Title: Attached, Connection to Our Creator: A Jewish Psychological Approach
Rabbi Yaakov Danishefsky
Whether we feel that G-d is our father, our king, our friend or our beloved, we Jews are always intimately connected to Him. So how does one enter into, maintain and grow in a relationship with a being so unlike ourselves? This is the question Rabbi Yakov Danishefsky, LCSW, poses in his new book Attached, Connection to Our Creator: A Jewish Psychological Approach.
In this fascinating work, Rabbi Danishefsky applies modern psychological relationship principles and specifically attachment theories, to explain and enhance our spiritual relationship with G-d.
It’s a surprising concept, beautiful in its simplicity. We are all, always, whether we realize it or not, in a relationship with G-d. While the vicissitudes of life affect our emotional ups and downs, the relationship endures regardless.
Utilizing the works of great Rabbis from across the Jewish world of thought and spanning centuries, ranging from the Talmudists, the early Chasidic masters, the Rambam to modern thinkers like Rav Kook and Rav Soloveitchik, Danishefsky describes what a relationship with G-d has to offer. He then weaves in psychological principles to help us understand these esoteric and lofty concepts with the verbiage of human-to-human relationships. Much attention is paid to the models set forth by relationship experts John Gottman and Sue Johnson as Danishefsky looks at prayer as a form of communication, the seven love languages as they relate to G-dly practices, how our childhood attachment models and our acquired trauma and wounds influence our religious practices as adults. As with any relationship we can enhance it or ignore it, but citing the great Jewish thinkers of the ages, Danishefsky suggest that in our deepest selves, we always yearn for it.
In Judaism, love is always related to knowing and being known. To this end, Danishefsky suggests that learning Torah is knowing G-d and engaging in tefillah is being known by Him. What can G-d offer us in this relationship? Simply put, everything, as everything that exists is in His hands. But in the context of relationship, what G-d offers us is more of Himself. More connection, more G-dliness, more deveikut, which means literally attachment to G-d.
And as for us, what is the greatest gift that we can offer G-d? Ourselves, in all our broken, struggling, beautiful vulnerability. Because He knows us, He created us, He loves us as we are.
This is a relationship. The effort, the struggle, the yearning, the rupture and repair and ultimately, the sweet reward of connection and attachment to our loving G-d.