Miami Beach, Fl.
Greeting and Blessing:
After the long interval, I was especially pleased to receive your letter. May G-d, whose benevolent Providence extends to each and everyone, lead you in the way of the fullest utilization of your abilities to help others, and help yourself, in strict accord with the Torah. This is also the way of Hatzlacha in the fulfillment of your heart's desires for good.
I have underscored the words "in strict accord," because in the field of Jewish Meditation one cannot overemphasize the great caution that is required to steer clear from even the slightest admixture of Avoda Zara (idolatry) - or even the suspicion of A.Z. I bring this up here because I have received complaints about some practitioners of Jewish Meditation that some aspects of their practices are not in accord with the Shulchan Aruch. I do not know the writer personally, but since we are dealing with a highly sensitive and serious area, I cannot ignore such reports. Moreover, it appears that the complaints are basically connected with the fact that many of those who practice Jewish Meditation are not experts on Halacha, particularly on the intricacies of Avoda Zara. Of course, however well meaning a Jew is, the fact that one is an M.D. or Ph.D. clearly indicates that he had devoted considerable time to obtain these degrees and, to that extent, he has not been able to consecrate his time and attention to Torah and Halacha. I use the term "consecrate" advisedly, for this is what proper Torah study demands.
For this reason, it has been my advice to those Ph.D.'s and M.D.'s who wish to enter the field of Jewish Meditation, that even if they also have Rabbinical Ordination (Smicha), they should seek the advice and guidance of a competent and experienced Rav, who is an expert in those sections of the Shulchan Aruch which deal with these questions. To be sure, a Rav Moreh Hora'ah is expected to be proficient in all of the Shulchan Aruch, but there are Rabbanim who have specialized in this particular field, and they are competent to rule whether this or that practice has any suspicion of A.Z. And there is surely no need to emphasize how strictly one must regard any suspicion of A.Z., even the remotest.
In these days of confusion and misconception, additional precaution must be taken to avoid anything, however innocent in itself - if it can be misconstrued by a patient or by a colleague as a Hetter for similar treatment or methods which may not be as innocent of A.Z.
I must emphasize again that the above is no reflection in any way on the Torah knowledge and commitment of any person. But because no person can be fully objective in a matter in which one is personally involved, especially if it is a dedicated involvement, it is important to seek the opinion of a completely objective and disinterested Rabbinic authority.
With blessing for Hatzlacha in all above,
/the Rebbe's signature/
Dr. Aryeh (Arnie) Gotfryd, PhD is a chassid, environmental scientist, author and educator living near Toronto, Canada. To read more or to book him for a talk, visit his website at www.arniegotfryd.com.