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The 12 Steps are all Teffilah

Why do we need the 12 steps? Isn't Torah and Tefillah enough?

GYE Corp. Thursday, 08 December 2011

Someone asks Dov:

I had a question. What do you think about tefillah? Where does asking Hashem to cure us come in to the process of recovery? I assume you would still say that we should do/need the 12 steps... But why isn't Torah and tefilla and remorse good enough?

Dov Replies:

There is nothing else in the 12 steps but tefillah.

The work of the 1st step is one thing: Do I need G-d, or not? If I do, then it means that I cannot make it without Him - period.

1. We admitted we were powerless over lust--that our lives had become unmanageable.

If that is where really believe I am, then the question now becomes: If I have been unable to beat this problem and only a Power Greater than myself could have ever helped me, then why have I been going it alone for all these years even though I needed Him!? Is there another Higher Power in my life? Have I been trying to use something else (like Lust, or my dependent relationships) as my ineffective Higher Power? There must have been some kind of blockage or trick... So the 2nd step is doing whatever I need to do in order to make that relationship a real one, for a change.

2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Obviously if I have been a frum yid - and yet still had this problem - my relationship with G-d was not really as real as I thought it was. It must have been sorely lacking (all the crying and Teshuvah notwithstanding)... Something big and basic must have been missing.

So the 2nd step is actually the ikkar mitzvah of the first two dibros (of the aseres hadibros) themselves and nothing less. In fact, it may be the only real shot most of us may ever get at getting real emunah, i.e. an emunah that actually works.

A belief in G-d may be adequate for normal people - but it is not nearly enough for an addict. I need to live with my very own G-d, Who I can use on a regular basis in real life. A "living" G-d rather than just One in a book... even 'just' in the Torah.

So I ask you: exactly what is the nature of tefillah without real emunah in my life?

To me, the entire mitzvah of tefillah swings on Who you are talking to - how real the communication is. Anyone can say the words. If I say an al hamichya, for example, while nodding to someone else in response to a question, or while fiddling with my sefer... am I acting like I am talking to someone? I don't think so.

Now I'm not saying we need 100% pure emunah in order to be a good yid. Rather, I think that Yiddishkeit has all these brachos and tefillos through the day so that we will have a shot at practicing creating a relationship with Hashem. The relationship is not the prerequisite for tefillah - it is the result of it. Let's not squander the tool given to us now.

The third step is practicing having a partnership with Hashem in which He is in charge of all outcomes and we are his agents... and having fun with it, too.

3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

To be a partner, we need to ask Him for His guidance every day - and many times each day... The way we live has to be an open and living relationship with Him, and for me, that means talking to Him very frequently.

Then we get to the fourth step, and without getting into it all now, that will mean a good bit of asking Him for help to do the work correctly.

4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

And the asking for help keeps continuing and getting more and more natural...