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Psyched for Torah
Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Schiffman
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As a practicing rabbi and a licensed psychologist, I believe that the wisdom and lessons from the Torah and the modern discoveries from the field of Psychology can be combined to create an ideal space for personal, communal and spiritual flourishing.
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Showing Results 1 - 10 (16 total)
Who's In Control?
Author: Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Schiffman
November 28th, 2020
Do you believe that the happenings of your life are determined by external factors or by your own efforts?  In the 1950’s psychologist Julian Rotter began exploring how people related to such questions and developed a construct called locus of control.  People who endorse an internal locus of control believe the events of their lives are generally determined by their own abilities and actions, while those with an external locus of …
Tags: psychology, Torah, Control, Yaakov, Bereishit, Parsha
Influence Techniques
Author: Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Schiffman
December 6th, 2020
When Yosef’s brothers decide they are going to kill him and throw him into a pit, Reuven realizes that he needs to intervene to save Yosef’s life. While Reuven’s explicit intention is to return Yosef to Yaakov, he is caught in a predicament. What can he say or do that will convince the brothers not to kill Yosef? Their decision seems unanimous and definitive. The Midrash states that if Reuven would have known that his deci …
Need for Approval
Author: Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Schiffman
December 14th, 2020
How much do you care about what other people think of you?  On one level, it is natural and healthy to want the approval of others.  If someone doesn’t care at all what others think of him, he may do things that are harmful or immoral to others and end up being isolated from social groups, which itself is not healthy. Yet, the desire to be liked by others can easily become unhealthy.  People who have a high need to gain appro …
Author: Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Schiffman
December 20th, 2020
How do we evaluate the past? How do we spend our time in the present? How often do we think about the future? In his book, “The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life,” Dr. Philip Zimbardo outlines six subjective time perspectives that people experience as they relate to the past, present, and future.   Dr. Zimbardo argues that when looking at the past, it is best to be high in a past-positive ti …
Elements of Resilience
Author: Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Schiffman
December 27th, 2020
There is no one “right” way to respond to a traumatic event and most people deal with trauma in slightly different ways. Yet, there is research that indicates that certain environments, perspectives and behaviors lead to more adaptive responses that create the opportunity for healing. Yosef, a survivor of several traumatic events, serves as a paradigm of resilience. By analyzing Yosef’s mindset and behavior as presented in the p …
Bystander Effect
Author: Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Schiffman
January 4th, 2021
In 1964, Kitty Genovese was stabbed and killed in Kew Gardens, Queens. The New York Times reported that 38 witnesses saw or heard the attack, and nobody did anything to help. This article (which was later shown to be exaggerated) motivated social psychologists John M. Darley and Bibb Latané to attempt to better understand why people did not help. In a series of experiments, Darley and Latané demonstrated what they termed the bystand …
Deep Breaths
Author: Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Schiffman
January 13th, 2021
One of the first and most central interventions to help manage difficult emotions is deep breathing. When we feel intense emotions, such as anxiety, depression, or anger, our bodies tend to react physiologically by taking shorter and shallower breaths. By counteracting those quick and narrow breaths with a deeper breath, we increase the supply of oxygen to our brains, stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, and signaling to our bodies tha …
Fake It Till You Become It
Author: Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Schiffman
January 19th, 2021
Sometimes a task seems too difficult, daunting, or incongruent with our personality that we elect to be passive.  We may garner some motivation for action from phrases such as “fake it till you make it,” but still feel resistant because we feel inauthentic or disingenuous to make it by faking it.   In one of the most popular Ted Talks and in her bestselling book “Presence: Bringing your Boldest Self to your …
Feed Your Brain
Author: Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Schiffman
January 26th, 2021
We are generally aware that what we eat impacts our overall health and eating unhealthily can put us at risk for the development of numerous physical diseases. Yet, there is also mounting research that what we eat also greatly affects our intellectual abilities and our emotional health. Our diets affect the neurotransmitters in our brains which can impact our cognitive functioning and our moods. Diets high in refined sugar impair our thinking abi …
Emotional Responsibility
Author: Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Schiffman
February 2nd, 2021
How can the Torah command us to feel or not feel certain emotions? Many of us are under the impression that our emotions just happen to us without our input and against our will. Something or someone pushes our emotional buttons, which triggers a neural circuit in our brain and causes a physiological reaction, and there is nothing we could do to stop it from happening. My coworker makes me angry, my spouse makes me happy, traffic makes me anxious …
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