God of Our Under­stand­ing: Jew­ish Spir­i­tu­al­i­ty and Recov­ery from Addiction

Rab­bi Shais Taub
  • Review
By – October 31, 2011
Rab­bi Shais Taub fol­lows in the tra­di­tion of Rab­bi Abra­ham Twer­s­ki in apply­ing Jew­ish spir­i­tu­al and Hasidic con­cepts to the treat­ment of alco­hol and sub­stance abuse. There is lit­tle doubt in the sub­stance abuse treat­ment com­mu­ni­ty that the twelve-step approach, which involves a spir­i­tu­al com­po­nent, con­tributes to long term recov­ery in a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of cas­es. George Vail­lant, at Har­vard, con­sid­ered one of the fore­most author­i­ties on recov­ery from alco­hol abuse, has doc­u­ment­ed this in land­mark lon­gi­tu­di­nal stud­ies. The read­er approach­ing God of Our Under­stand­ing will need to be open to Rab­bi Taub’s analy­sis and appli­ca­tion of the twelve-step method from a Hasidic per­spec­tive. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, his style and approach is much more depen­dent on the abun­dant use of reli­gious terms and sources than Rab­bi Twerski’s well-known and acces­si­ble works. The result is that the sec­u­lar clin­i­cian and all those with a more mate­ri­al­is­tic and bio­log­i­cal­ly-based con­cep­tion of addic­tion will be eas­i­ly put off by this book. Rab­bi Taub’s new book will thus be wel­comed by a lim­it­ed read­er­ship of spir­i­tu­al­ly inclined coun­selors and cler­gy seek­ing a reli­gious expla­na­tion of the need on the part of so many for sub­stances that bring relief from the pain of exis­tence but, so often, at a very heavy price. For read­ers seek­ing an authen­tic, schol­ar­ly Lubav­itch per­spec­tive on addic­tion, God of Our Under­stand­ing will be a valu­able ref­er­ence. Appen­dix , glos­sary of rab­binic sources.
Steven A. Luel, Ph.D., is asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of edu­ca­tion and psy­chol­o­gy at Touro Col­lege, New York. He is a devel­op­men­tal psy­chol­o­gist and psy­cho­an­a­lyst in pri­vate prac­tice. He is co-edi­tor (with Paul Mar­cus) of Psy­cho­an­a­lyt­ic Reflec­tions on the Holo­caust: Select­ed Essays.

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