Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Mind vs. heart

My wife found this on the web. I thought it expressed the issue of mind and heart very well.


People approach the topic of suffering from two separate perspectives. One is the "intellectual agenda:" A person is bothered by this issue and wants to intellectually understand it. The other is the "emotional agenda:" A person may right now be suffering (or know someone who is suffering), and it is bothersome emotionally. It's important to understand that these two agendas don't always coincide. Someone with an intellectual agenda wants answers, whereas someone with an emotional agenda is looking for relief. An approach for one won't work for the another.

As a rabbi, I have witnessed the most horrendous situations imaginable. I have experienced someone 20 years old who lost both of her parents in a car crash. Can you imagine a girl so close to her parents and in one day they're gone. I've lived through a husband coming home to find that his wife has collapsed, and in two days she's dead. There was nothing wrong with her before. And on and on and on.

Now when someone is in the midst of suffering, that's not the time to offer answers. It's a time to listen and empathize and say things that can provide comfort. I did not try to give any of these people the answers we will be discussing because when a situation is so emotionally wrenching it's not the time for answers. Rather it's a time to show compassion and empathy and be with the person as best you can. So let me just state in advance that we will only deal with the "intellectual agenda." If there's anyone going through a painful time and is looking for a sense of relief, I am skeptical whether these intellectual answers will offer any kind of relief.


Blogger Alan aka Avrum ben Avrum said...

Dear Reb Glen,

I don't quite fathom why it is that you would not address the emotional side of the equation first ... if indeed that is where people are suffering ...

"If there's anyone going through a painful time and is looking for a sense of relief, ..." would it not be more in the spirit of chesed that you try to heal the heart first before the head?

I am ...

Very Sincerely yours,

Alan D. Busch

2:13 AM  
Anonymous glen Holman said...

These words are not mine. They were taken from a larger article.this rabbi seems to agree with you. The heart sometimes won't let words penetrate the mind.

8:51 AM  

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