neumann Letters, edited by Martin Liebscher, is due to be published by Princeton University Press early spring 2015. To mark this important event, an international conference is being planned, to be jointly sponsored by The Foundation for the Works of C.G. Jung, the Neumann family, The Philemon Foundation, The International Association of Analytical Psychology, and The Israel Institute of Jungian Psychology.

This collection of more than one hundred letters between the two men spans nearly three decades, from 1934 on the eve of Neumann’s arrival in Tel Aviv until his premature death in 1960. The letters reveal an intense and intimate encounter between two brilliant minds. Respectfully, yet in a most straightforward way, Jung - the founder, pioneer and wise elder - and Neumann - the courageous and bold younger thinker – reflect upon a broad spectrum of theoretical, clinical and cultural issues, including Jewish and Biblical themes, as well as anti-Semitism and Nazism.

The invited speakers for this conference will present recent discoveries and new perspectives pertaining to the correspondence, the relationship between Jung and Neumann, and the broad range issues they discussed.

In addition, this will be a celebration of Neumann’s unique and precious contribution to analytical psychology and cultural studies. Scholars and clinicians will present the latest views on many aspects of Neumann’s work, pertaining to psychological theory and clinical issues as well as to the arts and culture.

Greetings and lectures will include presentations by the President of the IAAP, Tom Kelly; the President of The Philemon Foundation, Judith Harris; by the Executive Director of The Foundation for the Works of C.G. Jung, Dr. Thomas Fischer; by Prof. Micha Neumann, the son of Erich Neumann; by Dr. Martin Liebscher, the Editor of the Correspondence; by Professor Paul Mendes-Flohr, by Dr. Murray Stein, former President of the IAAP and ISAPZurich, and other internationally renowned scholars and analysts.

The conference will appeal to clinicians and analysts, to scholars and academicians in the humanities from around the world, and to the general public with an interest in Jungian studies. It will take place in the pleasant country setting at the hotel and conference center of Kibbutz Shefayim, 20 minutes north of Tel Aviv, the home of Erich Neumann.

Further details will be forthcoming

Friday, March 14, 2014

Jungian Psychotherapy at Bar Ilan פסיכותרפיה יונגיאנית בבר אילן

Jungian Psychotherapy Program at Bar Ilan University
Studies conducted in Hebrew
 
Howard Fox: A Giant Dream

ההרשמה החלה לתכנית תלת-שנתית

פסיכותרפיה בגישה האנליטית של יונג
 

אוכלוסיית היעד

אנשי מקצוע בתחומי הטיפול; בעלי תואר שני בעבודה סוציאלית, פסיכולוגיה, פסיכיאטריה, ובעלי תואר שני בטיפול ביצירה והבעה וקרימינולוגיה קלינית.

מטרת התכנית

התכנית מיועדת להכשיר אנשי מקצוע, לטפל באמצעות פסיכותרפיה עפ"י הגישה האנליטית של יונג. התכנית תקנה היכרות מעמיקה עם תורתו של יונג ודרך יישומה. ההוראה וההדרכה ינתנו ע"י מיטב האנליטיקאים היונגיאניים בארץ.

ועדת ההוראה

מרכז אקדמי: ד"ר אראל שליט, פסיכולוג קליני ואנליטיקאי יונגיאני בכיר

ד"ר אברמוביץ יהודה, פסיכיאטר, מנהל מחלקה בבאר יעקב, אנליטיקאי יונגיאני בכיר

ד"ר באומן אבי, פסיכולוג קליני ואנליטיקאי יונגיאני בכיר

גב' פורת רינה, פסיכולוגית אנליטיקאית יונגיאנית בכירה

רשימת המרצים והמדריכים המלאה מופיעה בפירוט התכנית באתר היחידה ללימודי המשך.

תעודה

לעומדים בהצלחה בדרישות התכנית תוענק תעודה המאשרת סיום לימודי פסיכותרפיה בגישת הפסיכולוגיה האנליטית של יונג, מטעם היחידה ללימודי המשך של ביה"ס לעבודה סוציאלית ע"ש לואיס וגבי וייספלד, אוניברסיטת בר-אילן.

התכנית מוכרת ע"י האגודה לפסיכותרפיה פסיכואנליטית.

מבנה התכנית

הלימודים יתקיימו במשך שלוש שנים במתכונת משולבת של קורסים תיאורטיים, סדנאות חווייתיות, סמינר קליני והדרכה קבוצתית, בימי שני, בשעות 15:00-20:30 בשנה הראשונה, ובשעות 13:00-20:30 בשנה השנייה ובשנה השלישית. סה"כ 572 שעות.

על הסטודנט להתחיל הדרכה פרטנית בשנה הראשונה ולהמשיכה עד לסיום התכנית.

פרטים נוספים והרשמה:

היחידה ללימודי המשך, ביה"ס לעבודה סוציאלית ע"ש לואיס וגבי וייספלד, אוניברסיטת בר-אילן

טלפונים: 03-5317265, 03-5318211

פקס': 03-7384043        דוא"ל: cont.education@mail.biu.ac.il


Freud and Jung in the Alchemical Laboratory

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Turning meaningful contemplation of evil into the banality of meaningless repetition

Someone by the name of Phil Chernofsky has written a book called And Every Single One Was Someone. At the price of $80 (ok, you get a discount on Amazon) you can purchase this 1250 pages book. The book, "written" by a math and Jewish studies teacher, is his attempt, as the book description claims, to relate in a meaningful way to the Holocaust. It repeats the word Jew six million times.

If this were merely an artistic monument and commemoration to the one and every one of the murdered Jews, it might have had some value. However, artistic memorials of the victims of the Shoah and horrors of the Nazi era of greater depth and significance have been created, such as Micha Ullman’s breathtaking monument at Bebelplatz.

Micha Ullman's memorial at Bebelplatz,
where the Nazi book burnings began

If the author would have taken the longer road, and written down the name of each Jew murdered by the Nazis on a scroll, leaving empty spaces for each one of the nameless, he would, likewise, have contributed something valuable, helping the Someone in every single one to stand out.

With all his good intentions (as I assume he has, and not merely using the simplistic gimmick for self-serving purposes), the author has let the machine repeat, ‘copy and paste’, the word 'Jew' to the point where meaningful contemplation of the coldest of evil turns into the banality of meaningless repetition, taking away from the singularity of the crime.
 As one reviewer so rightly says, "To have a name was to assign a human quality." That is exactly why this book would have been a major accomplishment, if it would, as I suggest, have the every name of the Nazi victims written down, with the no less horrific empty spaces in between for those countless victims whose names are not known, often becauase the entire extended family was assasinated in the most horrendous of human crimes.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Erel Shalit - On Self and Meaning in the Cycle of Life

Cover Painting by Benjamin Shiff
An excerpt from The Cycle of Life (pp. 177-8)

In old age, hearing becomes impaired and vision more blurred. For some, this provides an opportunity to open the senses to the pulsation of the soul, to hear the echoes of the sounds that arise from the depths, and perceive the reflection of the patterns that take shape under the sea.

This may be the transparency and the invisibility of not being seen by others, and the fear of being run over by the phenomena, the appearances of this world. However, as has been mentioned, it entails exchanging the reality-oriented ego-vision for the inward gaze—like Oedipus upon tearing out his eyes, and the seer Tiresias, or Samson. When blinded to this world of appearance, the inner world of transparent, invisible psychic substance may open up, to be sighted. This change in the ego-Self relationship marks a release of the ego from the persona of social roles. It is the invisibility of allowing oneself to be a beggar, a wanderer, or an old fool—not in the social, but in the psychological sense.

In order to attain a sense of integrity in old life, rather than suffer severe despair, Erikson emphasizes the importance of reflection. The reflective instinct is specifically human, and determines “[t]he richness of the human psyche and its essential character,” says Jung. Reflexio, which means ‘bending back,’ “is a turning inwards, with the result that, instead of an instinctive action, there ensues ... reflection or deliberation.”

“What youth found and must find outside,” says Jung, “the man of life’s afternoon must find within himself.” Jung calls reflection “the cultural instinct par excellence.” Reflection on one’s life is instrumental at every developmental stage, unless it takes precedence over living one’s life. In old age, the proportions alter, so that reflection on one’s life becomes at least as important as merely living it.

When cut off from one’s inner depths, the personality shrinks as the ego dries up and becomes limited. A reflective state of mind, however, enables the depths to be reflected in the mirror of one’s Self and soul. Henry Miller tells us in Colossus of Maroussi that he did not know the meaning of peace until he visited the principal sanctuary of Asclepius at Epidaurus, where dream incubation began around 600 BCE. In the intense stillness and the great peace at Epidaurus “I heard the heart of the world beat. I know what the cure is: it is to give up, to relinquish, to surrender, so that our little hearts may beat in unison with the great heart of the world.” Henry Miller makes it clear that Epidaurus, principally, is an internal space, “the real place is in the heart, in every man’s heart, if he will but stop and search it.” 

Reflection and imagination constitute the intangible substance of soul, which Hillman suggests refers “to that unknown component which makes meaning possible,” and which he imagines “like a reflection in a flowing mirror.” (p. 177-8)

Erel Shalit (2011) The Cycle of Life: Themes and Tales of the Journey, Fisher King Press.

Dr. Shalit's most recent work is The Dream and its Amplification, Erel Shalit and Nancy Swift Furlotti, eds. (2013, Fisher King Press).

Dr. Shalit's books can be purchased directly from Fisher King Press, at Amazon, and Barnes and Noble