Tuesday, 04 July 2017

Does the Torah understand my plight?

by Dov (See all authors)

Duvid Chaim asks:

It’s always been a frustration of mine and many many men I talk to - that the Gemaras don’t “seem” to address addictions. No frum struggler wants to feel like the Torah doesn’t understand his plight. If you or anyone else has some insights, please share.

Yaakov responds:

The closest story to lust addiction in Shas that I can think of off-hand is the story of Elazar Ben Durdaya.

But in general, the Torah talks to normal people, not addicts or sick people. That's why we don't find much about it... We also don't find much in the Torah about alcohol addiction, bipolar, schizophrenia, and other mental disorders... Although, in the Tochacha it says "And also many diseases which are not mentioned in the Torah will come upon you"... In another place it says "and you shall become insane from the things you see". This may also be hinting to lust addiction, no? :-)

Dov responds:

The "Doctor's Opinion" (in the Big Book) basically clarifies the issue. I have spent much of my time on Guard Your Eyes from the first day I have been there, helping men and women and rabbis with the very issue that DC is vexed by. And have discovered and helped many other people discover a thing that is as important as it is unpopular: A person who is compulsively porning and masturbating usually insists on using 'Torah' to fix his or her problem because they aren't taking their problem seriously enough. Ultimately, people resort to gimmicks and half measures for a problem that is a small one. And when the problem blows up out of proportion or suddenly is seen to be life-changing, they run not to the rabbi, not to the chiropractor, not to the herbalist - but to an emergency room doctor. Often the shift to 'taking the problem seriously' is that the spouse caught them... Till then, 'Torah' was fine to rely on, but not anymore. All that changed was that the problem became real. The doctor's opinion is explaining that recovery is not for sissies, while 'studying the issue and working on myself' (including Torah) certainly caters to sissies as much as it does to everybody. But as soon as a person begins to take their problem really seriously they usually become open to taking real actions, and the fact that 'Torah' does not work for addictions no longer bothers them as much. Just like it no longer bothers them very much that Torah will not help heal their appendicitis or cancer.