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Orthodox Conundrum

Dec 26, 2022

This podcast has frequently alluded to the problems that arise when rabbis mistakenly don’t stay in their own lane, and end up advising people in areas that require more than the pastoral counseling they might have learned when studying for semicha. Indeed, there is reason to be concerned about the intersection between rabbinic counseling and psychotherapy, and how the professional - and the congregant or client - knows which is required in any given situation. And the answers are not always so clear cut.

For that reason, Scott was honored to speak to Rabbi Larry Rothwachs, a well-regarded congregational rabbi, a licensed social worker, and the Director of Professional Rabbinics at RIETS at Yeshiva University to discuss many of the issues that arise from this potential conflict, including what mental health issues are most prevalent in the Orthodox world, the specific differences between rabbinic counseling and therapy, how to navigate conflicts that arise between a person’s role as a rabbi and a therapist, the problems that result from rabbis and therapists getting involved in areas in which they are not trained, how a person should know when what is being discussed is “above his pay grade,” what a therapist committed to Jewish law should do when a therapist’s response to a problem may differ from what halacha would prescribe, and more.

Listen to Praying On Purpose - short motivational messages and Torah insights by Rabbi Larry Rothwachs.  Delivered 3x a week, these messages are crafted to inspire increased thought and enhanced awareness of the prayers that we recite, focusing on the “why,” the “how” and the “what” of daily prayer.

Please listen to and share this podcast, and let us know what you think on the Orthodox Conundrum Discussion Group on Facebook (

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Music: "Happy Rock" by