Can you stay frum in recovery?
  Breaking Free Chizuk #1326  
In Today's Issue
Daily Dose of Dov: Our Yiddishkeit Changes in Recovery
Rabbi Twerski: Yiddishkeit and 12 Steps: The Rabbi's Opinion
Links: True Story: I’m A 17-Year-Old Girl Addicted To Porn
Links: "Teens and Online Porn: The Impact and How To Talk With Them About It"
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Daily Dose of Dov
Our Yiddishkeit Changes in Recovery
Part 1/5
Why does some people's Yiddishkeit undergo changes in recovery?
By Dov

Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski sent us the following question:

The subject has again arisen about "frum" people whose yiddishkeit weakens in the 12 step program. I think I have to address this issue. Do you have anything on the subject?

In response, Dov (who is sober in SA for 18+ years) wrote this beautiful and profound essay.

The Gemora Brachos 13a discusses whether we will still refer to Hashem as the 'One who took us out of Mitzrayim' when Moshiach comes. The Gemara concludes that it will not make much sense to us to do that. It brings the example of a man who is endangered by a succession of wild beasts and the last one is a snake… after he is saved from the snake he thanks G-d mainly for that. For to him, representing G-d as his savior from a lesser foe seems a trivialization of G-d's power. And aside from that, the Gemora is pointing out a fact of human nature: we find the most meaning in the latest event. Therefore, the Gemora states, “No longer will we refer to Hashem as the 'One who took us out of Egypt', but rather as the 'One who collected us from the four corners of the world and brought the final geulah'."

Similarly, the sobriety and recovery that a sexaholic experiences are often his or her main ‘connector' to G-d. The greatest tragedy of his life, by far, was losing control of himself. This is probably even more true for a frum Jewish addict. So, at least for their first few years of sobriety, it is natural that getting saved from that horror eclipses most gratitudes an addict can have in life. My own wife told me that, in retrospect, the best day of her life was the day I got sober - and the next greatest day was the day we got married (11 hard years before sobriety came). A normal person may not be able to understand that, and that's natural, too. The normal person sees an addict and asks, "Why don't you just stop?"

In sobriety, the fact that a sexaholic happens to be a shomer Torah and Mitzvos can get second billing for a time. This need not be cause for alarm, for a few reasons. Firstly, the above-referenced Gemora explains that this phenomenon is simply human nature. After all, wouldn't it seem a terrible thing for the Jewish People to give Yetzias Mitzrayim second-billing to anything? Yet the Gemora tells us it is not. It's just the way it is for humans. And for the sexaholic, the horror of sinning actually pales in comparison to his personal horror of being a fraud and living a double life. For that factor is what tells him he has no hope - and he is right. The drunk can be sure of only one thing: that he will drink yet again. And now, as a sober man, the miracle of it is crystal clear to him. When the suffering addict finally finds sobriety and real hope for wholeness in recovery, it’s perfectly normal for him to feel gratitude to Hashem for that above all else. Even above his gratitude for Torah and mitzvos, and for his wife and children, for his job, his health, etc. Wouldn't you? At least for a while?

To be continued...
Rabbi Twerski
Yiddishkeit and 12 Steps: The Rabbi's Opinion
Part 1/6
By Twerski, Rabbi Dr. Avraham

A number of people have raised the issue of the relationship of the 12-step program to Yiddishkeit. Some have indicated that they were “frum” during their active addiction but that they dropped their Yiddishkeit during the program. In order to address these issues, I think I must tell you something about myself. I think that problems may arise because of distortions about both Yiddishkeit and the 12-steps. I gave some autobiography in Generation to Generation and in Gevuros.

I was born into a Chassidic family. My father was a Rebbe in Milwaukee. Our shul was comprised primarily of first-generation Russian immigrants. Having not had any secular education in Russia, and not having access to the professions, they wanted to give their children what they lacked. Consequently, they gave their children a secular education and essentially neglected teaching them Yiddishkeit. I did not have a single Shomer Shabbos friend. My friends were the people in shul, all older than 50. They were wonderful people, sincere in their Yiddishkeit.

I heard many stories about my ancestry, great Talmudic scholars and tzaddikim. These were the models I had to live up to.

I thoroughly enjoyed Yiddishkeit. Shabbos and Yom Tov were delights. I never felt the restrictions of Torah to be a stress. Although I was taught that there was a punishment for aveiros (sins), I never thought that G-d was punitive. Even as a youngster, I felt that the punishment was inherent in the sin. If you put your hand in the fire, the natural consequence was a burn, not a punishment. Sins were detrimental to a person, and the painful consequence of a sin was in the act itself, not a punishment. Yes, G-d may punish, just like a loving father may have to spank a two-year old for running into the street, because the child cannot understand the danger involved. Our intellect, even as mature adults, is limited. We may not be able to understand what is wrong with mixing meat and dairy.

G-d has no needs. The Midrash says that it makes no difference to G-d how an animal is slaughtered. The laws of shechita and all other Torah laws are for the benefit of man, not of G-d. But our limited intellect may not be able to understand why tereife food is harmful to us, and in this respect, we are similar to the two-year old who cannot understand why he cannot run into the street to retrieve his ball, so we have to be warned with a “spanking.” If we can reach the understanding that the Torah laws are not for G-d’s benefit but for our own advantage, we need not worry about punishment.

Fast-forward to age 21, when I became a rabbi in my father’s shul. Some of the old crowd had passed on. Many of the congregants had warm feelings about Yiddishkeit but were not observant. They had their children Bar-mitzvah, followed by a celebration in a treife hotel. I performed weddings which were followed by treife dinners. After three years of this, I knew I could not take this for life, and went to medical school, followed by psychiatric training.

I took the position as medical director of a huge psychiatric hospital, which had a 30-bed alcohol detox unit, better known as the “drunk tank.” Drunks were dried out for several days and were told to go to AA, which very few did, so we ended up being a revolving-door drunk tank.

To be continued...

This link will take you to, a site outside of GYE network. While it is also dedicated to fighting pornography addiction, some of its images and articles may be upsetting to some viewers. Your discretion is advised.

True Story: I’m A 17-Year-Old Girl Addicted To Porn

I am a seventeen-year-old girl and my life has been absolutely tangled up in the knots of pornography. As ashamed as I am and as I shudder even typing this, I have been addicted for as long as I can remember. My own experience with pornography was an overflow of the greedy sexual appetite that began in the simplest way.

As a child, even the mildest of sexual scenes in movies and TV shows fueled in me an incredible curiosity. A child’s mind is so expansive, so imaginative. When the heated kissing scene lent itself back to the PG-rated plot, my little wandering mind began to imagine what happened when the makeout session faded to black. Everything is a puzzle for a child. And there I was, looking for the missing pieces of romantic boy/girl relationships. The television showed me the corner pieces, but what was the entire picture?

Around the time I was in fourth or fifth grade, my mother—an emotionally abusive alcoholic—revealed to me her stash of pornographic magazines...


Friday, September 11, 2015

12noon to 1pm Pacific Time

A free interactive webinar 

with Piper Grant, PsyD

It is very common for teens to stumble across pornography while on the Internet or to intentionally seek pornography out of curiosity. With the average age of exposure to online pornography being 11 years old, and 90% of teens being exposed to online porn before the age of 18, it is a relevant topic for teens, parents, and therapists. Dr. Piper Grant will be talking about the impact of online pornography on teens individually and socially, the importance of having ongoing conversations about it and how, as a clinician and/or parent, you can talk about it.

Piper Grant, PsyD, MPH is a trained family therapist who has worked extensively with children and their families on an array of presenting issues. Dr. Grant has conducted research that examined the psychosexual impacts on adolescent girls viewing online pornography, and continues to work with adolescents and their caregivers on issues related to their sexuality and sexual development. As an AASECT trained sex therapist, outside of her work with children and families she specializes in working with individuals and couples on issues related to sex, intimacy and trauma. 

"Teens and Online Porn: The Impact and How To Talk With Them About It"

This seminar is not offered by GYE and this advertisement does not constitute endorsement of all the information presented.

It is brought to you by 

Center for Healthy Sex 

10700 Santa Monica Blvd.,
Suite 311

Los Angeles, California 90025

(310) 843-9902


To join by phone call: 

Toll Number: 


Attendee Access Code:

885 7402 

or visit their website for more info.

Do you think you may have a porn addiction?

Do you have a problem with obsessive and compulsive porn use? Have you seriously tried the tools on GYE and feel that you are not getting better? Maybe it’s time to consider joining a 12-Step program.

Porn Anonymous (PA)
If you’re compulsively acting-out with pornography and masturbation we suggest you explore joining Porn Anonymous (PA). If you need help deciding whether to join PA, call Michael at 347-699-2368, or email to schedule a time to talk. For more information visit (Hebrew: / Yiddish:

Sexaholics Anonymous (SA)
If your compulsive acting-out has progressed beyond the screen (with other people, paid sexual services, etc.) we suggest you explore joining Sexaholics Anonymous (SA). To figure out if SA is for you, call Dov at 917-414-8205, or email Dov at to schedule a time to talk. For more information visit

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