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Lewis, J.S. (1994). Jacob Freud and Talmudic Teachings: To the Editor:. Am. J. Psychoanal., 54(4):372-373.

(1994). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 54(4):372-373

Jacob Freud and Talmudic Teachings: To the Editor:

Judith S. Lewis

One of my congregants gave me the September 1993 volume of your Journal thinking I would enjoy the article by Paley on “Psychoanalytic Teachings of the Talmud.” I also took a look at Goodnick's article on “Jacob Freud's Birthday Greeting to His Son Alexander.” I don't know whether to be amused or frightened.

As someone who often refers congregants for psychoanalytic treatment, I am troubled by the superficial and largely inaccurate understanding of “Talmud” presented in the Paley article. Most of the verses (“passuks” as she calls them—or p'sukim in Hebrew) come from the Bible, rather than the Talmud. To say that biblical insights can be helpful in therapeutic treatment is to say that classical Western thought can be helpful in therapeutic treatment. If Paley has found her roots, I am (ambivalently) delighted. Her examples, however, indicate only that our ancestors sometimes composed clever metaphors to express common human situations and that the Bible is filled with wisdom that is sometimes still relevant today. I would be quite hesitant to refer someone to a therapist who believed that the “Talmud” provided an independent source of therapeutic insight of any different quality from ordinary human insight. It is the sort of attitude, I think, which led Freud to reject Jewish traditionalism with such vehemence—which leads me to the next article.

I thought it had been well established, by Yerushalmi and others that Jacob Freud and his sons did, indeed, have classical Jewish educations.

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