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Q. I am a recovering addict to internet pornography. Baruch hashem after coming to yeshiva 2.5 years ago, I stopped cold turkey as they say, due to the fact(s) that I did not have a computer and also a strong feeling on wanting to make teshuvah for all the damage I caused myself and to a lesser degree others. I am now happily married, B"H. Since I stopped viewing forbidden sites and videos, I still struggle with the images in my head from all the garbage I looked at, and I know it is a sin to even think improper thoughts in this area that could lead to spilling seed, G-d forbid. I want to ask what are ways to try to forget or suppress the images in our brains, I even remember the names of different porn stars... G-d forgive me! what tikkunim can be done?

A. They tell a story of a Ba'al Teshuvah who once came to one of the Chassidic Masters with this question. Having done Teshuvah for his past evil ways, he found that he was still plagued by bad thoughts and fantasies. The Rebbe gave him a parable.

There was once a Jew named Moshkeh who owned an inn where he used to sell wine and spirits to the gentile peasants of the area. After a while, he became disgusted in dealing with the drunken gentiles and decided to go into another line of business and so he closed down the bar. That evening, there was a banging on the door. "Moshkeh, Moshkeh, open up! We want some wine and spirits!". "Sorry", Moshkeh replied, "from now on, the inn is closed". The gentiles had no choice but to leave disappointed. For days and even weeks afterwards, Moshkeh would keep getting knocks on the door, but as the word slowly spread that the Bar was closed, the knocking became less and less frequent until the gentiles stopped coming altogether.
The same goes with these thoughts, the Rebbe explained. After doing Teshuvah, the thoughts keep trying to get in. But if you keep telling them that the store is closed, they will stop coming altogether after a while.

Another answer from someone on the forum...

You can't wrestle with a pig and not get dirty. The thoughts will come - accept that. It doesn't mean anything. At those times, try to just acknowledge that they popped into your head, wish them a friendly 'shalom aleichem!' and then move on to try and do something else. Worrying about them or doing something with the express purpose of getting rid of them just won't work - you're wrestling with the pig. Pray to Hashem and say; 'Ribono Shel Olam, I know that it is my fault that I have these thoughts. I don't want them. Help me to distract myself to something else and leave them be.'

Hatzlocho Rabbah!

Some practical advice for when sexual fantasies attack:

1) Pray to Hashem and say "Please Hashem, save me from lust! I want to love you Hashem, not women, not flesh and blood".

2) In extreme cases of lust that won't go away, imagine something disgusting about the object of your fantasy. Imagine this person passing gas, going to the bathroom or throwing up. Imagine the inside of their body, blood, guts and veins. (See tip #12 on this page for more along this "vein").

See also here for more advice on dealing with sexual fantasies from, and here for some practical Tikkunim which he brings.

More on battling sexual fantasies from Chizuk E-mail #264 ...

There is a common theme throughout Chassidic literature, that the more a person does through action and deed, then the more his mind and thoughts are changed as well.

The Parsha of Ekev starts with the words "Vehaya Ekev Tishma'un". Rashi writes that the word "Ekev" which means "heel", symbolizes Mitzvos of "lesser importance". The Beis Ahron of Karlin explains that this is refering to "Action", i.e. the physical act of the Mitzvos, which are of lesser importance than holy thoughts. It is important to point out that there is a difference between the "Ikar" (the main) and the "Chashuv" (the important). The "Ikar" of the Mitzvos is the Ma'aseh - the deed. But the "Chashuv" part of the Mitzva is the thought, that one is doing Hashem's will. Explains the Beis Ahron, "Vehaya Ekev Tishma'un". If you will do the Ekev - the lesser important, physical act of the Mitzvos, then "Tishma'un" - your mind will become uplifted as well and you will merit the "Chashuv" part of the Mitzvos too.
The same applies in the area of bad thoughts. The more a person "does" by not doing (as Chaza"l say, that one who sits and doesn't do an aveira is considered as if he did a mitzvah), then the clearer one's thoughts will become and the fantasies will be less intense and less often. Every time you turn away from looking at something bad and every time you say "no" to the addiction, you are changing your mind as well.

And this is one of the foundations of The 12 steps. As it is written in the books, that even when a new behavior seems insignificant, by believing in the importance of what we are doing, we start to see real changes in our thinking and behavior. Every little time we take "action" by saying "no" to the addiction, no matter how small and insignificant it seems to us, we are changing our thought patterns in the place where it really counts, in the "Chashuv" - the mind.  

Elya K (moderator of the Hot-Line) writes:

Practically, we can control our own minds.  Sometimes it's better not to close your eyes for an 
extended period of time because that brings on the images. What works for me is the following. 

Think of a "clean" pleasurable image of a place you've been or an experience that you enjoyed. 
Concentrate on this image for a while with your eyes open or closed. Feel the feelings, see the 
picture and hear the sounds all around you. 

Now every time an old image comes up which you want to get rid of, simply replace it with 
this good image.   

There is a trick to doing this called the "swish" technique.  I can tell you how to do it 
over the phone if you're interested.  Just call the hotline at 1-901-685-3256.  I'll call you
back or if I'm home I'll answer the phone. 

I did this 9 years ago after passing by a place I used to go into.  Now, even 9 years later
when I drive by, I remember my good picture and all the memories fade away. 

If you can stand being on this computer any longer you can Google "NLP Swish technique"
and learn how to do it.


Mevakesh writes on the forum:

What I do when certain  impure images or thoughts pop into my head is as follows (and I think I learned this from  someone on this site a long time ago):

I say hello to them! I say "Hey, how are you? Be well, Gotta run"

Don't try too hard to ignore it or supress it as it will only intensify. Much like when someone tells you "Do not think of green elephants" You know that ALL you can them think about is green elephants!

Rather when you see an image that in the old days would have made you do an Aveira, just wave to it, and move on. Don't dwell on it.

This has worked for me on many occasions Baruch Hashem.

Another thing I sometimes do is say to Hashem: "I just thought of __insert bad thought here____. In the old days I would have acted sinfully with that image, today I am better than that! Today I can see that image and not act on it! Today I can think that thought and know that it isn't part of me anymore! It is only due tou your help that I came this far in my struggle. Help me Hashem  reach the next level and  help me not to have these thoughts anymore!"


"Ykv_schwartz" wrote on the forum:

Rav Nachman says* getting hirhurei z'nus is a zechus. The reason is that it gives a person the opportunity for teshuva and proper tikun for the past aveiros. He says that so many people get down when they get these thoughts and feel bad about themselves.  But these thoughts are there in order for a person to chase them away and be zoche to teshuva. The thoughts come to a person so that they should uplift them. The thoughts WANT to be uplifted! So just realize that your current challenges are intended for you to attain teshuvah shleima. Knowing this can prevent unnecessary hindrances and should invigorate you for eternal growth.


* It is originally found in likutei moharon 27:8.  However, it is very cryptic, as is lots of the sefer. In Eitzos mevuaros under hirhurim siman 2 the idea is expressed much more clearly.


Here is an amazing and eye-opening quote from the Tanya (Chapter 27, abridged):

Should sadness come to a person because of evil thoughts and desires that enter his mind, he should, on the contrary, be happy in his lot in that, although they enter his mind, he averts his mind from them in order to fulfill the injunction "You should not go after your heart and your eyes after which you go astray". When he averts his mind from them he fulfills this injunction. Indeed, the Rabbis have said "he who passively abstained from committing a sin receives a reward as though he had performed a precept". Consequently, he should rejoice at his compliance with the injunction as when performing an actual Mitzvah Aseh...

And with every thrust (of the temptation) wherewith he expels (the thoughts) from his mind, the sitra achra ("the other side") down below is suppressed, and since "stimulus from below causes stimulus above", the sitra achra above is also suppressed.

Thus the Zohar(p.128) extols the great satisfaction before Hashem, when the sitra achra is subdued here below. For then the glory of Hakadosh Baruch Hu rises above all, more than through any praise, and this ascent is greater than all else.

Therefore, no person should feel depressed, even should he be engaged all his days in this conflict, for perhaps because of this he was created and this is his service--to constantly subjugate the sitra achra.

A tip from Rabbi Nachman:

It is written in Pirkei Avos "Let the poor be members of your household and don't talk much with women". R' Nachman says that the Mishna is hinting to us a secret, namely, that Tzedaka is a great segulah not to come to sexual fantasies. Even so, continues R' Nachman, the Mishna is exhorting us not to talk much with women, because this segulah is only good to save a person from fantasies if he does not talk with women more than he needs to. And R' Nachman continues, that this is also the meaning of the words "Tzedaka Tatzil Mi'Maves" - "Tzedaka saves from death". For sexual fantasies, explains R' Nachman, are death itself.

On a practical level, if one commits (for a week at a time) to donate 25 cents to Tzedaka each time he lets himself dwell on a sexual fantasy, he will likely see good progress. Not only may this help psychologically to prevent him dwelling on such thoughts, but by donating the money to Tzedaka one will also be fulfilling the segulah and thereby prevent further thoughts from coming as well!


Here's a piece from the sefer Pele Yoetz by the Hornesteipler ztvk"l about how we need to remain happy at all times -
even when plagued by these thoughts, along with another few other eitzos and proper perspective