Editor's note: You may wish to read Chana Weisberg's previous article on the Chochmah/Binah dichotomy.

Joe is sitting in the den. The remote control keeps his hands busy while his unseeing eyes gaze straight ahead. His mind is focusing on a problem that has stumped him all week at work. The project has been stalled for several days now due to this unforeseen glitch.

Sara walks in. Always the perceptive one, she immediately senses that something is amiss. She notices her husband's tense posture, the crease on his brow, his clenched fists, his expressionless eyes, his shoulders slumped in defeat.

Sara wonders if she did something to contribute to Joe's bleak mood.

"Maybe he's upset with my purchases this afternoon," Sara thinks to herself. "Maybe our financial situation is really worse that I thought... And here I was telling him all about my friend Debra's vacation plans. How could I have been so thoughtless!" Sara reprimands herself.

Quietly, Sara walks up to Joe's side and offers, "Honey, can I get you a drink?"

Joe hadn't heard Sara approaching and is startled by her question and her presence. "Huh?" he says.

Joe is currently in his Chochmah mode. Chochmah is the thought process we experience when we are looking for a concise, all-encompassing, abstract solution to a particular problem. Our vision is concentrated on the issue, to the exclusion of all else.

Sara is employing the Binah faculty of her mind. Binah is the faculty we use when we focus on the details, when we process and analyze particular nuances of a situation, when we use non-verbal cues and tones of voice as signals for evaluating emotional responses, when we break down an idea into words and sentences in order to communicate it to another.

"Joe must be feeling pressured at work," Sara muses. "All those lay-offs at his department are surely beginning to worry him.

"That must be it. He doesn't want to worry me, but he wants us to start budgeting more wisely.

"But I just wish he was more open with me. He always tells me his job is fine. Why can't he just be straight with me about what's really going on?

"Come to think of it, he's had that faraway look in his eyes all week long.

Sara clenches her fist angrily, "Oh, I wish he would just talk about it!"

Sara repeats her offer of a drink to a blank-faced Joe. "No," Joe answers somewhat gruffly. He almost leaves it at that, but then softens his response by adding, as an afterthought, "Thanks, but no."

In Sara's mind, the solution to Joe's problem will be found by speaking it through and thereby working it out. This is how problems are solved in Binah mode — by discussing and elaborating on its particulars — as opposed to the quiet and intense focus most suited to the mind's Chochmah mode.

After a moment or two of absolute silence, Sara tries again.

"Joe..." she begins.

Joe's thoughts are miles away. He is examining a new angle. If he can just find a connecting link between these two parts, then he'd find the resolution he is so desperately seeking!

Almost in a fog-like trance, Joe hears Sara saying something.

"...So, I was thinking that maybe I should return those purchases... you didn't really seem to like them too much..."

Joe is too close to the solution to divert his attention. "Hmm, okay," he manages, hoping that will put an end to whatever question Sara is posing.

Sara pushes on, "And Joe, you know the vacation trip that I told you Debra was taking with her husband..." Sara describes the plans in detail. "Well, I think that this year maybe we should skip it and wait, till... you know... till things settle down more here..." She gives Joe a meaningful look to hint at her keen grasp of the situation.

Joe grunts an acknowledgement. All he hears is the word "vacation" and he thinks if he can just get this problem solved he'd be entitled to take several extra days off — and probably a nice bonus too — which should make Sara really happy.

Chochmah is an elusive thought process — the nutshell solution is in our mind but we still haven't grasped its entirety. "I've got it," we may say to ourselves, but we haven't yet figured out just what it is that we discovered.

When the Chochmah thought process is interrupted, we will often feel like we're going to "lose it" and the abstract idea will vanish.

Joe's brain, operating in Chochmah mode, can only store detailed information if it is organized into some coherent form or has relevance to him. Irrelevant and random information — which can actually aid the Binah process (as a way of "broadening" the idea by contrasting or testing its particulars against them) — is just distracting noise, and its introduction will often disrupt the Chochmah process entirely.

By now, Sara is convinced that their financial situation is in shambles and is strongly questioning the stability of their relationship. She wonders: if Joe is so reluctant to share this crisis with me, what does that indicate about our marriage?

"Joe. Really, I think we need to talk." Sara perseveres. "Something is bothering you."

"Oh, I'm just thinking about an issue at work." Joe answers simply.

Sara nods meaningfully. "Yes, Joe. I understand. You're having some difficulties. Let's talk about it."

"Really, Sara. I just need to think." Joe says, sounding a little more annoyed than he had intended.

Sara is hurt and feels rebuffed. "Why can't Joe share his problem with me? Doesn't he trust me?" Sara decides she must be adamant — to demonstrate to Joe just how much she cares about him.

"Look Joe. I don't want you to be so worried. Whatever it is that is happening at work, we'll work it through." She reassures him.

Joe nods, hoping that would be the end and that he can finally get some peaceful silence.

But Sara is persistent. "Please, Joe. Let's talk about it," She almost pleads. "You need to get it off your chest. You'll feel better if you unload. Trust me!"

Joe shrugs his shoulders, desperate for some quiet. "Sure, Sara. We'll talk later about whatever it is that you want to talk about. But right now, I've just got to work this through."

Joe is frustrated that Sara keeps thwarting his thought process. He was on the verge of a solution and now he has to backtrack and re-think this from its foundation. He cannot fathom why Sara insists on these discussions just when he's on the edge of grasping an important break-through. It almost seems as if she purposely antagonizes him with her interruptions!

Sara, on her part, is feeling both worried and insulted. She tried so hard to be considerate, valiantly struggling to be in tune with Joe. And what does she get in return? He rudely shuts her out, offensively rebuffing her.

"I was being so caring and I barely got a grunt in acknowledgement!" Sara fumes. "What kind of a relationship is this anyway? Why doesn't he confide in me?"

And Sara is worried. She still doesn't have a clear picture on just how stable Joe's work situation is.

The longer Joe remains tuned out, the more Sara is fuming at his response. And the more anxious she is getting....

No matter how many times Joe reassures Sara that he cares about her, every time he rebuffs her due to his preoccupation with a problem, she takes it as a personal insult and an affront to their relationship. Regardless of how stable their relationship is, she will question why he is acting so distant.

An hour later, Joe is happy and content. He has finally solved this major glitch and his superiors are sure to be pleased. In the best of moods, humming a favorite tune, he seeks out Sara and is totally baffled by her icy stares and deafening silence.

Joe makes a few attempts at humor. Next he tries some casual conversation.

After meeting with Sara's gruff or sarcastic responses, Joe hastily ceases.

"Sara must be in a bad mood about something." He reasons. "Maybe she has a problem at work... It looks like she doesn't want me to interfere. She probably just needs some time on her own," Joe concludes and retreats into his study, hoping to give Sara the space he imagines she desires.

Sara watches Joe's back turn on her and now feels even more justified in being outraged. "If Joe really cared about me, he'd make sure to persist until I told him what's bothering me, instead of his half-hearted attempt at silly conversation! He knows I'm worried sick and want to talk."

Sara feels utterly rejected "If our relationship meant anything to him, he would make sure we spoke openly until we got to the bottom of this and worked it all out."

It might take Sara and Joe several years and much frustration before they realize that they are experiencing a typical interplay of Chochmah and Binah.

While we all — men and women — employ both our Chochmah and Binah faculties every time we activate a thought process in our minds, males naturally succeed best in their abstract Chochmah mode, while females naturally excel at their intuitive Binah mode.

Studies show, for example, that males excel in the fields of math and science. Drs. Benbow and Stanley tested study groups of children who were exceptional in math skills. They found that for every one exceptional girl there were thirteen or more exceptional boys. (Moreover, the best exceptional girls never beat the best boys.)

Men's brains with their superior Chochmah mode see patterns and abstract relationships. They are good at configuring the general, strategic plan and dealing with theorems. For this reason, they make such good mathematicians and scientists and are the foremost champions in games such as chess which involve the plotting of abstract strategy.

On the other hand, studies on women's brains show them to be better at detailed tactical thinking and at relating or connecting information.

Females excel in the fields of literature and communication. Women regularly are better able to master foreign languages, grammar and spelling. Stuttering is almost exclusively a boy's problem and remedial classes in young ages have a ratio of four boys to every girl. (In fact, Einstein only spoke at the late age of five years!)

Communication and literature are those areas where the feminine faculty of Binah plays a pivotal role — in elaborating, articulating and applying the nuances, character and flavor of situations to our personal lives.

Recent studies on the brains of men and women show that when a man talks the blood flows to a specific part of his brain — to enable him to work on the specific area he's verbalizing. When a woman talks, on the other hand, the blood flows to her entire brain. This enables her to see the whole Binah perspective, and to work out all the particulars and applications of the plan. So women, when problem solving, will often say, "Come on, we have to talk about it!" without realizing that men's brains — with their focused Chochmah wiring — just don't operate that way.

Women's Binah-inclined mind also places a primacy on interpersonal relationships and they will delve endlessly into analyzing the status of their relationships.

Men's emotions reside in the right side of the brain, whereas their power of expression is in its left side. Men's brains have a small connection between the right and left sides. As a result, expressing emotions, in general, is more challenging for them.

When Joe senses an emotional "disconnect" from Sara, he would rather use the mediums of humor and light-hearted conversation to reconcile with her than deep discussions about emotionally charged issues.

Women's emotional capacity is found on both sides of their brains and there is more of a connection between the two hemispheres. Therefore, expressing emotions is far more natural for women. It is also the way they overcome and work through their issues.

Due to the stronger connection between the two hemispheres of the female brain, women also have more difficulty in separating their emotions from their reason. (This stronger connection is reflected on a very practical level, with women often having greater difficulty in separating their right from their left — sometimes even necessitating a momentary glance at their hands to determine directions.)

So while Sara might rationally realize that Joe cares about her, it is difficult for her to separate her reasoning from her natural emotional response. When Joe responds to her with what she perceives as inconsiderate behavior, her emotions will question the whole premise of their relationship.


Sara will need to learn that Joe is not purposely acting inconsiderately or rebuffing her conciliatory, loving attempts. She needs to understand that when Joe is working on a problem, his intense Chochmah focus prevents him from giving her his attention. Discussions about the direction of their relationship, about their finances or anything near to her heart will have to be postponed to a more opportune time when Joe can give the matter the attention it deserves.

Furthermore, when speaking about an issue that is important to her, Sara would get optimal results from Joe's Chochmah-oriented brain if she would keep her points simple and focused, one issue at a time. Sara should rationally and concisely explain the problem in the first moments of their discussion and only later sidetrack into elaborate details or particulars.

For his part, Joe will have to learn that when Sara is upset, she needs to speak through her issues. Her way of solving a problem is not to retreat into intense Chochmah focus, but rather to examine and elaborate on the nuances of the problem. That elaboration alone is helpful to Sara's Binah thought process. While Joe regards speech as a tool for relaying facts or information, for Sara, speech is a tool that builds bonds and relationships. Joe will need to make the time and find the patience to help Sara work through the particulars of her problems in the way that best suits her Binah capabilities.

Furthermore, although Joe might appreciate the peace of being left alone in silent Chochmah concentration, leaving Sara when she is so upset and frustrated is akin to slamming a door on her emotions. Though he might find it harder to openly discuss his emotions, this is an acute need for Sara.

As both Sara and Joe become more sensitized to their partner's needs, they will become better aware of the disparities in how each gender tackles and solves problems. Hopefully, this understanding will help Sara and Joe realize how to better assist each other as a supportive partner and soulmate in dealing with the myriad issues we all face in life.