Saturday, 24 December 2011

Why Dov First Posted On GYE

by Desperate Jew, Dov (See all authors)

Ahron wrote:

Help - I just started to look at shmutz and by some miracle, I was disgusted by it.... I think I'm going to take a nap. I gotta get away! Yesterday's chizuk is helping me now I think.

DesperateJew responds:

Ahron, you did well. You caught yourself, and stopped!

I'm not sure what you meant that you got disgusted and I surely hope you don't mean with yourself! You, by virtue of being capable of overpowering 'the smart one', can not be disgusting in Hashem's eyes.

Take it easy, and keep it up!

Dov Responds:

Dear DesperateJew,

The following is purely my own opinion and I do not speak for anyone else, and certainly not for GYE:

It is not my practice to criticize, particularly when it is so obvious, as in your comments, that you mean only to be helpful. However I feel it is important to point out that (unless I misread your comments) you are implying to Ahron that he caught himself, and that he is being capable of overpowering the YH. I see your message as one of encouragement. I have a problem with this that I feel I need to share with you. If you can bear with me, I'd appreciate it.

Reading his words, I see a fellow who seems ready to give Hashem all the credit for the victory - not himself (he says "by some miracle"). He also gives credit to his buddies for the chizzuk - rather than declaring his new-found power to 'overcome' the YH.

I am sorry if this rubs you the wrong way but everybody is entitled to an opinion, and I want to share mine: I have seen the well-meaning comments some folks give others to "believe in yourself and pat yourself on the back for the clean days you have amassed!", or to be grateful that "you are/were able to beat the YH".

While it seems to be very nice to build up people's self confidence, I have never witnessed this perspective prove helpful to anyone I know, in the long-run. And to my mind, the damage done by the ga'avah that "I can make it" would be the nail in my coffin. I speak about addicts, now. When any addict I have met gets fooled that he or she actually has the power to "beat this thing": yatza scharo b'hefseido. I cannot recall anyone with this attitude staying sober for very long. My guess is that the 'pressure builds up' after a while... and where is their power then? I wonder. It seems an enigma to them: "Well, if I had the power then,why don't I have it now?! If He could help me then, why isn't Hashem helping me now? Is He weaker? Does he not like me as much? Is it because of my aveiros that I do not deserve His help?" This entire self-preoccupied way of thinking leads to painful frustration, and even to excruciating emunah problems. I have seen it happen here and elsewhere.

Parroting the words, "Well, of course we mean that it is 'with Hashem's help'! That's obvious... we are all frum yidden and ma'aminim b'nei ma'aminim here, aren't we?!" is not enough, in my opinion. Actually, I believe that it is meaningless.

We parroted these words all these years - and never stopped. Has being on GYE for a few weeks or months magically given us real emunah? We weren't really frum then, but we are really frum now? I doubt it. Inspiration will only help us stay clean as long as the inspiration lasts. To me (and other addicts), leaning on the crutch of chizuk and frantically fanning the flames of chizuk each day, is just delaying the inevitable - waiting for the other shoe to drop. At least that is how it'd be for me. This is not a game in many cases. In my case and that of many others, it is a battle to save our minds, our marriages, custody of our children, and our jobs, not a matter of only being happy or 'good people'.

We need to do things very differently than we were doing them before, if we expect to have a very different result. For the addicts among us, I suggest admitting that we have lost the battle and becoming satisfied with remaining 'losers' until further notice. That is, we remain guaranteed to lose as long as we insist upon going about life our way. Addicts who use the 12 steps often discover that they need to surrender to Hashem and do His Will, or they will lose again. That is the 3rd step - and all the ensuing steps are about getting closer to that surrender. BTW, the kavonoh in "Echod" is exactly that: Dying for Him - and then "v'ohavta" is about giving up our plans and control of all our ambitions and desires in this life - bad and good; our very right to live; and surrendering all our talents, money, and priorities - all to Hashem.

Addicts who take the third step, set out to accomplish at least some surrender of their egos to Hashem - to save their lives. Cuz this self-abandonment to Hashem is AAs only answer to what you call the Yetzer Hara - self destruction. It seems that AA goes with the 'nuclear option' for problems like addiction. But like I said - if we are to get a different result, we need to go about our lives differently. I do not see "being more frum" as significantly different, that's all. We need a radical change in Derech Eretz - in the underlayment for Torah, rather than "more," or "better" Torah - on a time-bomb foundation of insanity.

And BTW, this idea is why I first posted on GYE. If I just pass this along to a few of my frustrated fellow yidden, all the late nights posting will be worthwhile!

I respect your opinion should you feel very differently than I do, and I know that what works for me will not always work for many other people.