Monday, 01 May 2017

Why doesn't the Torah address addiction?

by Dov (See all authors)

The Torah does not talk about any mental illnesses directly. The main reason this omission vexes so many and is a recurrent topic on GYE is simple: this particular addiction happens to involve a sin, while alcoholism and drug-addiction do not. Suddenly, an emergency ensues for frum people: "How can the goyim help so many frum Jews out of this while the Torah and Rabbis fail miserably?!" But the reason that the gentiles came up w AA and the 12 steps and we did not, is simple: we don't want to deal with true failure. We are fine with dealing with partial failure, with sinning. But when the failure is essential and not just blamable on the environment - when the person really is sick in the head - we see it as a shame. Shames are ignored as much as possible. I agree 100% that Rabbis who have private sex addictions and other psychiatric skeletons in their closets should not be speaking freely about it from the pulpit, just as they should not be publicly freely admitting their own inner doubts in G-d's existence or in Torah min haShomayim that they may have (and sometimes they do, of course). Our leaders have a responsibility to uphold a Standard - even though they may not be able tolive up to it fully all the time. They are humans, but MUST uphold a standard - like Royalty must not cry in public. Agudas Yisroel and Lubavitch, for example, are never going to be open about the experiences that Rabbis and other advanced members in their ranks have with wife-beating, drug use, and nasty divorces. True failure is a sign that the organization has failed. Therefore, it is forever seen as an anomaly. And I am not convinced that this is a bad thing. But it is bad for addicts themselves, and we DO need a safe place where we can stop being Royalty, where we can be ourselves and have no need whatsoever to uphold any standard for anybody.

That place is AA, SA, NA, etc. I enter the room as the Jew I am, but leave my personal pride at the door and admit that after all, I am still a human. It is a place where Derech Eretz reigns supreme, and Hashem is definitely there. Were the answer found in Torah, only Torah-people could get it, G-d forbid. And I am a sick man. Having this kind of group - not a Torah group - is the reason I am sober today and for the past 20 years of todays. For those who must disagree, I ask if it is really just their pride holding the door shut. I do not believe for a second that the Torah prefers Derech Eretz to come second, and neither did our Chaza"l.