Bill of the Big Book
In continuation of this idea, I would like to share with everyone a series of posts from "Boruch" - who is working the 12-Steps into his life through the groups, where he beautifully explains how the 12-Step program relates to us all, as Yidden. We encourage everyone to read the coming posts carefully, because a deep understanding of how this simple yet brilliant program works can be the most powerful tool you will ever come across to beat this addiction.
I would like to share with you how I have come to see the 12-Step approach that was - after all is said and done, totally conceived by non-Jews.
The Maharshal in teshuvos (98) said that the author of the sefer hakrisus, the Rash Mikinon, had studied all of the hidden mysteries of Kabbala and yet, when he davened, he davened like a one-day-old baby.
What could a one-day-old baby possibly teach Rash Mikinon that he did not know from Kabbala?
I will tell you how I now understand it. There is knowledge in all its complexity, and then there is "Behavior". Someone who has all the knowledge of hilchos shechita but has never seen a shechita will have no concept of how to shecht. That is called shimush. Learning the behavior.
So knowledge of Tefila is in Kabbala, but learning how to behave? Rash Mikinon chose a one-day-baby as his model.
Why? There are two things about a one-day-old baby:
1) He is totally dependent on his parents and has no hope of taking care of himself.
2) He only has one option of self-expression. He cannot choose how to approach his problems, how to present them or what words and expressions to use. No complications. He just opens his mouth and cries. Straight from the heart, honest and direct.
That's how Rash Mikinon davened. With the same total dependence on Hashem and with the same simplicity as a one-day-old baby.
Now, if we wanted to visualize for ourselves the behavior of a one-day-old baby, we could walk in to any maternity ward anywhere in the World. The baby doesn't have to be Jewish. It could be a Mexican baby, a Vietnamese baby, it makes no difference whatsoever.
That's exactly how I understand the original AA groups and the 12 steps. The alcoholics of AA were just like the one-day-old baby. They were totally desperate, they knew that Hashem was their last and only hope and they knew how they needed to come humbly to Hashem for His help. They needed an approach so simple that even a drunk could get it.
Now, we Frum Yidden are not short on knowledge of how to Return to Hashem. We may not be Rash Mikinon but we do have Shaarei Teshuva of Rabbeinu Yonah, we do have hilchos Teshuva from the Rambam. B"H, knowledge we have in plentiful supply. And knowledge of hilchos teshuva we will indeed not find among goyim, as Chazal say "Torah bagoyim al taamin". But from where are we addicts to learn how an addict who is returning should behave? Certainly not from a one-day-old baby.
I have found that, as a Frum Yid, I can learn the behavior with which an addict should return to Hashem from the early founders of AA. I can learn a set of behaviors so simple that even this drunk (who is me) could get it and implement it.
Does it matter whether the AA founders were Jewish? Absolutely not. Whether they were American, Mexican or Vietnamese? Not at all.
Certainly the AA founders wrote the steps in English and certainly they were to an extent influenced in some of their external presentation of the steps by their religion and culture. But in essence, the 12 steps represent a Path of Return to Hashem so simple that even a drunk could get it. And that's why it can work for me.
And I'm sure it can work for you too.