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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Overcoming Shame

by Michelle Friedman, MD (Posted on July 5, 2016)
Topics: Machshava/Jewish Thought, Middot

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Marisa Greenberg (not her real name) did not attend her last high school reunion. Though she is an accomplished editor and mother of three, she felt ashamed of her weight and the “unstylish” way she dresses. “I didn’t feel good enough about myself,” she says. “I didn’t have the ability to step back and accept my flaws. I used my appearance as an excuse not to do things.”

Greenberg’s personal sense of embarrassment is a far cry from the communal reproach the Bernard Madoff scandal has evoked in the Jewish community, but it reflects the numerous ways shame filters our perceptions and interferes with our lives. Read about a criminal activity by someone with a Jewish name and almost immediately there’s the involuntary shudder and mental whisper: “Is he Jewish?” Yet feeling shame is not just relegated to reading sensational headlines. It plays a pervasive role in our day-to-day existence—from laughing too loud or driving an old car to feeling too smart or not smart enough. Its tragic dimensions can extend to situations with serious consequences such as covering up domestic violence or hiding mental illness….

This article was originally published in Jewish Women Magazine. To read the full article, click here.