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Yetzer Hara or Illness?

GYE Corp. Wednesday, 14 March 2012
Part 1/2 (to see other parts of the article, click on the pages at the bottom)

Yankle posted on the forum:

I regret that I have lost yet another streak. I do not know if I should stay on the list or chart, as I can't seem to fight any more. How far I have fallen from who I was! I am divorced and alone. The loneliness gets to be too much for me. I turn only to Hashem and the handbooks for help. As I type and cry, I only wish things were different. I want to be able to sit and learn all day again to get a relationship with the Ribono shel olam and to have my own family again. Instead, I have brought this terrible illness of lust upon myself and I feel that until I break it nothing positive will come to me anymore, as I do not deserve it, as I go against Hashem. How can I expect Him to be good to me, or even provide good for me, if keep on falling to my yetzer harah and defying Hashem?

Dov (who is sober in SA for 11 years) answers:

Dear Yankle,

#1: I love you because you are a fellow creation, and especially because you are a yid; and especially because you are a fellow addict. "Love" means I will do anything I can to help you, gladly, with no expectation of receiving anything in return at all. The only thing you can do for me, would be to benefit from my help :-)

#2: Certainly Hashem loves you more than I do, and more than anyone ever did or will. Actually, He must also even love you even while you are acting out. Not approve, but love - and love all the same. This is very important to internalize.

Whenever I calmly think about:

  • "Who/what" Hashem is,
  • that He created us without giving us a choice (al korcha ata nolad - pirkei avos), and even though He didn't have to at all,
  • and that He must be only giving, since He has no needs at all

then I am able to recognize that "bishvili nivrah haolam - for me the world was created" really means that Hashem is 100% totally and unconditionally ON MY SIDE, and always will be.

How about you? Can you accept that? Even partially? I believe that acceptance of this fact was an indispensable foundation of the 12-step recovery for me. I actually came to it by doing my fourth step ("We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves"), which helped me truly recognize and accept for the first time who I really am (good and bad) and realize that Hashem still has a relationship with me! Shortly after that (1.5 years into the program), I discovered completely by chance that I could actually smile at who I saw in the mirror for a change. It was incredible, and it still is.

#3: You call acting out "defying Hashem". I doubt you ever acted out to defy Hashem at all. So, let's get perspective here: I believe we all "defy Hashem" (even non-addicts), as we are ultimately all selfish ignoramuses when it comes to recognizing our total and constant dependence on Hashem Yisborach, and we probably always will be. And there's not really very much we can do about this. Our purpose here in this world is to recognize that we are handicapped by virtue of the fact that we are human, and yet react with a resounding: EVEN SO, HERE I GO! - and do mitzvos be'simcha anyway. Moshe Rabeinu answered the Malachim: "hey, do you die? do you have jealousy, desire, stealing, etc?", and yet Hashem still wants our little avodah!

This is not to say "why bother trying to be a tzaddik, or even any better at all?". I am just pointing out that if you want to call your choices "defying Hashem" or "evil", then at least recognize that the best any of us will likely ever do is still rather pathetic, even though every bit of improvement towards goodness and perfection and towards Hashem's Ratzon - is precious beyond our imagination. That's just what we are! Like babies without any understanding, compared to Hashem.

So please consider some alterations to your perception of reality and "cool your jets" of self-condemnation, and then you'll be able to get better.

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