a Meaningful Life with Simon Jacobson
Radio Show Transcript - July 2, 2000
Rabbi Simon Jacobson: This is Simon Jacobson.
Good evening and welcome to the show. This week we will be
dealing with a sensitive and difficult topic because of its
personal nature. The topic is Abusive Relationships.
Unfortunately, its one of those topics
that needs to be addressed because of its prevalencemore
than we would like in our livesto the point where many
people have grown up either in an abusive home or have been
victims of abusive relationships. Part of the abuse is also
the silence that surrounds it (they say that the silence is
worse than the abuse), because the silence invalidates us
and doesnt even allow us to express our feelings in
these situations. Thats part of the abusive cycle or
pattern that quiets and silences us.
So I thought it would be a highly appropriate
topic for this show, obviously with the disclaimer that we
can hardly exhaust the issue on a show like this, yet, we
can at least touch upon it and give the courage and the ability
to speak about it.
I believe one of the first ways of freeing ourselves
from being hostages, from the tentacles of any type of abusive
situation is the ability to communicate, to speak, to ask,
to challenge. One of the unfortunate symptoms of abuse is
the silence that surrounds it. The cover up is worse than
the actual crime.
This topic is not something that I chose to
address necessarily, its just a reality that we live
in. So reflecting that reality, I believe that this show is
some type of a mirror that reflects real situations. Sometimes
theyre beautiful situations but sometimes theyre
painful ones. I dont think we should hesitate or resist
the need to address them.
As always, the phones are open and you can call
in at 212-244-1050.
Id like to begin with a few of the points
or questions that Ive been asked about the issue of
abuse, both in the classes that I give and places I travel
to and people I meet. Its a topic thats on many
peoples minds, and once they have the courage and the
strength and the wherewithal to address it, there are interesting
things that come up, particularly from people who have been
in that type of situation.
Here are some of the questions that Ive
heard around the topic of abusive relationships. One is, can
we really get over them? Is it a situation that creates a
victim forever? Can we free ourselves from a situation like
Others ask the question, Is childhood abuse,
growing up in an abusive home a myth? Is it as common as some
say? Is it really much more prevalent than we would like to
believe, or, as many have recently argued, is it fabricated?
Is it something that is either suggested to children in therapy,
or in other situations where theres suggestibility and
people want to believe something, can the suggestion of a
therapist or a psychologist create that myth, even if people
dont have direct memories of abuse in their homes, Thats
what some argue.
Can a child protect him or herself from abusive
adults? Clearly, a child is, in a sense, a victim in the hands
of that adult. So if the child is vulnerable, how can a child
And more importantly, there are questions about
G-d. Why doesnt G-d protect the child? That is a particularly
painful question because of its natureG-d creates life,
gives life to a child, and then puts him in a situation, in
a home, where he may endure abuse. Why would G-d do something
so cruel to a child that would allow such a thing to a vulnerable
child? Its one thing with an adult who has the tools
and the resources to protect him or herself, but a child
Can we heal from these childhood wounds? And
how can we help other children who are suffering in the hands
of abusive adults or parents?
Of course when you deal with abuse, its
not just about children and parents, it means abuse in a broader
sense, but to divide it into two, one is abuse where you have
someone who is not an equal, whether its a student,
or a child, someone whos vulnerable and is abused by
someone who is a superior or in a position of authority, and
then theres abuse where there are two equals, so to
speak, two adults, and so on.
Id like to begin with the topic, is abuse
as prevalent as some would like to say or is it fabricated?
Id like to throw that question out to anyone out there
who would like to comment on that, particularly if there are
any psychologists or social workers or therapists listening
to the show. People who have been in the field obviously have
experience and its not an issue of theorymy theory
vs. someone elses theory. Experience is really what
should dictate our view on this topic: is it as prevalent
as some would have us believe or is it really exaggerated?
The question is really a very important one
because in truth, most of us are uncomfortable when we hear
of horrible situations where some person abuses another, or
someone grows up in an abusive environment. And if we could
believe that its not all that prevalent, in a way it
allows us to sleep a little more peacefully.
However, if it is a real reality and much more
common than we would like to believe, the fact that we are
unaware of it should not be a reason not to address it.
I should begin by saying that when youre
dealing with an issue like abuse, there are many, many levels
of it, from the most overt and extreme level of abuse where
somebody actually physically, emotionally, or psychologically
or sexually abuses another person, and then theres abuse
on a more subtle level.
It can be verbal abuse, it can be subtle (in
the sense where its abuse but it can be borderline abuse),
or it can be an abuse where a parent abandons the child. It
may not be active abuse but can be what is called passive
abuse, where a parent is not available for a child. Or another
form of abuse is when someone who is expected or is obligated
to be in a situation to be there as a support abandons that
So really, when you broaden the spectrum, one
can say that each of us has endured some type of abusive situation
in our lives. We live now in America in a more peaceful time,
but many of our parents
my parents are refugees who
came over from Russia after World War II. In many ways they
grew up in an abusive environment as well. When I say abusive,
they may have had healthy homes and wonderful parents, however
the abuses were that they were uprooted from a community,
from the cities they lived in, the language they spoke, and
had to transplant their lives in the United States.
That is the type of abuse that is based on circumstances.
Why do I call it abuse? The truth is it shouldnt be
called abuse, it should be called the traumas of relocation,
of war, and so on. But the reason I want to connect it to
the level of abuse is that I want to show that all of us in
some way are affected by the environment around us. Abuse
doesnt always mean that someone physically or in some
immediate way abused you, but that life itself is abusive.
Interestingly, in the Kabbalah, when you talk
about this in the context of Jewish mysticism where reality
and life is put in the context of a larger cosmic picture,
it explains there that there is a concept called tzimtzum.
Some of you listeners may be aware of the concept, in Lurianic
Kabbalah, which is from Reb Isaac Luria, the holy Arizal
who lived in the 16th century, who explains the
concept of tzimtzum. Tzimtzum literally means
contraction. But it refers to, on a cosmic level, a cosmic
black hole where all existential issues that we struggle with
What that means is that G-d, in some mysterious
way, conceals His presence, His energy, His manifestation
from existence, which allows for our independent existence
to be, and for me, for you, to walk around and feel that we
are self-contained individuals.
In a way, that is the first abusive state. Not
that G-d abused us, G-d forbid, but rather an abusive state
because it created a dichotomy where we can imagine or have
an illusion of an existence independent of anything around
us, which really allows the potential for any type of abuse.
So in itself its not an abusive situationin
fact, if we felt at all times that were connected to
our source of sustenance, or were connected to our mission,
none of us would be able to hurt another person.
The fact is that all human beings, and I speak
again from this cosmic perspective, are all like musical notes
in one large musical composition. So how is it possible that
one musical note can harm another in any way? Or to use the
example of the human body, were like one large organism.
One person may be the right arm, the left arm, the heart,
the liver, the mind. And were are all part of one large
So how is it possible that one person can hurt
another? Because we dont feel and sense that were
part of one family, to the point the we can be selfish and
I dont just mean strangers, I mean even
our own children, our own relatives, our spouses. The fact
is, we feel we are self-contained and another person is not
you. Ill go even a step beyond thatwe can even
abuse ourselves. We can humiliate ourselves, we can look at
ourselves with low self-esteem. And all this, all different
forms of abuse, is all the result of a certain dichotomy,
where we are not in touch with our mission; we are not in
touch with our source.
It is interesting that animals, the animal kingdom,
are not abusive to each other. They follow a script. Its
true there are animals that are predators, and others are
their prey. But theres a natural balance thats
part of the script of nature. And they just follow that order.
It is the human being who has free will, who
has the ability to sense that I am not connected to
some type of order, and therefore I can behave in any kind
of outrageous, abusive fashion.
So in essence, existence itself is an abusive
one, and life is harsh. That doesnt necessarily justify
any of us adding to that type of situation, or exaggerating.
Im just stating it for the record to be able to put
things in context.
When we know that, then we know what challenge
we are faced with when were dealing with abusive situations.
Looking at it in a psychological way, the psychology
of life is such that a newborn child, or a child in its mothers
womb, cannot be abused if the mother is healthy. Of course
it can be abused if the mother is an alcoholic or in some
other way ingests foods or other items that may be destructive
to the child, but in a natural environment, a child in its
mothers womb is sustained by the food and by the air
that the mother eats and breathes. And for that child, until
there is some type of tense situation, tension, or abuse,
that child is in a healthy environment.
What happens is that since human beings are
human and parents arent perfect, parents may begin to
abuse that child in different ways, either in a passive way
through abandonment or not providing the proper needs, or
in an aggressive way, with overt abuse: a parent who simply
is not fit to be a parent and just uses the child as an object
and doesnt treat it like a human being.
Okay, we have Arty on line one.
Caller: Hi. I have a question. Ive
worked in a place for many years and over the years the people
come and go. I work in a very large section, there are four
different sections, and they hire certain people like temps
and people who come in to work part-time or on a temporary
basis, and over the years generally people come and go.
A young girl came in to work as a temp about
a year and a half ago. I really didnt pay attention
to her generally and the last few weeks we became very friendly.
Generally shes very complimentary and very flattering
to me. Right after I got a haircut, she put her fingers through
my hair, and generally she always likes what I wear (we have
a uniform that we wear, but sometimes on Fridays you wear
what you want) and shes always flattering me.
Jacobson: Is there a question?
Caller: Well, I want to ask how would
you interpret something like this? Is it a friendship or a
flirtation, so to speak? I never really noticed it before
but last five or six weeks shes been very, very nice.
Shes from South America
Jacobson: Is she your age?
Caller: No, shes younger than I
Jacobson: Much younger?
Caller: Yeah, shes about 20-23
years younger. She doesnt know how old I am. As I said,
I never noticed her really, I never said good morning or good
night, and now its become a very friendly thing. I mean,
shes married and as a matter of fact her husband works
in the office, not in my department, but hes been working
there for about ten years.
Jacobson: Are you married?
Caller: No, Im divorced.
Jacobson: Well, if shes married
then obviously she has a relationship that shes in and
I would be very careful. The topic of this show is abusive
relationships, and you dont want this to turn into an
abusive relationship. So I think its a kind gesture
and I think its kind of her to be friendly, but I think
you should be cautious and wary, I mean, shes a married
woman and you should not really be getting involved in any
way thats beyond just a friendly co-worker.
Caller: No, I know nothing will materialize
from it but shes come to the point where shes
coming on really strong. Its not that anyone notices
in the office.
Jacobson: Listen, Arty, youre an
adult and you have to be disciplined and behave in a way thats
Well, as a segue, when you say abusive relationships,
abusive relationships can also be between adults who are at
work and co-workers and people who prey upon someone who may
be vulnerable and needy and stuff like that.
Obviously, this is all in the context of what
were discussing here.
Jacobson: The first abusive relationship
that I would like to address is the one which always touches
me most because of the painful implications which is abuse
against children, children in the hands of parents, because
I believe that all abuse, even as adults, always begins at
home, in what we experienced and in what weve seen around
The reason I began by discussing this on a cosmic
level, is not that I wanted to create some type of abstract
theory, but rather to be able to put things in context so
that we should understand that we live in a world that has
the potential for abuse at all times. Even if you dont
meet an abusive person, even if everything seems healthy,
theres always that potential because once were
out of the womb, were not in that type of connection,
we dont sense the intricate and intrinsic thread that
connects us all, then theres always the potential for
one person to hurt another.
It may be very subtle or it may be very overt,
but thats just a question of measure. Is abuse something
that can be measured by quantity? Obviously theres no
question that very physical or overt abuse is much more reprehensible,
but conceptually speaking, any time you ignore another person,
any time that youre insensitive to another person, even
if they can defend themselves and even if we wont call
that an abusive behavior because it may not cause any damage,
that is a reflection of the intrinsic dichotomy in existence
The fact that there are parents or people who
can abuse someone in a much more overt way, on a much more
extreme level, originates from inability of seeing that existence
and all people are part of one higher truth and one higher
So talking about children in vulnerable situations,
I want to address one of the questions I began with earlier.
I personally find that abusive homes are much more prevalent
than most people would like to believe. It may be a result
of our own highly materialistic, prosperous times, or it may
be a result of something that exists from generations back.
I cant answer whether things are worse today than they
were or not. But one things for sure. Today things are
spoken about more. And I think thats what makes some
people uncomfortable to the extent that they suggest theres
an exaggeration of abusive situations in homes.
From my personal experience, I lean that its
much more prevalent than we would like to believe; however,
because of the discomfort involved, many of us would just
like to push it under the carpet and not address it.
The question, of course, is on G-d. What exactly
is going on? How could G-d put a child into a home like that?
And how does G-d help protect the child?
Theres an interesting phenomenon that
occurs during extreme situations of abuse. Ill assume
that our listeners all know what hypothermia ishypothermia
is a state of being which usually occurs with young children
who fall under the ice, or fall into very cold water. The
body goes into a state of hypothermia where, in order to preserve
the vital organs, the entire body shuts downthe blood
circulation, the heartbeatto the point that people may
even think that the person is dead. There was a time when
they thought children were dead, unfortunately, even though
However, the truth is, when the body is in a
state of hypothermia, the body is protecting itself. I always
found it literally a miracle that the body has that type of
wisdom to know that it has to protect itself to the point
of going into such a state.
I think that theres a concept, and this
is my own coinage, called psychological hypothermia. Its
been demonstrated psychologically that children who have suffered
serious abuse go into an out-of-body state; that when a child
endures serious abuse in the hands of a parent, the child
simply cannot tolerate the fact that a parent whos supposed
to be a source of love can hurt the child. Remember for a
child theres nothing outside of the home. Walking
over that threshold is like walking off the planet. So this
is its sustenance. For a young child, a parent is all that
A child cannot accept that a parent who is loving
could hurt it, so a child goes into this state of psychological
hypothermia, where they almost cut themselves off from
that experience. Ive always wondered where that wisdom
Now in no way am I suggesting that abuse is
a positive thing, but perhaps thats G-ds way of
It is true that G-d cannot take away free will,
and each of us has the power to hurt another human being.
Parents particularly are blessed with the greatest gift of
all, the gift of life. But as every gift that is given to
us, were also given the will and the gift of being able
to choose to protect, nurture, and cultivate that life in
our lives. However, the other side of the coin is that we
also have the choice to in some way hurt or abuse that person.
So G-d cannot take away that free will. And
as difficult as it is to understand, its part of the
mystery of the Holocaust, a personal holocaust, the mystery
of pain, and the mystery of loss. We will never understand
why people are hurt in that way. But it is part of the mystery
of existence itself that we must have free will, because if
there were no free will, then basically there would be no
purpose for our lives.
A writer, a cynic once said that we must believe
in free willwe have no choice.
So free will is a necessity; an inherent component
in existence that among other things allows for the potential
for hurting and abusing someone. Yet, for every challenge
that is given to us in our lives, were also provided
with resources to protect ourselves. Children who have suffered
serious abuse sometimes, in a way, lock up the real child
in themselves into a closet or a box,
while another personality emerges that endures the abuse.
Thats why children who have suffered serious abuse have
this type of personality, not a split personality, but one
where they are able to create another reality in order to
be able to tolerate life. In a way, the child that was really
there is locked up. And as they grow up into adults, the difficulty
in their lives is to be able to reintegrate, to reconnect
to real life. This is whats called Post Traumatic Stress
Disorder or other names that are used in psychological terms.
This is an extreme example, of course, but if
were looking for G-d, meaning where G-d is in all this,
sometimes it is G-d working in mysterious ways that helps
protect the child from the abuse of its parent, so that one
day, when it is able to emerge and leave home, that child
within can return and reclaim its own innocence, its
So G-d works in mysterious ways and the key
is to know that theres hope that no matter what situation
youve ever been in, no matter how abusive, it is incumbent
upon you, and it behooves you, to find a way through it. There
is a light at the end of the tunnel. It may be difficult,
it may seem impossible, but its critical to find those
friends, healthy friends, who will lend that supporting hand
that helps you reconnect to G-d, reconnect to your soul, reconnect
to the resources that allow you to get out of the difficult
Unfortunately, part of abuse is the perpetuation
and victimization, where we continue to be connected either
directly or indirectly to those painful situations.
I find people who are literally the most refined
human beings who have come through the most horrendous and
unbearable situations. One could not imagine how one could
have grown up under those circumstances, yet they have, and
they are deeply refined human beings.
I know others who have been broken to the point
of complete devastation. Of course, were not blaming
anyone. Anyone in a situation like that is a sacred human
being, has their own sacred right of choice. What we see from
that is that the power of the soul is inestimable. We have
the deepest resources, like a well that is perhaps deeper
than we can ever imagine, and when we reach into it we find
resources, if we allow ourselves to reach. That is the key
Lets go to Sarah on the air.
Caller: Hello Rabbi. I would like to
ask you a question. I have come to the conclusion that there
is a gene that some people are born with that makes them completely
unfeeling toward others. I come from a physically abusive
home, the horrors of which I cannot describe in a short phone
I have a sibling who grew up in the same home
who was far less physically abused but hes a very cruel,
unfeeling, unemotional person. It is impossible to communicate
with him because he hears only his own thoughts. Hes
exactly like my mother, and I have a cousin like that, too.
And I began to wonder, since my brother and another member
in my family are so unfeeling toward others and cruel, without
being physically abusive, is there a gene that gets passed
on and I wonder what you think.
On the other hand, people always turn to me
for advice, and Ive always been the recipient of peoples
confidences. Parents turn to me about their children, my peers
turn to me. Im the exact opposite.
Jacobson: Well, I wouldnt want
to get them off the hook that easily by just saying that its
a gene and just dismissing it that way because then youre
basically saying that theyre not responsible for their
behavioryour brother or your mother or others that youve
describedand thats something that I find a little
Caller: But if you knew them you would
know that they recognize no responsibility.
Jacobson: Are you willing to forgive
them because its a gene?
Caller: No, I cannot forgive them. I
would like to but I cant.
Jacobson: Well, my view on the matter
is that sometimes peoples choices or their low self-esteem
or whatever fears they may be experiencing can be so profound
that it may seem like a genetic flaw.
Caller: Yes, but that sounds like a cop-out
to me. A lot of people have low self-esteem but they dont
take it out on others.
Jacobson: No, Im talking about
calling them on it. Im not talking about a cop-out at
Caller: You cant communicate with
the kind of people Im talking about. Ive tried
for many, many years with my brother. He doesnt hear
Jacobson: I understand. Do you think
its helpful to say its a gene? How does that help
Caller: No, I dont think its
helpful. Ive begun to wonder, why are they like that
and I am not?
Jacobson: Sarah, listen, first of all,
I must say that I empathize with you entirely, and not even
knowing what kind of abuse youve endured, I can imagine
Caller: Anything you could imagine
Jacobson: So my empathy goes out to you
and Im sure our listeners feel the same as well. If
youd like to share more with me, if I can be of any
level of support after we finish the call, I invite you to
leave your number with the engineer, and Id be happy
to communicate with you further.
Caller: What number would I call?
Jacobson: Just stay on hold and give
him your number. And I say that to all the listeners out there
as well. Not everything has to be said on the air. Some things
are more appropriate to be spoken about personally. However,
I want to say this, Sarah. Despite the challengeand
I know many people who are exactly as you described, impossible
to reason with, they only see it their wayI dont
like to believe that we have to give up hope.
I dont think you should be doing
it because its your own sibling and your own parent
and its too close to you, but I dont like to give
up hope on the human spirit. And even though there may be
a gene thats affected, genetics is a very complicated
area. Its proven today that genes are sometimes affected
by behavior. Its not always a flaw from birth. Its
nature vs. nurture. Sometimes something in nurture affects
our nature to the point that you can literally see a physiological
So the point is, we both agree that your brother
and your mother are absolutely behaving in an inappropriate
way. The extent, whether its genetic or beyond genetic,
or whatever it may be, is a question that may be one of semantics.
The key is what to do about it? Are you out
of the range of fire? Can you protect yourself now? Are you
in a situation where you have moved away from them and dont
allow yourself to be in the line of fire?
Jacobson: Okay, thats the main
thing. Im glad to hear that. Is there anything you would
like to say to anyone who might be in a similar situationhow
they should get themselves away from it or protect themselves?
Caller: Well, I would say you should
try as hard as you can to penetrate the armor that these people
wear, and finally, you have to step away, because you have
your own life to live, too. Thats all I can say.
Jacobson: So, are you happy today?
Jacobson: So you still feel the consequences
Caller: Oh yes. I always will.
Jacobson: Well, you sound like a very
fine person and Im sure that you bring love to others
in your life.
Caller: I really do. I am a loving person.
Jacobson: And may you appreciate love
in a way that some of us can never appreciate it. You know,
the eclipse of the sun can sometimes teach us to appreciate
sunlight more than the sun does. I give you my blessings and
Caller: I really appreciate it.
Jacobson: Weve been talking about
children who have been in abusive situations, and that was
a very moving call from Sarah.
Getting back to the issue of children protecting
themselves, there are many ways to do that but lets
go to the phones since I see there are a few calls coming
in. We go to Charlie on line 2.
Caller: Hi. How are you Rabbi? I think
its a very interesting topic tonight. I was thinking
about the whole hereditary addictive aspect of what youre
Jacobson: And what are your thoughts?
Caller: That its its own form of
abuse, and it carries on sometimes from generation to generation
to generation more than a couple of times. It has a lot of
its own confusion because of course people want to love their
parents and so they have difficulty finding fault in them
whether it be alcoholism or any other type of addiction.
Jacobson: Have you had personal experiences
or know people who are abusive, without exposing too much
Caller: Yes, I know of some situations
such as what Im describing.
Jacobson: The thing about the genetic
issue is a very complicated one because often there can be
very profound experiences that actually have an effect on
our genetics. Thats been proven to be the case.
At the same time, the key here is not so much
how we classify it, but what we do about it. Theres
no question that a person whos really been hurt has
to get away from the line of fire. Thats what I was
discussing with the previous caller. No matter how much hope
you have for the spirit of the human being, criminal behavior
is criminal behavior. A child has to get away.
I tell this to many people who have had abusive
parents. You dont have to feel that you need to win.
You dont need to feel that you have to go back into
the situation and even forgive. Sometimes the person is just
beyond reach. And its their problem. A parent or any
adult or any individual whos been abusive, thats
their problem: they have to find a way to mend and
correct it. You, the individual, the person whos been
on the receiving end, have to move on and discover your life.
But often, abuse has a crazy vicious cycle that
holds us victimeven when we get away from it and we
want to get even, or we want to win, or we still hold onto
it. Anyway, I appreciate your call. Thank you.
(Announcement break about the Wednesday Night
Class at 8:00pm, 346 West 89th St. corner Riverside
Drive and the Delaware River Camping Shabbaton on August 11-13)
Jacobson: I would like to also say that
when dealing with a topic of this nature, the key is not just
the analysis of the issue, but the ability to be able to heal
from it, to grow out of it. Lets go to the phone. We
have Margie on the air.
Caller: Listen, I have a big problem.
Ive got my granddaughter from child welfare and they
are giving me a fit. First she had run away and shes
back into the system, but yet, I got to go to court every
month and the two lawyers they gave me, neither one of them
is taking messages or nothing. Just leaving in the child,
and all. And I need some help. I dont have any money
but I need some help bad, so I was just wondering is there
a way to get somebody to help me get this thing out and let
the people know what the system is doing to people?
Jacobson: Margie, I appreciate your call.
If you leave your number with the engineer, well try
to help you out in any way we can.
Well, theres abuse all over the place
and I really feel that its a gift that we can be a platform
here. If anybody is in a situation where you may need help
immediately, and you happen to be listening to this show,
obviously my heart and the lines are open. You can call and
well try to help you in any way we can.
In a broader sense, the theme of the show is
trying to address how each of us can in some way be less abusive
in our own way. We all have the potential to be both an abuser
and a victim. One of the things thats so beautiful about
charity, and the ability to help each otherand when
I say charity I dont just mean financially,
but volunteer work and every gesture that people makeis
that is such a simple way to help each other, to help each
In our community and in our society in the United
States, charity is a very big thing. But it goes far beyond
the ability to give to each other. That imbalance that I discussed
earlier, that dichotomy, where individuals feel that they
are independent organisms instead of part of one large cohesive
unit, the way to challenge that is by doing those gestures,
when we behave in a charitable way, when we go out
of our way and go beyond the letter of the law, not by obligation,
to help another person.
So the real way to counter any type of abusive
situation is, what each of us can do, is by being kind
to each other. Again, Im not discussing the immediate
situation of someone whos in the line of fire and has
to deal with the immediate reality of it. But if you want
to know what you can do in general, next time you go on the
train, or you travel, or you meet a stranger, make that kind
word or gesture.
New Yorkers are known all over the United States
to be abrasive, aggressive, and very impolite.
But the fact of the matter is, thats a
stereotype. Sometimes you find New Yorkers to be wonderful
people. There are millions of us in this city here, and one
of the beautiful things that we find is that when a person
makes that gesture, in a way, it reverses the trend of the
divisiveness and the separation that materialism imposes upon
As I say many times on this show, the formula
goes this way: materialism divides, spirituality unites. When
we see ourselves as purely materialistic individuals, then
our bodies are separate.
You sit in your space and placephysicality
occupies time and spaceand I sit in my space. Theres
no way that I can give you my space without standing up. The
same is true with food. If I eat that food, you cant
have that food. And if I have that money, you cant have
When it comes to spirituality, when it comes
to true love, two people can be sitting in different spaces,
but their hearts can go out to each other and they become
I know people who sometimes sit near each other
at a party or at a play or in the subway, and theyre
the greatest strangers. Theyre sitting right near each
other. And then there are others who can be thousands of miles
apart, but their hearts are one.
So the way to battle any abusive situation is
to be a loving person yourself and never succumb to being
another victim, even if you yourself have endured abuse. Dont
perpetuate it into the next generation.
Lets go to Carol on the air.
Caller: Hi. I was calling about my boss.
Hes very abusive. A lot of people have left the department.
What hes doing is getting rid of all the people who
have been there a long time and replacing them with temps
so that he can give them less salary, less vacation. Isnt
that illegal? Couldnt you get a lawsuit? Isnt
Jacobson: How is he abusive, if I may
ask? Is it verbally or physically or emotionally?
Caller: Verbally, yes, but my concern
now is just the fact that theyre letting all the older
people go whove been there many years and replacing
them with temps. Isnt that age discrimination? I think
thats abusive. They were dedicated for all those years
and now theyre just letting them go.
Jacobson: Carol, are you suffering as
Caller: Yes. I mean, Im not yet
but Im sure Im going to be next. It hasnt
happened to me yet.
Jacobson: Well, what form of abuse?
Caller: Well, Ive been working
there for many years and Im afraid of losing my job
to a temp. My job isnt going to be eliminated but they
could just replace me and say, Youre out of here.
Jacobson: But how does the abuse manifest
Caller: I think its abuse because
it shows a lack of appreciation for all the many years and
dedication that Ive put in.
Jacobson: You mean, just firing people
Caller: With no reason, no reason at
Jacobson: Does this boss of yours have
a boss himself? Does he have a superior? Or is he the top
Caller: No, he has a top person.
Jacobson: Have you ever considered speaking
to that person, or do you feel that you can suffer consequences
Caller: Yes. Hes a vice president,
so I would have to go pretty high up to
Jacobson: Well, based on what youre
describing briefly, I dont know all the dynamics and
details, but maybe you should pre-empt it by getting yourself
out of there and finding yourself a good job. You obviously
have credentials and years of experience.
If you see this coming, why not prevent it by
getting away from it as quickly as possible?
Caller: Because Ive been with this
company a long time. Its a good company. I have an excellent
salary and a lot of vacation time and I really would like
to stay there.
Jacobson: Yes, but it sounds like youre
getting the axe. I mean, legally speaking, it really depends
whether this is a city agency, or whether its a private
company. Certain abuse is illegalsexual abuse or other
types of harassment.
But he could always justify firing people by
giving some type of cockamamie excuse.
Caller: But its only the older
people who are leaving. Hes only firing people who have
been there 30 years or so.
Jacobson: And is there something in the
contract that calls for mandatory retirement?
Caller: No, nothing like that.
Jacobson: As sad as the situation is,
Im at a loss and Im not sure what to say to you.
The only thing is, I think that you have to protect yourself
as much as possible. Are you coming to that age yourself?
Jacobson: Well, unfortunately, much of
society is driven by youth worship and young people. I guess
you have a lot of experience, and that comes with strengths.
Perhaps your experience will prevail and they will keep you
on. But I dont have a direct suggestion. If youd
like to leave your number, I can call you back and find out
more information and perhaps make a suggestion or two. Okay,
thank you Carol for the call.
Obviously each of us has to look into our own
hearts and see if theres a situation where we may be
hurting another person, willingly or unwillingly. Thats
what a true person of integrity and honesty always has to
be looking at. We may be doing things inadvertently, and need
to look at ourselves in that type of fashion.
At the same time, we also need to protect ourselves
from those who perhaps perpetrate and treat us in an abusive
way, and not allow ourselves to get caught in the trap of
bitterness and pain that continues to perpetuate that type
of negative energy.
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Lets go to the phones. We go to AJ.
Caller: Good evening Rabbi. In relation
to these abuses, what Id like to mention to the public
is that when we had a revolution, there were a lot of abuses
but there were a lot of people willing to make a fight
out of it and really make big sacrifices. Some of them
lost their lives, where about 40% of the people remained Loyalists.
People have to be more socially conscious and charitable to
the responsible, religious people in the country and make
those kind of sacrifices to vote and pay attention to whats
going on in the country before the water goes over the dam,
because then its too late.
Really, to a lot of people, unfortunately, they
want you to sympathize with their situations, they want you
to help them, but prior to that, until they get hit, until
they suffer, theyre really not given the proper attention
to the overall social issues of the country.
I notice this all the time. Theres an
enormous amount of ungratefulness in society these days. Thats
been the hallmark of the day: ungratefulness for the people
who make the sacrifices for society, while people want to
sit back and let the other guy carry the heavy load.
Jacobson: Are you suggesting that there
are people who are like crybabies, who just suffer and instead
of taking responsibility, just bemoan their situation?
Caller: Well, naturally, these people
need help, but the thing is, as a general rule, people are
not as grateful as they should be for what theyre getting,
and then those who could do something when they are able,
people who have money and time, will spend it on all sorts
of things other than what the social fabric of the country
And they hang onto their money to the last gunshot.
You have to support good things if you want something good.
If you want good music you have to support good music, if
you give a lot of money to horrendous music, which we have
today, then we have horrendous music.
Jacobson: Okay, thank you AJ for the
call. We go to Norman.
Caller: Thank you Rabbi. Id like
to respond, if I could, to the young lady who called a few
minutes ago who addressed the issue of people who are being
fired, predominately because they are old, and she claims
that her boss is firing them and hiring temps, obviously to
pay less money and not pay benefits, etc.
Thats against the law, Rabbi. Those people
who are being fired just for that reason should get an attorney,
should come together and bring an action against that employer.
Thats not permitted in this country, if shes giving
us all the facts.
Jacobson: No, I appreciate that. As a
matter of fact, I was going to take her number
Caller: But the issue is that your audience
needs to know that people cannot be arbitrarily fired at the
workplace for no reason whatsoever, though the world celebrates
youth as you pointed out.
Jacobson: No, I completely agree. I appreciate
your call and I reiterate that the audience should listen
to that and people should take a stand.
If there is an abusive situation, they should
not allow it to penetrate their lives. This country, thank
G-d, has many rules and many laws that allow us all to protect
our rights. Unfortunately, many of those laws cannot penetrate
into the home where parents may be able to hurt their children.
Even though that should be illegal, its a difficult
situation because where should the government intervene? The
government wants to be careful not to intervene and take away
that type of autonomy because then there can be abuse on that
level as well.
Youve been listening to Toward a Meaningful
Life with Simon Jacobson and I want to wish us all that
we should have the power to be able to rise above an abusive
situation and really hold on to the strongest foundation in
our lives -- our spirit, our soul, and G-d. Thank you.