Monday, 04 March 2019

What Rabbis Who Criticize the 12-Steps Need to Know

Part 1/2 (to see other parts of the article, click on the pages at the bottom)
Some people who join the 12-Steps end up getting less frum. Doesn't that mean there's something wrong with the program?

by Dov (See all authors)

What Rabbis Who Criticize the 12-Steps Need to Know

I think that this recording (Shiur #8 of Dov's Shovavim Chaburah) was a very good one, in my opinion.

The entire subject and what he writes (in the Kuntress "Derech Emes", is controversial. I think if you listen carefully, you will understand very well why so many frummies end up a bit less frum in recovery - whether they succeed getting sober, or not.

Basically, he calls the yiddishkeit of most people who chronically sin, a lie and ultimately just serving themselves and others for approval and not serving Hashem; he points out that for chronic desire-sinners their mitzvos and learning are often unopposed by the yetzer hora because 'he' knows that their mitzvos are actually helping them persist with their lifestyle of (acting out) sinning. In other words, he encourages a society where this desire-sin stuff is hidden away well and instead all we focus on is finishing shas and doing chested and other mitzvos with joy. A horror.

I think what he is saying is perfectly logical, completely honest, and everyone knows that it's the truth. No wonder people who come into recovery and become honest enough to see what their own true motives really are in mitzvos asei, davening and learning, become much less excited about their yiddishkeit and our frum society that unspokenly works this way nearly all the time.

Hear it out and read the piece for yourself. I know he's not advocating stopping to do mitzvos, and I make that very clear in the recording. But he is very clear. His point can be taken as a finger-wagging or as another sad commentary on things...or it can be taken seriously.

Now, for the crowd that immediately jumps to say, "Hey! lo nitno Torah l'malochim! Let's be realistic here, please. He may be right, but if we jump to his philosophy and accept an honest approach full-on and openly, then there is no room left for yiddishkeit in our poor time! So the only practical solution for what he is saying is to slowly encourage people to do better and to become more sincere." -- to that he himself responds and says that this is not what it means when it says, "mitoch shelo lishma, ba lishmo."

I understand that the opinion of one polish Rabbi is not going to overturn the Jewish world, especially given that he passed away two hundred years ago anyway and look at the world as it is! But what I am saying is that those who attack twelve steps recovery and do not even understand what he is trying to say, will never be open-minded enough to help the guys who lose their Yiddishkeit as a result of their finally becoming honest at the point of facing their own bottom in addiction...and what makes it doubly pathetic and tragic is that these very same Rabbis had no solution whatsoever for these young men and women all the years that they were suffering!

So what is actually happening over here, is this: these Rabbis are sailing to help these guys and in the same way that R' Akivah hated talmidei chachomim when he failed to learn, these same rabbis are hating guys who are active sex addicts and paint them as enemies of yiddishkeit (by immediately counseling wives to divorce them as soon as they find out about their sex behaviors, no matter what). And then when these Rabbis meet guys who finally found success in 12 steps, they hate them even more because instead of supporting them and understanding them, all they do is attack them as sheigetzes.

Yes, the situation is horrible all around. And I think that GYE bears responsibility to do everything it can to take a stand and help these recovering people even if R"l they have turned their backs on yiddishkeit, and certainly if they have just become 'cooled off'.

My peace. Thank you for letting me share that. What do you say?


Yaakov responds:

I agree whole heartedly. How do you suggest we "do everything we can to take a stand and help these recovering people"?