Monday, 22 February 2016

Hashem doesn't want us looking at Shmutz for OUR Sake.

by Dov, GYE (See all authors)

Recently, a longtime GYE Board member met one of his Rabbeim, whom he had not seen in over 20 years. In the course of the conversation, he gave his Rebbe, who is involved in the publication of the Klal Perspectives journal, www.klalperspectives.org, a Yashar Koach for their recent issue, which addressed today's challenges of technology. The Talmid noted that this topic is near and dear to him, as he is on the Board of Guard Your Eyes.

A woman who overheard the conversation nodded approvingly, noting that many mental health professionals disapprove of men's use of pornography, because, among other reasons, it causes them to be selfish in their intimate relationships. The Rebbe commented that G-d doesn't approve either. Recognizing the common ground between these two perspectives, the Talmid added "Yes, but there's a reason that He doesn't approve - it's for our own good!"

Dov Responds to the above:


One can go a lot further with this point. One of the 3rd step talks we do on the Desperados call deals with the obvious: practically every frum person - let alone not frum person - occasionally, secretly, feels that G-d actually hates him.

This is plain to see, and in the Torah we find the observation pointed out and dealt with over and over again. This is why it was necessary to write a few times that "the mitzvos are l'tov lanu," that it is "l'haitiv lochem b'acharischem", etc. It's precisely because we naturally have a problem with that.

Amazingly, the very generation of people who saw the greatest tolerance, love, and power demonstrated by Hashem of any generation in history - even through many open miracles - was the same one that said "G-d must have taken us out of Mitzrayim in order to kill us and our children in the desert and our cattle,"and that "He took us here for the giants in Eretz Yisroel to defeat us," and other things, many, many times. The pesukim say it clearly without any help from commentary. We Yidden clearly stated that we sincerely felt that G-d was not acting in our best interest, and instead was trying to kill us - even after bringing us so very far. How strange and sad it was that those people just couldn't see...

Strange? Nah. It's with us right here, today, and with practically everyone.

Consider this: "kabed es avicha ve'es imecha" is on the 1st side of the luchos. The ben odom la'Makom side. Why, really? Simply because the relationship with parents creates the first keilim we will have for ahava (kabed) and the yir'a (morah eim ve'av) of Hashem for every Jew. Sure, we often like to think that the ahava and yir'a we achieve today is a personal victory - purely intellectual accomplishment of our own. But we see people every day who were treated badly as children or who have difficulty with authority having big challenges in their personal relationship with Hashem, and vice versa. I would bet that under practically every rock you will find this, if you just pick it up. Sure, as we grow up we like to pretend it's a 'decision'... but as the Steipler said, the best (perhaps the only) 'insurance' you can 'buy' for your kids to grow up frum is to have Shalom Bayis (and to daven). Apparently, there are some building blocks that make it much easier - or much harder, c"v - and they are natural and emotional blocks, not intellectual at all. It takes some humility to admit this.

Now, who's relationship with his or her parents is not fraught with conflict and frustration these days? Not so many of us. It's quite likely that many feelings we have that we think are 'emunah problems', are actually just emotional blocks to accepting Hashem's Will operating in our lives. We are unhappy with how we look, with what we have or don't have, how our spouses look, how our children are (if we have any), our parnossah, neighbors, people in shul, the way we were treated as children - or treated yesterday... in other words, we don't approve of G-d's Will for us. This is far more common than we realize and is not an 'emunah problem', but an emotional reaction. When we don't like a thing, we often just rebel.

And dor hamidbar did the same thing, for the same reason. The Yidden who left Mitzrayim had many fears, a (very) weird childhood, and a deep-seated distrust of authority... their challenge was to break free of it all and let it go. To get out of G-d's way and allow Him to take care of them even though they kept feeling that they knew how life 'should' work. And many failed, as we see, and reverted back to their old feelings... basically the entire generation failed. The self that they came out of Mitzrayim with, was just too hard for many to let go of. The Ibn Ezra spells this out explicitly.

I feel that as long as we read these Torah stories without allowing ourselves to see our very selves in them in some way, the Torah is like a book filled with interesting things to analyze and not much more, R"l. But to bring our problems out explicitly and face an ugly-sounding thing within us openly, is the safest and best thing we can do. Perhaps it's not enough to admit that the mitzvos are for our own good. I think we need to see and admit the truth about what's the matter with us even if it doesn't sound 'proper' and cannot (and truly should not!) be spoken from the pulpit. To face the fact that the very reason we need to hear drashos about how the Torah is for our own good is because deep inside we often believe the exact opposite! Learning more knowledge about what the Torah says does not change the facts about what I really feel. Openly admitting the sometimes-ugly-and-not-frum-sounding truth about where I am starting from, is my First Step to real growth. Until I do this, I am in a locked box - having the keys to the outer chamber while still locked in the inner one! Sadly, leaving the uncomfortable or 'improper-sounding' facts out and talking about the right belief alone, is just telling ourselves what we want to hear. The emperor is wearing nice clothes, no? Such things don't have traction and won't likely bring real change. Remember, we are talking about people who are here because we love porn and erotic adventure so much that we have been moser nefesh for years to get it - often lied for it, spent money on it, let go of many aspects of family and parenting for it. And all along we knew it was assur!

And we think our problem is that we have intellectual 'emunah problems'? Let's not fool ourselves.

Yes, GYE needs to focus on the positive, but I think there is also a place to draw the line and a time to pull off those righteous clothes we sometimes wear. To plainly see and admit what we really have inside our hearts underneath all our good knowledge and beautiful ideals and Torah lessons. My experience has been that people who want to grow, will see this gift as precious self-honesty and when they do, they devour it hungrily... once we are helped to get past the shame of admitting it. In recovery, we see this happen over and over, and self-honesty seems to be a never-ending growth process.