Our Yiddishkeit Changes in Recovery
Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski sent us the following question:
Many of the ideas in recovery may sound like Torah madreigos, but they are not. They are just basic sanity and honest living. They are totally new principles for the addict. They are focused on acceptance of truths about ourselves and others rather than just knowing them. Normal people just do not need this stuff to function. We do. It makes it hard for normal frum Yidden to understand us, and they sometimes think we are moving away from Torah, c"v. But I feel that it is only their own insecurity that causes them to see it that way. The quality of faith is squarely faced in recovery - not its quantity or type. What a difference from normative Yiddishkeit! Just see how important appearances are in the community at large. I've got nothing against uniforms and standards of dress and behavior, at all. But see what a bonanza all that is for the professional faker (the addict). He fits into something - even while being a secret fraud. Even his 'Teshuva' was hidden in fake terms - he was never really ready to let it go. He was only interested in 'overcoming it'... letting it all go was unacceptable - like dying. And he knew it inside. What a dramatic and healthy change is honest and open recovery in recovery groups!
As a result of some real honesty, we quit looking for false kedusha in recovery - we keep looking for sanity and honesty. Kedusha will come of it's own, with G-d's help. Returning to the old, grandiose path of 'achieving greatness' will quickly drive the recovering frum addict right back into the same craziness and self-obsession that was part and parcel of his old, familiar 'struggle'. And he will soon find himself acting out or drinking again, even as he ‘grows higher’ in his mind and dreams. The Kotzker would say, "I prefer a rosho who knows he is a rosho to a tzaddik who knows he is a tzaddik." That is just the sad experience of many religious addicts. We do not ever assume we are resho'im, but for us it's finally OK to accept and move on with more humble goals - like realness in our imperfect avoda, and honesty to our family and fellows. Our imagined 'status' as kedoshim or tzaddikim finally becomes all and only G-d's business, not ours. Ours is but to live and do.