Sheilah about Shmiras Einayim
Dear Rabbi Morgenstern,
Would the Rav be able to weigh in to this discussion and offer a psak? See the conversation below:
Can I use a mixed gym and pool, as I feel It would help me not to fall. I know that these days we are not allowed to even go in to the streets but Rav Moshe Feinstein paskins that we are not angels so we can go only if we have a purpose. I feel that I need to workout out and swim in order to distract myself from falling. Knowing myself at my madreigah, I feel this would benefit me greatly. I would try to position myself where I would not see women and in the pool, I would be swimming laps and not see women. I want to know what the psak Halacha is for someone meshukeh in this aveirah who feels that going to a mixed gym (because there are no unmixed gyms in his area) would help him in the meantime until he grows In madreigah and then feels that the gym is now his barrier to the next level? Can you please forward my question to a reliable GYE posek who deals with GYEers?
Hi. While exercise can indeed be a big help, wouldn't you be able to find better ways to do it, such as exercise machines at home or jogging in your neighborhood?
Also, I'd like to understand better your situation. When you say you are "meshukeh in this aveirah" does that mean you don't have clean streaks? If yes, how long, how often? And has your acting out ever progressed beyond the screen?
Other questions: Are you frum from birth or a BT? Do you watch movies and/or TV? (I have a reason for asking this).
What other tools besides exercise are you doing for your recovery?
After you answer these questions, I hope I can better guide you or pass it on to a posek.
He responded with clarifications:
Thanks for getting back to me! I totally understand your inquires.
- Working out at home makes me most vulnerable to falling as I fall 99% of the time at home. My desire goes down tremendously when I'm in a public place (even in a bathroom stall). I live in a very cold climate so it's hard for me to jog outside. As well, I just went to a foot doctor who told me not to jog because I have flat feet and I am ruining my legs.
- When I say "meshukeh in this aveirah," I mean that I fall in general. I do have clean streaks for around 7 days when I get cracking down but they realistically don't last as I have all this free time to spend at home. I am trying to find things to do to fill up my day. For example, I'm going to be working soon, and I plan to spend a couple of hours in the beis medrash, as well. But I know myself and I need something stimulating to do not at home, something like exercise and swim and then sit in the "men's only" sauna (which they have). Also, these pools are not hangout pools, they are pools with swimming lanes which mainly old people use. I have never acted out beyond the screen and I am currently trying out different filters. I plan on just white boarding my computer, leaving me access to just a few kosher websites and using the library for anything else that comes up.
- I was raised more on the modern side. I went to a mixed school but I never had a girlfriend, mainly because my parents were a little more on the frum side and would look down on that; and because I am an introvert and don't talk much to girls. I became full-fledged frum when I was 16 and was actually clean for 4 years. I recently watched a G-rated movie because I wanted to see if watching kid movies at home would stop me from falling at home but it didn't as the movie still had very inappropriate scenes. So no, I don't watch movies or TV.
- I've tried the TaPHSiC method but it's not for me. Neither is the 12 steps. I really just need to be kept stimulated and not have any free time for a year until the desire goes down tremendously, which is how I broke free when I was 16 and kept clean for 4 years.
My story on how I fell after being clean for 4 years:
I came down sick with terrible insomnia and terrible anxiety due being too intense with learning and drinking way WAY too much coffee. I had a terrible meltdown in yeshiva and ended up in the ER-prescribed medication for short term ( which I only took a couple times as I didn't want to get addicted). I went home the very next day. The anxiety was terrible, I didn't take the medication as supposedly the medication stops the anxiety from going away. Thank Hashem, with mindfulness meditation and other life-style adjustments I had a tremendous recovery after many months; however, I am still very weak and not at the level of learning that I was at. In the beginning of my illness, I was unable to look into a sefer except for Tomer Devorah for a little bit. So I was doing nothing all day. My desire started growing bit by bit. After around a month or two, my mother bought me this natural anxiety supplement which had one side affect - hyper-sexuality!!! The day I took it, I was M'Z'L in the shower and I was devastated! After a month of sitting around doing nothing, the habit came back.
So basically, I feel that going to the gym and pool will greatly benefit me up until my battle will just be a battle of not having any hirhurim whatsoever. Hopefully by that time, I'll be married anyways.
Based on what you write here, and based on R' Moshe Feinstein's psak in Igros Moshe, (Even He’ezer chelek Alef, siman 56 be’inyan “ika darka achrina”), where he writes that a chashash michshol is not enough to prevent someone from normal day to day needs, I would think that it would be mutar for you to go to these places. But this is only if it's not for sure that you will see asur things. Only if you make a serious effort to protect your eyes. But if you will for sure see asur things then I can't give you a heter, I would have to pass on the shailah to a rav.
I would probably see untznius women, but I would make an effort not to look, and I feel I would have an easy time making the effort as I will be distracted by swimming and exercising.
Can you pass it on to a Rav?
Rabbi Morgenstern responded:
It is very hard to believe that it is possible to go to a mixed swimming pool and not be exposed to prohibited images when entering the pool area and leaving. The question is not only during the time one is swimming. Is it safe to assume that the attire of women when they are swimming covers less of them then when they are in the street or at a gym. If so, a pool does not seem a reasonable option.