Top 10 Jewish sayings about addiction recovery

Taken from the book, “God of Our Understanding”, these Jewish sayings help bring light to the disease and condition of addiction. Little snippets of Jewish wisdom compiled by Rabbi Shais Taub.

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10. There is an old Yiddish saying, “Don’t ask the doctor; ask the sick person.” The very premise of the Twelve-Step fellowships is that people who share a common malady can help one another in a way that no one else can.

9. …in essence, isn’t it always God who does the work and we who just make room for Him, as the old saying goes, “God heals the patient and the doctor collects the fee”?

8. When the famed Chasidic master, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Morgensztern of Kotzk was but a small child he was asked, “Where is God?” to which the young rabbi-tobe replied, “Wherever you let Him in.”

7. This same idea is expressed by the midrashic saying, “You cannot pour into a cup that is already full.”

6. As the Talmud says about giving charity, “More than the rich man does for the poor man, does the poor man do for the rich man.”…by working with others, our own minds and hearts become refined and more receptive to Godliness a thousandfold.

5. There is an old Jewish saying—“Knowing the disease is half the cure.” (Yes, the rabbis have been saying that for centuries already.)

4. “Let sins be uprooted from the earth, and the wicked will be no more.” Psalms (104:35)

3. There is a saying of the sages, “Words from the heart enter the heart.” It is for this reason that the Chasidic masters say that if one rebukes another and the rebuke is rejected, it is the fault of the rebuker. If one would only rebuke sincerely, then his or her words would be accepted.

2. As the Ba’al Shem Tov, founder of the Chasidic movement, used to say, “All is God, and God is all.” God is not only the Master and Creator of the world. He is the world, for He is Everything.

1. There is a Chasidic interpretation of the verse (Genesis 1:26) “And God said, ‘Let us make man . . .’ ” as God’s call to each and every one of us. God says to each one of us, “Let’s make a man.” God invites the individual to be a partner in the process of his or her own development as a human being.

About the author
Rabbi Shais Taub is one of today's most respected young scholars of Jewish spirituality and practice. National Public Radio called him "an expert in Jewish mysticism and the Twelve Steps." He is the author of God of Our Understanding: Jewish Spirituality and Recovery from Addiction.
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