We Don’t Need Coaches to Teach Us About Relationships

When it comes to a question about how to deal with personal issues, marriage and dating, or the like, we don’t need a coach. We have Torah for that.

From a talk by Harav Yosef Braun – Badatz of Crown Heights

We are living in an environment that is saturated with Torah, yet people still seek advice from chachmei Yavan about life.

It is well known that the Yevanim appreciated chochmos chitzoniyus, secular wisdom. As Yidden, the Torah is our mainstay and guide. That is why we celebrate Chanukah with light which represents Torah, ner mitzvah veTorah ohr.

There are times when Torah itself allows for chachmei umos haolam, secular scholars, to give their opinion. When a person has a medical concern, he should go to a doctor. As the Torah says verapo yerapeh, a doctor has a license to heal.

[Interestingly, the expression used is nitnah reshus lerofeh lerapos, the doctor has permission to heal. Without permission from Torah, no one would have a right to interfere. However, Torah gives permission for doctors to state their opinion, to the extent that we value the doctor’s opinion regarding observing Shabbos and Yom Kippur.]

Likewise, when it comes to legal matters you would consult a lawyer to help you out in a legal situation, where halacha permits using the courts.

But there are certain areas that are pure Torah areas.

Today, we have a proliferation of coaches dispensing advice on all kinds of matters, and it’s not necessarily based on Torah.

Torah has everything in it, hafach bah vehafach bah dekula bah. When it comes to a question about how to deal with personal issues, marriage and dating, or the like, we don’t need a coach. We have Torah for that.

The Rebbe wrote so many letters all about advice about when it comes to shidduchim. Do you need to go to someone from the outside? If you don’t know how to find how that advice applies to you – since Torah is written for all of shishim ribo neshamos – go to a mashpia and they’ll show you how it applies to you, (like the Alter Rebbe writes to consult the gedolim shebe’iro v’heim yevonenuhu).

If you have a question about a mental health issue, there are aspects of it that Torah deals with. Torah talks about atzlus, laziness, atzvus, depression, and other common issues. Of course, if it’s a clinical issue, you would need to get medical help and Torah gives room for psychologists, but not to replace Torah guidance.

Tanya has four chapters (26-28) dealing with issues of depression. If you dealt with that and it turns out to be a clinical issue, then go to a doctor. Grief and loss are issues addressed in Torah. We don’t need chachmei Yavan to teach us about this.

This is not to put down doctors. Psychiatrists and psychologists are necessary, where they are necessary. But in a typical case, a bochur is going on a shidduch and he’s confused, for that he has a rav, a mashpia, a moreh derech. Why would you need to go to a coach from the outside, who often tells you things which are hepech haTorah? His training is about a very different kind of marriage and a whole different philosophy about relationship. Torah understands relationships very, very differently.

The whole world was created based on Torah, istakel beoreisa uvara olmah, the Aibeshter created the world and all its wisdom based on Torah. Yesh chachmah bagoyim ta’amin, yes goyim have wisdom. Torah bagoyim al ta’amin, Torah, hora’ah, lessons, guidance, they don’t have.

When it comes to education, there are some things that we can take from professionals, but there’s so much in our own backyard. As Chazal say, samuch lepaltin shelcha lo kavashta, you didn’t conquer your own backyard, and you’re running to other places?

If somebody knows how to appreciate the difference between the teven and bar, the good and the nonsense, there might be room for him to get professional development. But first and foremost, we have our Torah.

In recent years, there’s been a proliferation of Torah studies: shiurei Torah, inyanei Torah, and advice based on Torah. This is something to appreciate and value. We have a system in Torah – mashpi’im, madrichim, morei derech, and rabbonim – and we ought to use them out. They are the professionals according to Torah.

Many of our brethren traveled to India to pursue meaning in life and then they discovered that there’s meaning in their own backyard, in Torah. We don’t want to go through that same mistake. We may be shomer Torah umitzvos, but we’re seeking meaning elsewhere.

You want a meaningful life? That’s in Torah. Appreciation, sensitivity, middos tovos, good relationships, an emotionally healthy family? That’s in Torah, especially in toras hachassidus. Everything is there.

The Alter Rebbe writes in Tanya that he included kol hateshuvos al kol hashaylos, all the answers to all the questions you may have. The Alter Rebbe may not replace a hospital, but when it comes to basic day-to-day life, the answers are there.

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  1. “But in a typical case, a bochur is going on a shidduch and he’s confused, for that he has a rav, a mashpia, a moreh derech.”

    I think parents is missing.

  2. I’ve spoken to many people about this and they feel that they don’t know where to turn within Torah, find it hard to find relatable mashpiim etc.

    It would be a great service if a list/ website could be set up with mashpiim/ mashpios who could either be spoken to for free, or booked on a regular basis for payment, with a list of what they specialize in/ relate to, and most importantly, a review list of verifiable people who can share if it helped (or not maybe lashon horah?)

  3. The Torah does contain everything, however finding the right person to speak to or even getting through to the Rav/ mashpia/ chosson teacher isn’t for the feint hearted.
    I know rabbonim and mashpiam are super busy but they are hard to reach as well. A few weeks of incessant calling and not getting through for one important question…I don’t mind paying for 5 mins but there’s isnt any organized way of getting through to the right Rav for the the right question.
    Or chasing rabbonim for maaros.
    I know in CH there are so many rabbonim available and so many systems in place but all around the US isn’t the same.

    1. I have the same issue of a community Rav who doesn’t want to be bothered with many questions on Halacha. I’ve asked ask the Rav recently and had a great experience. Quick responses. Literally amazing!

    2. But they only deal with Halacha lmaase (which is huge) they don’t deal with mashpia/ growth/ healing questions necessarily

  4. I’m having difficulty understanding this article from the rav shelita,
    it seems to me there is Seemingly a contradiction in the article;
    on one side if someone is having a serious issue then you go to mental health professional, and on the other side of the coin; if one has “regular” issues then they should not go to the chachmei yavan…
    my question is: how can they be chachmei yavan and have /teach hanachos and morels that are “chochmas yavan” and then when someone has an issue all of a sudden its mutar all the kefirah that they say?
    Therefore I would venture to say that when someone has a crisis they should go to (or prefer to go to) a frum health professional (or at least ‘mamin’ that shares the same values).
    for after all how can you get real help for an issue if the practitioner thinks you are fine how you are…
    if so then if its not an “issue” but rater “just” life’s up and downs, I don’t see why it will hurt if you got a frum person for advice that has Torah values (and even chassidishe) and he has time for you because you book a slot and doesn’t just tell you to learn something that address that issue . but what, because he has a few letters after his name it would be an issue?

    1. When it’s an issue of “mental health” then the Torah gives permission and ability to the doctor to heal. Meaning, when it becomes a “mental health issue” then we say the same thing we say about a regular doctor that the Torah tells us to go to the doctor who will be the Shliach to bring Hashem’s healing.

      1. Aderabah! So go! My whole point was to go and find help and if you need it, don’t hold back heeling from those that need if you want one with your hashkofos- good, so find one like that there is many options. My point was don’t cancel heeling from those that need because you don’t like their hashkafos,find one you like…

  5. Is not coaches from the outside. It’s our own lubavitcher coaches AND mashpiim who are giving misguided advice specifically about shidduchim.

    1. What makes someone a “Lubavitcher coach”? Even if they learn Chassidus, if their coaching is based on chochmas yavan, then it’s not Lubavitch. If their guidance is pure Chassidus, then they’re a mashpia, not a “coach.”

      And who decides who is a worthy mashpia? There are plenty of mashpiim out there who understand people and care. The problem is that people are willing to pay $100-200 for a session with a “coach,” but would never consider paying that to a maspia since they work l’sheim Shomayim… Well, how long do you expect that to work for?

      1. A mashpia can be a very simple person who doesn’t typically think of him or herself as a professional coach of any sort. Once there is that official relationship of mashpia and mushpa, a lot of clarity starts happening as a blessing. If a frum person takes a dating coaching course and then becomes a coach, that’s a different role. If he or she is Lubavitch, he/she will know when something is a mashpia question. Mashpias and professionals know when something is a question for a Rav. Sometimes a Rav will answer a question with “That’s a question for your mashpia.” A mashpia typically is not also a dating coach and the lady Mashpias are certainly not Rabbis. Sometimes the male Mashpias are committed to the Rebbe’s ways, but don’t have smicha. Mashpias are sometimes very hard to get in touch with but will try because the mashpia/mushpa system is a directive of the Rebbe. It’s good to do things for one’s mashpia like daven on his or her behalf, contribute to whatever Tzeddukah is important to him or her etc. A professional, on the other hand, has to be paid. It’s a different role.

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