The Daniel B. Sobel Friendship House in West Bloomfield, Michigan in conjunction with The Shul hosted an inspirational talk by Rabbi Shais Taub to commemorate the yahrzeit of Steven Beale, a 37-year old member of the community who tragically passed last year.
Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov, leader of The Shul, delivered a memorial tribute to Steven and recited Keil Maleh Rachamim.
Friendship House Director, Rabbi Yisrael Pinson, who organized the event, introduced Taub whose talk was entitled Emotional Sobriety: How to Remain Reasonably Happy and Calm While People Around You are Acting Insane.
Taub’s speech focused on the importance of maintaining healthy boundaries in relationships and outlined spiritual methods for developing self-respect.
He said that many of the same principles used to help recovering addicts apply to the general population as well. “We’re not all addicts, but we’re all a little bit neurotic,” he said.
He defined neurosis as an “investment of emotional energy that is not going to pay off,” such as pursuing a relationship with someone who is clearly not interested, or trying to please a boss or a parent who is never satisfied.
Taub calls those situations “emotional black holes.” He maintains that while people cannot control the actions and behavior of others, they can choose how to respond.
“When there’s dysfunction in our relationships, it’s emanating from ourselves,” said Taub. “When I try to control the uncontrollable, then I lose my identity.”
He contends that while the stigma of addiction within the Jewish community has lessened considerably in the past several years, there is still significant denial about the family disease of codependency, which he defines as “love with a lack of boundaries.”
He characterizes the stereotypical Jewish mother as the ultimate codependent.
“We’re never taught that other people’s happiness is not our responsibility,” said Taub, who lives in Pittsburgh, Pa., with his wife and children. “There are three things I cannot change: the past, the truth, and you. Anytime we try to change one of those things, we’re in pain.”
The audience was profoundly moved by Taub’s powerful message, especially the Beale family, who sponsored the event, and who led the crowd in giving Taub a standing ovation.
At the conclusion of the formal program, Taub signed copies of his new best selling book, G-d of Our Understanding: Jewish Spirituality and Recovery from Addiction.
VIDEO: Rabbi Shais Taub’s lecture