Sunday, 06 November 2011

Tool 5: Alternative Fulfillment

Part 2/2 (to see other parts of the article, click on the pages at the bottom)

by GYE (See all authors)

We can also seek “oneg” (pleasure) in Mitzvos like Shabbos and Yom-Tov, through singing zemiros and spending quality time with our children. These things are also included in “Ve’hisaneg al Hashem” because oneg that is connected to Mitzvos has a kiyum (lasts). Yes, even good food on Shabbos can be a spiritual experience, as opposed to forbidden pleasures which leave us feeling empty inside (and that’s why we want it again so soon afterward).

Other ideas to help us start living "outside of ourselves" and feel more fulfillment in general, could include Chesed projects or involvement in the community in various ways. If you are a Bochur in Yeshiva, you might try and get the job of organizing the Otzar Haseforim, running a canteen, providing dry cleaning services, haircuts, etc... If you are not learning and also unemployed, try to find a job! The main thing is to keep busy, reconnect to the world around us and find fulfillment in a variety of ways that will counteract the "false fulfillment" that the addiction tries to provide us with.

Rav Wolbe Zatza”l in his Sefer “Psychiatry and Religion” (Pg. 82) suggests cultivating a combination of religious and social fulfillment to help our youth beat this challenge. He writes:

The difficult phase of adolescence is fertile soil for feelings of guilt, especially for religious youth. Masturbation is a serious prohibition. Yet almost all youth stumble in this and are unable to find the strength to overcome this in any way. The result is feelings of guilt. This is where wise guidance from Rabbanim and Mechnchim becomes so necessary. As is known, a Rav is not licensed to “forgive sins” and surely not to permit the forbidden. However, he can guide, calm and bring the youth to acceptance of himself. And together with that, to cultivate an intensive social life and help bring the youth into the vast wealth of Torah, which can arouse in him a deep thirst to acquire and grow in Torah. As our sages have said, “Torah is good with Derech Eretz, for the toil in both makes sins be forgotten”. In other words, the toil in Torah together with the toil of cultivating a thriving social life, brings to a situation where, over time, one forgets to sin. Instead of a constant battle, which is hopeless, through the positive hard work in Torah and a social life, slowly but surely, the youth will recover from masturbation. This is the conventional path of Chinuch that is accepted today. Yes, Torah life needs intensive chinuch. Without chinuch, there is no escape from youth sinking into feelings of guilt and despair.