One of the most important contributions of Chasidut to Judaism has been in the realm of psychology. Chasidic teachings interpret and apply the myriad Kabbalistic metaphors to the realm of the human psyche and soul. Yet, for all the expansive analyses and discussion of the human psyche produced by the Chasidic masters (specifically the Rebbes of Chabad-Lubavitch), there has been a pronounced lack of an ordered and modern review of the psyche. As our modern society, including observant and even Chasidic Jews, has made consultation with psychologists a staple of life, this lack has become even more severe. Secularly trained psychologists or mental health practitioners approach the psyche from various different perspectives, which at best approximate its true nature and complexity.
In the early years of the 20th century, Dr. Fischel Schneersohn, a colleague of Sigmund Freud and a relative of the then Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Shalom Dov Ber Schneersohn, took it upon himself to translate the Chasidic nomenclature and discourse on the psyche into scientific language that would be useful to the modern psychologist. Unfortunately, for whatever the reasons may be, his yearning to share the Torah’s wisdom on the psyche was not to be fulfilled. Since then, the need for introducing these teachings to the public in general and to the professional field of psychologists has only grown.
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This volume is a second edition of the 80-page pamphlet published in 1995 by the same name. That pamphlet was prepared by our dear friend Yechezkel Anis; it enjoyed tremendous popularity, and has been out-of-print for a number of years. Since the publication of the first edition, we have published another work on Chasidic Psychology titled Transforming Darkness into Light: Kabbalah and Psychology, which focuses on the use of a central teaching of Chasidut in dealing with anxiety. The present work, which is more structural and foundational, serves to complements it. We recommend accessing our website, www.inner.org, for more complementary material on this and related subjects.
Recently, we have published a greatly expanded and revised Hebrew text titled Hanefesh(The Psyche), which is in large part based upon the same model presented in this volume. It serves as the basic text for Gal Einai’s Ba’al Shem Tov School for professional Chasidic psychology (located in Jerusalem).
The present volume contains some new material from Hanefesh, but is not exhaustive in that respect. We have also included indexes in this edition. When the first edition of The Anatomy of the Soul was published, it was our editorial decision to refer to the various Kabbalistic and Chasidic terms such as the sefirot and their motivational inner aspects by their English transliteration (e.g., chochmah for wisdom and bitul for selflessness, etc.). Though in our recent works we have preferred using the English translation, we have not changed the original text in this respect.
In the future, we hope to publish a third edition of The Anatomy of the Soul with all of the content of Hanefesh plus additional material. May the Almighty grant us the opportunity to do so.