Two new books deliver food for thought
As the weather warms and barbecue becomes the fare, two new books offer ample food for thought. “Parenting in Perspective” by Barry Kislowicz and “The Psychology of Tzimtzum” by Mordechai Rotenberg provide pages ripe with wisdom.
In its quest to satisfy the challenges of child rearing, “Parenting in Perspective” presents psychological research and traditional Jewish concepts as frameworks for tackling what Kislowicz charged “one of the most important things we do over our lives.”
The book, he said, “gives parents something to think about and reflect on and talk about as they try to parent their kids and deal with the challenges that come along the way.”
Although bolstering parents is the aim, Kislowicz — who is married to former Pittsburgher Kally Rubin — frankly acknowledged the text’s limitations.
“No one has a foolproof recipe for successful parenting,” the father of four claimed.
Instead, the book is intended to ignite thoughts, stoke conversation and spread messages among its information-craving readers.
Chapter titles, including “Putting the Child at the Center,” “Morals and Mitzvot,” “Culture and Context” and “Teenagers,” give a hint of “Parenting in Perspective’s” contents.
With each of the 10 chapters capable of standing alone, the book may be sliced to satisfy readers’ desires.
Whether approached by individual perusers or even collectively by a book group, “Parenting in Perspective” is a useful tool for Jewish parents “from across the spectrum,” said Kislowicz, who, after receiving rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University and a doctorate in education from Columbia University Teachers College, served the Jewish community of Cleveland for 12 years, most recently as head of the Fuchs Mizrachi School.
Similarly seeking wider audiences is “The Psychology of Tzimtzum” by Mordechai Rotenberg.
Designed as an introduction to Rotenberg’s 13 other books, it grants readers a starter into the academician’s lifelong undertaking.
For more than 40 years Rotenberg has refined a theory of Jewish psychology, which he claimed is “derived from the tradition of Jewish exegesis that relates to the different dimensions of each individual’s activities and life.”
Inspired by kabbalistic Chasidism, the psychology of tzimtzum (self-contraction) offers practical enjoyment.
“God contracts Himself in order to make room for the human world. … For those seeking to emulate God, it could serve as a model to make room for others with whom they seek to develop a dialogic relationship,” he said.
While Rotenberg’s other writings flesh out the psychology of tzimtzum, this text serves as an opening explanation of the scholar’s thoughts.
Following an introduction, which further defines tzimtzum, four chapters delve into the subject’s intergenerational, intrapersonal, interpersonal and supra-personal dimensions.
Possibly a foil to Western psychology’s relationship constructs in which parties often battle one another, “The Psychology of Tzimtzum,” and its Israel prize-winning author, allows readers to consider an alternative.
In creating the world, God contracted Himself and became a model for humanity.
For readers served either “Parenting in Perspective” or “The Psychology of Tzimtzum,” their first bite will reveal that there is more than a mouthful to chew on.
>> “Parenting in Perspective: Timeless Wisdom, Modern Applications” by Barry Kislowicz. Maggid, 2016. $22.95 in hardcover.
>> “The Psychology of Tzimtzum: Self, Other, and God” by Mordechai Rotenberg. Koren Publishers Jerusalem, 2016. $24.95 in hardcover.
Adam Reinherz can be reached at email@example.com.