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Yechezkel's Story

GYE Corp. Thursday, 15 December 2011

Yechezkel posted his powerful & inspiring story on the forum:

I think it's incredible that this website exists; what it must be doing in shamayim is amazing...

What I am about to tell you today is something that I have been longing to do for a long while. I wanted to catalogue my feelings and thoughts about a matter that has been directly effecting my life for well over the last decade. Immediately after this year's Rosh Hashanah 2010, I did something that I have been meaning to do for many years. I freed myself from the shackles of the Internet. When I say 'freed' I mean to say that I got to grips with my heart and soul and installed Covenant Eyes ( on my computers with all the added filters, etc.

I have B"H been clean from before the Yomim Nora'im. I wanted to wait at least two months before I knew that I had somewhat overcome my previous lifestyle before writing my story. I believe now that I can honestly say I have.

Ok, a little about who I am. My name is Yechezkel, I am 33 years old. I live in Jerusalem - Israel where I have a family of 6 Bli Ayin Hara. I run a successful business from my office in Ramat Gan. I am from England originally and have been living here for the last 9 years.

I come from an extremely frum family - all my siblings, besides my brother with whom which I share the business with here, are either in Kollel or klei kodesh. I was brought up and educated to the highest standards of both yiddishkeit and frumkeit. I was lucky to have been partnered with the most wonderful wife, and as her family lived in Israel we decided to settle here too.

The internet emerged on the worldwide scene during my teens and developed at a fast pace during my early married life. Whilst maintaining a settled program of learning before Shachris and in the evening, as well as earning a trade during the day - I was the typical frum ba'al haboss, living a relatively comfortable lifestyle, bringing up my children and infusing in them the rich heritage that both I and my wife received from our parents. My advice was regularly sought on a wide range of communal matters. I had become an askan in my circles and my stature in the community was one of respect. I was proud of my family and looked on with deep pride when my parents and in-laws visited us. I knew they were proud of me and at what I had achieved.

But this image I had constructed was all but a screen - a façade of who I really was and what my inner being and soul really looked like. In truth, I was well and truly addicted to the internet and all its terrible associated family. Yes, I was able to put on a front as a normal frum man when it came to life away from my computer screen. Yes, I was able to preach to my children and portray an example of how a frum Jew should behave, yes, I was able to learn the Daf day in day out, but behind all this, a lustful and dark man lived. It was a clear case of split personality. Once I was under the spell of my computer and the internet, I transformed into an animal - yes an animal, I am ashamed to say. I will not delve into what I got up to and what I spent time watching on the internet, but suffice to say I was addicted to it and it ruled my life, my heart, my brain and most of all my soul.

Year after year, resolutions came and went in Elul, year after year I wept through T'fillas Zakoh and klapped the al cheits with every intention to make the coming year one that removed me from the world of the traps that lay in wait at the end of my fingertips as I typed addresses in my browser. But year after year, the temptations were too great, too tantalizing to refuse. I had to feed my addiction, I had to nurture my lust and satiate my appetite for everything that is immoral. It wasn't long before those good intentions and resolutions were lying discarded in the garbage.

Life events and simchas came and went with me posing as the perfect family member and mentch, whilst in essence I was putting on a show. I was putting on a show that I had perfected over the years - that of total fakery and deception. After all, how would anyone ever find out? How would anyone know? Why did they need to know anyway? What difference did it make to them anyway? I rolled through my life watching the world go round and making excuses to myself on how to justify my actions, thus allowing me to somehow have a clear conscience of what I was doing - I guess this is one of the hallmarks of an addict.

This is not the platform with which to describe how the internet is the perfect tool of being able to realize one's fantasies behind a screen of total anonymity. The purpose of this script is both for me to read back and draw strength from, as well as for others to read and maybe relate to.

Why now? Why did I do this life and soul saving action of allowing my internet activity to become accountable to a third party? I would compare it to that of a smoker that wants to stop but simply finds the habit and addiction to powerful to take the plunge. On many occasions I made inroads in downloading the software but never took the final most telling step. I always bottled it at the final hurdle. Then one day a couple of months ago, right after the Yomim Nora'im, I was about to revert to my usual weak self when I witnessed a terrible accident in Jerusalem. I was due to catch an early morning bus to take me to work, but I missed it because an elderly Yid asked me to help him with his large suitcases. I sat on the bench next to a cute toddler and his parents and busied myself on my Blackberry whilst I awaited my next bus. Then, in a flash, the child ran into the road and was hit by a large truck head on. He flew into the air and hit the ground with a sickening thud. It was clear that he had been killed instantly. His parent's cries were heartbreaking. Hatzala just took one look at him and covered his head with a blanket. Everyone there was in total shock. I had never witnessed anything of this nature before. It was a scene that I wouldn't wish on anyone to have to witness; a young cute child being killed in front of his dear parents very eyes. A tender neshomoh that surely had so much potential to fill - and now extinguished just like that.

So there I was, mouth agape, clutching my Blackberry and briefcase almost in a trance. Why did I have to witness this? Why did I have to miss my bus? Why did the old yid ask me to help him when there were so many others on the street he could have asked?

I decided that all this was for a reason. It just had to be.

I arrived in my office and did the one thing I had wanted to do for so long. I somehow felt that Hashem was telling me that if this wasn't a wakeup call, what is? I installed a good filter along with Covenant Eyes on my computer, and I set my accountability partners to be my wife and father!

They would now have full knowledge of what I was browsing on the web. This was two months ago and now - 2 months later - I am a changed man. I have rid myself of my addiction, an addiction that I had so much reliance on previously, for well over a decade. I have changed in every way possible - spiritually, mentally and most importantly, I am facing the world whilst portraying a true image of who I am. No longer am I hiding behind a smokescreen. No longer do I have those feelings of guilt and shame. Incidentally, my business has thrived and new revenue streams have been realized - some leads coming from sources I would never have thought were possible.

Why am I writing this? I know that there are many frum men out there that find themselves in similar situations of Internet entrapment. I know that many of you can relate to how I was able to live a life of a split personality - a normal frum yid and that of a cyber animal. And yes, I know many of you out there will agree that whilst all our actions are continuously recorded and monitored by Hashem and we are ultimately accountable to Him, when it comes to the Internet it's a different story. The internet allows your every action to be shrouded in secrecy, and this format allows you to push the boundaries further and further, safe in the knowledge that no one meaningful will ever know. It's a modern day invention that has become part of our lives and facilitates every yetzer harah, making it all so easy and possible. But if your best friend knew - or your wife was aware - of what websites you visited, and if they saw you every day, would you continue to do what you previously were doing on the internet? No!

Hashem, I appreciate that it should never have come to this and I pray that the poor child didn't have to die so that I should have to learn this lesson. I should have known and imbued within my heart all along 'hakol goloi ve'yaduah lefnei kisei kevoidecha' and I shouldn't have to rely on the knowledge that my wife and father are aware of my internet activity. But I also know that You will be proud of me for what I did and, in effect, 'mitoich shloi lishmah bah lish'mah'. It has brought me closer to You and allowed me to relate to Your Torah and made davening to You such an enjoyable experience. I have done something that has changed my life forever, something I never thought I'd have the courage to do. I feel cleansed and free to get on with my life and face the world with a clear conscience. Thank you Hashem for giving me the strength to make this move, and I ask You to help me on my path to be able to serve You with a pure heart.

Thank you all for reading this. May Hashem help us all in our avoda of serving Him with Yiras Shamayim, with purity and sanctity and may we all be zocheh to His brochos in good health ad me'ah ve'esrim shana.

David replies to this powerful story with a poem:

What a story
in all its glory.
This is a wake up call
and chizuk for us all.
But as the details start fading
your memories you may start craving.
The Y"h aint asleep
for a while he may stay quite - no peep.
But as you start cruising
at your computer you may find yourself snoozing.
So while you are on your high
to Hashem you should outcry
to help you get close to Him
with deveikus to Hashem Elokim.
Because without him we cannot
weather this storm.
Once we have been shot
we are not anymore the "norm".
As the others have mentioned
you need to take prevention.
For some it was a week and some a year
but one thing to us was clear.
When we thought we can do it alone
the Y"H after some time threw us a bone.
And with our face in the p**n
we return to the forum.
So learn from the ones that tested it for you
it's tried and true.
Stick around with us
and catch this bus.
Stay for the ride
now that you removed your pride.
Acknowledge how hard it is to stay away
and don't fall as prey.
Not any more my friend.
Y"H you're done
as we fight with one thing and only one.


An inspiring continuation/elaboration on Yechezkel's Story:

As I said in my first post, my life had degenerated into that of someone with a split personality. On one side I was able to present myself to the outside world as a frum, honest, geshmak, father/askan/community guy - especially where I live in Jerusalem where I was involved in so many communal matters, but on the flip side I lived a sinister life of 100% total internet pornography addiction where I needed a daily (sometimes quadruple daily) fix.

Again, as I mentioned in my story - the terrible accident that I witnessed that fateful day made a huge impression on me. I just felt compelled to react in a positive way. I had seen him sucking a candy and holding his schoolbag singing to himself and then - poof! He was dead in an instant r"l - the whole circumstances that dictated that I would be there at that very time were too freaky for me to ignore.

That very morning I made that life changing decision to set myself accountability partners! Less than an hour after the accident. I was unsure who to set as my accountability partners as I wanted the system to be foolproof. I didn't want even a tiny opening for a way back in to what once was.

My wife works for one of the mosdot here in Jerusalem and had access 24/7 to email, as did my father. I concocted in my usual style a very credible reason why I had decided to set them up as my accountability partners. I said something like 'I went to this shiur where the Rav suggested that everyone do this thing for the safety of your families etc etc'. Funnily enough - it made them more proud of me! They were happy to be part of their 'shteiging' son/husband's actions in ensuring that he listens to his Rabbanim. I told them that everyone was doing it now (if only that was the case....) and they should think nothing of it.

So, that was it - they would be aware of all my web activity - updated on a weekly basis. Very often they asked me, "What's this website guardyoureyes' that you seem to be spending so much time on?!!" Of course - I was able to play this to perfection into their hands by saying that I am helping people who have internet addictions lo aleinu! They were amazed by my work :-)

I'm fully aware of the fact that although I have internet protection, I still need to double up in other areas, as I know the Y"H will seek other weak spots to target and plan his attacks. Subsequently, I have taken on small added measures and restraints - nothing too difficult to maintain - that will assist me in being able to operate my life on a level of maintained kedusha and tahara.

It's a shame that this subject matter - and this website - are not discussed openly in conventions etc, to raise awareness that there IS a way back into the fold - a way back into normal frum lifestyle.

Everyone agrees that we cant stop the onward march of technology and the way in which the web has become a prerequisite for almost everything that we do, but what we can and should do, is dull its impact and tie its tentacles, so that when it has to be in the Jewish household, it's limited in its capabilities. A bit like a disabled person in a wheelchair - he can get from point A to point B, but he cant exactly jump on a trampoline and slide down the banister!

Just as it would be unthinkable to buy a house and not affix mezzuzah throughout the property, it ought to be unthinkable not to install good filters and webchaver/covenant eyes on a computer. This message should be broadcast in every single Jewish community, regardless of type or background.

See this related article that appeared in

"We Blew it On the Internet"

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