As an example, an ex-smoker might feel momentary relief in a cigarette during a stressful moment, but the pain of addiction and fear of cancer will be a quick reminder of why they quit in the first place. The drag of a cigarette can never be as sweet as those first puffs taken in ignorance of the consequences. Additionally, there will also be the sting of personal failure ingested with each inhale. Similarly, imagine the frustrations of a chronic dieter who struggles to lose weight, reaches a modicum of success, only to give up the difficult fight and pack the pounds back on. These analogies illustrate why I believe that BTs who go off the derech are never truly satisfied with their choice to revert back to their former lives. I realize that I am likening becoming frum to overcoming an addiction. However, I believe that this diagnosis is correct for many of us.
Although she seems somewhat appologetic for comparing doing aveiros to addition, I think this is a very accurate analogy. Addiction is not only about alcohol and narcotics. It is about not being able to resist any kind of compulsion and not being mevatel one's self, nullifying one's self, to G-d. For instance, Rabbi Dr. Avraham Twerski has a Twelve Step Program for those with low self esteem. Groups also exist for Gamblers, Debtors, Clutterers and Workaholics.
When a person finds comfort in things that he knows are harmful to himself and others, he shares the same root problem that alcoholics and other addicts face. Doing aveiros in thought, word or deed fall into this category as well.
We could start other "Anonymous" groups to address these problems as well. We could have:
- Shul Talkers Anonymous
- Lashon Hara Speakers Anonymous
- Bitul Torah Anonymous
- Shmiras Ha'Einayim Anonymous
Let's say a person can't stop himself from talking in Shul, even though he knows that it's wrong and that he's passing up on the opportunity for davening to Hashem as well as the fact that he's distracting others. Or let's say that whenever a person's on the train, on the street or on the computer, he can't seem to stop himself from gazing at things that he is forbidden to look at. In either case, or a multitude of others, no matter how many times he tries to stop doing it, and no matter how much he knows that these things are destroying himself spiritually, he just can't seem to stop doing it.
As a summary, the twelve step programs take the following approach to this situation:
* admitting that one cannot control one's addiction or
* recognizing a greater power that can give strength
* examining past errors with the help of a sponsor (experienced member)
* making amends for these errors
* learning to live a new life with a new code
*helping others that suffer from the same addictions or compulsions.
The first step is admitting that you don't control what you're doing wrong. There's no way to progress if you still see yourself as in the driver's seat, and that you "can stop doing it whenever you want to." The idea is recognizing that without turning to Hashem for help, you also cannot progress. As the Gemara in Kiddusin 30b says, "ואמר ר"ש בן לוי ... ואלמלא הקב"ה עוזרו אין יכול לו," "Reb Shimon ben Levi says that without Hashem's help [in conquering the evil inclination/Yetzer Hara], one cannot conquor it."
Whatever it is that a person can't stop himself from doing, he should view himself as being just as bad off as someone with an addiction. As long as one doesn't recognize the seriousness of his faults, he won't be able to even take the first step in correcting it. After that, one must turn to Hashem as their source of help and constantly recognize his faults and work to correct them.
May Hashem help us recognize our faults and turn to Hashem to help us correct them!
(Picture courtesy of cartoonstock.com)
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