We've Got No One to Rely on... except Avinu Shebashamayim!
When Klal Yisroel sinned so much that it was a real big mess, what did Hashem do? He took away the Beis Hamikdosh. Not only that, but He took away the nevi'im, the nissim, and many of our Torah sages and good people. And He even took most of us outside of Eretz Yisroel!
Now, how does that make sense? If we messed up when we had prophets and cohanim telling us the truth about how we should each individually serve Hashem... if we messed up when we had direct proof of Hashem's power and existence in miracles anyone could see... if we messed up while in the Holy land that has air that brims with inspiration and Kedusha...
...then why make it all even harder by taking all those things away?!
Now He expects us to get better? There's more hope now?
Sounds a bit goofy, no? And it's especially goofy if it is all punishment. For then, it is clearly a case of a god who likes to cut off his nose to spite his face, no? (This is not my question, but the GR"A's.)
But it all makes perfect sense if it is all just the way to discover that all we have is Avinu Shabashomayim. The way to see how much He loves us and how dependent we are on Him is when there is no palace and we are out in the cold - and He still loves and helps us and takes care of us... that's love. That's a relationship. All the distractions are stripped away. (This is the midrash's answer, not mine.) And about distractions:
When Hashem said through the novi that He despises our Shabbos and Yomim Tovim and says, "who told you to stomp about in my courtyards, anyway?" (remos chatzeirai), what could He possibly mean? He told us to! Aliyah l'regel is a mitzvah! What could He mean ?
When He told us He does not want - and never wanted - our korbanos (read the novi, it's even in the haftorah), what could He mean? He told us! Korbanos are a mitzvah!
(The nations of the world say He indeed meant he really does not want those mitzvos at all and never did, which is ignorant, of course. But that's their way in, by denying the unchanging truth of the Torah. But then what is His logic?)
He means that the korbanos and biyas mikdash were vehicles for getting a relationship with Him. That's what He wanted, and all He wanted. Haskel veyado'ah osi. He gave us mitzvos in a context - we created a new context - doing them for honor and competition.
Bil'am seemed to do His Will, too, right? And Hashem's malach yells at the guy... huh? Make up your mind! But the answer was that Bil'am was using Hashem's command to do his own will, not Hashem's. Hence the haftorah that week about Sha'ul's mistake doing his will rather than Hashem's.
In sefer Chovas heLavavos, R' Bachya writes that the entire purpose of the mitzvos is to have a real relationship with Hashem. 'Know me' is all He wants. And we do that by the Torah and mitzvos. But the purpose is the neshomah of it.
But when the acts of mitzvos become distractions to knowing Hashem - to having a real relationship with Him... something's gotta go. So He took some of the mitzvos (hatluyos ba'aretz) away from us. He took the Mikdash away, and He made us more lost. So lost that ein lanu al ma/mi lehisho'ein ella al Avinu Shebashomayim. We have been killed and tortured and confused for millennia, all to come to Him with our entire selves.
It all comes down to having an honest relationship with your own G-d. We need Hashem, period, end of story.
Even Hashem doesn't save addicts until we allow Him in by being sober and working real steps of getting sanity back. As the Kotzker put it, Hashem only comes where people allow Him in. Sounds kind of funny, but that's the way it works.
I do not even know if you are an addict! You may just be a regular guy who likes the way watching porn and masturbating makes him feel (except afterward!) and can quit but just doesn't want to. But if you really are sure that you want to quit and try and fail, then you may be an addict. Few porn and masturbaters probably are, I think. In which case all this is for you, friend, so use it if you want to. BTW, my real first name is Dov. What is your real first name? Charlie? That won't do - is it being open? Hop on the reality train with the guys who are taking real steps, not just virtual ones, amigo.
- Dov (another sober and recovering porner and masturbater, free one day at a time for a while now, b"H)
Sorry about the arichus.