Thursday, 12 January 2012

R' Shimon Bar Yochai Didn't Bring Along a Sandwich

by Dov (See all authors)

Someone wrote to Dov:

So let me see if I get this right:

Step 1: Admit that my addiction of obsession with lust is making my life impossible.

Step 2: I am not successful at managing or curing this addiction. But God can manage it for me. I need to turn to Him

Step 3+ : Living in the solution: Turn my addiction management over to God.

Ok... now we're getting somewhere.

Now, since I need to turn my addiction management over to G-d, how do I actually do that? I feel like a kid that's been handed a toolbox but has no idea how or when to use the tools.


Dov responds:

Yes chaver, we are definitely getting somewhere! Though...here are some further things that I feel I need to say about your above notes:

Contrary to what you and others may have been told, the 3rd step is not primarily about giving my addiction to Hashem.

If that was the main purpose of the 3rd step, then it would read completely differently - something like:

"We made a decision to turn our addiction over to the care of...", or "We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of G-d as we understood Him in order to be relieved of our addiction."

Gevalt! How could focusing or directing our relationship with Hashem on enabling us to be relieved of lust be a way to "live in the solution"? It can't. So that is not what the 3rd step is all about.

Of course we give up our right to masturbate or touch ourselves for pleasure, to use porn and fantasy for self-medicating, etc. We give them up because we cannot afford to use them any more. Not because Hashem, or our mothers, the Rabbis, or anybody else says we must. We cannot blame our sobriety on anyone but ourselves: we just stink at buying a great life using lust. It doesn't work for us.

That's the 1st step - our contribution. We do not really take it - rather, it takes us. And it has little, if anything, to do with whether fantasy and masturbation are horribly assur or totally mutar. We just discover that we cannot manage our lives with it any more because it makes us meshugah and ruins everything. Our own 1st step inventory informs us that we cannot afford those luxuries any more - though others may very well be able to. And we begin humbly asking our G-d to remove the obsession with lust from us as we begin taking real serious steps to stay away from it.

Then what is the primary meaning of the 3rd step? Reading it makes this crystal clear:

It is about turning our lives over to Hashem's care. Our entire lives, not just our addiction. He does not want 'an addiction', He wants 'a yid'! He wants us. Rachmonah liba bo'i...He doesn't want my lust - He wants my heart; my attention (as the MHR"L would teitch it). That is the 3rd step. Starting to give Him my heart by putting Him in charge of my life, be'ikar in divrei r'shus. It is not mainly about being frummer - rather, it is about us admitting that he really is the Boss, Manager, determiner of all outcomes and taking excellent care of us, indeed.

This is very different from what we have been doing till now, even if we are/have been frum yidden. A person - Jew or lh' gentile - cannot be compulsively using any drug and yet trusting Hashem to take good care of him. No way. We self-medicate precisely and exactly because our hearts tell us that G-d really does not know what He is doing and will fail us every time, unless we take matters into our own hands (very bad pun there, sorry).

So the first ingredient to taking the 3rd step is being sober ourselves. Rabbi Shim'on bar Yochai did not bring a sandwich, "just in case G-d didn't work," into that cold, dark cave with him. He let Hashem take care of him for 13 years.

Well, our old and very familiar friends: porn, fantasy, and and masturbation, are the 'sandwiches' we bring into the cave with us. The 3rd step is the cave. Choosing to do anything - anything else rather than act our our lust is how we as addicts trust Him. We trust Him to take care of us even though we have given up our precious food: lust.

And it hurts tremendously, even though we are frum, good people. And he can help us with that pain. And it's perfectly OK and we should admit the pain freely and openly to Him and to our fellows, if we wish to be free of it....for a change.

It is not a high madreigah, as many thousands of uneducated drug-addicted inner-city and country folk are doing this program successfully, too. And so can we.