Saturday, 05 September 2015

Our Yiddishkeit Changes in Recovery

Part 1/5 (to see other parts of the article, click on the pages at the bottom)
Why does some people's Yiddishkeit undergo changes in recovery?

Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski sent us the following question:

The subject has again arisen about "frum" people whose yiddishkeit weakens in the 12 step program. I think I have to address this issue. Do you have anything on the subject?
In response, Dov (who is sober in SA for 18+ years) wrote this beautiful and profound essay.



by Dov (See all authors)

The Gemora Brachos 13a discusses whether we will still refer to Hashem as the 'One who took us out of Mitzrayim' when Moshiach comes. The Gemara concludes that it will not make much sense to us to do that. It brings the example of a man who is endangered by a succession of wild beasts and the last one is a snake… after he is saved from the snake he thanks G-d mainly for that. For to him, representing G-d as his savior from a lesser foe seems a trivialization of G-d's power. And aside from that, the Gemora is pointing out a fact of human nature: we find the most meaning in the latest event. Therefore, the Gemora states, “No longer will we refer to Hashem as the 'One who took us out of Egypt', but rather as the 'One who collected us from the four corners of the world and brought the final geulah'."

Similarly, the sobriety and recovery that a sexaholic experiences are often his or her main ‘connector' to G-d. The greatest tragedy of his life, by far, was losing control of himself. This is probably even more true for a frum Jewish addict. So, at least for their first few years of sobriety, it is natural that getting saved from that horror eclipses most gratitudes an addict can have in life. My own wife told me that, in retrospect, the best day of her life was the day I got sober - and the next greatest day was the day we got married (11 hard years before sobriety came). A normal person may not be able to understand that, and that's natural, too. The normal person sees an addict and asks, "Why don't you just stop?"

In sobriety, the fact that a sexaholic happens to be a shomer Torah and Mitzvos can get second billing for a time. This need not be cause for alarm, for a few reasons. Firstly, the above-referenced Gemora explains that this phenomenon is simply human nature. After all, wouldn't it seem a terrible thing for the Jewish People to give Yetzias Mitzrayim second-billing to anything? Yet the Gemora tells us it is not. It's just the way it is for humans. And for the sexaholic, the horror of sinning actually pales in comparison to his personal horror of being a fraud and living a double life. For that factor is what tells him he has no hope - and he is right. The drunk can be sure of only one thing: that he will drink yet again. And now, as a sober man, the miracle of it is crystal clear to him. When the suffering addict finally finds sobriety and real hope for wholeness in recovery, it’s perfectly normal for him to feel gratitude to Hashem for that above all else. Even above his gratitude for Torah and mitzvos, and for his wife and children, for his job, his health, etc. Wouldn't you? At least for a while?