Monday, 04 March 2019

What Rabbis Who Criticize the 12-Steps Need to Know

Part 2/2 (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)

Yes, there are a lot of things to be done here:

First, GYE needs to educate every single Rabbi/Ruv/family member who complains about guys in SA, PA, etc. who are behaving less frum now that they are going to meetings and getting sober. They need to read the kuntres Derech Emess in Yoisher Divrei Emess (especially perek 4) and then explain to you how they see his main point as being somehow irrelevant to the situation of these guys. [His main point is that honesty is the value of any real avodah and how that is demonstrated.] And if they admit that honesty in avodah is the first priority, then let them explain to you how they would help these guys better. They will see that they have no real plan, because they haven't worked it out themselves yet. Sadly, all they have been doing well so far is: complaining about the bad situation. Help them admit at least a little bit that they don't really have any plan. That is a great place to start. It's the first step to achieving achdus on this painful topic.

Second, GYE can ask them why they haven't helped most of these guys back while they were in yeshiva. And if they should say, "Because they never told us about their problem!," then you can ask them to tell you exactly what they would have said to the many strong-learning bochurim and married adults in say, Lakewood and Brooklyn, who I know personally, who were using prostitutes or massage parlors weekly over the past 5 years, or to the 200+ I have spoken to on the phone in the past 2 years who were using porn nearly daily for hours and masturbating themselves nearly daily for many, many years. How will they explain to these yidden who are very frum and learning so well while doing these behaviors why being frum didn't save them. And how will they explain why they are throwing them under the bus now that they are finally getting help? And what's their solution for them without a group such as ours? They will probably have no real answer to these questions, only excuses about the yetzer hora and how each bochur is different and needs an individual answer - all just excuses for not admitting that there is a cultural 'hole' here that they've only filled with shame. Instead of excellence in limud Torah within a frum culture solving the problem for these guys, they only learned how to fake it better, how to hide deeper and become professional liars...especially to their own wives and talmidim. No matter how much we hated our double lives, we felt we had no choice and desperately wanted to still be seen as good, frum, people.

I know more than two admired Roshei kolel (and mechabrei sforim) who was seeing prostitutes on a regular basis - and one who still is (at the time of this email). How do they see this as an individual issue or one that needs to be solved by the same cuture and frumkeit that helped them become this way?

The solution will absolutely need to be tolerant of some instability in these guys while they are outgrowing their craziness and these Rabbonim - who could not prevent nor help these guys out of their trouble - will need to do the best they can to at least support them while they get the help they need. They must read "To the Family Afterward" in the book Alcoholics Anonymous. As Rabbis and good yidden, they must help the wives of these guys with their fears and show them how beautiful the Torah way is, when dealing with sick people.

Or they can just suggest something better.

So far, I know of two Rabbonim in our community who have summarily instructed many wives whose husbands admitted there pornography problem to them, to seek divorce immediately and not accept any compromise or patience with Recovery. I suggest that these men are not real Rabbonim, but just uneducated people with an axe to grind. It's so tragic and shameful - because it's unnecessary! I know hundreds who are sober and rebuilding beautiful lives and marriages, just as I am. There is a better way, and it is the absolute responsibility of our Rabbonim to make sure things are done better for Hashem's people.

We are not perfect. There are, b"H many good yidden among us who are nearly perfect and can hold up the banner of nearly-perfect Yiddishkeit. We are proud of them, not jealous nor resentful! And we are not asking to bring down the image of Yiddishkeit in the world, c'v, nor are we claiming that yiddishkeit needs to change. But we are the individuals who see the weak ones, the failures of the system. Those are the ones, like us, who are desperately seeking help in counseling, therapy, 12-step groups, etc. We are not blaming anyone, nor are we claiming that we are blessed with more insight than any Rabbonim - but we have had certain experiences that are not common, b"H. And we, of all people, need the support of Rabbonim while we are trying to pick up the pieces of our lives in the aftermath of our own poor choices in addiction.