It's all in the Torah

GYE Corp. Friday, 19 October 2012

There is nothing in the 12 steps program that I and the dozens of other frum sober sex addicts I know use that is not found in Torah and Chaza"l. I would be happy to spend the time on the phone discussing the particulars of how and what. But this topic is actually not for the forum in my opinion, because it glorifies the antithesis of recovery: pretending we are really philosophers. Until our behavior is really fully under the control of our seichel, Rav Noach Weinberg used to say, we are not really philosophers - just armchair thinkers like most people are.

If knowing the right philosophy (Torah philosophy) were the thing that could save us, then there would not be so many shtreimels, kolel guys, and b'nei Torah in SA, for example. I met together with at least 200 chassidim and litvishe guys over the past two years who are true sex and lust addicts. In recovery. Many more than that are not in recovery but still out there thinking they are alone.

Torah is not the answer, because the Torah is the Truth - but we, unfortunately, are not. And that is our problem. Forcing ourselves harder into Torah to 'fit the mold' is not the solution at all for anyone I know with this addiction. For that's exactly the game we have all been playing all along till now! And I do not know for certain, but is cognitive therapy developed by Torah scholars? It may work great for many. But it is therapy. The steps are not therapy, nor are they 'self-help'. They are about getting our egos and crazy selfish thinking out of the way of Hashem so that we do the "Pischu li pesach kechudo shel machat (but this time, me'eiver l'eiver). In that way, it is a 'G-d help' program, not a religion to 'do commandments'.

In contrast to "A Torah Philosophy", the steps are all about taking action and gaining sanity and clarity by taking those actions, not by figuring things out or philosophy. That's all. They are not 'understood' - they are done. There is no benefit in 'learning' them. The clarity comes after the unnatural actions are taken, because they are actions of sobriety and the opposite of the isolation and pride that characterize our 'going it alone' and religious fantasies that keep us from being clean and being really with Hashem, His people, and His Torah.

Though Torah is different because it is His Will itself, so learning it is precious and powerful, yet still in Torah we do say "ha'omer ein li ella Torah, af Torah ein lo!" - because he rejects mayseh mitzvah and holds only onto midrash. V'lo hamidrash haikkar ella hama'aseh.

1st step is admitting all the truth about the extent of our problem. Sobriety grows out of knowing and admitting we cannot afford to act out - or bring ourselves to it by enjoying lust - and all that hurts. But the steps do not bring us to stop acting out. Our pain does. But Pain will not keep us sober. For our real problem is not our lusting, yetzer horas, porn or any of that - our problem is living without them. Real, clean, normal life is unacceptable to us. And the steps are about bringing us the sanity and serenity that enables us to stay sober in real, clean, normal life. It's a miracle. And we hate to admit that.

2nd is admitting that my very best thinking (for years) is precisely what got me here in this mess such as it is and that I lack the power to gain sanity. So I need a Power greater than me to give me the sanity I seek. That has nothing necesarily to do with our sex or lust problem - it is about sanity in general - our crazy thinking that leads us to resent, fear life, G-d, our spouses and families, and run away from good living. Those who twist the 2nd and 3rd steps into the way to fight 'falling' are shortchanging their program and themselves. "Kafui tova"

3rd is to agree to begin growing along truly honest spiritual lines and accept that my G-d knows exactly what is best for me. Again, not just about not acting out our lust - but about being real people again. Life with a capital "L".

4th is to admit that though I want #3, I have too many sick middos and goofy expectations to really live that way fully, so I write out all my complaints with this life He is giving me and clarify what my part in the pain in me is - what my defects are that make the life He is giving me unacceptable or painful.

5th is to admit that openly to another person so I can then begin to finally get honest with myself and with my G-d.

6th is to decide whether I am ready to actually live without the coping mechanisms I have chosen and learned (my defects of character) and really abandon myself to G-d's Will for me in guiding my life and caring for me.

7th is to let my defects go and sincerely ask my G-d to remove them from me by helping me learn a new way to deal with each situation and person that used to vex me.

8th is to face what and how I have wronged others and make a list of that in writing.

9th is to take responsibility and directly apologize for anything I did that hurt them.

10th is to keep that cheshbon up as a daily practice.

11th is to ask G-d to help me mevatel myself to Him and His Will for me and actually join in His plan every day.

12th is to use all these principles/tools as they come up through the day and through my life, as though I were a newbie, never sitting on laurels and never fantasizing that "I've made it", and to freely share these tools with anyone who wants them.

What's goyish in any of this?