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Rabbi Kaganoff – Q&A- 2/19/2019

testchart1 Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Q: If one sees a child, male or female, touching themselves seemingly for stimulation, is there a halachic or hashkafic perspective on discouraging it or what to do about it?

A: It’s normal for children as they mature to touch, experiment, and feel. When it’s at that point where it’s the normal type of learning about the body, if I make a fuss it’ll be counterproductive because I draw attention to it as in ”מים גנובים ימתקו"- Stolen waters taste sweeter . Better to let go and ignore and just watch from a distance. If it becomes obsessive, more than the norm, then it becomes an issue of concern. I don’t want to frighten anyone, but when a child becomes over focused and obsessed on their genitals it could be an indication of being sexually abused by schoolmates, teacher… that whole horrible situation. It is normal for children on their own to experiment, look, and touch. I can’t give a precise response; consult your Dr. if it’s in the range of normalcy and be watchful.

Q: I consider myself an addict and I know it’s assur/prohibited md’oiraisa to look at erotica. I consider myself sober from that, but I still have tremendous guilt and shame for what I have done in the past. Because I know it’s assur, there is a blockage between me wanting to connect to Hashem, yet feeling that I’m such a horrible person because of what I’ve done. What is the way to properly do teshuva?

A: You ARE doing it. You’ve done teshuva. The fact that you feel horrible about having done what Hashem doesn’t want you to do, that’s teshuva. Whereas you’re hanging your head in shame in the corner and being remorseful, regretful, wallowing in feeling like I’m a piece of junk; Hashem says “My child, please come! You’re remorseful and regretful. You aren’t doing it anymore, you accepted upon yourself not to do it again, and you’re regretful about what you did, so now say I’m sorry, which you’re doing, so welcome home!”

Q: At the same time, being an addict, I can’t promise I’ll never do it again. All I know is that I’m gonna try today not to do it again.

A: No, no, no. There is no human being on the face of the earth that can guarantee that the next minute I won’t be a rasha. It’s a Mishna, "אל תאמין בעצמך עד יום מותך" . You can’t believe in yourself till you die, even if it’s the last minute before death I can become an apikorus. It’s not about guarantees. It’s about this moment. This moment I’m trying my hardest to do your ratzon. That is a Baal Teshuva. You can’t tell me you don’t have the temptation like you used to. You do. Addicts walk around and are surrounded, you had the taste of issur, its still potent and you’re refraining and not doing it. That is a baal teshuva gemura like the Rambam says in the Mishna. I’m not being critical because I understand how addicts think, and I know where you’re coming from, but I’m telling you you’re in the teshuva process big time and Hashem is very proud of you.

Q: So the Yetzer hara is the feelings of I’m horrible, shame and guilt that come afterwards?

A: Yes, That’s the Yetzer Hara still trying to pull you down. Perhaps this would be helpful for you: I have written a sefer on addiction, and there is a section on the S-addictions. Right at the beginning I have a quote and a translation on a piece from Rabbi Tzadok Hakohien, a well known Chassidishe Rebbe from about 100 years ago. I have used that piece for about 20 years with sex addicts. It lifts their spirits tremendously, that’s why I put it right at the beginning. You can get a hold of it, hard copies aren’t available but you can get a pdf version. It’s worthwhile to read that piece from R’ Tzadok and print it out and hang it up on your wall!!

Click here for a pdf copy of the sefer “Addiction and Halacha” by Rabbi Kaganoff.

Contact for a link to the recording of Rabbi Kagenoff's talk about masturbation for women.