Mind vs. Heart, Torah vs. 12 Steps, Same Old vs. Change
  Breaking Free Chizuk #1629  
In Today's Issue
Torah: The Mind Rules over the Heart... or Does It?
Editor’s Note: Addiction, Recovery and a very different view on Yetzias Mitzraiym
Q & A: To Me, the 12-Steps ARE Torah
Daily Dose of Dov: More of the same, or REAL change?
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The Mind Rules over the Heart... or Does It?


I have a question for Rabbi Twerski or any Chabad rabbi who is on the GYE board. How do the 12-steps go with the concept of “moach shalit al halev” (“Mind rules over the heart”)?

GYE Responds:

Good question.

Let's take the example of someone who has Diabetes. For years, he tried to fight his sugar imbalances by thinking positive thoughts and by meditating, but it didn't help. Then he was finally diagnosed as diabetic and was told he had to take insulin, eat healthy, and do daily exercises. Instead of using his mind to try and think away his diabetes, he needs to use his mind now to simply take the steps the doctor told him to do.

It is the same with the 12-Steps. For years, we tried to use our "moach shalit al halev" to control our acting-out, but it never worked. Then we found out we were addicts and we had a disease. We were different from other people. With this revelation, we discovered the 12-Step program, which tells us how to use our "moach" to take steps that we know to work for addiction. Instead of trying to fight the behaviors head-on, we learn instead how to let Hashem into our lives through honesty, integrity, humility, group-support, bitachon, emunah, etc... Now our moach needs to be shalit on the lev to get us to take these steps, but no longer to try and fight the behaviors head-on.

Does this make sense?

Obormottel offers a further clarification:

“Moach shalit al halev” (mind rules over heart) is an oft misquoted and misunderstood concept of Tanya. The actual quote from Tanya (perek 17) reads: “The mind, by virtue of its inherent nature, is master over the left part of the heart, and over the mouth and all the limbs which are the instruments of action...” But this is an incomplete sentence. The full quote from Tanya continues: “…except in him who is completely wicked (rasha b’emes), as the Rabbis said, that the wicked are under the control of their heart (reshoyim b’reshus libom), but their heart is in no way controlled by them. This is a punishment for the enormity and potency of their sin.”

Often times, people hear the “moach shalit al halev” and figure that Tanya is saying a universal rule that applies to everyone: that a person can always think his way out of the situation he finds himself in. Nothing can be further from the truth, and it’s not what the Tanya is saying at all. Whether you consider addiction a disease (as is explained above with the example of diabetes) or sin (and, arguably, repeated and relentless involvement with an aveira/sin makes one into a rasha, a wicked person), addicts are clearly powerless over it, and the Tanya does not suggest otherwise by making a blanket statement that “moach shalit al halev.”

And even if someone is not “completely wicked” (rasha b’emes), he may still find himself to be unable to completely free himself from the obsessions of his heart. As the Tanya says further, in perek 28, with regards to beinoni, “However, if he finds it hard to dismiss these [lustful imaginations or other extraneous thoughts] from his mind, because they distract his mind with great intensity, then he should humble his spirit before G‑d and supplicate Him in his thought to have compassion upon him in His abundant mercies." This is the admission of powerlessness (step 1 of 12) and believing that only “Power Greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity” (step 2 of 12), i.e. to restore the natural shlita (domination) of mind over heart.

Editor’s Note
Addiction, Recovery and a very different view on Yetzias Mitzraiym

 Recording of Dov's call today: 

Addiction, Recovery and a very different view on Yetzias Mitzraiym

Listen to the recording here: https://fccdl.in/ExsvVCf1J 

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Q & A
To Me, the 12-Steps ARE Torah
Won't Torah and Mussar be enough to cure my addiction?
By London

My question to you is simply this: is what you are doing now working, are you staying sober, staying stopped, and leading a purposeful life? If you are, then great! However, if what you are doing is not working, then why not try working the steps and join an SA meeting? What have you got to lose? We have it on good authority that the 12 steps are not contrary to Judaism; quite the opposite is true, the 12-Steps teach us the fundamentals of religion all over again, in a way that can often penetrate the hardest hearts.

Read more
Daily Dose of Dov
More of the same, or REAL change?
By Dov

To understand this beautiful post from Dov it may be necessary to see this link for a quick summary of the steps.

When the White Book mentions 'facing resentments' as part of recovery, it seems to me that it is as part of a process. The steps before the 4th are quite simple, yet often not as straightforward as we make them, early on. For example, simply having a true emunah in Hashem as any yid - particularly an educated and practicing one - must have, is not necessarily even scratching the surface of Step 2, or 3. In my recovery it seems plain that my working the 1st, 2nd and 3rd steps must begin to change me. After that, looking closely at my resentments and other character defects will bear tremendous fruit. But in my experience, looking at my defects before working the first three steps is just more self-analysis. I remain at the helm, no matter how much emunah I have brought to the table with me. And I was at the helm when the ship strayed way off course repeatedly and for decades....uh oh.

In other words: If acceptance of my own inability to stop lust behaviors on my own (step 1); my reliance upon Hashem to save me from myself and help me heal a bit just for today (step 2); and my comfort with Hashem as my own personal Master and Best Friend (step 3) are not significantly different than what I had before (while I lived with all that crazy behavior), then I see no reason to expect I will succeed at living life differently. If anything, Recovery is simple - but not easy. And early on, it is truly "rachok m'tziyur sichleinu" (far from our imagination)!

It all depends on what we want: more of the same but with "a deeper awareness" and "more control", or a different life - one free of lust as a destructive force. If I want more of the same but with more "understanding", I will read through the steps and think them over. That's all. The only way my life changed was by working the steps in order, though very imperfectly. I needed the help of others to do this. I found people near me who have been this way before in the "gan ham'vucha", whom I could talk to, practically daily. The benefit was - and is - incredible. It made no difference for me if they were yiddin or goyim - the only real issue for success was the simplicity and honesty of my faith, not what I have faith in, at all. I hope you get my meaning here.

If meetings are impossible, perhaps you can get a sponsor - a real live one. After all, your problem isn't virtual... you gotta trust someone. Your Father wants you to go only for the bulls-eye. There is a price to pay for that, and it may not be attainable behind a screen.

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 help@pornanonymous.org to schedule a time to talk. For more information visit pornanonymous.org (Hebrew: p-a.org.il / Yiddish: pa-yid.org).

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 dov@guardyoureyes.org to schedule a time to talk. For more information visit www.sa.org.

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