Torah and 12 Steps. Again???
  Breaking Free Chizuk #1329  
In Today's Issue
Image of the Day: 12 Steps is a Spiritual Program
Daily Dose of Dov: Our Yiddishkeit Changes in Recovery
Rabbi Twerski: Yiddishkeit and 12 Steps: The Rabbi's Opinion
Links: "Teens and Online Porn: The Impact and How to Talk to Teens about it.
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Image of the Day
12 Steps is a Spiritual Program
12 Steps is a Spiritual Program
Daily Dose of Dov
Our Yiddishkeit Changes in Recovery
Part 4/5
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.

Many of the ideas in recovery may sound like Torah madreigos, but they are not. They are just basic sanity and honest living. They are totally new principles for the addict. They are focused on acceptance of truths about ourselves and others rather than just knowing them. Normal people just do not need this stuff to function. We do. It makes it hard for normal frum Yidden to understand us, and they sometimes think we are moving away from Torah, c"v. But I feel that it is only their own insecurity that causes them to see it that way. The quality of faith is squarely faced in recovery - not its quantity or type. What a difference from normative Yiddishkeit! Just see how important appearances are in the community at large. I've got nothing against uniforms and standards of dress and behavior, at all. But see what a bonanza all that is for the professional faker (the addict). He fits into something - even while being a secret fraud. Even his 'Teshuva' was hidden in fake terms - he was never really ready to let it go. He was only interested in 'overcoming it'... letting it all go was unacceptable - like dying. And he knew it inside. What a dramatic and healthy change is honest and open recovery in recovery groups!

As a result of some real honesty, we quit looking for false kedusha in recovery - we keep looking for sanity and honesty. Kedusha will come of it's own, with G-d's help. Returning to the old, grandiose path of 'achieving greatness' will quickly drive the recovering frum addict right back into the same craziness and self-obsession that was part and parcel of his old, familiar 'struggle'. And he will soon find himself acting out or drinking again, even as he ‘grows higher’ in his mind and dreams. The Kotzker would say, "I prefer a rosho who knows he is a rosho to a tzaddik who knows he is a tzaddik." That is just the sad experience of many religious addicts. We do not ever assume we are resho'im, but for us it's finally OK to accept and move on with more humble goals - like realness in our imperfect avoda, and honesty to our family and fellows. Our imagined 'status' as kedoshim or tzaddikim finally becomes all and only G-d's business, not ours. Ours is but to live and do.

To be continued...
Rabbi Twerski
Yiddishkeit and 12 Steps: The Rabbi's Opinion
Part 4/6
By Twerski, Rabbi Dr. Avraham

A recovering person writes:

In the program, I know everyone, and we are all open with each other about our feelings and character defects. When I'm with program members, I can be myself.
When I'm in shul, I feel that we are a bunch of fakes that are trying to impress each other. (How many times do I close my eyes during shmona esrei and sway vigorously to impress everyone...) Since all my life I lived a double life,‎ I had enough of it. I want to be real, and I want to be next to people who are real, and I don't feel comfortable in shul. I don't want to feel "if they only knew who I really was…" I don't want to be judged.
Be careful not to project. Just because you felt you were not genuine does not give you the right to accuse others of being fakes. If you don’t want to be judged, why are you judging others?

I was at a gathering where a woman who had converted to Judaism said, “Don’t judge Judaism by the Jews.” Similarly, don’t judge Yiddishkeit by how some frum Jews may behave. There are many sincere frum Jews, although there may be some who only act frum. Not every person in the 12-step program is a saint.

Incidentally, the issue of not judging others is fundamental to Yiddishkeit. My mother used to refer to “the holy al tadin,” the statement in Pirke Avos, “Do not judge another person until you have been in his place.” One who judges others is not being frum.

A recovering person writes:

Step 11 says don't pray for yourself - Yiddishkeit is full of prayers for yourself.
Program focuses on a loving Gd - Yiddishkeit includes a Gd that punishes (that’s not all that He does, obviously...).
Program says there is no bchira for the sex addict (if that’s what powerless means) - Yiddishkeit says there is.

Yiddishkeit is relating to G-d as our Father. A child should feel free to ask his/her father for something he/she wants.

I dealt with punishment issue earlier.

G-d wants us to live the right life for our own sake, not for His. It is to our advantage to have a close relationship with G-d. The gap between mortal man and the Infinite G-d is so vast that it cannot be bridged except with the way G-d designed. The addict who uses hallucinogens may think this is the way to get close to G-d. The thought that we can decide how to have a close relationship with G-d is mistaken. Observing the G-d-given Torah is the way G-d designed for man to get close to him.

G-d created man, and just as a manufacturer provides instructions on how to use an appliance, G-d has given us the Torah, the Manufacturer’s instructions on how to live. If one ignores the manufacturer’s guidelines, one cannot expect proper function.

We should recognize our dependence on G-d. In fact, we admit that without His help we could not overcome our addiction. Praying for our needs reinforces our feeling of dependence on Him.

The issue of bechira is a very sensitive one. It is one of the distinguishing features between man and animals. Animals are at the mercy of their bodies. They have no choice. They cannot defy a bodily urge. A human being has bechira. It is a Divine gift.

The Talmud says that the human being’s animalistic drives are so powerful that without the help of G-d we could not resist them. That is Steps 1 & 2. Our bechira consists of asking G-d to help us resist some animalistic drives.

Human beings’ temperaments vary. One person may have stronger animalistic drives than another, and they may vary in character. Prior to recovery, the addict thinks that he can control these drives, until he discovers otherwise.

Two children received Chanuka gelt. One child ran off to the candy store and gorged himself with candy, then went to the toy store and bought toys. He ended up with a stomach ache, and, within several days, his toys were on the junk pile of his old toys.

The other child said to his father, “I don’t know what to do with this money. You invest it for me.”

Both children had bechira. The first child used it to his detriment. The second child used his bechira wisely.

In recovery, we say to G-d: “Thank You for the gift of bechira, but my experience has shown me that I cannot always use it wisely. So, dear G-d, You take the bechira and choose for me.”

To be continued...

Friday, September 11, 2015

12noon to 1pm Pacific Time

A free interactive webinar


Piper Grant, PsyD

"Teens and Online Porn: The Impact and How to Talk to Teens about it.

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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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