Answering a Question with a Question: Contemporary Psychoanalysis and Jewish Thought (Vol. II) A Tradition of Inquiry

Answering a Question with a Question: Contemporary Psychoanalysis and Jewish Thought (Vol. II) A Tradition of Inquiry

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Edited by Lewis Aron & Libby Henik

Series: Psychoanalysis and Jewish Life
ISBN: 9781618114471 (hardcover) / 9781618115157 (paper)
Pages: 384 pp.
Publication Date: February 2015

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Inquiry, questioning, and wonder are defining features of both psychoanalysis and the Jewish tradition. The question invites inquiry, analysis, discussion, debate, multiple meanings, and interpretation that continues across the generations. If questions and inquiry are the mainstay of Jewish scholarship, then it should not be surprising that they would be central to the psychoanalytic method developed by Sigmund Freud. The themes taken up in this book are universal: trauma, traumatic reenactment, intergenerational transmission of trauma, love, loss, mourning, ritual—these subjects are of particular relevance and concern within Jewish thought and the history of the Jewish people, and they raise questions of great relevance to psychoanalysis both theoretically and clinically. In Answering a Question with a Question: Contemporary Psychoanalysis and Jewish Thought (Vol. II). A Tradition of Inquiry, Editors, Aron and Henik, have brought together an international collection of contemporary scholars and clinicians to address the interface and mutual influence of Jewish thought and modern psychoanalysis, two traditions of inquiry.

Libby Henik, LCSW, is in private practice in New York and New Jersey. She is a graduate of the Wurzweiler School of Social Work of the Yeshiva University and a graduate in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy of the American Institute for Psychoanalysis of the Karen Horney Psychoanalytic Center. She also holds a Master of Arts in Hebrew Literature from Hunter College. Ms.Henik studied biblical exegesis and Hebrew literature with Nechama Leibowitz at Bar-Ilan University and with Professor Milton Arfa at Hunter College. She has taught ulpan in Israel, the United States and the former Soviet Union. She has lectured and presented papers on the bi-directional influence of psychoanalysis and Jewish thought in examining biblical text.

Lewis Aron is the Director of the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. He is the author of A Meeting of Minds: Mutuality in Psychoanalysis (The Analytic Press, 1996) and most recently, with Karen Starr, A Psychotherapy for the People (Routledge, 2013).  Dr. Aron has been president of the Division of Psychoanalysis (39) of the American Psychological Association and was founding president of the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy.

Answering a Question with a Question is for those who want to understand the covered topics from a psychoanalytic perspective. It is recommended for academic collections and other collections with readers interested in the confluence of Jewish sources and psychology.
— Daniel D. Stuhlman, AJL Reviews, Volume VI. No. 1 (February/March 2016)
Answering a question with a question, a hallmark of Jewish Talmudic tradition and of psychoanalysis, often is an act of freedom. In addition it can help make clear that finding the right questions, even if we cannot answer them, may be more important than answering questions that may obscure our having to face what is not answerable. Aron and Henik bring us a wonderful collection of papers that speak to us from the heart and with courage and dignity, about individual struggles across time to find the right questions and to answer them. They take us at times to the boundaries of what is bearable in ways that leave us changed and ‘opened’ in unexpected ways. A book that stirs us so deeply is not to be missed.
— Darlene Bregman Ehrenberg, Ph.D, Training and Supervising Analyst and Faculty, William Alanson White Institute, Clinical Associate Professor of Psychology, New York University
Freud acknowledged on several occasions the role of his Jewish background in forming his world view and method, but at the same time was concerned that psychoanalysis may be damaged if seen as “a Jewish theory” in a social climate influenced by antisemitism. The editors of the present volume clearly believe that clarifying the links between psychoanalytic thought and Jewish tradition can be productive rather than risky. They gathered an impressive multi-disciplinary team, composed of analysts, therapists, literary scholars and students of Jewish thought, who approach this area from numerous angles: studies of biblical stories and of their past interpretations, themes of Jewish mysticism and philosophy, exploring rabbinical traditions, contemporary clinical work and intimate personal experience. They deal with the place of questioning in Jewish thought and in psychoanalysis, with the significance of desire and personal transformation, with trauma, loss and mourning, with the impact of the holocaust and its intergenerational transmission – to name just a few of the themes of this rich, varied and unique collection.
— Emanuel Berman, Ph.D., Training Analyst, Israel Psychoanalytic Society

Table of Contents

Lewis Aron and Libby Henik


Cheryl Goldstein
Rashi and Desire: Reading Rashi’s Reading of Genesis 39
Ruth Kara-Ivanov Kaniel
“The Impressive Caesura” and “New Beginning” in Psychoanalysis and Jewish Mystical Experience—Birth, Creation and Transformation
William Kolbrener
On Abandoning Aristotle: Love in Psychoanalysis and Jewish Philosophy
Avivah Zornberg
Bewilderments: The Story of the Spies 


Ofra Eshel
The “Hearing Heart” and the “Voice” of Breakdown
Richard Kradin
“Have You Seen My Servant Job?” A Psychological Approach to Suffering
Menorah Lafayette Rotenberg
On the Use of Selected Lead Words in Tracing the Trajectory of the Transmission of Transgenerational Trauma in the Genesis Ancestral Saga 


Moshe Halevi Spero
The “Coat of Many Colors” as Linking Object: A Nodal Moment in the Narrative of Jacob’s Bereavement for Joseph
Cheryl Friedman
Shadows of the Unseen Grief
Joyce Slochower
Across a Lifetime: On the Dynamics of Commemorative Ritual

Dori Laub
The Testimonial Process as a Reversal of the Traumatic Shutdown of Narrative and Symbolization
Annette Furst
Holocaust Memories and their Transmission
Nirit Gradwohl Pisano
In Bed with a Collaborator: Reenactments of Historical Trauma by a Granddaughter of Holocaust Survivors