Do I owe an apology?
  Breaking Free Chizuk #1330  
In Today's Issue
Image of the Day
Editor’s Note: Do I owe an apology?
Daily Dose of Dov: Our Yiddishkeit Changes in Recovery
Rabbi Twerski: Yiddishkeit and 12 Steps: The Rabbi's Opinion
Links: Never Lose Hope
90 Day Journey
Click below to update your 90 day chart
Still Clean Had a fall
Haven't begun the 90 day journey yet? Click here to join.
Image of the Day
Editor’s Note
Do I owe an apology?

A tip-off to an abusive family system is a situation in which nobody ever apologizes.
-- Karen Shaud

When we get a tip-off, we can open the door to a whole new way of looking at the world.  

The tip-off about apologies can help us learn to have a healthier family.

It is hard to apologize, but with practice, it will get easier. 

We are learning that we can make mistakes, and admit them, and that other people will accept our apologies.

In the same way, we are learning we can accept others' apologies.

 Apologies are sometimes hard to make. 

It helps to keep in mind that we make them as much for ourselves and our own growth as for the person we apologize to. 

We are not worthless just because we make mistakes, but we increase our value to ourselves and others by being able to recognize them and apologize.

Is there an apology I need to make today?


Daily Dose of Dov
Our Yiddishkeit Changes in Recovery
Part 5/5
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.

So the main prescription for an addict is not 'an overhaul of his Yiddishkeit’; he does not need chizzuk to try harder or smarter; and he certainly does not need to focus on his character defects or on things like 'restlessness, irritability, and discontent' in order to finally surrender his drug and get sober! All he needs at first is to break down and admit he has failed, to admit to safe people explicitly and openly that he cannot continue using his drug, period. Normal people may sin - but for him it is a different issue. Sakanta chamira m'isura. He cannot 'drink like a gentleman', and cannot just re-join the Teshuva merry-go-round any more. He is an addict - not a normal person. He admits that it's not merely his drinking or sexual acting out that he cannot manage, but that it is his Life itself that is unmanageable by him. There is a reason that steps 4-10 (that refer to character improvement) are AFTER sobriety starts, not before. It is only through living sober at all costs, that an addict starts to see his character through honest eyes, at all. Therapists know that if the man in a rehab center is allowed to keep drinking 'a bit' every time the going gets rough in the therapy, he will never make progress, at all. The drug use must go first, in order for the dependency to ever end.

Sobriety is the first big surrender, for him (Step 1). Clearly coming to see that he or she is, in a way, crazy; admitting what he really demands from life, his G-d (and from his false gods, too), is step 2. Recovery of the Good Life begins with Step 3, and step 3 is only actually implemented by working and using Steps 4-12. The drug remains unnecessary, one day at a time. How could Torah and mitzvos have given that to the addict? Frum people who fight this reality are just telling the addict to stop and be like them - but he isn't. And he won't ever be just like them. Addicts - even after they get sober - need to live on a different basis than non-addicts do. We can rejoin the human race and be as frum as anyone, but we need certain basic perspectives to remain there, it seems. When others try to get us to deny it and sweep this under the rug, they are signing our death-warrant and condemning our families. Patience and love is needed here.

The frum sexaholic discovers that all along since he began his addictive behaviors, he was never just fooling other people - he was just as fake inside, to himself. Self-delusion and active addiction go hand-in-hand, like a horse and a buggy. To expect that his Yiddishkeit practices must have somehow escaped the delusional pattern of his life and need no rethinking - is naïveté. And for a non-addict to condemn the recovering frum addict who is questioning his sincerity and struggling to get more honest with himself regarding his Torah observance - is just cruelty born of the observer's own insecurity.

Each case is different, and frum addicts need understanding Torah guides to help them, not to condemn them. We are the liars getting well - normal Yidden are different. Our avodas Hashem will have to change, if our change is real. Boruch Hashem, my own experience has been that the changes led to a deeper, better, and more satisfying avodas Hashem. For it is now built on a bedrock of self-honesty, not on my old basis of just following the crowd.


- Dov

Dov's "Captain Kirk Moment" post:

There was once an episode of Star Trek in which there was a time travel shtick, and the Kirk of the present, went 10 years into the past. Now, there was another Kirk then, too, right?

That was a big problem. The scientists told him that normally two of the same people cannot coexist. It just does not happen. But as this was an exception (it was a TV show and they were getting paid $15,000 per episode) as long as the old Kirk did not actually meet the present Kirk, all would be fine. However, if they actually met each other, the entire Time-Space Continuum would be 'ripped asunder' (c"v). Under no circumstances could they be allowed to meet!

Similarly, we addicts walk about for years and are tortured inside, for we know the dichotomy we are hiding. We are living two separate lives that cannot co-exist under any circumstances!

Those who got caught by their wives or children acting-out in addiction know exactly what I am talking about. They understand why getting caught was so effective for a time - the desire "to use" left them as a result of getting both personae dragged into the room at the same time. The horror of getting caught with my pants down by a co-worker, son, daughter, or wife is truly intolerable to anyone who has experienced it. Why?

Because the hypocrisy is mercilessly forced to come to a bitter end. The Time-Space Continuum has been ripped asunder. We look frantically for a place to bury ourselves. It's hell.

It is the two Kirks being forced to see each other by a third party - and only a party who knows both personae can possibly do that. Till that happens, we are all players. Lying a bit about the 'real us' to ourselves and to others.

Dov's "Nuclear Reset Button" post:

The "Nuclear Reset Button" idea is about how we often allow ourselves to fall in order to RESET our "state" to that of teshuvah and kedusha once again (similar to what they say in the 12-Step groups: "The only way we know to be free of it, is to do it"). Addicts unfortunately often thrive on that very honest state we do feel after acting-out, but no matter how holy we feel in that state, it is all part of the same sick cycle. The idea suggests further, that since we sincerely crave feelings of pure kedusha and hate the feeling of struggling with lust, we end up falling again in order to get out of the struggle and back into that holy, connected and honest state we often feel after a fall. It's one of the only ways we know of that practically guarantees plugging into kedusha and teshuvah again. It's a dirty cycle in which lusting for avodas Hashem and kedusha lead us to end up acting-out continuously for years and decades.

Rabbi Twerski
Yiddishkeit and 12 Steps: The Rabbi's Opinion
Part 5/6
By Twerski, Rabbi Dr. Avraham

A recovering person writes:

Connecting to Gd, recognizing G-d does everything, moral inventory (cheshbon hanefesh, albeit with a different slant: it’s not guilt-based, Yiddishkeit's tshuva is), step 9 - making amends - is like tshuva too, without the guilt...

There are two types of guilt, healthy and unhealthy.

Healthy guilt is a painful feeling, like touching a red-hot stove. It discourages one from repeating the wrongful act. If a person does not feel pain when touching a hot stove, he should consult a neurologist, because there is something wrong with his nervous system.

A sociopath is without conscience and does not feel guilt. If one does not feel guilt for doing wrong, there is something wrong with him. Healthy guilt is what motivates a person to make amends and do teshuva.

Unhealthy guilt is feeling guilty even though one has not done anything to warrant feeling guilty. Pathologic guilt requires psychotherapy.

A recovering person writes:

[…] even though the concepts are the same as in Torah, it’s not like the Yiddishkeit I was raised with! I was never raised to be misboded (meditate) - maybe Breslovers were, but I went to Litvisha yeshivos. And if I said I had a spiritual experience and felt Gd’s presence, I would have been made fun of if not had my head examined. One of the things I love the most from the program actually is just sitting and feeling close to Gd, or asking Him to help me feel close to Him. I once went into a corner in shul and wanted to talk to Hashem and someone asked me if I was ok. (The Chofetz Chaim used to talk to Hashem in his attic. It’s not a practice taught in yeshivos).

The fact that yeshivos do not emphasize meditation is a shortcoming of the teaching system, not of Yiddishkeit. The Talmud says that the pious people used to meditate a full hour before prayer. Both Chassidic and mussar writings stress meditation, feeling close to G-d and spiritual experiences.

A recovering person writes:

Reb Yisrael Salanter met the Chafetz Chaim one time, and he told the Chofetz Chaim that he loved his sefer on not saying loshon hara but he doesn't understand how the Chofetz Chaim could write that if you speak loshon hara about someone you have to notify them and ask forgiveness. What gives the person a right to cause pain to another by telling them they spoke lashan hara about them? The Chofetz Chaim said he heard the question but what he wrote was rooted in Shulchan Aruch (Jewish law) - step 9 says you can't harm the person you want to make amends to.

This is an interesting argument between two Torah authorities. I had a person ask my forgiveness for having bad-mouthed me. I forgave him, but I wished he would not have told me. He could have benefitted from the general forgiveness I do every night at the Shema on retiring. It is perfectly legitimate to favor Reb Yisrael Salant’s position.

A recovering person writes

I'm struggling with incorporating the 12 steps in my life. A lot of the practices and tenets are sourced from Christianity (the Oxford group) and other non-Jewish sources. The prayers, such as the 3rd step prayer, the serenity prayer, and 11th step prayer (aka St Francis’ prayer)) cause me difficulty; also the practice of "hitting the knees."

I’ve often said that Bill Wilson plagiarized mussar. If a non-Jewish source quotes a Jewish principal, that does not disqualify it.

We do not say prayers that are part of another religion’s liturgy. I’m not aware of the Serenity Prayer being in Christian liturgy.

“Hitting the knees” is a symbol of humbling oneself before G-d. In the amida (shemona esrei) we genuflect four times, and although our knees do not hit the ground, we humble ourselves before G-d twelve times every day.

A recovering person writes:

Step 11 says don't pray for yourself - Yiddishkeit is full of prayers for

I did not address this issue adequately.

The Zohar is critical about people who pray selfishly, “Gimme, gimme.”

However, it is appropriate to ask Hashem, “Please provide me with what I need to do Your mitzvos.” One cannot do mitzvos or study Torah unless one is in good health and has adequate nutrition. One cannot do tzedaka unless one has the means to do so. This is not selfish prayer.

To be continued...
Never Lose Hope
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

Please help us continue helping others!
Contribute Securely Online
(Anonymous recurring credit card donations possible)
To donate by phone, call (24 hours): 718-878-3075
Checks can be made out to: "GYE Corp." and mailed to: GYE Corp. P.O. Box 32380 Pikesville, MD 21282 U.S.A.
Quick Links