NEFESH: The International Network of Orthodox Mental Health Professionals
Psycho-Spiritual Insights: Exploring Parasha and Psychology
Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
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Clinical reflections on the Parasha through a psychotherapist lens. Using Artificial intelligence writing for defining clinical ideas and weekly Parasha study to cultivate thought provoking weekly insights.
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Showing Results 1 - 40 (57 total)
Knowing isn't Everything: The Insight Fallacy (Parshat Chukat)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
July 10th, 2024

Parashat Chukat begins with a passage that requires further investigation due to its profound psychological meaning. “This is the law of the Torah that Hashem commanded saying, Speak to Bnei Yisrael and they should take for you a completely red cow that has no blemish and has never born a yoke.” The passage describes the mitzvah of Parah Adumah, Red Cow, as ‘the law of the Torah,’ ‘chukat ha’torah’, …
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Arrogance: A Cautionary Tale (Parshat Korach)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
July 3rd, 2024

Parshat Korach presents a compelling narrative that delves into the destructive nature of arrogance and the problems it can cause. Korach, a member of the tribe of Levi, challenges the leadership of Moshe and Aharon, driven by his own pride and desire for power. His story serves as a cautionary tale, teaching us the importance of humility and the perils of unchecked arrogance.   Arrogance is characterized by an exaggerated belief in one's ow …
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The Emphatic But (Parshat Shelach)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
June 25th, 2024

In this week's Parasha, Parshat Shelach, we encounter a fascinating insight into the psychology of communication. The Parasha tells of 10 spies who brought back frightening reports about the Aretz Yisrael resulting in Bnei Yisrael rebelling against Hashem, leading to 40 years of wandering in the desert. At first glance, the initial report of the spies appears to be factual statements regarding what they surveyed. “We came to the land you se …
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Holiday Comeback Story (Beha’alotcha)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
June 20th, 2024

Judaism is a religion of second changes. In Parshat Beha’alotcha, we encounter a remarkable story of having a second chance, the story of Pesach Sheni. This special holiday was instituted for those who had a setback leading to impurity making them unable to bring the Pesach offering. To have a comeback, you first need a setback. Pesach Sheni offers a profound lesson interwoven with the psychological concept of second changes.   The Par …
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Divine Couples Counseling (Naso)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
June 14th, 2024

Parshat Naso contains one of the most fascinating and enigmatic rituals in all of the torah, the story of the Sotah, suspected adulterer. At first glance this story seems harsh and archaic but deeper exploration reveals profound insights into relationships, trust, and insecurity. It provides us an opportunity to explore the psychological concepts of relational insecurity and jealousy.   The Sotah ritual is initiated when a husband suspects h …
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Adaptability Amidst the Wilderness (Parshat Bamidbar)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
June 6th, 2024

Parshat Bamidbar, the first parsha of the new sefer, often read right before Shavout, sets the stage for Bnei Yisrael’s journey through the Midbar – the desert, wilderness. The Mechilta (Yitro: Bachodesh 1) shares the connection between the Parsha and upcoming celebration of Matan Torah being juxtaposed as the Torah was given publicly, openly, and in a place no one owns so that anyone could lay claim to it. Another reason for the Tora …
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Choice over Victimhood
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
May 31st, 2024

In Parshat Bechukotai we encounter the powerful description of the blessings and curses associated with following or violating Hashem’s mitzvot. Seemingly the torah provides a clear choice: follow in Hashem’s way leading to peace, happiness, and salvation or disobey leading to anguish, suffering, and exile. This parsha provides us an opportunity to explore the psychological concept of learned helplessness, which often created a victim …
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Finding Greatness in Humility: Balanced Self-Perception (Parshat Behar)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
May 23rd, 2024

In Parshat Behar, we encounter the commandments to observe the Shemita and Yovel years, which emphasize the importance of balance and harmony in the land, society, and personal relationships. The parsha begins by sharing the location of the conversation between Hashem and Moshe Rabeynu, being Har Sinai. Using the psychological concept of having a balanced self-perception, we can delve into the lessons learned through the selection of this mountai …
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Kiddush Hashem & Moral Identity Fusion (Parshat Emor)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
May 16th, 2024

In Parshat Emor, we encounter various commandments regarding sanctification, sacrifices and observance of the holidays. However, one of the seminal tenants of Judaism and morality is also presented, the mitzvah of not desecrating the name of Hashem. Through the lens of the psychological concept of moral identity fusion, we are provided a meaningful opportunity to explore this mitzvah, better known as Kiddush Hashem.   Moral identify fusion i …
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Self-Actualizing Holiness (Kedoshim)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
May 10th, 2024

In Parshat Kedoshim we encounter a profound commandment, which has reverberating impact through out all our daily lives. The passuk states “kedoshim tihyu ki kadosh ani – you shall be holy, for I am holy (Leviticus 19:3). ”  the word Kedoshim, which has the Hebrew root word kadosh – usually translated as “holy.” However, the word has a more appropriate definition described by Rashi of separation or setting …
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Catharsis of the Soul (Acharei Mot)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
May 3rd, 2024

Parshat Acharei Mot contains profound insights into the human experience, including the psychological concept of catharsis. This Parsha delves into the rituals of atonement performed by the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year. Amidst the detailed instructions for sacrifice and purification, there lies a powerful lesson about the cathartic nature of confession and atonement.   The parsha describes (Leviticus 16:5-11) how th …
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Pesach: Four Sons - A Tapestry of Individualized Communication
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
April 21st, 2024

The Talmud Yerushalmi in Pesachim provides us with one of the most famous Midrashim on the entire Hagaddah, ‘K’neged Arba’ah Banim’, the story of the Four Sons. This story offers a rich tapestry of psychological insight when viewed through the lense of individualization of attention whether for children or generalized overall. Communication works for those who work at it. Each individualized interaction is an opportunity t …
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Walls of Adversity: Exploring Post-Traumatic Growth (Parshat Metzora)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
April 18th, 2024

In Parshat Metzora we continue to learn about ‘Tzaraat,’ often mistranslated as leprosy, but rather a visible divine mark manifesting when a person engages in some sinful interpersonal behavior. Tzaraat begins on the walls of the home, progressing to the clothing, then skin for individuals who do not heed the divine caution towards reflection due to its manifestation. For an individual to experience a comeback, they first need to face …
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Spiritual Somatization (Parshat Tazria)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
April 11th, 2024

In Parshat Tazria, we learn about the concept of ‘Tzaraat,’ often mistranslated as leprosy. However, Tzaraat is not merely a physical affliction, but a visible manifestation of a spiritual malady.  Although Tzaraat was an affliction of the skin and the person afflicted would be isolated, unlike leprosy, the isolation of the Metzora (one who had Tzaraat) had nothing to do with contagion. This spiritual affliction portrayed by a ph …
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Navigating Bereavement (Parshat Shemini)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
April 3rd, 2024

Parshat Shemini begins with the sanctification of the Mikdash by Aharon HaCohen a day that could have been the spiritual pinnacle of his life. We know that the day suddenly takes a turn with the tragic deaths of his sons, Nadav & Avihu. The sudden loss of Nadav and Avihu profoundly impacts Aharon and Bnei Yisrael. Their deaths evoke deep sorrow and mourning, reflecting the human experience of bereavement.   Bereavement is a multifaceted …
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Renewal through Routine (Parshat Tzav)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
March 28th, 2024

In Parshat Tzav, we delve into the detailed instructions for the Kohanim regarding the daily Korbanot and rituals within the Mishkan. Among these instructions is the commandment regarding the removal of the ashes from the altar. This seemingly mundane task holds within it profound symbolism and echoes of the psychological concept of renewal.   The passuk at the beginning of the Parsha (6:3) states: “The priest shall dress in linen raim …
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Affection in Ritual Gratitude (Parshat Vayikra)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
March 20th, 2024

Parshat Vayikra begins the Sefer that will discuss all the laws pertaining to Korbanot, Kohen duties, and guidance towards holiness. The Sefer is also referred to as Torat Kohanim, largely in part due to the description of the sacrifices performed in the Mishkan. In the midst of these sacrifices, we learn about the "Shelamim – Peace Offering," which holds profound significance, not only in ritual but also in its psychological implications, …
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Redemption Unveiled (Parshat Pekudei)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
March 14th, 2024

Parshat Pekudei, the final portion of the book of Exodus, provides us with a profound exploration of the psychological journey toward redemption. As we delve into the details of the construction of the Mishkan, we find ourselves leading to the close of Sefer of Shemot gaining clarity on collective redemption for Bnei Yisrael.   In his introduction to the Sefer, the Ramban makes comments that, "The Book of Shemot is dedicated to the first Gal …
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The Divine Blueprint: Executive Planning (Parshat Vayakhel)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
March 7th, 2024

  Parshat Vayakhel focuses on Moshe Rabeynu addressing Bnei Yisrael as he provides them with the instructions, given in the previous Parshot, related to constructing the Mishkan. In describing the items created for the Mishkan, what becomes clear is that the more important items were left to be created last. The Parsha describes how after the structure was completed then the Ark, Cover, Table, and Menorah were made. As we reflect on the proc …
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Embracing Flexibility: Overcoming Stiff-Neckedness (Parshat Ki Tisa)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
February 29th, 2024

Parshat Ki Tisa delves into the story of the sin of the Golden Calf and the subsequent conversation between Moshe Rabeynu and Hashem related to the consequences. During this back and forth, Hashem characterizes Bnei Yisrael as a “stiff-necked people” as the motivation behind many of our struggles. The parsha provides us an opportunity to explore the psychological concept of being Stiff-Necked and the lessons we can learn to overcome t …
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Precision in Holiness: Being Detail-Oriented (Parshat Tetzaveh)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
February 22nd, 2024

How you do anything is how you do everything. Parshat Tetzaveh focus on the elaborate desgining of the clothing for the Kohanim, emphasizing intricate details and precision.  In the modern fast-paced world, where attention spans are fleeting, the Parsha’s emphasis to meticulous detail in the description of the garments carries a profound message about the importance of being detail oriented and precise in all our actions.   The ps …
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Sacred Psychology of Giving (Parshat Terumah)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
February 15th, 2024

Parshat Terumah presents a profound exploration of the psychology of giving as it unfolds within the construction of the Mishkan. The Parsha details the meticulous instructions for creating a space on Earth to connect with Hashem. The Parsha starts by saying, “V'yikchu Li Terumah – and you should take for yourselves a contribution for me' (Exodus 25:2).” This passuk goes beyond the mere physical construction and provides valuabl …
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Transformative Justice: Rehabilitation Paradigm (Parshat Mishpatim)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
February 13th, 2024

Parshat Mishpatim delves into the rules set forth after the Ten Commandments, establishing a just world run through the divine providence of Hashem. While there were many commandments that the Torah could have begun this Parsha with, the focus on the acquisition and treatment of a Jewish slave provides us a profound lesson in the treatment of individuals whose life circumstances have led them astray. In considering the psychological concept of re …
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Delegation: A Father in Law’s Wisdom (Parshat Yitro)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
February 1st, 2024

Any one with in-laws can relate to this week’s Parsha. There are only two people in the Torah who provide criticism to Moshe Rabeynu. One is Hashem, who we see time after time providing Moshe with guidance and feedback. The second is Moshe’s father in law.  Parshat Yitro presents a pivotal moment in the story of Bnei’s Yisrael’s acceptance of the Torah. Moshe Rabeynu’s  father-in-law, Yitro, visits him and …
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Moving Forward towards Transformation (Parshat Beshalach)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
January 25th, 2024

In Parshat Beshalach, we encounter a transformative moment as Bnei Yisrael, having just left Egypt, find themselves trapped between the pursuing Egyptian army and the seemingly impassable Red Sea. The Parsha recounts the dramatic crossing of the Red Sea, the subsequent song and triumph. However, in the face of this dire situation, Moshe receives a message from Hashem that we can apply to our daily lives. Boxed in between the Sea and the Egyptians …
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Breaking the Chains of the Mind (Parshat Bo)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
January 18th, 2024

Parshat Bo unfolds a pivotal moment in the narrative of the Bnei Yisrael’s journey towards freedom. It contains the last three plagues, culminating with the exodus of the new Jewish nation. Amidst these dramatic occurrences, we can identify elements of human behavior leading to Pharoah’s motivation to hardening his heart and subsequently Hashem hardening his heart for him. Many classical commentators address how Hashem could take away …
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Breathing Hope (Parshat Vaera)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
January 11th, 2024

Parshat Vaera begins the process of instilling hope into Bnei Yisrael that the redemption is nearing. Hashem appears to Moshe Rabeynu providing him the inspiration to approach Bnei Yisrael with a message of salvation. When Moshe approaches the nation, currently in servitude, we encounter a moment of profound despair. As they are burdened by the harshness of their slavery, they are unable to heed the words of their future leader.   The Passuk …
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Resisting the Current: Unraveling Obedience (Parshat Shemot)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
January 4th, 2024

This week we begin a new Sefer of the Torah and a new secular year. In Parashat Shemot, we encounter the powerful story of the Jewish midwives, Shifra & Puah, whose courageous defiance of Pharaoh’s decree sparked the birth of the Jewish redemption.  Their actions provide us a compelling lesson going into a season where people set ‘New Year’s goals’ and attempt to better themselves based on a calendar change. Amids …
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Individualized Blessings: Expressing Personalized Nurturance (Parshat Vayechi)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
December 27th, 2023

Parshat Vayechi not only marks the conclusion to the Sefer of Bereshit, but also the end of Avot’s journey in establishing Bnei Yisrael. As Yaacov’s life approaches its end, he gathers his sons to bestow upon them his final individualized blessings, and in doing so provides us with a final powerful lesson for eternity.   Yaacov takes the unique approach by tailoring his words specifically to the character, strengths, and areas of …
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Reconnecting Hearts: Exploring Cutoff & Reconciliation (Parshat Vayigash)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
December 20th, 2023

Parshat Vayigash, nestled in the heart of Yosef’s story, is a powerful account of familial strife, emotional cutoff, and ultimately, the profound journey towards reconciliation. This story not only provides a glimpse into the complexities of human relationships but also offers profound insights into the corrosiveness of emotional cutoff and the transformative power of reconciliation.   Parshat Vayigash opens with the words “Vayig …
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From Pit to Palace: Resilience in the Face of Adversity (Parshat Miketz)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
December 14th, 2023

Parshat Miketz, recounts the dramatic rise of Yosef in Egypt, offers a profound exploration of the psychological concept of resilience. Yosef’s journey from being thrown into a pit by his brothers to eventually becoming a high-ranking official in Paroah’s court is a testament to the human capacity to endure and overcome adversity.   The psychological concept of resilience is defined as the ability to bounce back from difficult ex …
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Parental Favoritism & Sibling Rivalry (Parshat Vayeshev)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
December 6th, 2023

Parshat Vayeshev unfolds a gripping narrative centered around the complex dynamics of the family of Yaacov. A closer examination reveals an intriguing interplay of psychological concepts, particularly birth order and sibling rivalry, as we delve into the lives of Yosef and his brothers. Humorist Sam Levenson wrote, “Siblings: children of the same parents, each of whom is perfectly normal until they get together.” While families prepar …
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Confronting the Esav Within (Vayishlach)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
November 30th, 2023

In Parshat Vayishlach, we witness Yaacov Avinu’s dramatic encounter with his brother Esav after years of separation. As Yaacov faces the impending meeting with Esav, the Parasha takes an unexpected turn - Yaacov finds himself in a wrestling match with a mysterious figure, described as the angel of Esav. The struggle is intense, and as dawn approaches, the figure touches Yaacov’s hip, leaving him with a permanent limp. Despite the toll …
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Vision & Purpose (Parshat Vayeitzei)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
November 24th, 2023

In Parshat Vayeitzei we embark on the profound journey of Yaakov Avinu, a path that not only that not only traverses physical landscapes but provides depth into human psyche. At the heart of the Parsha lies the theme of vision and purpose, two psychological concepts that guide Yaakov’s path and offer timeless lessons for ours.   Helen Keller once wrote, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” …
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A Nation Born of Delayed Gratification (Parshat Toldot)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
November 16th, 2023

Parshat Toldot offers a fascinating opportunity to explore the psychological concept of delayed gratification, a concept that is central to human behavior and personal development. In this Parsha, we find a compelling example of delayed gratification through Yaacov, who ultimately becomes the third and most accomplished of the Avot.   The story of the Parsha primarily focuses on the struggle between Yaacov and Esav, two very different brothe …
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Marriage and Love (Chayei Sara)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
November 8th, 2023

Parshat Chayei Sara is often pointed to as the Parsha of Shidduchim, match matching, however it can offer us a powerful insight into the importance of cultivating love. One of the central themes in this parsha is the concept of love and partnership. The marriage between Yitzchak and Rivka provides us with wonderful insights to apply to our own loving relationships.   The passuk says “Vayyikkach et-rivkah vattehi-lo le'ishah vayye'ehave …
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Unbreakable Ties: Exploring Parental Bonds (Parshat Vayera)
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
November 2nd, 2023

Parshat Vayera provides us with a continuation of the story of Avraham on his path to becoming the ultimate patriarch of the Jewish nation. As described in the Amidah, while we channel all the Avot in the first Bracha, but we end by singling out Avraham. Rambam in the previous parsha citing a Medresh Tanchuma introduced us to the concept of “Maaseh Avot Siman L'banim - Whatever has happened to the patriarchs is a sign to the children.&rdquo …
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Attitude of Gratitude
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
October 29th, 2023

Parasha Lech Lecha begins the story of the birth of Bnei Yisrael. While many of us are familiar with the quality of ‘Chesed’ – Loving kindness being directly associated with Avraham, one of his key qualities that is understated is one of his ability to show gratitude. The Parsha provides us with keen insight into the psychological concept of cultivating an attitude of gratitude.   The beginning of the Parsha states: “ …
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Family Dynamics
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
October 19th, 2023

Parshat Noach delves into the story of Noah and the great flood. The central focus of the parsha is the family of Noah, who, together with his wife, three sons, and their wives, survive the deluge aboard the ark. This tight-knit family of eight navigate the challenges of confinement and isolation during their time on the ark, offering us profound insights into familial interactions and their psychological dynamics.   Family dynamics refer to …
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Interconnectedness in the Beginning
Author: Elan Javanfard, L.M.F.T.
October 13th, 2023

This week we begin Parshat Bereshit, the inaugural Torah portion. During a week where many of us have felt our hearts physically in one place but emotionally in another place with our fellow Bnei Yisrael in Aretz Yisrael, the Parsha invites us to delve into the profound interplay of interconnectedness, both within the natural world and within ourselves as human beings. The brutality of the terrorist events in Aretz Yisrael have affected us all du …
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