Jewish Philosophy And Social Work Essay, Research Paper
Jewish Social Philosophy
For centuries, mankind as a whole has always desired or searched for love at some given point if not for their entire life span. Love is a concept that while the dictionary will give you various definitions, can not really be defined, but rather felt. Even if we believe we are experiencing feelings of love at some point, there is no guarantee that the experience then is an ever-lasting true love. Love grows and changes throughout one’s life starting hopefully with ones parents leading to peers, and on to life partners. Over time, many philosophers have looked into this topic, trying to explain and break down what exactly the concept is. It is the object of this paper to look at both Soleveichick as well as Maimonedes, and apply their views to both a modern day perspective and social work.
Love being a concept that has been around since the beginning of time according to some may have been a divine idea. If you look at the way Soleveichick breaks down the character of first man into Adam I and Adam II, I think my point can be clearly seen. According to Soleveichick it seems that Adam I is the utilitarian character by action and attitude, I will return to him later. Adam II on the other had is an existential character by his nature. By that it seems to mean that Adam II in the case of love would be the more romantic character, the one which many at some point of life desire this type of a loving relationship. This is the character where love comes truly within; it is a spiritual kind of love, where one really needs nothing in return but the love itself. In today’s standards these are the people one would just buy flowers for, take long walks on the beach with, as well as exploring and experiencing issues as well as acts of intimacy with. These are the people we desire as life partners (does not necessarily have to be for a marital type of relationship.) at times. I know that from my personal experience at this point in my life I am having my first experience of true love other than the parental one I had. The person I am referring to is now my fianc?e. The feeling I have towards her are one’s of total joy which run through my body, that words can not do justice. It is that burning desire within to constantly see, be with, and hold on to her. For me I believe that it is mostly an Adam II type of a relationship we are having. Of course love in this manner for different people can have different feelings as well as meanings, after all every man has their own characters. Another thing derived from the character of Adam II that it was Gods intention to find someone they love and eventually spend the rest of their lives with this person. Maybe God was even saying in a way that one can not go through life and be complete without a partner. I quote in Genesis (chapter 2 vs.22-23) “and he took one of his sides and he filled in flesh in its place. Then Hashem, God fashioned the side that he had taken from man into a woman”. Not only did this end first man’s utilitarian loneliness, it also may have been showing us how we should feel about a loved one. The second person whether she was actually created from the first persons rib or side is unimportant. What one can derive from this is that not only was there a creation made at this point but a strong bondage as well, bonding man to his fellow man. Scripture seems to be saying that when we love someone it should be as if they are in fact a part of ourselves, as if they are physically attached to us. It seems God’s doing the creation in this manner was giving an important message. It seems to be saying that an individual can not lead a healthy, comfortable life without sharing it with love ones. We see that first man was not content on his own even though he had the entire world in his hands, neither are we. I am not saying that this love must exist between man and woman per say, nor am I saying that the only form of reaching this feeling is through marriage. Rather I am saying is we can not go through life alone, without love, it is simply not in man’s nature. Adam I on the other hand asks more of the question, what will I get out of this relationship, what is in it for me. It is here where I can see Soleveichick referring to more of a Freud Id driven character. This is the type of person that will say I am going with this person for she will cook for me every night. I will bring a personal example to this scenario as well. I love my father for he is the provider of my family. I will not go into the issues of why I really feel I only love him that way I ma just pointing out that that kind of love can exist. Of course the characteristics of Adam’s I and II can be combined into one relationship, and it seems that it is often the case.
Returning to the concept of life partners once again we could go again to Soleveichick concept of loneliness. Continuing to use Soleveichicks characters of Adam I and II, the utilitarian/ Adam I aspect of loneliness can be taken care of through loved ones, especially a lifetime partner, making us physically not alone. The person we have feelings of love toward we desire to be with, we yearn for. These people who are able to resolve ones loneliness can also act as friends or even co-workers. So at least it is possible to conquer the Adam I type of loneliness with being around others. It is the Adam II aspect of loneliness which may be far more difficult to conquer. Soleveichick accepts this aspect of an internal loneliness and uses it positively, turning him to a better relationship with God. He believes that God is essential here , due to his faith he can not come to terms with this loneliness in any other manner. He feels that humans can not dispel it ultimately because it is part of humanity only through God can this loneliness be shared. There are many people whose belief and faith in God are not as strong, or simply there are those who do not believe in any God. It is here were ones immediate reaction might be to turn to the social worker. It would be great if we could just say that the person suffering with the Adam II loneliness may simply fear the unspeakable or the underlying unconscious has some kind of unresolved issue that needs to be looked at. It would be easy to try a psychoanalytic approach and go through ones history to try and find the root of the problem. If one can in fact connect to God, why can he connect to man as well? Why can’t empathy as well as a strong model of intervention relieve this loneliness? Why can’t man be the one who will listen in a way taking the place of God?
It seems that we would only be looking at Adam I’s problem here. The loneliness of Adam II according to Soleveichick is a more spiritual one that man to man can not resolve. So if someone does not believe in God and this loneliness still exists, is this the point where we have to tell the person that the problem can not be resolved? No, the only thing is the problem of the loneliness here must be resolved on one’s own. There are many ways that one can going about doing this and as social workers we can make people aware of these ways, since we are still helping the client it could be considered our duty in fact. One method which I will bring to example is meditation. Through years of studying martial arts meditation became a regular activity. It was there when I was done I left my head feeling totally clear, I did not in a sense feel this loneliness. It is spiritual activities such as these where it seems that people could turn to as well. Adam I is where normal interventions of therapy would hopefully work
Maimonides, in his writings brings up the topic of love a few times. The first time he discusses love, it is in relation of man’s love of God. In his “Sefer HaMitzvah” Maimonides brings in from Deuteronomy how we are required to love God. He explains that by studying and immersing ourselves in God’s commandments, we fulfill this. This will give us an image of God, and as we truly discover God, reach a level joy. This can be tied to Soloveichick’s article in regard to a cure for existential loneliness. Maimonides continues and says that loving God is obligatory. With that statement, I see a problem. How can we be required to love God? Is not love something that must be earned and developed? When somebody has a tragedy happen to them, can they still love God? From a personal note, I was diagnosed and treated for a form of cancer. If God caused me to go through that pain and suffering, couldn’t that be construed as God not loving me? When I think of how much I love my fianc?e, I say to myself that I would never be able to hurt her intentionally, and when I do it accidentally, I feel horrible for it. God is supposed to be perfect, so when bad things happen these are not mistakes. When speaking to many, I typically heard that maybe this was a substitute fore something worse. So if we think in this way, those that believe in God, with all of modern medicines cures, people are given a second chance and they should love God for it. This seems to make the commandment a bit easier to understand. That still doesn’t answer how we are required to love God. If a parent abused a child, must that child still love them, no. So too with God, it seems that we should not be forced into loving God. Love should come from within, not be commanded. Maimonides answers through though of God, one will come to understand God and eventually love him. The love Maimonides describes seems like Soloveichicks Adam II type of love. He describes it as a mighty and great love, so great that our soul feels attached to God. A love so great that one strives for it all the time. I see this as a true definition of love. The bible goes on to show many cases of this type of love. An excellent example being the love of David and Yohonatan, making it seem as a divide concept. Over here, man is required to love God. In conjunction with that it is written in Genesis, that man was created in God’s image. Maybe what that is trying to say, is that we should love all men as we love God. If society truly felt this, there would be no wars, no hatred, it would be a perfect world. Maimonides goes into speaking about loving ones neighbor. This commandment says that we should love our friends as we would ourselves. In these times, many people will go into counseling due to problems of remaining in a healthy relationship. Maimonides says that by this love, one should love by having compassion and well wishes to others as he would unto himself. Psychologically speaking, a good deal of interrelational problems may stem from how people feel about themselves. We can use this as a therapeutic route to solving ones problem.
It is one of the goals in life to go through loving relationships. Of course by love I’m not referring to a Freudian based sexually driven Id feeling. After all, plenty of people go through life never having had sex at all, but have had loving relationships. Priests, especially the Pope himself are examples of this. They have given up sexual activity for a greater relationship with God. Even without the sex, they are still able to have loving relationships between fellow men.
Working with the homeless was probably my best experience in dealing with people receiving no love. They were lonely in a utilitarian sense of the word. Quite surprisingly though, many of the clients were not lonely in the existential manner. Whether it was good or a place for them to turn to, this was a place for them, it was their refuge. My job was to assist, at times when it was utilitarian love that they had a problem of dealing with. After their family and friends threw them out, at times, our agency is where they turned to. Some times, as their social worker, it was merely showing them empathy and messages of empowerment which really helped. Finally, somebody was not turning them away, and they no longer felt alone.
When people feel alone, or are having trouble with loving relationships, there are many approaches a social workers can take to intervene. For example, one of my clients was a substance abuser for forty years. I decided to use a life history approach to try to find the root of his problem. It turned out that the client has always had trouble making friends. In college, he became popular among other drug users. He felt that this was the route which he had to take to make friends. After a few months of treatment, he came to realize that this behavior was not necessary. Soon after, his drug tests were coming back negative.
To conclude, Being lonely, and the concept of love is nothing new. According to Soleveichick, these ideas have in a sense been around since creation. Many other philosophers have looked at these concepts as well. There are also the many paths the social worker can take if one is troubled in this area. The exact way of helping when these issues can in fact be resolved person-to-person is up to both the client and the social worker.