Monday, 16 January 2012

Hashem As Superman?

by Dov (See all authors)

The problem with a 'superhero' view of Hashem was first shown to me by Rav Noach Weinberg, Rosh Yeshiva of Aish Hatorah:

Rav Noach zt"l told the story of a bike rider who visited Aish once and heard a talk about what yeshiva is about: getting a relationship with G-d. He confronted Rav Noach and told him that if that is all yeshiva is about, then he, of all people, does not need yeshiva! For he already knows G-d exists and that He is all-powerful. He then described a neis that occurred for him once while biking - a real outlandish miracle that saved his life from a long fall. He had no doubts about G-d's total supernatural power, now...

Rav Noach's response to him was this: "If G-d is that powerful, then why did He allow you to fall off the cliff in the first place? Is G-d like 'Superman' who, shocked to see a horrible accident about to occur, desperately 'rushes' in to 'save the day'? That's just plain ridiculous if He is all-powerful, no? So....Why did he make you fall in the first place? It seems the Almighty really wanted your attention! He must want you to go to yeshiva to learn how to know Him!"

Rav Noach knew how to 'go in for the kill', indeed.

The frum yid who sees a progressive, destructive, and insane addiction to lust as simply "a battle with the YH" may be relegating Hashem's role in the struggle to that of Superman: "Hashem has no plan here, I mean, it's bad, no? He is 'crying' when he sees me looking at porn, no? He'll do anything, just to not have me do that zera levatola!" - He just happens upon the poor yid and sees the guy is in a pickle, so He 'saves' him from the masturbation if the yid is 'good' enough/tries 'hard' enough... Gevald.

If I am really powerless, then I need Chessed, not s'char - I cannot 'deserve ' His help! That is why it is called, "Chessed". True, I need to be open to it, otherwise I'll throw it back every time...but it sure isn't based on my chastity!

....what about the cycle, the mental illness, the twisting of all my relationships and yiddishkeit into a knot with my lusting?! Nu. "You gotta believe" (hey, I'm a Mets-fan!). In other words, being that I am an addict, there is just no way that I could ever try hard enough - if there were, then I'd have quit years ago! So I need a gift. And I have to be ready to take it and keep it a gift.

To me, the other way - that if 'I only really try hard enough, I'll do it on my own' - is what the Torah calls "im tailchu imi keri"....(pun intended). It is taking G-d right out of the picture - and parroting the words, "I am doing it with Your help!", and it is just plain worthless.

Deeper: It's not about how the poor yid perceives the lust problem, or lust - it's about his entire perspective on his relationship with Hashem. To me, it is a childish understanding of G-d. But worse, it is the very understanding of Hashem that we used in order to fertilize our addictive thinking during our teenage years when our problem (and often, our yiddishkeit) was developing! Thoughts like "He will definitely take revenge on me; I'll daven extra hard to escape the bad influence of my acting out; I'll be extra good to make up for it; I'll punish myself enough - so that He won't need to; and I am a hopeless rasha - human garbage," infected our developing yiddishkeit - and they do not go away easily. They became coping mechanisms for our acting out, itself. Pretty shocking, if you ask me.

All those dead ends made us miserable and desperate for the wrong things, like G-d's 'Favor'...kind of like a purely religious or philosophical struggle. It's really a cop-out, for all we really want is to escape paying any real price for our craziness. We do not absolutely need to stop till there is a real price to pay. 'Gehinnom' just doesn't cut it.

At their very best, these ways of thinking kept us, instead of Hashem, at the center of our lives and avodah. They caused us to need lust even more, because they made it possible to keep on going without paying any real price - whenever necessary, we just punished ourselves mercilessly with the whip of guilt...

Our castrated way of using yiddishkeit made it impotent as a sobriety tool, because it was part of the cycle! It was part of the problem, not the solution.

The Alter of Slabodka (I think) said that we need to change to the point that we spit out our "mothers' milk" - meaning, the old, childish ways we understood Torah - and relate in a mature way to everything we ever learned.

For me, this is a kiyum of his idea, and we need S"D to do it right.