Getting Past A Negative Childhood [#14693]

August 20, 2021


Is there such a concept as “tinok shenishbah”, a “captive child”, with regards to one who suffered from negative experiences from his/her parents, family members, or community? And if yes, what is the person’s avodah (inner work) then?


Any concept can be manifest either on a complete level, or on a partial level. For example, a person can either become completely and totally incapable, wounded, or he becomes partially incapable. Death would be an example of being completely incapable, whereas illness is an example of becoming partially incapable. The same thing applies to the concept of tinok shenishbah (the “captive child”). On the total and complete level, a tinok shenishbah is a Jewish child who has been captured by gentiles and is raised like a gentile, with no knowledge of his Judaism. There is also a “partial” level of tinok shenishbah: whether in the external sense, or in the qualitative sense. On a subtler level, every person to some extent is in the category of “tinok shenishbah”, externally and qualitatively speaking.

We will provide 3 different ways in how a person can repair the issue [the fact that he is a “tinok shenishbah in the sense that he is a wounded child because of his negative childhood experience]:

1. “Filling in the missing parts”: One should try to fill all of the missing “parts” which he didn’t get in his/her childhood – both in the “amount” of what he/she still needs, as well as in the qualitative sense.

2. “Repairing the experiences”: One should try to “return” to his/her childhood [via the imagination] and “re-experience” all that he remembers from his childhood, with a more inner and more precise perspective than until now.

3. “New beginning”: One can become like a newborn baby, like one who has newly converted to Judaism, like a baal teshuvah (penitent) – by reaching into the deepest place in oneself, and from there, to begin again anew.