The 'Nachas Ruach' Treatment Model
A Way Out of Addiction for Orthodox Jews?
From Internet addiction to marital and family problems, from "teens at risk" to the psychological challenges facing those who are frum from birth and baalei teshuvah, today's changing world can be a confusing one. The religious Jewish community is also not immune to many sensitive contemporary issues, which can no longer be ignored. Yet sadly, some people who need psychological advice refrain from seeking it, believing that contemporary psychology and psychiatry are antagonistic to Yiddishkeit.
This important work by well-known therapist Dr. Naftali Fish offers a solid conceptual framework for understanding the relationship between Torah and psychology - including the Twelve Step program - showing clearly where they are compatible and where they are not. Dr. Fish is uniquely qualified to bridge this gap, as an Orthodox Jew grounded in Torah Judaism and the wisdom of our sages, and as a licensed clinical psychologist living in Jerusalem, with over twenty-five years' experience working with a variety of clinical issues, including the treatment of addictions and healing the inner wounded child. Here he presents the Nachas Ruach Treatment Model (NRTM), an innovative, effective approach that integrates Torah values and spirituality within the context of professional psychotherapy and hypnotherapy, as illustrated by intriguing case studies.
This book is a must-read for all professionals in the field of mental health, as well as for rabbis, educators, students studying psychology, and educated lay readers. Blending theory and practice, this book also provides practical tools and exercises for personal growth that anyone can gain from in their daily lives.
Torah Perspectives on the Twelve Steps
In this section we will analyze the Twelve Step program of addictions and recovery from a Torah perspective. In recent years the Twelve Step program has become widely accepted both in Israel and in the Jewish world. Our goal is to clarify where there is compatibility between the program and the Torah, and where there are differences. This endeavor is a response to the great interest in this subject by those who are participating in the program and others.
Six additional Torah concepts that enhance the "classical program" for those who are looking for more Jewish content per se will also be discussed and is seen to be an important.
The First Step
"We admitted we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable."
This step is equivalent to the Jewish concept of confession, or vidui, in which a person verbally admits that he has a problem. In Judaism this is the first step on the road to repentance or teshuvah. The Torah acknowledges that it is not easy for a person to admit he made a mistake. For addicts it often takes years before they are "ready" and able to break out of denial and finally admit that they have a serious problem. Usually, the existence of this problem was already known to everyone else, but not to the addict himself.
In Judaism, confession was an integral part of the Yom Kippur rites that accompanied the sacrificial service during the time of the Temple: "Those who bring sin offerings or guilt offerings must also confess when they bring their sacrifices for their inadvertent or willful transgressions. Their sacrifices will not atone for their sins unless they repent and make a verbal confession."
According to the Sephardic tradition, vidui is also recited throughout the year after the Amidah. It is written in the plural form: "We have become guilty, we have betrayed... (.(אשמנו בגדנו..."
Similarly, the Twelve Steps are formulated from a group perspective: "We admitted that we were powerless over our addictions." Psychologically, it might be easier for the individual to admit his shortcomings as part of a larger group, which may mean for him that he is not the only "bad" or "sick" person who has this problem or behavior to work on.
 Narcotics Anonymous NA Blue Book (Van Nuys, CA: World Service Office, 1988), p. 19.
 Rambam, Hilchos Teshuvah 1:1.
 Rambam, Hilchos Teshuvah 1:1, translation by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger (New York: Moznaim Publishing Corporation, 1990).