Sunday, 08 April 2012

Hashem You win

Part 1/2 (to see other parts of the article, click on the pages at the bottom)

by Boruch (See all authors)

One of our members on the forum, "Boruch", used to be against the 12-Steps. He wrote long posts describing why he thought that the approach was anti-Jewish and counter intuitive. One day, Boruch's therapist suggested that he try the 12-Step groups at least once. Boruch was ready to try anything to break his addiction once and for all, and agreed to do as his therapist proposed. And Boruch is the type, that when he does something, he does it all the way.

Today, Boruch goes to the groups twice a week, an hour drive each way. He has learned that the 12-Steps can help a person put the Mussar he has known all his life, into action in real-time.

Let's hear what Boruch has to say recently (edited a bit for clarity):


I knew many mussar books and methods for fighting the Yetzer Hara. I knew them all, and yet in a moment of a test, it never occurred to me to practice any of them. Then I started attending 12 steps meetings and started calling members regularly. At first, when I had tests I did not call. Then, after a while I made my first call to a member while I was in the middle of a test. He asked me why I was fighting the Yetzer Hara and not working the steps. I was totally caught off-guard and was flabbergasted by how original his question sounded. I had been investing hours in going to groups, never once considering to actually use the steps to work through my trials.

So, I agreed to use the steps against future trials. The next test was not long coming and I got ready to surrender to Hashem. I said the equivalent of "OK, Hashem You win, from now on I am ready to do it Your way".

You see, the problem with fighting the urges is that it is counterproductive, it only increases the stress and pressures that feed the urge. Those who depend on emotional willpower and determination to win, will lose as soon as they can no longer maintain the ever increasing emotional strength needed to contain the urge. That's the power of surrender. Not surrender out of weakness, but surrender out of strength and wisdom.

I was taking my addiction personally and it bothered me so much that when the urge struck, all the mussar I knew was out the window, and one way or another, it was almost as if, in my pride, Chas Veshalom, I was telling Hashem, "Get out of the way, while I take care of this one".

Then I joined the 12 steps group, and as I described above, through working the steps on my struggles, I came to realize that the urge to fight and confront the addiction with an all out emotional battle of wills, is as damaging as the urge to succumb to the addiction. That is when I understood that the best way to fight the Yetzer Hara was to nullify my will to fight the Yetzer Hara directly. I realized that I needed to surrender my will to Hashem's will.

As the Rambam says in Hilchos Issurei Biyah 21:19: "yasiya libo midivrei havai vehashchoso, veyifaneh ledivrei torah - Turn the mind from empty and destructive thoughts and channel them to words of Torah". Moving or turning the mind is a smooth process, no struggle at all.

So if we do it our way and it becomes personal, and we try and beat the Yetzer Hara on our own terms, we are asking for real trouble. But thanks to the 12 steps group I joined, I learned to do it Hashem's way. When a test comes, we resist the urge to struggle and we resist the urge to take on the Yetzer Hara, and instead we just immediately, absolutely and effortlessly switch channels to Torah (whether it is the Torah suggested by the Rebbe R' Elimelech in his Tzetel Koton, the drosho of Chazal on "Venishmartem mikol dovor ra, shelo yeharher odom bayom veyovo lidei tuma balaylo- and you shall guard yourself from any bad thing; that one should not fantasies by day and come to pollution at night", whether it is another possuk or mammar Chazal, whether it is a Shiur on a cellphone, or a Rashbo or Ketzos that we remember), we just do what Hashem tells us to do, we focus on His Holy Torah for as long as it takes, and He will do the rest.