Before I met Ronald Pies, M.D., professor of psychiatry and lecturer on bioethics and humanities at SUNY Upstate Medical University and professor of psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine, I did not know what a mensch was. I figured it has something to do with a short person.
However, for Christmas this year I received a signed copy of Pies’s newest book, “Becoming a Mensch: Timeless Talmudic Ethics for Everyone,” and I decided that I would like to become a mensch, much like Dr. Pies, for whom I have the utmost respect.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines mensch as “a person having admirable characteristics, such as fortitude and firmness of purpose.” His book is a fascinating collection of personal case histories, often based on composites of various individuals he has treated professionally. These modern-day vignettes teach us the value of this ancient wisdom today.
I have gone through his book and pulled my favorite quotes. But I urge you to pick up a copy of his book if you’d like to learn how the Torah and the Talmud might help us on our journey to mental health.
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