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Mention of addiction in sifrei kodesh

GYE Corp. Wednesday, 21 March 2012

MosheF asks:

I am part of a non-Jewish 12-Step SA fellowship. I wish there was a solution to the disease of addiction in yiddishkeit, but to the best of my knowledge there is none. There is hardly mention of the concept of addiction or a solution in chazal or mussar seforim. This begs for an explanation that I don't have.

Rabbi/Dr.Twersky responded to one such question here and he writes as follows: "Whereas forbidden sexual activity certainly occurred, I doubt that the phenomenon of sexual addiction was ever brought to the attention of the authors of sifrei mussar."

I have a hard time accepting this answer because Chazal understood the human psychology and Yetzer Hara extremely well, and they didn't have to be told about a phenomenon to write about it!


GYE Answers:

Dear MosheF,

Please read the Ohr Hachayim Hakadosh on this page (for English translations of this important piece, please see Chizuk e-mails #379, #381, #385 on this page). It sure sounds to me like he's talking about lust addiction! He directly addresses the complete powerlessness that a person who is caught up in lust will experience. He suggests that the only way to succeed in this area is by completely avoiding visual and mental stimulation. (If the Ohr Hachayim had lived today where this solution is close to impossible - and where the entire world's sewage is available with the click of a mouse, who knows - he may have come up with a 12-Step program! :-).

But listen to this: The Ohr Hachayim also touches upon the core of the 12-Steps in this very piece. He writes that for those who are already caught up in lust (read: addicts) they cannot do it on their own, and that ONLY Hashem can ultimately save them from this powerful Yetzer Hara.