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I had a bad psychological trauma some time ago and I felt the urgent need to review myself. I found that reading self-help books helped me.

I tried to learn Mussar books (Mesillat yesharim, Chafetz Chaim) but my problem is boredom. I am ashamed to admit this, but while I could not make it till the third chapter of Messilat Yesharim, I could not stop reading a book like "Crucial conversations", a very insightful secular self-help book.

Somebody suggested me the book "Everybody's Normal Till You Get to Know Them". I did not read it but I am very fearful that Christian messages could make their way into my head if I read it, since it is written by a Christian. It is a book that, from its description, should speak of community, acceptance and tolerance and mentions the story of Jesus.

What I am looking for is:

  • A Jewish alternative

or

  • Some advice to how to deal with potential "spiritual danger" that could come from reading this book. Now I'm not familiar at all with anything that is related to Jesus or Christianity. Therefore, I believe that something like a Jewish strong, clearcut perspective on the story of Jesus, could make reading this book safer for my sanity and my faith (I don't want beetles in my head).
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I move to remove the second question as Primarily Opinion Based. –  Double AA Apr 23 at 3:07
    
@DoubleAA not IMO. But maybe you can convince me. Why do you think so? (Shavua tov, incidentally.) –  msh210 Apr 23 at 3:13
    
see rabbi pliskin's books or rabbi shalom arush –  m.r. Apr 23 at 5:43
    
how about miriam adahan books? best is to stay away from non-jewish books as they contain a taaruvot of other junk and you cannot be sure where it will lead you. –  ray Apr 23 at 17:46

3 Answers 3

Rabbi Abraham Twerski has written many books that might be of the type that you need. Check out the list of books and videos at his web site to see if they are what you need.

GuardUrEyes A website for Jews struggling to maintain their moral purity in today's world

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I do not have a Jewish self-help recommendation for you at the moment, but I can share a source for a Jewish perspective on Christianity to "inoculate" yourself before venturing to read "Everybody's Normal Till You Get to Know Them".

Chapters 71 and 72 of "Jewish Literacy" by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin gives an Orthodox Jewish response to some of the more problematic concepts raised by Christian theology. This book has the advantages of being widely available and of only requiring about five pages of reading (for both chapters) to give an outline of the historical situation around Jesus and to explain how certain Christian ideas developed by Jesus and Paul of Tarsus diverge widely from Jewish belief. I would hope that a critical outline like that, combined with your existing Jewish faith, would make the danger to you much less.

I have never read "Everybody's Normal Till You Get to Know Them" myself, but based on the Amazon description, it sounds like good common sense about what expectations to have for yourself and others. In my experience there are two kinds of "Christian" self-help books. One kind is in-your-face preachy with an overt Christian message on every page. The other kind is stories, psychology-lite musings, and you can tell that the book would have worked just as well if it had been written as purely secular. In the latter kind of book, you occasionally come across explicitly Christian points, but they are usually not as radical, and you can just wrinkle your nose and move on to the next paragraph.

That being said, I know that I would not pay for that book unless I could peruse it in a bookstore and make sure I wasn't spending good money on a bunch of "goyish narishkeit" (non-Jewish nonsense). It really sounds like a borrowing-from-the-library type of book to me.

PS: I realize much of this is just opinion, but the poster of the question asked for "advice".

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Thanks, this is exactly the kind of answer I was looking for –  Bachur Apr 22 at 23:45
    
As a Christian reading this forums I do really look forward to reading those passages myself. I do have quite a clear idea I believe, but never read anything by Jewish authors on the topic, so just wanted to thank you for the reference. –  David Mulder Jul 21 at 12:00

I would like to add the fact that in my personal opinion, I believe self help does not have a religion, whether Christianity or Judaism, the idea behind the primary conceptions of self help fall within the idea of one being capable of accepting oneself from within.

Self help may not be considered as a religious presence, it is a study of self and despite the religious background of the writer, self help, is a study of human intuition. I was reading up on mindfulness lately and my understanding of the basic ideology transformed into something essentially simple and that was that unless and until one does not realize or understand the basic formulation of human thought, they will stand helpless to help themselves. Focus on what is around and observe, that is where self help begins.

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