Monday, October 24, 2011

Sufi Marriage Counseling

I was privileged to hear an interesting dvar torah over Yom Tov on the meaning of "havdalah [separation]" in biblical Creation, and the application of this "havdalah" to marriage and divorce. One of the speaker's core ideas was that humans who wed become one, and should not, under normal circumstances, be divided.

Then today, in reading a presentation on Public Health planning, I came across the following Sufi saying:

You think that if you understand one, you understand two, because one and one are two. But you must also understand 'and'.

The point regarding Public Health planning related to the way that scale changes our treatment recommendations – we cannot recommend for millions what we would recommend for a single patient in a clinic. One patient plus one patient does not yield multiple patients with a multiple of the same recommendation.

However, I also see applications for marriage counseling. One and One make two, so I might assume that if I know the husband and I know the wife then I know the couple. But we must also understand the "and", the way in which they combine, in order to truly comprehend what this couple becomes when they are together.



  1. Would love to hear more about the dvar torah... and that's a very insightful point in your last graph

  2. Your post appears to be a poetic approach to the problem of reductionism -- reducing a problem to smaller and more understandable parts, vs the analysis of emergent properties.

    Sometimes a system is more determined by how the parts are put together than what the parts are. E.g. there are properties in common between networks of neurons in our brains, computer networks, social networks, etc...

    I planm on someday soon blogging about a second difference between R' Chaim Brisker's derekh halimud and his student's, R' Shimon Shkop's. (The first, and most discussed, is that R' Chaim would ask "What?" and R' Shimon would also ask "Why?" in finding the distinctions between cases.) Rav Shimon also adds a second primary tool, in addition to finding distinctions (chiluqim). In his derekh, the word "hitztarfus" (fusion), is added to the lexicon. Two cases could differ in ways that reductionism would miss, because one case has a combination of factors that don't combine in the other.

  3. bratschegirl-
    Thanks! The speaker's main point was that the Sages took the separation of Day 2 (between water and water) as a negative, but they didn't apply this to the separation of Day 1 (light and dark) and of Day 4 (night and day). He suggested that this is because Day 2 involves separation between "like" and "like".
    I think much more is needed here, because the Torah has many cases of positive separation even between "like" and "like".

    R' Micha-
    I would love to see that post on R' Shimon Shkop's derech. I'll admit I haven't learned him much. As far as your earlier point on reductionism, much agreed. The whole is _different from_ the sum of its parts.

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