Kabbalah Album Teaches and Heals

Patients who seek Dr. Rehavya Price’s advice about their emotional problems will probably get a quote from the Kabbalah along with their prescription.

“There is much healing wisdom in Jewish philosophy that provides answers to questions that science and medicine cannot,” said the Yale-educated psychiatrist as he relaxed after hours at a mental health center in Monsey, New York where he sees ultra-Orthodox, Hasidic clients as its medical director.

In addition to seeing patients and teaching at Cornell Medical School and New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Dr. Price has just released a CD, “Kabbalah: The Sound of Rehavya,” which he describes as a melding of Kabbalah, healing, and contemporary music.

“There are 11 songs on this album – each corresponds to a different attribute (sephira) of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, the concepts that form the basis of all human experience,” said the boyish-looking psychiatrist.

“I then chose a biblical text and music that reflected each sephira. I couldn’t use the language of the Kabbalah because it can’t be taught in public. The CD is a way of introducing people to Judaism.”

If that sounds rabbinic, it’s because Dr. Price, in addition to finishing his medical studies in 1999, received his semicha, rabbinic ordination, from a Monsey yeshiva in 2005. “I always wanted to be a rabbi and to function in the capacity of a spiritual advisor, a messenger for healing,” said Dr. Price. “I had to learn the relevant laws. But the aspect that interests me most is the pastoral.”

Dr. Price realized that there was a connection between the psychiatric training and the Kabbalah after studying with some Hasidic rabbis. “The Kabbalah has applications in the psychological realm,” he noted.

“The Kabbalah answers the great existential questions – Where do we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going? The Kabbalah helps you understand the basic energy of life.” Dr. Price explained, “If you balance the energy in yourself, you reach a sense of peace in yourself and in relation to the world. There is material in the Kabbalah that can aid in healing.”

Dr. Price uses Kabbalistic concepts in his psychiatric practice and described his clinical style as “a mind-body-spirit model, a holistic approach.”

“For example, I am working with a couple where the husband is very permissive and dependent on his wife to structure the household and discipline the children,” he explained. “The wife is perfectionistic, an excellent disciplinarian and very organized. If the husband, who personifies hesed (kindness – track 4) and the wife, who personifies gevurah (strength – track 5) are balanced, then you get tiferes (beauty – track 6). Or you can have over-control or over-giving.”

Rehavya (literally, “the expanse of G-d”) has been balancing his interests from a young age. Born into a religious Philadelphia family, he accompanied his grandfather, who sang in the synagogue congregation, at age five. He also began playing piano at age five.

Rehavya studied voice as a teenager and sang in the synagogue choir at age 13. During his college years at New York’s Columbia University, he sang high tenor for the a cappella group Beat’achon (“faith,” in Hebrew). ”We traveled around the world,” he recalled. “I sang on cruise ships, and in Canada and England. The CD still sells today.”

During his medical school years, Rehavya sang as a cantor in a Philadelphia synagogue. “I would work for 36 hours without sleep and go straight to shul Friday night,” he said. “The singing was the release. I recognized the Creator as the healer. I re-connected and re-vitalized myself. That’s how I got the idea that these two things could come together.”

The young medical student chose to specialize in psychiatry. “In medicine, psychiatry is the interface of mind, body and spirit,” Rehavya noted.

Back at the health center, Rehavya returns to the topic of his new CD. “The lyrics are biblical, the chords are inspired by traditional niggunim (melodies) and the instrumentation is American Top 40,” he said.

Track 8 is called Etz Hayim, the Tree of Life. “It represents splendor,” Rehavya explained. “The singing is sweet and mellow. It expresses gratitude toward the Creator. On each track, you feel the energy of the attribute through the music. Each sephira, each attribute, has a specific level of energy that can energize and help heal. It’s a great way to connect to the Creator, it’s very uplifting.”

Yaakov Gifter of Brooklyn, Sam Glaser of Los Angeles and Michael HarPaz of Israel composed the music. David Ross of the Bronx, is the CD’s producer. Former editor of DC Comics turned Jewish music guru, Jordan Gorfinkel of Cleveland, brought the talents together.

Rehavya has launched a website, www.RabbiMD.com which carries information about obtaining CD’s and scheduling concerts. With family responsibilities, the health center, teaching and a busy private therapy practice, why do concerts? “In my practice, I counsel and teach, one person at a time,” Rehavya explained. “Through concerts, I can disseminate this approach and reach people in many places. I can connect people so that they can get along. Music has a soul that transcends. Music can travel all over the world.”

(845) 304-6123 · Rehavya@gmail.com