Annette Poizner
This Way Up: Psychological Means to Spiritual Ends

Jordan Peterson, Simchat Torah & You

The economy has tanked. Your kids are entering the workforce at a most inopportune moment. Many of your recreational pursuits are a thing of the past, at least for now, and you, anyway, are busy, retooling for the new order. You’ve been in no mood for the Jewish holidays.

What can I say? I hear.

Still, at moments of strain, at new beginnings, it can be helpful to access ancestral wisdom that has helped the Jewish people withstand the tides of change, over the centuries. Might the living Torah have anything to help you and your family weather the current storms?

In the last couple of years, I’ve kindled a great interest in the work of Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson. I find so many points of intersection between his insights and those of the Jewish tradition. Peterson’s assertion that we need to cultivate meaning as a means of enduring the inevitable suffering of life seem quite apropos in this difficult phase of history. And Peterson’s fascination with the rich legacy of meaning and truth that we find embedded in the Hebrew Bible meets me where I live.

Speaking of which, and with the upcoming holiday named for the delights associated with our ancestral treasure, this might be a good moment to mine your Jewish heritage for a little support and direction.

Let’s say you’re not one to listen to Torah talks from some of our great luminaries. Believe it or not, any number of young Jews are actually getting interested in Bible study, turned on to ancient teachings by watching Jordan Peterson’s YouTube series, The Psychological Significance of the Bible.

Yes, I know you’re an atheist. Peterson speaks as a psychologist, discussing the psychological importance of the Bible. You can be an atheist and still learn something about the psychological significance of the God ideal. If you do, you join the millions who have also listened. Read the comments under his lectures. Or, check out some accounts of Jews who reclaimed interest in their Jewish heritage, prompted by listening to Peterson’s online lectures. For many, these talks opened a fascinating door to a world, hitherto, unexplored.

Sigh. You are telling me about your wonderful Jewish education. I know. You did go to cheder, yes, right until you were . . . eight years old. So you learned lessons, the kinds of lessons that we teach people when they are . . . . right . . . eight years old.

How old are you now? That’s what I thought.

Ah, yes. You have heard that Jordan Peterson is the voice of the alt-right, supporting white supremacy, also anti-trans and otherwise mandating ‘enforced monogamy’, which you understand to mean designating sexual partners for incels. Um. NO! All not correct. Big Time.

If you want a bit of an orientation to Jordan Peterson and what he is up to, please download my e-book, Getting Sorted, Lobster Style: Why (and How) You Can Use Jordan Peterson’s Insights to Make Life Better. I offer it as a free download as often as Amazon allows, my effort to disseminate accurate information about this work and remedy misinformation that circulates.

Have you anymore ‘no’s’ up your sleeve?

Helping you get the kind of education that will take you through the trials and travails of life might be long overdue. For some, Jordan Peterson’s lectures have been an inroad, not just those that explore the stories in Genesis, but his treatment of the 12 Rules for Life, those that relate to the Map of Meaning, and others.

Start there, and, lo and behold, you might find that, next, you are inclined to delve into other talks and texts, this time, a little closer to home. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Rabbi YY Jacobson, wonderful articles and talks on the website Aish.com, and a host of other resources are there to take you on the next leg of your journey. I do believe that if you start learning you will discover what Torah is and has always been: our antidote to chaos.

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About the Author
Annette Poizner is a Columbia-trained clinical social worker who graduated with a Doctorate of Education in Counseling Psychology. As an Israeli-trained graphologist, she specializes in projective personality assessment, as well as strategic psychotherapy. Her work has been featured extensively in the media and in academic venues. She founded Lobster University Press, an imprint which explores the work of Jordan Peterson. Her books, the most recent being, "From Chaos to Order: A Guide to Jordan Peterson's Worldview," summarize Peterson's ideas and explore the intersection between his insights and Jewish wisdom. She also produces animations which relay some of Peterson's insights in short soundbites.
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