Monday, 16 January 2017

The Magnitude and Root-Causes of Today’s Kedusha Crisis

Part 6/12 (to see other parts of the article, click on the pages at the bottom)
What is the magnitude of the problems that have arisen as a result of digital technology, and how can we address the core roots that lead to these problems?

by Yaakov from GYE (See all authors)

A continuation of Dov's response:

Now regarding your main topic: Prevention.

First let me say that after being in SA meetings every week for 19 years in 4 countries and at many SA international conventions, it has become clear to me that Frum yidden are the single fastest growing group of sex addicts there are. A few observations:

1- Compared to their gentile counterparts, the 'ultra-orthodox' are more often sicker. Prostitution, for example, is actually more common among the frum yidden who are in SA than among SA's gentiles.

2- Getting married seems to make sexaholics sicker - and this is more clearly demonstrable among the frum than among any other group.

3- While religion is always abused by addicts (just the way marriage is), we frum seem to have perfected it. Fervent yiddishkeit frequently develops in tandem with the frum addicts' disease, and by the time we come to places like SA or good therapy, they two are nearly impossible to tease apart. This leads to terrible pain and confusion when the recovering sexaholic begins to figure out that some very nice-appearing-but-overboard frum things he has been doing need to stop if he is to ever have hope of staying sober.

4- The tightest frum circles (I do not want to name names here) have the deepest problems. I think that is partially due to 'self policing', kind of like the bubble that burst for the Catholic church 20 years ago. Also, since these groups have the most trust in their own way of answering all problems, they don't sense their arrogance. Sick family dynamics, addictive behaviors, and other shameful problems are covered up or self-policed. The Twerskis have created a tool for training Rabbonim in hopes of turning this sad tide. But it's too little too late, no?

Seeing the scope and nature of the problem is important, and that was my contribution. With these things in mind, I think the main issues the Frum community faces is lack of real spiritual content/meaning and that this is enabled by shame at imperfection and the great importance placed, in its stead, on appearances. These things run deep.

When I visit a certain very yeshivish yeshiva, the boys are all 'shtotti'ly dressed to the tee...but just try to make eye contact with any of them. Many don't allow it, looking away as if they were ashamed of being. Is that me projecting? Try saying 'hi' or 'good morning'...many do not respond. The sforim taught me that a person learning Torah should naturally be among the happiest of persons - ok, let's not get carried away for they are still high school boys - but still shouldn't they at least be ok with themselves enough to say hi?...well, what's wrong here?

This is not a 'mussar issue' to try to fix behaviorally. Something's missing. At my work, people make eye contact with strangers and also say hi back at anyone. The excuse that goyim are all shallow is just an excuse, of course. Something's missing. Some may think most of these yeshivah kids are depressed. And no, I have no axe to grind, bH...but I must be honest with you and say that I fear that they are repressed as well as a bit depressed about being who they are. And no, I doubt that most of them are struggling deeply with sex and sexuality and actually ashamed of sinning last night, etc. But I do feel certain that something is definitely going on. I believe that connection is not happening, not being allowed. Something inside is successfully insulating these boys from nearly everyone they come in contact with. Excuses can be made for this, but the issue is not a coincidence with the fact that many of these boys will end up in SA meetings one day with distraught and terribly confused wives. I feel it is a big part of how they ended up this sick in the first place.

So is there a way we can increase the capacity of our high school aged boys to open up? To make safe relationships for the sake of making relationships, just because humans are cool? To be really proud and happy with who they are and what they are doing - not just to their Rebbis or close friends, but to anybody they meet. Personally, I am a little proud of who I am and what I do, failures and all. I am not afraid of eye contact. I like people - mainly because I like myself...but I was not that way before a few years of recovery.

OK, I understand that high school boys are not exactly going to 'talk openly about their feelings', yes, and the age is rather awkward. But there is something missing here. I do not think most gentile high school boys act the same way around others - do they?

And when it comes to Shidduchim...oy vei...the shame and covering up is deep and broad. It starts long before, at home and in yeshivah. Is there a way to help fathers connect more with their sons? Not about middos, but about their humanity. Tzaddikim have said that this generation's children cannot be beaten any more, it will backfire. Well, perhaps the 'sheivet' that is appropriate for this generation is the father's own frailties and failures. Opening the truth up to our children in an appropriate way - may be the only thing that can save them from living a life of secrecy...until R"l things get so bad that they get caught and become pariahs, perpetuating the problem with the shaming that others often use in order to insulate themselves from association.

Sorry this is so long and thanks for letting me participate and for maintaining my anonymity. I'd be happy to meet and talk if anyone here thinks it'd be helpful.

Any thoughts?