Monday, 13 February 2012

Like a Babe in its Mother's Arms

Part 3/3 (to see other parts of the article, click on the pages at the bottom)

by Shlachter, Reb Shraga (See all authors)

Some people on the forum wrote that they didn't fully understand the article, so I would like to see if I can try to sum up Rav Shlachter's approach in just a few short paragraphs to make it easier for everyone to understand. This approach holds some very basic truths that can help us all find freedom from the powerful hold of addiction, so it's important to explain it as well as we can. Here goes:

'Feeling secure & protected' is an existential need of every human being. We can get these feelings in only one of two ways: either through CONTROL or through TRUST. There are no other ways for a human being to feel secure. Basically all the evils of mankind boil down to the 'Control' side of the coin. Addictions are only one example of this. An addiction is a form of retaking control of ourselves and our environment when we feel insecure about the world around us. The addiction tells us, "Here is a place that I feel warm and safe, and where I can make myself feel good when I want".

'Control' plays a big role in basically every other evil as well, whether it's bad 'deeds', such as murder, theft, abuse, etc... or whether we are discussing bad emotions, such as pride, envy, anger, honor-seeking, etc... or even many emotional disorders such as anxiety, depression, fear, etc... If you think carefully into the mechanics of these three categories (deeds, emotions, disorders) you will discover that they basically all stem from the human need to "control" as a way to feel secure.

But what is there to do? After all, we are human and we need to feel secure! The answer lies on the other side of the coin. There is another way to feel secure and protected that does not require control at all, and that: TRUST. When we trust completely in Hashem - like a newborn baby trusts in its mother, we relinquish the need for control, and automatically all these bad personality traits and evils fall away. However, the only way to build trust, is by letting GO of control. Relinquishing control causes Trust to rush in and fill the vacuum, since a human cannot live without feelings of security and protection.

Perhaps that is why Chavakuk came and put the entire Torah on one Mitzva: "Tzadik be'Emunaso Yichyeh - A Righteous man will LIVE in his TRUST".

This theory is also the underlying secret of the 12-Step approach. When we admit powerlessness in step 1, we are essentially surrendering our control and admitting that our addiction was unable to give us the security and protection that we were trying to achieve. We relinquish the control completely to our 'Higher-power" (in steps 2 and 3) at which point, "Trust" is able to rush in and replace the control. This leads to the 'spiritual awakening' and freedom that the 12-Steps promises.


I posted these ideas (above) on the forum, but some of the members continued to claim that not "all" addicts today suffer from 'control' issues. Many addicts simply became addicted because they were unaware of the dangers of internet pornography, and they became hooked on it without necessarily having "control" issues.

Our response:

You are correct. Not every addict has serious "control" issues. As we discussed in Friday's e-mail, the 90-Day approach is Tool #8 of the GYE Handbook, and the therapy/control/trust approach is tool #13, for those who really have deeper issues. However, it is important to realize that all addicts still have some problem with 'control' at some level. After all, like we explained above, it is the need for 'control' that is the underlying cause of almost all evil in humanity, both in deed and on an emotional level too. If people could learn complete trust and have no need to feel in control at all - literally like new born babies, they would feel no envy, rage, anxiety, need for honor, etc...

I was being Mavir Sedra and tears came to my eyes when I read what Hashem told Yaakov after all of his suffering from Lavan (who many mefarshim say represents the Yetzer Hara): "I am the G-d of your fathers... I have seen all that Lavan has done to you... return to the land of your birth". And I thought to myself how Hashem sees the terrible destruction that the Yetzer Hara does to us, and He feels our pain. So what's His advice/solution for us? Return to the land of your birth. Go back to the complete dependence of a young child... "Zacharti Lach Chesed Ne'urayiach - I remember the kindness of your youth".

As the Zohar discusses the faces of the Keruvim being the faces of children and quotes the Pasuk "Hu Yinageihu Al Mus". The Zohar puts the words "Al Mus" together as "Almus - youth". Just as a person can't get angry at an innocent child who is dependant on him, so too, Kaviyachol, Hashem can't get angry at the Yidden (when they trust in Him completely with the innocence of a child).


A beautiful quote from Dov once about "youth":

I imagine that Hashem looks at us like I sometimes look at my three-year-old. I think, boy, I'll miss the pitter-patter slapping of her feet in a year Iy"h when she starts walking more "normally" instead of excitedly rushing everywhere! The way her mop of hair flops up and down as she runs down the hall. The way she doesn't really know (or care) what the heck is "really going on" because she is all wrapped up in whatever's right in front of her; it's the most important thing in the world, of course! Usually it is a doll with lots of hopelessly tangled hair, or something. Then she'll drop it on the floor and go on to the next thing... She trusts her parents implicitly and totally - there is no room for any other provider of her needs. No room for fear of the future nor for regret about the past. As most kids do, she quickly accepts things exactly as they are and figures out how to have fun with it because, guess what? There's nothing else to have fun with but reality, is there? I look at her her and think, "My, how cute and sweet!" I feel certain that Hashem sees us that way, especially in early recovery when just getting through the day often requires simple, single-minded focus on the next right step.