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Erev Pesach 2009


Yetziyas Mitzrayim

Starting a New Page

We received an e-mail this morning from someone, full of pain and disillusionment. He claims that he felt uninspired by the 'once-in-28-years' Birchas Hachama this morning and he doesn't feel inspired from Pesach either. He hates learning Gemara and he feels that in general, religion has become empty and is not what it used to be. He also explained that he uses p-rnogrohy to escape from the existential dilemmas of his life. And I quote one line here: "I feel that many things I read on your website are missing the mark because you are using Torah to help people break free, but often this addiction stems from a frustration that is born of a disconnectedness with religion itself".

Dear Holy Jew,

There could not have been a better time to pose these questions then Erev Pesach. The bondage of Mitzrayim indeed symbolizes your situation. And Yetziyas Mitzrayim is about connecting anew to Hashem in a very basic way, a way so basic that even non-Jews can relate to it.

I want to say that you really hit the nail on the head. How can we use Torah to inspire people when they are completely disconnected from Hashem?

And herein lies the secret of Yetziyas Mitzrayim. We indeed could never have gotten the Torah and become the Jewish people if we hadn't first left Mitzrayim. The entire uniqueness of the Jewish nation and the amazing levels that we can reach through Torah would all have been way beyond us. We were stuck in Mitzrayim. We were slaves, at the 49th level of impurity. We were like animals. Can an animal become a Jew? Can an animal receive the Torah?

I want to ask you please to take the time to read Chizuk e-mails #445 through #450 on the bottom of 
this page. It may take you a half hour or so, but it will give you a new perspective on what Hashem wants from us in this world and what Yetziyas Mitzrayim is all about. If you don't have time today, perhaps you can copy and print it out to read on Pesach.

It is indeed only after we have left Egypt that can we start counting Seffirah and slowly build ourselves up, day by day, until we receieve the Torah and become the Jewish nation, the nation of Hashem!

May we all achieve and feel a true Yetziyas Mitzrayim tonight.


Fighting Fear

Ykv_schwartz posted on the forum in the beginning of his recent journey to 90 days:

I have had one of the greatest two weeks in my life in a long time. I am a bit apprehensive though. I am scared. How can one possibly continue like this. Is it possible?  Please, Please give me chizuk. I know in the past I failed. I feel I will not fail this time. But I am scared. It seems almost too good to be true.


Reply to Ykv_schwartz:

Winston Churchill once said: "The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself". And - Lehavdil - Rebbe Nachman always said: "The main thing is not to fear at all". Sometimes, the fear itself can lead a person to fall.

They tell a story of R' Meir of Premishlan. As an old man he used to walk up and down a slippery, icy mountain in middle of the winter, to immerse in the stream. A band of mockers once made light of his daily trip and decided to try and imitate him. But as soon as they tried to climb the mountain, they all came sliding and crashing down. When Reb Meir heard about this he said "when a person is tied above, he doesn't slip down below".

In this struggle, we need to learn to "hold on above" and live with Hashem in our hearts. This is even more important that learning to FIGHT and be STRONG. One who has Hashem with him, is no longer afraid. The 12 Steps speak of "serenity". This is one of the most important aspects of success in this struggle. We bring Hashem into our hearts, we let Go and Let G-d. We don't try to control anything - which leads to fear when we ask ourselves "can I do it?". Instead, we let Hashem take over our lives.

The pasuk says:
"Gibor Lo Yinatzel Berov Koach... hinei ein Hashem el Yirei'av, la'miyachalim lechasdo - The strong man will not be saved through strength... Behold the eye of Hashem are to those who fear him and hope to his kindness". One meaning of this could be that Hashem doesn't give success to STRONG people who can overcome the Yetzer hara even when it is very difficult. Hashem has enough "strong" Malachim in Shamayim. As a matter of fact, if a person thinks he is strong enough to withstand any test, Hashem may purposefully test him and bring him to fall just to show him that he is not as strong as he thinks. Instead, Hashem wants only "fear of heaven" and "hoping to him" for help. When we ask Hashem for help and tell him that we want to fear him, and when we hope to him and tell him that we know that we can't do it without him - THEN we will see success and be fearless in the process :-)
Also, if we learn to live one day at a time, the fear is greatly diminished. So if you feel a great fear of falling, tell yourself - just for today, I won't fall.


Ykv_schwartz answers:

Thank you GUE for your encouraging words. The funny thing is that I have been humming the tune to "The main thing is not to fear at all" for the past few days. I guess it was on my mind a lot. I have been focusing a lot on the 12 steps and I have been feeling immense natural serenity. I have been super calm to all that I meet. I feel a pleasure to be with people and to help people. My wife cannot get over what a calm and upbeat mood I have been in.

So I am just going to take this one moment at a time, keep myself tied above, continue to have Hashem in my heart (which the tikun Klali has greatly embedded in me) and hope to Hashem.

You guys are great! I feel like crying for joy just thinking about how wonderful you guys are. Thanks.


Letting Go of Lust - Matzah vs Chametz

I would like to share with you a beautiful discussion on the forum today, appropriate for Pesach (edited for clarity):


"Ano-nymous" posted on the forum:

Tomorrow is 20 weeks clean for me! My goal is no more lusting and I feel like I am almost there. When I say lusting, I am referring to the act of thinking bad thoughts or staring at women for the sole purpose of getting that 'tingly feeling'. What I now realize is that doing those things and looking at p-rn online are essentially the same thing: food for my addiction to lust. And if you stop feeding the addiction, he dies. I'm living proof to the truth of that statement.
People need to understand that giving up lusting completely is not just an add-on. In reality, it is the ONLY way to actually quit forever. Like Boruch keeps saying (see chizuk e-mails #447 and 448 on this page), if you hold onto the lust while trying to give up the behavior, you are doomed to failure. It's like the guy who immerses in the mikvah while holding a sheretz. If you want to be purified, you have to let go of the sheretz - which in this case is "lust".


"Be-Holy" responds:

Ano - you're amazing. I feel exactly what you feel. I keep thinking how I need to give up lust and dig down deeper, but I am just too scared to give it up... Aren't you scared? When I see other women on the street, it is still hard for me to control that double-take I feel. I know it is lust, but for some reason I just can't seem to let go of it.


An amazing reply by member "Me":

I used to be scared of giving up the lust. This was when I was using the lust as the means to fill an empty void deep inside of me. But when I did much honest soul searching, I was finally willing to take "risks" - which were just in reality "trusting in Hashem" no matter what, and I made changes in my life by finding kedushah to fill this void.

And now... when I take that Shabbos walk and all of the inflated chometz is walking down the street, there IS a voice that says to "have a glance"... BUT, there is a much louder voice now that clearly reminds me of the bitterness that I will taste if I do have this look. I remember so so very well this bitter bitter MAR taste (for me it is maybe just as bitter as the morrer is meant to be, to remind us of the bitterness in mitzrayim). That bitter struggle of "wanting lust, and yet trying not have it". This bitter struggle is so bitter because it is a paradox. How can I try to "not have something", that I am in fact "wanting"? And therefore, like Ano said, it can only really work when we are willing to let go of lusting altogether.

Pesach is the most appropriate time to make this final change. You are doing great, but you need to hurry up and work on the ROOT. You are still fighting the lusting. Now is the time to leave the lusting alone, and change yourself into a person that no longer lusts. A person that no longer has the "need" to lust. A person that has many many more important things in his life than lusting.

As we all know, lusting is only temporary. When we go out to grab it... it turns out to be all air, i.e. nothing to hold on to. It was all imagination... it wasn't really REAL.

This is the entire difference between bread and Matzoh. They are both made of flour and water, but... the bread (chometz) has the air added which inflates it. The lust is pure air, pure chometz... nothing to hold on to. This image walking down the street, is pure chometz... all inflated - not really REAL. Remove the air, and it all disappears and we are left with something tangible... matzoh.

Let us all use the rest of Pesach, zman cheruseinu - the time of our freedom, to really beseech the Ribbono Shel Olam and tell him:

Ribono Shel Olam, I have completely removed all of the chometz from my home and from my ownership, but I still have some non physical chometz left in my mind. PLEASE, PLEASE help me to remove this also, and let me taste the real taste of Cheirus-Freedom.

If you beg and plead from Hashem for this during Pesach, in the most auspicious time to remove ALL chometz and come to REAL freedom, how can Hashem possibly not answer you?

Kriyas Yam Suf

Now is the time. Shvi'i shel Pesach. Klal Yisrael is standing on the edge of the Yam Suf. Mitzrayim is pursuing us. We are surrounded on all sides by the Yetzer Hara, but the Ge'ulah is on hand. Yidden! We are a step away from Az Yashir (Lashon Asid - which is NOW), the true Shira of the Geulah Shleimah.


Are you willing to completely trust Hashem and enter the Yam Suf till your nose - even if your body tells you you'll drown? Don't listen to your body for once. He is not in control - Hashem is. Trust completely in Him and take the jump.

* Put in that filter and give the password away.

* Tell someone close to you about your struggle, and promise to keep in touch with them about it every few days.

* Call the Hotline or join the Free weekly Phone conference.

Do something you always were afraid to do: Just trust in Hashem and jump.

And if you are willing to take the "risk", as we discussed yesterday, and just trust in Hashem, Hashem will surely split the Yam Suf for you and for all of Klal Yisrael. What you do, will effect us all. Hashem will fight for us, and we shall be silent. Miracles you never believed could happen WILL happen!

Kriyas Yam Suf is waiting to happen again. Be a part of it!


Ahron posted once on the forum:

Here are some steps that work for me:

When online, I consider my motivation for every site I visit. If it's a news site, I again consider why I want to read certain articles.  If it's because the site or article discusses inappropriate topics (fashion or "news items" relating to immoral behavior), or even if it might discuss them and the Y"H wants me to find out for sure, then I don't click. In general, I limit the sites I visit to a small list and I question anytime I feel the need to visit a site that is not on the list.

When in the street I have a number of different methods depending on the situation, but 3 of the most common thoughts that I've been working on making "second nature" are:

1) Remember that what you see is the outermost layer only. Just a bit deeper is a bunch of gory blood and bones that you'd run from in horror.

2) I try to link the pleasurable sensation of inappropriate thoughts and fantasies to the devastating emotional pain I experienced when I revealed my addiction to my wife. Since I must tell her if I fall and she has reminded me nicely many times that she understands me but would be very hurt if I had something to report, there is an immediate link between the fall and the painful consequence, even more immediate than the inevitable depressing feelings that used to follow a fall.  Although it's still a 2 step process (pleasure followed by memory of pain), I'd like to get to the point where the only sensation is the memory of pain.

3) An oldie but goody...Just get through today. I can do it, just for today.


B.G sent us another great tip:

One trick that seems to work for me is, if I catch myself looking where I'm not supposed to, I put my eyes in Time Out mode: Six seconds with the eyes closed.


Yehudah the Addict posted once:

I had a bit of a slip... Thanks to this site though, I have not let it pull me down, Hashem is still part of my life (in the past this would have led to a downward spiral), and I think I may even have learned from it.

One of the things that helps me is the acknowledgement that this is an addiction. This enables me realize that the buzz / rush / excitement that I feel when engaging in these things are simply chemicals that are secreted in the brain and I am addicted to them, and this helps put things in perspective.

This morning, I already put this realization to practice I postponed my response to a trigger by waiting a few minutes and seeing it for what it really is. And low and behold - the buzz was gone.

I would like to share with you the first post of one of our great warriors on the forum, "Ykv_schwartz". The reason I am bringing it today is because he talks about his fall - and subsequent success - from right after Pesach last year.

Today, Yaakov is doing fantastically well and is helping us inspire many other strugglers on the forum.

Hi, I am new to this forum. I have been reading some of your posts in the past few weeks as I was trying to get acquainted with the site and I have been so inspired. I am so happy to finally have a social network to reach out to and share my problems with. For years I have yearned for this. My first encounter with p-rn was at age 10, and I am now 31.  (Brief bio: I learn in kollel. I have a wife and four kids. I am considered a learned individual in my community). It was at age 16 that I first set out to change my ways. I had no idea that the battle would take more than 15 years. Even as a bachur I had fears that this problem would be with me as a married man as well. But I was certain that at least when I was married I would have no desire for p-rn. But as all of us know too well, an addiction is an addiction. I would love to share my story in full at a later time as I think it would give great chizuk to all of us. The more we share our stories, the more we realize that we are not alone and we could all fight this together. Over the years, I never gave up. I always knew that I could beat my Y'H. I had many tricks which I hope to share. Most worked for some time, but eventually the Y"H would overpower me and I would be lead into a downward spiral until I hit rock bottom and bring myself back up.  

Well for now, I would like to share with you a very effective method that carried me for over six months. Last year, right after Pesach (year 2008), I had a terrible 'attack' of the Y"H. I was constantly on my computer downloading all sorts of movies. I was so depressed. I am in kollel and so this is bein hazmanim and I had more time to my disposable. I wasted it all away, together with my seed. Well, when the new zman started, I decided (for the millionth time) - that's it.  No more of this Y"H. So, I stood in front of the mirror, looked at myself and began telling myself over and over and over again that this is it. No more.  I gave myself intense Mussar. Well, for two weeks I felt great.  However, one Friday morning (may 16, 2008) I was doing work (I am a graphic designer by profession. I do my work on 'off' hours to maintain myself in kollel) and I felt the urge. My body tightened up. What am I going to do now? So I picked myself up and looked in the mirror. But this time I did not talk but yelled, "STOP IT! STOP IT! YOU ARE RUINING MY LIFE! MY WIFE! MY KIDS! GET OUT OF HERE!" I gave myself a nasty look and continued yelling at myself. I was really angry with myself. Well sure enough, my Y"H was scared out of his wits and ran for his life. (This concept of using ones anger is brought down by the R. Yonah in shaarei avodah (a rare sefer to find) and in the Gr"a on Mishlei. They both point out that we need to use our Y'H for good. And both give the example of using our middah of anger to yell at your y"h. It is known that the Chafetz Chaim and the Rav Yisroel Salenter employed this method as well.)

I then began a log and recorded the fact that the Y'H came to visit me and I WON the battle.

He decided to stay away for a while. But a few weeks later he came again. And sure enough, I did the same thing and beat him like wildfire. I was feeling so good. And all by using this method of yelling and getting angry with myself and the Y"H. It was unbelievable. And as Yom Kippur approached, I began to feel great joy and bit of nervousness. Was I going to make it until Yom Kippur? Was I going to finally - after 15 years - be able to properly confess my ways?  To say vidui that I will never do again and be honest about it?  Well, sure enough, Yom kippur came and I was clean now for all these months. And I had had intense battles with the Y"H and not once did he win. My tears on Yom kippur were like none other. I thanked Hashem profusely for giving me the strength. I felt so victorious. After maariv, I came into my house and began telling my kids that "WE WON! WE WON". They all asked me what happened.. With tears in my eyes, I said Hashem has granted us "mechila". Nobody knew what I was talking about.  But I was crying. 

Over this period of time, my relationship with my wife and kids was great. There was so much love in the air, you could feel it. I was happy man.  My learning sky rocketed. My whole life was uplifted....

For the continuation of Yaakov's Story, see his thread on the forum here.


A beautiful post from "Shomer" on the forum yesterday:

Today is day 30 ... I have been working the SA program and been going to meetings even on chol ha'moed.

The bottom line for me is that even though I have done 30 days before (albeit rarely), I have not been struggling the same way I have in the past. I have learned by working the 12-Steps that when I do have urges, I promptly admit powerlessness, acknowledge that Hashem is the only One that can and will help me and ask Hashem to remove the lust from me. I am frankly surprised by how much better this works than fighting the urges head on.

The phone calls and the meetings have also been a tremendous source of support and encouragement for me.

For those of you that find that you keep slipping despite the monumental and genuine efforts you have been making, know that there is hope.

Although there are those that have done it alone, most of us need some form of external support and encouragement.

When you step into an SA meeting for the first time, you will be surprised at the amount of support, encouragement and understanding that you will be greeted with.  Your anonymity will be protected and you will get better if you really work the program.

I am beginning to learn that we don't have a p-rnography problem, we have a p-rnography solution. Our problem is a life problem and we must seek ways change ourselves from the bottom up if we ever hope to rid ourselves of this terrible addiction once and for all.

But all you need to do is take the first step and...
"Hashem yilachem lachem v'atem tacharishun - Hashem will fight for you, and you shall be silent".


An amazing post by "Battleworn":

One of the greatest obstacles stopping a person from changing is the notion that it can be done without a lot of investment. We live in the generation of instant results, and we come to expect that whatever needs to happen should happen quickly.

Furthermore, we tend to forget that our whole purpose on this world is to change and improve. We tend to look at any weakness that we have as an "inconvenience" that needs to be gotten out of our way (or ignored), while in reality it's Hashem's personal message to us telling us exactly what He sent us to this world for.

So what usually happens is that it doesn't even occur to a person to really spend time, energy and "focus" on improvement, and particularly on recovery. Hashem tells us
"T'na b'ni libcha li - My son, give me your HEART", it means your whole heart. When Hashem makes it obvious to you what you have to work on, it logically follows that it should be the main focus of your life. But we usually don't get the message. Yes, we try, we may even post on the forum, but often we are not willing or not able to really invest concerted effort.

We may even be moser nefesh for short periods of time, or we may even be contemplating suicide - chas ve'sholom. But we can only be successful when we except the mission that Hashem has given us, instead of trying to dodge it. And that means to patiently - with yishuv hadaas - invest our "focus", our time and our effort on that mission. 

For most people, it may very well be impossible to do that without a group that's concentrating on exactly that. Joining a (SA) group is a commitment, and at the same time it provides an ideal framework for serious, focused and persistent work.


We would like to wish a special
Mazal Tov to "Phillip" for reaching 90 days and getting up on the "Wall of Hashem's Honor". Here's what Phillip wrote us now:

B"H I have reached 90 days. Mazal Tov. I can't begin to express my gratitude to you and your web site on helping me reach this stage.

The way I look at 90 days, is like finally finishing the first step to healing from this disease. I see this as being the first step of a long journey that I am eager to participate in. It's like getting out of Mitzrayim, but yet I still have to be mekabel the Torah. 

Whatever way I look at it though, its the first step to something bigger.

The Mazal Tov goes to both of us and for every participant on this website. Because my success is just a reflection on the success of your website.

Thank you for everything.


I would like to share another inspiring post from "Phillip" when he reached 50 days clean:

I can't thank you guys enough for helping me get to where I am right now. This coming Purim I will B''H also have a personal miracle to celebrate besides for the custom miracle which we all celebrate every year, thanks to your incredible website.

It has not been an easy road, but thanks to this website, the daily emails and the weekly SA meetings, I have been able to remain strong.

I have learnt 2 Yesodos regarding being clean:

1) In order to carry on being clean one has to accept that he will be an addict for life and that the struggle will remain with him until he is a 120 years old and nothing less. By accepting this, it makes it easier to hold up your shield on a daily basis, no matter if you are sober for 50 days, 5 years or 25 years. Obviously it will get easier as time goes on and we will learn how to control it G-d willing, but one should always have in the back of his mind that he is still an addict and avoid lust. Once we take that first drink of lust we can easily become powerless, no matter how long we have been clean for.

2) Take one day at a time, for me that really helps. Whenever one is faced with a challenge he shouldn't look in to the future but rather tell himself that the important thing is to survive this very day and to try to stay sober at least until tomorrow. Whatever happens after that is irrelevant because one can only control the present moment and nothing else.

Nothing is ever a guaranty but one can only gain by trying different methods.
May hashem give us all the strength to carry on fighting. 


And here's an inspiring post from "Shomer" today:


This motzaei Shabbos I had to stay up half the night for a work related item. I had not anticipated having to stay up and was caught somewhat off guard. All the symptoms that normally preceded a slip began appearing. I was resentful for having to stay up, there was a stretch of idle time in the middle of the night where I had to wait on someone else, euphoric recall began to creep in etc. etc.

So here is what I did to stay sober ....

1) Attended an SA meeting on motzei Shabbos
2) Called a fellow SA member and told him about my issue
3) Book-ended every hour (made call every hour and left message on one of the members cell phones)
4) Told my wife about my nissayon

These are the tools that SA and the fellowship have given me.  I would not be sober without them.


People, we need to look at those who are succeeding, like Phillip and Shomer, and learn what really works. Yes, it takes effort (doesn't anything worthwhile?), but if we truly want to heal, let us learn the techniques from these true courageous warriors who are willing to do whatever it takes!



We would like to wish a very special Mazal Tov to "Boruch" for reaching 90 days and getting up on the "Wall of Hashem's Honor". Here is Boruch's inspiring post on the forum today, summing up his 90 day journey:



BeChasdei Hashem Yisborach, I reached 90 full days!

On one of my older posts, I had once written that when I got a test I used to feel as if I was almost telling Hashem to get out of the way while I fought the fight.

Looking back on the last 90 days though, I now have a very different image.

I grew up in a home with TV, and I was addicted to TV from when I was a year old (my mother babysat me with TV) until I left for Beis Midrash, and with no TV my addiction disappeared (but the damage was already done -- the years of TV addiction had greatly contributed to my main addiction).

There's a frequently and variously replayed scene that comes back to me now of how the driver of a car/pilot of a plane would get injured and the guy in the passenger seat would quickly move the driver/pilot away from the wheel and take over.

I think of how I first started on these forums, of how after a week of blasting the Steps I tried out an SA group myself.

I think of how I initially went an hour away in fear of losing my anonymity, at the same time unaware that there were frum SA meetings locally.

I think of how in the SA group I was going to, the Back-to-Basics meetings got me through my first run of the 12-steps in 4 weeks instead of many years or very possibly never.

I think of how the group I went to had many years of history and they did not feel in any way threatened by my very different approach.

I think of how I told my wife about my addiction.

And then I think of the events of recent weeks...

I think of the SA phone group that I tried, and the SA email listserv with a view to exploring possibilities that may in the future be useful to others.

I think of how I had decided several times to go to the local frum group but was each time dissuaded by a member of the local groups who was concerned for me and insisted that anonymity was a big concern for my family.

I think of my call Erev Pesach to a Rav with a prominent yichus in a major Jewish population center who was at one time addicted and today, through SA has 16 years of sobriety and has helped thousands of Frum Yidden with addiction.

I think of how the Rav "gave it to me over the head" for not going to the local groups. He was concerned that it was not good for my humility to be different than anyone else and that as an extra member I could be contributing to a group that helps Frum Yidden. In the end, on a second call this past erev Shabbos, he told me that in my circumstances it was up to me where I go.

I think of how slowly and surely I am finding this Rav to be my Rav for addiction shaylos. I understood from this Rav that I should really be going to the local meetings and so I got the number of another member of the local group to get a second opinion on the anonymity issue.

I think of how this past Sunday afternoon when I still had not reached the member for his opinion the strangest thing happened. I went to a frum chapter of another 12-step fellowship for food compulsion, and at the end of the meeting I stayed to talk with 2 others. They had known each other for several months whereas this was my second meeting in this fellowship. We were discussing the steps when out of the blue one of the other 2 disclosed to us both for the first time that he had a sex addiction and was an SA member. I remained to talk with him alone and he confirmed that he was a member in the local SA group. I asked him whether there is any reason for concern in the local groups. He told me that there was a misunderstanding of the nature of the anonymity concern and I should not worry and I should definitely come to the local meetings. Later in the day I got through to the member I had originally tried to reach, and he too encouraged me to come to the local meetings.

I think of how yesterday, Monday morning, I celebrated my 90 days together with fellow frum Yidden in my first attendance at the local SA group.

I think of the chain of circumstances yesterday, Monday, following the meeting that swept me totally off my feet and lead me to finally surrender to Hashem, not only my "will" but my entire self...

And I look back and realize that 90 days ago Hashem saw how physically, emotionally and spiritually wounded I was, and so He pushed me out of the driver's seat and He took the wheel...

"Ain Od Milvado - There is no one but Him"


I would also like to share an inspiring post from "Me" on the forum today:

Two people can be "outwardly" doing the very same thing (like shmiras habris for example), and yet on the "inside", they are completely different.

1) You can be doing shmiras habris by: Running franticly from the y"h thereby feeling pressure, fear, anxiety, eventual exhaustion, which in the end can lead to a fall. Why? It is the VERY stress and anxiety of this type of approach which beckons us to return to the acting out, in order to sooth our pains - so to speak.

2) You can be doing shmiras habris by: Instead of running FROM the y"h, running TOWARDS Hashem. Your entire focus, contrary to the above, is one of GOING somewhere that I wish to be (Hashem), rather than running from a place I am frightened of. The first option produces anxiety which can feed the problem, the second, i.e running TO Hashem's palace, will produce a different type of feeling... because you are doing something completely different. You are building and strengthening yourself with each step, as opposed to "fleeing", which causes tiredness with each step.


In the early days of this Chizuk list, I used to have to come up with new Chizuk every day on my own. But lately, I just copy (and edit) the best and choicest Chizuk posts from
the forum and I believe that this is even better!

We are watching in real-time on the forum, the world's most valiant warriors taking on perhaps the largest struggle of our generation and tackling it with every trick and method in the book. There is just so much to learn from them!

We are witnessing the world's greatest Giborim giving huge Nachas Ruach to Hashem with their sincerity and determination. And often, if we follow their journeys closely, we get to watch how Hashem himself comes down into their struggles and helps take these holy Yidden out of the Yetzer Hara's venomous jaws!


A post from a valiant warrior on the forum:

Day 57! WOW!

I wanted to share a few things that "occurred" to me over Pesach.

Those of you who have been following my journal know that I am working on abstinence from food addiction as well. Over Pesach I was surrounded with food and guests and the works. I can't tell you how many times I wanted to "escape" into my addictions... Addiction for me is an escape method from any emotional thing that is happening in my life - either big or small. I admit that I do not like to feel uncomfortable in any way shape or form, and so my Yetzer Horah wants me to think that escape is great!

Do you know how I survived and still have my abstinence through all that turmoil?  When I had this overwhelming thought in my mind "oh my goodness, I don't think I can do this" I reminded myself that it is HASHEM who is keeping me abstinent!  It is not my "power" anyway, so why worry?!  As soon as I brought Hashem into my mind and realized that Hashem is the one who is holding me up, I was saved! Baruch Hashem!

I don't know if this is making any sense to anyone else, but this is what worked and keeps working for me. Taking the first step of the 12-Steps over and over again:
"We came to believe we were powerless over (a particular addiction) and that our lives have become unmanageable".

Secondly, I came to realize that with the addiction we are all working on here, I have now a much easier time pushing aside any thoughts that pop into my mind. I would contribute that to the amount of days I have abstinence. I think the first 30 days were the most difficult and now it is noticeably easier. Emotionally, I had BAD withdrawal symptoms for the first 30 days (you did not want to be near me... I give my family a lot of credit for putting up with me!). My subconscious was MOURNING the loss of my addiction! I NEVER thought that this would happen, but it did. I am so glad that it is over now! And I am also glad that I knew I may have these symptoms in advance, so I was able to understand what was happening to me and that it will pass!


Another amazing warrior - "bardichev" - recently posted on the forum:

Hello to everyone here. I am truly humbled to be here. It is the most wonderful thing.

I can not believe that today is my 31st day without any assur internet whatsoever. Without any bittul zeman on the internet. I can't believe it myself, I am so happy.

Just four weeks ago I couldn't sit in front of my computer without peeking just for a few minutes at all the filth that the Y"H brought my way.

Just four weeks ago I was the lowest person in the world, living the biggest lie.

Just four weeks ago I was crying under my desk and I really wanted to change, but I couldn't.

Indeed in the past I made strong kabbalos I gave myself all kinds of mussar. I applied all kinds of advice but I never was able to ever go even 2 weeks clean.

I B"H found a lifeline at GUE, and I realized 3 things:

A. There is a way to recover

B. That I am an addict and an addiction needs recovery. Not that I'm just crazy or SHVACH .

C. There are other people in the same boat that are honestly working on changing their lives.

At that point I didn't feel that I deserved to be on the forum, let alone on the Wall of Honor. So I kept my own journal for a full two weeks first. It was so hard to change, but all the chizuk from reading all the posts on the GUE forum pushed me along.

I still can't believe that I am clean for a month. I am not trying to delude myself to say I arrived. I REALLY need all the encouragement I can get still to reach my short term goal of 90 days. I really am taking it one day at a time. I am davening for siyatta dishmaya.

I realize that the battle of the Y"H is a full time job. My shemiras ainiyim is on a very good level B"H. But I am scared that I will fall so I am setting small goals.

I came to this realization that I couldn't stop myself until I admitted that I was an addict, not that this was just a "bad habit". This is an addiction. Once I knew I was an addict, I was able to accept advice from all the people on the forum. But until one doesn't ADMIT this, he can't be helped because he feels it's not for him.

I started to realize that the power of TEFILLA is so great.

I had a wonderful insight. In the tefillah we say "VCHOF ES YITZREINU LHISHTABED LACH", we daven that Hashem should force Yetzer Hara to be subjugated to HIM. All my life I had davened that "my" Y"H should be controlled by "me". NO NO NO! I have learned now from the first of the twelve steps that we are begging Hashem to force the Y"H to be under HIS control.

May all our friends here be the source of inspiration that we all become truly the HEILIGE NESHAMOS we were given at birth.

May Hashem bentch each and every one of us.

Humbled and happy



For the third time this week (!) we wish a hearty
Mazal Tov to yet another member of our forum who reached the 90 day milestone. This time, the Mazal Tov goes to one of our greatest sources of Chizuk on the forum, the member who calls himself "Me".

Only two days ago we quoted a beautiful piece of Chizuk from "Me" in the Chizuk e-mail (#458), and "Barditchev" posted yesterday:
"Today was day 33. I kept the advice "ME" sent me (sounds weird) in my mind all day and I B"H overcame a Nisayon which I was prepared for. Some of the tips posted here really do work".

Well, here is Me's very inspiring e-mail to us today (edited for clarity). There is much to be learned from it:


B"H, tonight is my 2nd arrival at 90 days.

The first time, I was running fearfully from the Yetzer Hara until I ended up falling.

The second time around though, I used a different approach and "practically" had no nisayonos. The approach I used, was focusing on building and forging a relationship with the Ribbono Shel Olam. I spent my time trying to build myself and see where my emotional flaws were, so that I could repair them. I came to believe that by fixing myself, I would no longer need my "fix" of neuron manipulation to cover up my emotional pain. (Webmaster insert: See this article by Rabbi Twerski for a similar message).

I will admit though, that I am starting to feel some trials coming my way. In fact, just 3 days ago I was in someone's house and I was helping them set up their internet in their home with their new router. (My computers at home have been practically "hermetically sealed") and so I had basically forgotten about surfing freely. All of a sudden I was by myself in a room with their computer and internet (and even though they may have had some filtration - I don't know for sure), Mr.Y"H came for a quick uninvited visit. He told me, "wow, what an opportunity... finally you are alone and you can just do a quick search and see how 'safe' this computer really is." Now, all of us here know that the addiction doesn't care too much that we are in someone else's home and that they can walk in at any moment. There is only the addiction. In a matter of about 60 seconds, he continued to talk to me about this great opportunity to be taken advantage of, and I could feel that if I didn't do something quickly... who knows? So I put the computer down, closed my eyes and immediately made a neder that "I will NOT do anything with this computer", and that was the end of that.

And although for most of the 90 days it was easier, lately I am also feeling more vulnerable when I walk down the street and I find that I once again have to be mitchazek in order to control my eyes.

But I believe that it is NOT just due to the Y"h attacking me but rather because of much "loftier" ideas, such as the fact that we are now in the sefira days which are an amazing time to cleanse and to be mitaken, so it stands to reason that we are SUPPOSED to be feeling this way. After all, if we didn't feel weak sometimes and have to be mitchazek on our own, we wouldn't have the ability to fix what needs to be fixed each day...

Also, I once wrote on the forum what I saw in L'kutei Hamoron (25) that when a person is metaher themselves, they go up to a new level and must subjugate the klippos on that new level. So it is natural to feel some difficulty... It is not the difficulty of still being on the bottom rung, but rather the difficulty continuously "going up".

And this is what Tzadikim go through their entire lives; going up... fighting the new klipos, and then going up again, and once again conquering the new ground.

Well, B"H, after finally "coming out of mitzrayim" and living the way I wish to live, and after finally feeling what true freedom really is, I can say that I am finally beginning to feel like "ME"!


What "Me" writes above is one of the corner-stone Yesodos of this struggle. We can be doing well for a while and then suddenly it gets hard again out of the blue. And we ask ourselves: "Have I not made any progress? Why do I feel like I'm back at square one?" But this is really a sign of Hashem's love for us!

Precisely because Hashem had so much Nachas Ruach from our previous successes, he wants to give us the opportunity to jump to a completely new level. So he removes our "excitement" about being "pure", and he sends the Yetzer Hara to us again for a whole new round of battle. Suddenly we are struggling again to guard our eyes on the street, suddenly we get attacks of lust and aren't sure that we will be able to hold out, suddenly it doesn't feel so "special" anymore to be fighting this battle...

But that is where the true test lies. And those are the situations that truly make a man great; his his ability to continue the battle even when he feels no thrill, even when it seems he isn't making as much progress as he had hoped, and even when it seems he's going backwards instead of forwards!

So let us all learn from "Me" - this valiant soldier of Hashem - and follow in his footsteps!


In yesterday's Chizuk e-mail we discussed how often  after making good progress, Hashem takes away from us the initial excitement and makes the struggle hard again. And we talked about how Hashem does this so that we can take the struggle to a new level.

In response to that e-mail, Ari wrote us today as follows:

This email really spoke to me, as this question was bothering me for the last couple of weeks. I was doing so good and I couldn't understand why I feel so low again even though I didn't do anything terrible. I just don't feel as great as I did the first couple of months. I was so in touch with myself then, but now it just feels "Blah".
But I'm trying to understand better what you wrote yesterday. If I'm fighting on a higher level, why am I still fighting the same struggles to guard my eyes on the street and not to browse inappropriate sites on the internet? In other words, how can I be on a higher level if the issues seem to be the exact same? Maybe I really am right were I left off, just starting all over!
This has been discouraging me lately and I would love a little clarity.

Thanks so much 


Hi Ari.
I don't know if you noticed, but you basically answered the question already yourself. You wrote at the end:
"Maybe I really am right were I left off, just starting all over!".
You may indeed feel like you're starting all over, but you really are right where you left off. Let me explain:
The Vilna Goan asks how a person can know what their purpose for coming to this world is. How are we to know what our most intimate and personal challenge is; i.e. the very reason for our creation? The Vilna Goan answers that we can know this by seeing what areas are most difficult for us to control, and what issues challenge us most frequently. It is for those areas that we were sent to the world to fix.
So Ari, if this struggle is a major issue in your life, it is likely that this is your own personal Tikkun in this world. And if this is one of the main issues you came down to the world to fix, it stands to reason that you may have to spend a long time in this struggle. But how? Once you've made good progress, what is there left for you to do?

So what Hashem often does, is that precisely when we have made serious strides, our successes are taken away from us and saved in our spiritual "bank" so that we can start over again from scratch and earn yet another powerful "spiritual" coin in the struggle. And that is why the old excitement disappears, the same struggles come back and it seems that we are starting all over again.
But Ari, when we have enough coins, we will finally have fixed what we came down to the world to do! And when this happens, Hashem will save us from this struggle forever.
So don't be discouraged, this can take sometimes years. You are not back to square one as it seems. But rather, as you said, you are "right where you left off". You may be only one step away from the finish line, but for that one step to be a decisive step, Hashem makes it appear again as if you are just starting out.
It is brought down in the sefer menucha v'kedusha, written by a talmid of R' Chaim Volozhin, that even a person who sins his whole life can still be considered a Tzaddik, as long as he never gives up and always continues to fight. We like to think of success in terms of results. But Hashem looks at our efforts, not the results!
And that's the ultimate test:
Hashem wants to see if we only take steps when we feel are getting somewhere. But a real warrior understands that Hashem doesn't care that much for the "results". Rather, it is little steps we take each day - the new Hischazkus that we have to keep summoning anew - that truly give Hashem pleasure and make us into Tzadikim.


On Friday (e-mail #461 above) we addressed Ari's question about why he keeps struggling with the same issues again and again, even after he had thought that he had already made significant progress.

In response to Friday's e-mail, someone wrote us today:

"Great email! This is a very fundamental yesod for all of us. I contemplate this a lot".

Since this Yesod is indeed so fundamental to maintaining proper perspective on this struggle, I would like to address it again with a beautiful parable from the Ba'al Hasulam:


A king once had a good friend whom he hadn't seen in many years. When this friend finally returned, the king was so happy to see him that he told his treasurer to take his friend - who happened to be a pauper - to the royal treasury, and to give him one hour to take as much money as he wanted! So they brought him into the treasury and gave him a bag, which the poor man proceeded to fill with gold coins until the bag could hold no more. Full of gratitude and happiness, the poor man began to leave, but as soon as he stepped out of the door, the guards gave the bag a big kick and all the coins spilled onto the floor. The man was distraught, but he looked at his watch and saw that he had still had plenty of time until his hour was up, so he quickly returned to the treasury and began to refill the bag with coins. But when it was full and he tried to leave, once again the guards gave the bag a big kick and everything went flying. The man was at his wits end, but seeing that he still had more time, he refused to give up and he went back in and tried to fill the bag yet again.

But the same scenario repeated itself over and over. The guards kept kicking the bag of coins and causing everything to spill, until the poor man was sure that he was simply wasting him time.

Finally the hour was up, and the guards dragged the poor man out of the room with his bag barely half full.

But suddenly, the poor man looks up and he sees a wagon over loaded with gold coins standing before him. And as he stands there wondering for whom all that money is intended, he sees the king coming to greet him with a big smile. And the king tells him that the entire wagon load of gold coins belongs to him, explaining that he had commanded the guards to make him lose his coins each time, so that he would manage to gather up so much more in the one hour that he had!


And so it is with our life on this world. Often after we have made good progress and our bag is "full", Hashem commands the guards to give us a kick and we lose everything. Hashem does this purposefully so that we can keep filling up the bag again and again, but the foolish man thinks that all his work is in vain and he simply gives up trying. However, the wise man knows that he hasn't lost anything from his previous efforts, and he starts over again and again from scratch - with JOY.

And if we follow the path of the wise man, when our time is up and we come to the next world, we will see a huge pile of spiritual "gold coins" waiting for us from the progress that we had made each and every time we started over again!


There's some amazing Chizuk going on lately on
our forum between two relatively new warriors, "Bardichev" and "YosefYakov". I think we can all learn a lot from them, so in today's e-mail I would like to bring a few of the choicest quotes from their thread:


"Bardichev" writes:

Let us all remind ourselves what it was that pushed us to seek help. What was it about the addiction that we hated the most? If we focus on that, it will help us not to slip or fall.

For me it was as follows:

A. I was using it as a crutch for instant gratification
B. I knew that what I was doing was wrong
C. I was making excuses for my behavior
D. I was a hypocrite
E. I couldn't Daven
F. I felt guilty and ugly
H. I felt controlled (inhuman)
G. I convinced myself that if I only wanted, I could change my behavior in a second, which I know today is not true.

My friends, keep me strong. I really want to be a normal person. I can already feel the sweet taste of freedom.

I have not used my internet for 5 weeks other than for business related needs.

I need to keep my eyes in my head while driving (it's finally getting warm in the NY area).

And I need an extra boost of chizuk on guarding my eyes properly when I deal with women at work.

Next week is Parshas KEDOSHIM (Be Holy!). Let us all make new KABBALOS this week. Let's really give the Yetzer Hara a PUMMELING, HE REALLY DESERVES IT. We are all trying to serve Hashem and just be normal fathers, husbands, chavrusas, business people, etc...

The Sefarim write: KI BESIMCHA SEITZEI'U = Through Simcha, you will leave the clutches of the Yetzer Hara!



"YosefYakov" replies:

Bardichev, thanks for your personal chizuk. You are definitely not alone. As I am sure you have noticed, shmiras einayim in the street represents the final frontier.

I constantly use two strategies:

1) Due to the nature of my work, I cannot, in many occasions, avert my eyes from looking at a woman. I am, however, extremely strict in not saying a word more than necessary. Should the woman be attractive to me, it helps to think of the words of Chazal: "a women is a barrel of excrement, and yet all run after her", or I think to myself: "in a few years she will probably look fat and decrepit"...

2) If I see something triggering in the street, after averting my eyes I think of the quote below from the Sefer Hatanya. And I think of the great nachas that I am giving to the Creator by resisting my animalistic drive, and I mumble to myself:
"Velo sasuru acharei levavechem ve'acharei eineichem" ("and you shall not stray after your heart and eyes").

Here is the quote from the Tanya:

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.


"Bardichev" replies:

DAY 38. Thank you for your powerful reply. I hope rabbeinu guard shlit"a uses some of these posts for chizuk emails. There is just so much here, I feel I need time to work on them rather than just read them.

Please, let's all give each other the chizuk to go further!

PLEASE send a donation to guardureyes for this forum and the website.

We need to help as many people that want to be helped. This addiction is so wide-spread; beyond any number that people can imagine, and on so many different levels.

I feel that there is so much that can be done on this site alone, as long as people find it and use it correctly to better themselves, and not just to read about other people's problems...

And always remember, SIMCHA is the key!


Here are two more great Chizuk posts from "Bardichev" on our forum
(edited for clarity)


"Simcha is the Key"

What is Simcha? Is it being happy? Is it being funny, laughy or giggly? Is it having a blast? 

I'll tell you what Simcha is. Did you ever see an old Jew sitting by his grandson's wedding with a faint smile curling up at the corner of his lips? That is Simcha.

He's not jumping up and down, not hollering with his buddies, not downing bookers at the bar. HE is BESIMCHA.

SIMCHA is the feeling that one has when they feel that they truly accomplished something and did the right thing. When someone is in a complete state they are in a Matzav of Simcha.

So why is Simcha the key to breaking free of this addiction? Well, there really is no such thing as Simcha that one can feel and HOLD ON TO. Hashem is the mekor (source) of Simcha, and what people are really looking for deep down is accomplishment and fulfillment by obtaining a true relationship with Hashem.

But attaining Simcha is WORK, WORK, WORK. Any quick-fix will lead you to sin, and then to addictive behaviors that are so hard to rectify.

So the first step is to realize that the search for Lust is just a "mirage" of what you are really looking for. Not only doesn't it bring "real" Simcha, this road of lust - sin - addiction always leads in the end to depression.

So let's start looking for the real thing! Let's find things that can trigger REAL JOY!

If you need inspiration, watch little kids play, watch the birds that are plentiful now in the spring weather. Go out of your way to help someone. Compliment your spouse, employee, rebbe, student, neighbor, etc...

And the ultimate misameach is TORAH... I am pressed for time now, but I will B"eH post soon some eitzos on how to find sheer joy in our HOLY TORAH.

humbled and happy


Finding Joy in Torah

There is no such concept as "I am not cut out for learning", yet many people FEEL that way. When we where young, we where FORCED to learn, and that in itself often took away from us the CHESHEK. It is a crime that some parents, teachers and rebbe'im robbed the Cheshek from their students.

But to set the record straight, everyone can learn something. Everyone needs to learn something.

Torah IS the source of life. And it is brought down in the Holy books that everyone has a portion in Torah.

Again: EVERYONE has a portion in torah.

So if you ask, where does this come into battling our horrible addiction?

The answer is - my friends, that everything in this world was built on the mechanics of Male/Female attributes, which means provider/receiver (the Kabbalists explain this more in depth). Simply put, Hashem is the ultimate provider, and we - the world, are the receivers.

The glue that bonds the Male (or the Giver) to the Female (the Receiver) is called CHESHEK - Desire.

TORAH NEEDS TO BE LEARNED WITH CHESHEK. That is what satisfies a person. If you have no CHESHEK in Torah, you will automatically feel an urge to place the CHESHEK elsewhere, and usually it is in sin, which ultimately leads to addictive behavior.

But what if you don't have a CHESHEK to learn? TRY, TRY, TRY to find a subject or a Rebbe, or a shiur, or a chavrusa, or something - anything, that interests you in Torah. After all, every subject in the world, from A-astrology to Z-zoology - and everything in between - is covered by our Holy Torah.

The Chafetz Chaim explains that Torah is "MACHSHIRO LIYOS TZADDIK" i.e. it prepares one to become a Tzadik. It is like Kashering the vessels, it cleans one out and makes him Kosher.

So let's open our minds and try to get into TORAH, and we will succeed to break free of the addiction with ease!

Humbled and happy 



We would like to welcome a true soldier and hero to our community today. He calls himself "Dov" and his recent post on our forum where he shares his own personal story spanning 25 years, is one of the most "eye-opening" stories I have ever read. I really must share it with you all today, because there is so much we can learn from it.

One of our goals at GuardUrEyes, is to help people
"Hit Bottom while still On Top"
(as we mentioned in Chizuk e-mail #441 on this page). So even if your level of addiction isn't nearly as severe as the one described below, the story can help us all understand the "nature" of this addiction, and where it ultimately leads to if not dealt with properly in the earlier stages.



Here is Dov's Post
(edited a bit for clarity):

Someone emailed me about your website a few days ago and I enjoyed reading a lot here, thanks. It is always nice to "meet" other people that I can relate with, and commiserate with what other people are going through.

After doing the first of the 12-Steps (admitting powerlessness) and sharing my story with others, it became clear to me that I was actually very ill.

For years and years, I had thought I was just plain "bad", at best pitied by, at worst despised by, Hashem. I was, in fact, doing severe aveiros
(sins) and failing miserably at being an eved Hashem (servant of G-d). I knew that life was not supposed to be this way, but I always seemed to fall into trouble and act on my compulsions. As a result, my emunah (faith) that avodas Hashem (divine service) was really possible for me, was very low. That continued for over ten years.

Then I got married and it got much, much worse for yet another ten years. I went to a few different therapists and spoke with a few Rabbonim, usually under the pretense of "having marriage problems". The real problem was, of course, that I had a double life and it was driving me crazy. Some of those people were a little helpful to me, some quite the opposite. I even called Rabbi Twerski (in 1991 or '92) who told me exactly what you report here on your website: that I probably need a 12-step group. I couldn't do that though - I thought, because my wife would find out (I couldn't hide going to weekly meetings!!). Also, I felt that the whole complicated recovery thing would "cramp my style". I resigned myself to thinking that the best I could hope for, would be to die at a ripe old age with a big, giant, ugly secret in my safekeeping.

About six years later, I finally hit bottom. It became clear to me that I was getting only worse, never better, and that if I would take even one step further down - which I felt I HAD to do - I'd have to leave everything behind; my family, my self-respect, my community, the Torah and mitzvos, and even give up on any struggle for a connection with Hashem... In short, everything I defined myself and life by, was "up for grabs".

I saw no way out and was terrified. I had been terrified many times before (usually by getting caught or fearing getting caught), but this was different. I knew it had nothing to do with getting "caught" by anyone. Even alone with myself "uncaught", this life became unbearable.

I went to a therapist the next week and told her my story, and she suggested I go to SA meetings. I have been going ever since and have been helped directly and indirectly by Hashem - Who I now know as my Best Friend - to stay sober so far. My davening
(prayer) and learning went through a long cold period (for about 3 years) soon after getting sober, but with lots of help and a few years of patience, it finally turned a corner, and now, like my marriage and my life in general, the davening and learning are better than I had ever dreamed they'd be. I often have some awareness that I am really, comfortably, living with Hashem.

Of course, I still have plenty of problems and have ups and downs, but they aren't as big a deal as they used to be, and there is always this "background music" of hope, telling me it's going to be alright.

Here is my point: The traditional AA approach saved my life. By this I mean, the AA message that I have a mental illness of addiction (to lust), a spiritual disconnect from Hashem and from people, and a physical allergy (to lust) that will eventually kill me. Immoral lusting in any way, makes my life completely unmanageable and makes me useless to others. Many other people appear to be able to use it a little without suffering as I do. For them it is just a "moral failing", while for me it leads to a downward spiral of insanity and failure, just like alcohol for an alcoholic.

In my case, focusing on my struggle as having to do with my normal "Yetzer Hara"
(evil inclination) was a sure recipe for failure. It made me simply try harder, use new tricks, and get yet more support. The message of AA to me (through SA) was not about any of those. It was about accepting the fact that I am fundamentally different from non-addicts, and accepting that I am not a BAD person getting GOOD, but rather a SICK person getting WELL - with help from Hashem.

I had to accept that this disease had me completely beaten, just like cancer or diabetes. You don't struggle against a disease, you get the treatment. Plenty of people don't, and they die as a result. The standard "Teshuva"
(repentance) thing did me no good at all, simply because it is not structured for crazy people. This was not just a "Ruach Shtus" (spirit of folly), it had become my standard of living.

I needed to first learn to get honest with myself and others. That took me about a year and a half of frequent program calls, regular meetings, work with my sponsor, and the 12-steps. And my recovery was still clearly a neiss
(miracle). Just like Hashem cures people from cancer and other illnesses when the patient takes his or her medicine/treatments, I had to do the same, and He did the same for me. And Hashem continues to do it each day, because I believe that I would still use my addiction and continue to ruin my life, should I just get uncomfortable enough with living. Putting the steps into action every day, keeps me comfortable and sane (at least it has so far!). 

I think that some frum
(religious) people, especially those who feel strongly about either beating the Yetzer Hara (evil inclination) themselves as a supreme kiddush Hashem (divine sanctification), or who feel that the answer must be in the Torah if they only look hard enough, may have a hard time with this approach. But I doubt they would use that approach with any other disease. For me, it was too confusing to mix mussar concepts with the 12 steps, particularly early on. It was toxic, actually.

Yes I know that lust - i.e. using and acting on lust, is not exactly like alcohol, as it involves aveiros chamuros
(serious sins), while drinking alcohol is not an aveira per se. Nevertheless, hanging onto the purely religious approach would have left me as I was for twenty years: looking for the answers with broken eyeglasses.

The way I read them, the 12 steps are about getting my eyes (mind and body) fixed and THEN getting frumer (more religious), not about getting frumer in order to stop. In fact, I got very frum, but the frumer I got, the sicker turns my addiction took! I grew quite disgusted with myself along the way, to put it mildly.

Please don't get me wrong. I am not saying that any other approaches are wrong, I'm just sharing what worked for me. Even though the principles of the 12-Steps are Torah-based, AA, in my experience is a sanity-building tool, not a religious one.

Because I am a Jew though, after I started to gain sanity and some freedom from the compulsive sexual acting out and lust-thinking, I was able to start growing, thank G-d, into the Jewish man that Hashem wants me to be. And the steps are a tool that I use to stay on that path now as well, one day at a time.

I wish all the people using this website Hatzlacha and I send my love to all of you, my brothers!


Our Reply to Dov:

Wow Dov, your story is such an amazing example of how insidious this disease is, and it also shows so clearly the idea that we must learn to become HUMAN again before we can start to be Jews, let alone good Jews.

I have been emphasizing these very points recently, in our daily Chizuk e-mails more and more. You would enjoy reading Chizuk e-mails 438-450 on this page, where we tried to convey a deeper understanding about how the 12-Steps work and why they are so basic and important in this struggle.

One can never know why he had to go through what he did in his life time. But after reading your story, all I can say is that I will make sure to spread your experience to everyone else to the best of my ability, so they need not experience all of this themselves, and will take the proper steps to break free of this disease while they're
"Still on Top".

I am almost finished preparing a booklet of steps that people struggling with lust addiction can take. It starts from the most basic steps and moves on to the more extreme steps. I think that when you see it, you will understand why there are so many Torah ideas, Mussar and tips on our site, even though you feel that didn't work for you. You see, there are many levels of addiction. No one goes to Chemo treatment for a flu. For people who have advanced to a severe level of addiction such as yours, these type of ideas indeed won't help. But at earlier stages, a lot of the stuff on our website can be very helpful.

And that's why I am preparing this guidebook. It is easy to get lost on our site, because there are so many ideas, tips and approaches, and not all of them apply to the same levels of addiction. With the guidebook, we hope that people will be able to start from the beginning and move down through the steps we suggest, starting from the most simple and fundamental tactics and working down through the more extreme, life-changing approaches. The booklet will also help people gauge how far their level of addiction has advanced.

Dear brother Dov, please stick with us on the forum and help us provide insight and Chizuk to so many people. We need people with your type of experience here. I am so grateful that Hashem has brought you to us. 

Welcome to the Guard-Your-Eyes community.


Acceptance is the Key

The key to beginning to heal is "Acceptance"; i.e. accepting that we are addicted to lust. Otherwise, we may read through the website and daily Chizuk e-mails and say to ourselves: "they're not really talking about me".

Lust addiction is a disease. How did we get this so called "disease"? Well, we accustomed ourselves over the years, to use stimulation from what we gazed at to arouse lust in our minds. And we did this many thousands - if not millions - of times. And every time we did this, yes, every single time, we were blazing neuron pathways in our brain that kept getting stronger and stronger. And today, these pathways we created are deeply ingrained in our minds.

The symptom of this disease is that stimulation triggers a much stronger arousal for us than it does in normal people. We have become hyper-sensitive to stimulation, to the point that we feel powerless when faced head-on with lust. This is a medical / psychological condition known as "Hyper-sexuality". In the mind of someone with this condition, the dopaminergic pleasure pathways in the brain are triggered much faster and more intensely than in normal people. There are even scientific devices that can test this.

Now it is important to understand, that as a disease, this is not something we can remove by simply talking ourselves out of it. A therapist may be able to help us discover why we became addicted in the first place, but that alone is not enough. Now that we have these pathways engrained in our minds, all the understanding in the world won't change the fact that we have this disease, in the same way that understanding diabetes won't take it away. And as the saying goes: "Once an addict, always an addict".

But as scary as all this may seem, it is really not so bad. Someone who has an iron deficiency for life can lead a perfectly normal life, as long as he takes his daily iron pill. And their are many techniques that can be used as "our pills" every day, to keep the disease in check.

Also, there are many levels of this disease. The less times we acted out on lust, the less defined the neuron pathways will be in our minds, and hence, the disease will be at a less advanced stage. This is vital to understand, and it should be a powerful incentive for us to everything in our power to stop these behaviors now. Because every single time we act out on lust, we are making the disease worse and harder to deal with in the long term.

For people whose addiction has not yet progressed to an advanced level, there are many tools and techniques on our website that can help them. And like we mentioned at the end of yesterday's e-mail, we are preparing a booklet of steps where people can find the most basic and easiest steps to try at first, and then continue down through the more intense and life-changing steps if necessary, depending on the level of the addiction.
For people whose level of addiction has progressed already to an advanced stage, the most successful "cure" that can truly keep the addiction in check for the long term, is joining a 12-Step SA group and working the program into our lives, together with a group and a sponsor. 

Now that doesn't mean we should all get up and join 12-Step groups today. There are many other things we can try before that. But time will tell if the other tools will suffice. If, after a while, we find that we still cannot live normal lives, and we feel constantly triggered by the world around us, we may have no choice but to join a 12-Step group.

By working the 12-Steps properly, we will find that we no longer have to run and hide from the world. We no longer will feel that we are walking a tight-rope every time we go down the street or shopping. We will be able to live normal lives "out there" in the big world, and still remain serene and sober. 

As the Alcoholics wrote back in 1939 in AA (p. 101) about how they felt after recovering through the 12-steps:

"Assuming we are spiritually fit, we can do all sorts of things alcoholics are not supposed to do. People have said we must not go where liquor is served; we must not have it in our homes; we must shun friends who drink; we must avoid moving pictures which show drinking scenes; we must not go into bars; our friends must hide their bottles if we go to their houses; we mustn't think or be reminded about alcohol at all. 

We meet these conditions every day. An alcoholic who cannot meet them, still has an alcoholic mind; there is something the matter with his spiritual status. His only chance for sobriety would be some place like the Greenland Ice Cap, and even there an Eskimo might turn up with a bottle of scotch and ruin everything! Ask any woman who has sent her husband to distant places on the theory he would escape the alcohol problem. 

In our belief, any scheme of combating alcoholism which proposes to shield the sick man from temptation is doomed to failure. If the alcoholic tries to shield himself he may succeed for a time, but usually winds up with a bigger explosion than ever. We have tried these methods. These attempts to do the impossible have always failed."


Here's a powerful and enlightening post from Dov (the guy from this story), in response to a typically desperate plea for help, on our forum over here.

Dov Writes:

It has been my experience that "saying" you have an addiction is one thing, but coming to terms with what that really means, and acting like you really are ill and need help, is another. Whenever I feel like I am fine and strong, and that I could make it on my own if I only tried harder, life gets difficult. And when I start to hide things again, life gets difficult.

Your cry for help shows that you are reaching out and coming to terms with what is wrong, and that is a great thing.

I, for one, have had enough of silent suffering, and I talk to people in my program (a 12-Step SA group) a few times a day, besides going to meetings twice weekly, and besides for doing the "written step work", as needed. The whole truth about me needs to be on the outside, with safe people.

You may benefit, as I do, from focusing a bit more on Hashem doing all the fighting for you, and your part is just not to continue feeding your addiction. For that, though, (not feeding it), we will still need a lot of help.

When feeling weak, here are some steps I suggest:

1) First, try davening short "foxhole" type prayers, such as:
"Hashem (or Tatty / Father / Best Eternal Friend) help me". I do that a lot.

2) Then, try to get right back into whatever the heck you were doing in real life, before you were distracted by whoever/whatever bad idea came along.

3) If necessary, make a phone call to another program guy to help you do that (step 2 above).

Maybe for normal people, there is a mitzva to struggle directly with the Yetzer Hara, but not for me (nor many other sober addicts I know). I have already proven too many times that I can't be entrusted with a job like that!

Struggling to live in reality and just doing our jobs - whatever they may be, should be our main focus in this struggle, and NOT fighting this giant malach (angel) known as the Yetzer Hara. See the Germara near the end of Kiddushin, about the Tanna'im who thought they could overcome the Yetzer Hara, and see what power the Satan can wield if people try to compete with him directly. This is quite simple to me. I banged my head into that wall too many times already. For me, the fight is for Hashem to do, As Chazal say: "If Hashem doesn't help him, he can not overcome him" (the Yetzer Hara). My struggle, is only to do the steps and live with with His help.

Notice by the way, that the 12-steps do not have anything about drinking/acting out in them. They are all about learning how to live right and think right, so that we do not get so uncomfortable that we feel the need to medicate ourselves with acting out - chas veshalom.

I hope this was helpful!

Love, from one precious, sweet yid with problems, to another one.


We once brought an amazing piece from the Ohr Hachayim on this past week's Parsha; Acharei Mos (in Chizuk e-mails 379, 381 and 385 on
this page).

To see the original text of the Ohr Hachayim, please see here
(You can print it out to read at your convenience).

To summarize, the Ohr Hachayim writes that we are unlikely to succeed if we try to fight the Yetzer Hara head-on. The only way to succeed in this struggle is to diligently guard our eyes and our thoughts. However, once we are thinking about these things, and especially if we see the temptations before our eyes, it will often be too late and we won't be able to control ourselves.

And he brings a few examples, that even the greatest Tzadikim who feared Hashem with all their hearts felt powerless when faced head-on with lust. As we see with Masya ben Charash (#46 on this page) and Rav Amram, Rabban Shel Chassidim (#275 on this page). In both these cases, once they were faced head-on with lust, these great Tzadikim had to take extreme measures to ensure they didn't stumble.

What we can learn from this, is that "Fear of Heaven" alone is often not enough to save us from sin once we are face to face with these desires. "Fear of Heaven" can, however, help us take drastic steps to save ourselves, like these great Tzadikim did. When Rav Amram called "Fire!", he was using the immense power of accountability to stop himself. And when Masya Ben Charash burned out his eyes, he was ensuring that he could never again be tested with lust.

In our case, we can at least make sure that we install fool-proof internet filters, and avoid going to places where we know that we will have a hard time guarding our eyes.


We have discussed many times in recent e-mails the idea of "Letting Go and Letting G-d". When we learn to do this properly, Hashem does the fighting for us and we don't have to "overcome" the powerful Yetzer Hara on our own. Our part is just to live with Hashem's help and take the steps we can, to ensure that we do not continue feeding the addiction.

I found a beautiful Pasuk that seems to convey this very idea, i.e. that when we let Hashem do it for us, we have Hashem's strength and not our own! The Pasuk says:
"Kovei Hashem - Yachalifu Koach - those who hope to G-d exchange strength", meaning, one literally exchanges his strength with Hashem's.

The Ohr Hachayim that we mentioned above, also describes this miraculous phenomenon. He asks, if someone has already fallen into these things and can't help thinking about them, how can he possibly hold himself back from sinning? So he quotes the Pasuk in Acharei Mos:
"Speak to the Children of Israel and tell them, I am Hashem your G-d. Like the ways of the land of Egypt that you have dwelled in their midst, you shall not do". Explains the Ohr Hachayim, that the Pasuk is hinting to us that for someone who "dwelled in the land of Egypt" and has already accustomed himself to seeing and thinking about these things, the Pasuk therefore starts off with the words: "Tell them that I am Hashem your G-d". This is to teach us that, (and I quote here the Ohr Hachayim): "While it is impossible with human strength... with G-dly strength, you shall be able to be victorious over the natural, physical drives".

I would like to bring some quotes today from an eye-opening story called "
They stopped in time" from the AA literature. It is one of the most widely quoted stories among addicts, since it contains the secret to changing our entire outlook in life. And with the proper outlook, we find that we no longer have to battle the addiction head-on, but rather it falls away on its own.

(If you have time, it would be worthwhile to read the whole story. Click the link above to download it).


Acceptance is the key. The addiction is a disease and sobriety is not a matter of willpower. When we stop living in the problem, and instead live in the answer, the problem goes away by itself.

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation-some fact of my life -unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God's world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism (read: lust addiction), I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life's terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.
We think that if we could just control the external environment, our internal environment would become more comfortable. But it doesn't. When we turn our will and lives over to the care of G-d, we are taking care of the internal environment, and then we find that the external environment takes care of itself.

For years I was sure the worst thing that could happen to a nice guy like me would be that I would turn out to be an alcoholic (read: lust addict). Today I find that it's the best thing that has ever happened to me. This proves I don't know what's good for me. And if I don't know what's good for me, then I don't know what's good or bad for you or for anyone. So I'm better off if I don't give advice, don't figure I know what's best, and just accept life on life's terms, as it is today - especially my own life, as it actually is.
It's as though A.A. had given me a new pair of glasses.



In response to the above Chizuk e-mail, someone wrote:

Dear Reb Gui, Very powerful words!

It brings to mind a shiur I once heard by Rabbi Reisman (entitled Yom Ze Mechubad), explaining that the serenity of Shabbos is about making peace with the world, as it is. (Nothing can be done on Shabbos anyway!). 

And he mentions that he realized this idea when there was once a drip in the faucet in the Torah Vodaath dorm room he was in, and it took the maintenance people a week to replace the rubber washer on the faucet. Well, the drip bothered him and kept him up at night, drip, drip, drip, drip... that pesky drip!

Well, when the drip was finally fixed, he settled in for a good night's sleep, and then he realized that it was raining, and when it rained, from the gutters outside could be heard... drip, drip, drip... So he wondered why that drip had never bothered him?!

And then he realized that the problem wasn't the drip, but his attitude. When he felt that the drip should not be there ('why can't they fix that washer?!') then it bothered him. 

So now he uses this realization in all areas of life.

I personally always loose things. I usually end up finding them, but at any given day I will be missing at least one (usually several) of my personal items, such as: my hat, palm pilot, note pad (for when I lose the palm), keys, letters I need to answer, etc... you get the idea.
And it used to drive me crazy! But now (since that shiur), I just shrug and say to myself: "What do you know? Guess what's really missing now!".


The 12 Steps & 12 Traditions (Pg 31-32) discuss why it is, that even religious people who always believed they had faith in G-d and had asked G-d for help countless times in the past, were still unable to break free of the grip of the addiction:
"This answer has to do with the quality of faith rather than its quantity. This has been our blind spot. We supposed we had humility when really we hadn't. We supposed we had been serious about religious practices when, upon honest appraisal, we found we had been only superficial. Or, going to the other extreme, we had wallowed in emotionalism and had mistaken it for true religious feeling. In both cases, we had been asking something for nothing.

The fact was, we really hadn't cleaned house so that the grace of God could enter us and expel the obsession. In no deep or meaningful sense had we ever taken stock of ourselves, made amends to those we had harmed, or freely given to any other human being without any demand for reward. We had not even prayed rightly. We had always said, "Grant me my wishes" instead of "Thy will be done." At no time had we asked what God's will was for us; instead we had been telling Him what it ought to be. The love of God and man we understood not at all. Therefore we remained self-deceived, and so incapable of receiving enough grace to restore us to sanity. Belief (in G-d) meant reliance.

In A.A, we saw the fruits of "quality faith": men and women spared from alcohol's final catastrophe. We saw them meet and transcend their other pains and trials. We saw them calmly accept impossible situations, seeking neither to run nor to recriminate. This was not only faith; it was faith that worked under all conditions".


Boruch (our 12-Step specialist) elaborated on the above idea today on the forum:

From the early 1930s until the book 'Alcoholics Anonymous' was published in 1939 there were no 12 Steps. The early AAs all became sober by a "religious conversion". The 12 Steps were designed to be a step-by-step method that would achieve that same goal. A good moshol is how the mesilas yeshorim explains, that the ten steps of Rav Pinchos ben Yair are a system for achieving the five elements of "mah Hashem Elokecho doresh mimcho - What does Hashem you G-d ask of you?".

So the 12 Steps of 1939 was just one method to achieve the "religious conversion" of the first 100 or so early AAs, who had achieved sobriety (over 75% of them for the rest of their lives) without the 12 Steps. 

An early AA member, Clarence Snyder, the founder of the Cleveland Chapter of AA, used to explain the 12 Steps as being, in reality, only three steps.
1) Trusting G-d
2) Cleaning House
3) Helping others

And here is the meaning of these three steps:

1) "Trusting G-d" means realizing that if, on any given day, we do what we are supposed to on our side to try and stay sober and sane, then Hashem will give us 24 hours of relief - for that day only. If we do everything else that is good - but not what we need for our sobriety, G-d will not accept that. He will not give us "something for nothing".

And even if on a given day, we do more for our sobriety and sanity than anyone in history has ever done, we will not get more than 24 hours of relief. And even if we had a hard day and did very little for our sobriety, as long as we did "something", however small it may be, to the best of our ability, we still get the same 24 hours.

Of course this sounds familiar. The Bnei Yisroel were starving and needy in the desert. Hashem gave them relief for one day at a time. No matter if they gathered a lot, no matter if they gathered a little, they only got 24 hours of relief.

2) "Cleaning House" means realizing that our real problem is the pain in our lives that makes us vulnerable to addiction (addiction is the self-medication for the problem, and not the problem itself). This pain is caused by a "wall" in our relationship with Hashem and our relationships with everyone else in our lives. To remove that pain, we have to remove the walls. The walls are not as we had always thought, i.e. the things Hashem has done to us, or the things that others have done to us, but in reality, the walls are made up of our character defects that we have injected into those relationships. And the only way to stop the pain, is to make a cheshbon hanefesh (personal accounting) on those character defects, accept that we need Hashem to remove the defects from us, and asking Him to do so. Then, and only then, can we begin to repair with honesty (yes, amends does not mean making do with apologies and payment of debts - it means repairing and fixing the relationships) so that our character defects no longer act as a wall in those relationships.

In brief, this is fixing
"ve'ohavto le'reiecho komocha - loving your fellow as yourself" by using a cheshbon hanefesh, asking Hashem to remove the walls of the bad middos in our relationships, and then fixing those relationships.

(And as a side note, the AAs found that addicts are so much in denial and are such manipulators, that if their cheshbon hanefesh stayed inside their own minds and was not shared with others, they never kept to their commitments and eventually lost their sobriety).

3) Helping Others. The AAs found that if they did not make the purpose of their recovery to help others as well, they could do everything else in the program, but sooner or later they would lose sobriety. If the whole of religion is self-serving, then a person can get confused with doing what he feels like, which is also self-serving. However if he continuously thinks of others, he will stay on the right track.

This once again is
"veohavto lereiecho - loving your fellow man", and to take this even a step further, as Rav Chaim Volozhyn is quoted (by his son in the hakdomo to Ruach Chaim on Avos), the entire purpose of our existence is to do for others.

And the goal of the 12-Step program, is making every aspect of our daily lives a fulfillment of these three principles.
"Bechol dercohcecho do'eihu - Know Him (G-d) in all your ways".


We would like to wish a big 
Mazal Tov  to one of the greatest warriors on our forum known as Ykv_Shwartz, on the occasion of his reaching the 90 Day milestone and getting up on The Wall of Hashem's Honor!

Yakov provides tons of Chizuk and inspiration for so many of us on the forum, and we are truly blessed to have him with us. May these "90 days" be merely a first step for him, in a life-time of Kedusha and divine service. May he truly merit to fulfill the words of the Torah: "And you shall love Hashem your G-d, with all your heart and all your soul and all your means".

A few days ago, Yakov posted on the forum:

This site has been my life savior. My whole being changed far more than I changed last year, when I managed to go for six months sober
(before finding our network).

Among other things, I have been putting lots of focus on doing teshuvah, one step at a time. And I have also been going through the chapters on Teshuvah in the sefer Taharas Hakodesh.  

I started the new z'man last week in kollel. It truly feels so good to learn Torah as a baal teshuva. My learning hit major heights last week. I still constantly ask Hashem to help me and protect me. I thank him all the time for assisting me in my growth and for removing my urges for lust.

In response to Sunday's Chizuk e-mail (#468 here) where we mentioned the story of Masya Ben Charash and Rav Amram Chassid, Yakov wrote us an e-mail:

Every few shabbosim, I read over the story of Masya. It is so powerful.
(See Chizuk e-mail #46 here for the full story). I must always remind myself how important sh'miras eynayim is, and that if Chas V'Shalom a nisayon should occur, I should be ready to do anything to stop myself. The most amazing thing about these stories is how these Tzadikim were ready to do literally anything. Masya burned his eyes out and Rav Amram made an utter fool of himself. (See Chizuk e-mail #275 here for the story of Rav Amram).

When I was reviewing this gemara with my chavrusa recently, I asked him if he would be ready to make a fool of himself or burn his eyes out if a nisayon should occur. He did not know how to respond. I began to cry, and I told him: "if only we were on that madreiga!".    

B"H, my shemiras eynayim has been at an all time high. I read the story to keep reminding myself of the great importance of shemiras eynayim and to alleviate any weakness in this area. In the past (as in a year ago) I focused on not looking at things that would trigger me. Now, I try not to look at anything on the street, even if I feel I have no desire to look. This takes great work, but with the help of Hashem, I have been successful so far. 


Breaking an addiction requires more than just stopping the bad behaviors. If we are fighting something as strong as this, we will ultimately end up falling back into it unless we effect a true change in ourselves, and not just try to fight the behaviors alone. After all, the behaviors are only a symptom of an underlying and deeper problem.

I would like to bring a summery below of a letter that Yakov (Chasan Denan) once wrote to someone in answer to this very question:

"How do we effect a genuine change in ourselves?"

Yakov shared his response with me and wrote:

My response to him was built out of the first three steps of the 12 steps. Everything I wrote is based on experience, and I thought you might appreciate it:

Changing the underlying person is obviously a difficult task and I am still far from it, but I have come a long way. The concept of self-change is truly a lifetime goal, and for me to say I understand it fully would be foolish. One cannot understand anything in life until he experiences it. And so, being that I have barely tasted true self-change, I can certainly not say I understand it, let alone teach it to someone else. But I will at least attempt to begin to explain some of the guidelines, based on what I discovered in myself. 

Yakov then went on to write an elaborate letter about this, but for our purposes today, I would like to try and summarize the ideas of Yakov's letter below:

To effect a true change in ourselves, we need to focus on two things: (a) maintaining the proper perspective, and (b) doing the proper actions.

a) Maintaining the proper perspective is very complex, but just for some examples, it includes:

  • Having the correct perspective on what the purpose of life really is. 
  • Keying in on mistaken perceptions on life that we may have, that may be causing these behaviors. 
  • Trying to consciously correct those mistaken perceptions.
  • Truly realizing that Hashem is in control. 
  • Having the correct outlook on marital relations, and understanding their true purpose in the world. 
  • Appreciating one's wife and family more.

And the list goes on and on... Proper perspective indeed requires much introspection.

b) As far as the proper "actions" go: For an addict, the main midah that needs fixing is "self-control". Although we always knew right from wrong, we couldn't control ourselves. Knowing exactly what midah needs fixing, makes it ultimately easier for us to deal with it. (There are other Midos involved as well, but this is the main one).

Knowing that it's not some kind of "sexual disorder", but rather simply a mida that needs fixing, is a liberating feeling. And when a person works on self-control in this area, they will find that they become a new person, and they will start to have self control in other areas as well. For example, not only will they learn how to hold back from the addictive behaviors themselves, but they will also learn how to control themselves and not dwell on bad thoughts that come to them. (As far as "how we can avoid the thoughts coming to us in the first place", this has to do more with perspective - see a. above).

So how does one work on self-control? Well, the biggest tools in this area are two contradictory perspectives, both of which are true.

I must believe that:

1) I was given Bechirah by Hashem and I can control myself.

2) Without Hashem, I can do nothing.

(See here for more on this seeming contradiction)


Dov Shares (Part 1)

I would like to bring an excerpt today from an amazing post on our forum by Dov (whose story appears here) to a fellow struggler.

There is nothing in the world as beautiful, precious and insightful as the experience of old-time strugglers like Dov, who have seen the truly ugly side of the addiction, hit bottom, and yet come all the way back as heroes in shining armor! And when we can learn from their hard-earned experience, we ultimately save ourselves the need to have to experience it all ourselves, G-d forbid.

It is true that Hashem does not put us in a nisayon that we cannot get out of. However, the timeline and success is not always as we expect it to be.

It seems to me that you are concerned with having the ability to withstand the taavoh and not do the aveiros. Now, if we had diabetes or a mental disease and a doctor would recommend immediate medical treatment, most of us would do it. No?

Well, in my case (as in the case of many addicts), it was not so simple. Rabbi/Dr Twersky told me I needed a 12-step fellowship already years before I actually ended up joining one. The reason I didn't listen to him back then, was because it seemed too outrageous to make such major changes in my schedule and lifestyle. Also, compromising my secrecy (mainly from my wife) was too scary to risk. Unfortunately, I needed to get much, much worse, until joining a 12-Step group seemed like - OUCH - a fair deal.

I have been sober in SA since then.

The point I am trying to pass on, is that just because this problem involves aveiros, and just because it is a major nisayon of our time (as many tzaddikim have told us), and just because it may have started out as a rather common teenage problem, does not mean that it is not a true sickness.

If we slipped and broke a leg for example, would we think:
"Hey, I don't have the kochos to overcome this! I can't even walk! How could Hashem have done this to me!"? Probably not. We'd get treatment, and then use our kochos hanefesh to push ourselves to heal and strengthen the leg. And we would also deal with the behavioral issues and nisyonos that having a broken leg might have brought up for us (such as: patience with others, not whining, over-seclusion and over-dependence on others, etc.).

Well in our case, it is a sickness too. And the sickness causes us to do aveiros. And we often do not have the power to beat our diseased thinking and engrained behavioral patterns.

I needed a fellowship, meetings, phone calls, 12 steps, and lots of stepwork in writing. And I continue to need all those after many years. I have never beaten my Yetzer Hara in any way, as far as I am aware. Instead, Hashem has given me a "free pass". But it's not really free though, because the price I need to "pay" is being his servant to the best of my ability.

As soon as I start to compromise on my integrity with my wife, children and fellow man, I start to become aware that I am not living in an honest relationship with Hashem anymore, and I need to take steps to correct that immediately.

But it is only Hashem that deals with my Yetzer Hara, as far as I am concerned.

If I understand what Dov is saying here correctly, he is saying that instead of dealing with the Yetzer Hara, he leaves that completely to Hashem to deal with, and instead focuses only on being an eved Hashem and living a life of complete integrity. And when he does that, Hashem gives him a "free pass" and takes away the Yetzer Hara from him. This is so profound!!

(We will try and bring the second part of Dov's amazing post, in the coming days).





Shehechiyanu Vekimanu Ve'hegiyanu Lazman Hazeh

The GuardYourEyes community is happy to announce the launch of two new handbooks on combating Lust addiction:

Right click on the links below and select "Save Link/Target As" to download the handbooks to your computer.

1) The GuardYourEyes Handbook

This Handbook details 18 suggested tools and techniques, in progressive order, beginning with the most basic and fundamental approaches to dealing with this addiction, and continuing down through increasingly earnest and powerful methods. For the first time, we can gauge our level of addiction and find the appropriate tools for our particular situation. And no matter what level our addiction may have advanced to, we will be able to find the right tools to break free in this handbook!

2) The GuardYourEyes Attitude

The Attitude Handbook details 30 basic principles to help us maintain the proper attitude and perspective on this struggle. Here are some examples: Understanding what we are up against, what it is that Hashem wants from us, how we can use this struggle for tremendous growth, how we can deal with bad thoughts, discovering how to redirect the power of our souls, understanding that every little bit counts, learning how to bounce back up after a fall, and so on and so forth...


Today is Pesach Sheini - which is all about having a

The Medrash says that it was those who were carrying the bones of Yosef Hatzadik that asked Moshe "Lama Ni'garah - why should we be less worthy to sacrifice the Korban of Hashem in its proper time?" And in the merit of their sincere desire, Hashem gave them the special Mitzvah of Pesach Sheini, which turned out to not only to be a second chance for them, but for anyone who was impure or was underway, for all generations to come!

We too, were "impure" at one time or another. We were "underway" on a journey that Hashem was leading us on, and we often didn't understand what it was that Hashem wanted from us. We thought Hashem had abandoned us and we cried out:

"Lama Ni'garah?!"

But in the merit of our cries, and in the merit that we tried to uphold "the bones" of Yosef Hatzadik in striving for purity in these areas even though we kept falling time and time again (which is like holding bones; there seems to be no life in what we are doing), Hashem in His great mercy gave us all a second chance and led us here, to the GuardYourEyes community.

And today, my dear brothers, with the launch of these two new handbooks, EVERY SINGLE JEW WHO WANTS TO BE PURIFIED will have HIS second chance as well. In the merit of our cries of
Lama Nigarah, the community of GYE was built. And as a result, not only were we given a second chance, but now, every single Jew who struggles with these issues, will be given a second chance as well.

Help us spread the handbooks on to others!

These handbooks lay down a foundation that will hopefully last until Moshiach's time, and will BE"H help pull thousands of Yidden out of the 50th level of impurity. (We also hope that these two handbooks will eventually evolve into a published book as well).

Ever since the advent of the internet some 15 years ago, the Yetzer Hara has been granted free reign, wreaking havoc in thousands of Jewish homes, destroying lives and marriages, and cutting Yidden off from the source of life itself. Indeed, the Ohr Hachayim on Parshas Shmos (3:8) writes, that before Moshiach's time the Jewish nation will be subjected to the 50th level of impurity. But he also writes there, that before the Redemption the Jewish people will garner the strength to enter into the very "mouth" of the 50th level of impurity, and pull out that which the Satan had already swallowed.

And that is exactly what the GuardYourEyes community is doing today! The Ohr Hachayim Hakadosh could not have used a more divinely inspired analogy! We are entering into the mouth of the Yetzer Hara himself, and using the very power of the internet to pull out these sparks of Kedusha, these holy souls, that have fallen to the 50th level of impurity!

The free reign of the the Yetzer Hara's terror is coming to an end. Today, on Pesach Sheini, 5769, the Satan is shuddering in fear, for he senses that his end is near indeed. With the launch of these two handbooks, we have just moved the Redemption THAT much closer.


And here's another surprise for everyone:

We will be launching soon a whole new website BE"H at This new website uses dynamic blog-style technology, and every time we will post a new Story, Tip or "Q & A", it will show up on the homepage. This will bring many more people to the site, and they'll keep coming back each day to see what else is new! Not only that, but the website will have RSS feeds, so people can get the latest material posted straight to their Readers without even having to come to the site!

The new website is still not fully functional, and we are in the process of getting it ready for the big launch in a few weeks. Please see the GYE Handbook for more details on the many new features that we are planning for the website IY"H. For example, we hope that each member will be able to have their own anonymous profile, and use it to update their own "Wall of Honor" and to search for partners and sponsors.

We are taking GuardYourEyes to a whole new level, and we are forging ahead, determined to change the world.  We are not afraid, because Hashem himself is working together with us.

R' Noach Weinberg Za"l, the Rosh Yeshiva of Aish Hatorah, was once asked how he had been so successful in building such a colossal world-wide Kiruv movement. He replied that he had once seen a crane lifting a 10 ton block of cement, while the workers on the roof guided it into place. It occurred to him, that since the prophets had already promised that the Jewish people will return to Hashem before Moshiach's time, in reality, Hashem is already holding the 10 ton block of Teshuvah for us. All that is left for us to do, is to simply guide it into place.

And that's our philosophy on GuardYourEyes as well. Hashem has already promised an awakening of purity before Moshiach's time. All we have to do is be there to guide our Jewish brothers' hearts back into place.

The Redemption is around the corner.
"Working with Hashem to change the world, one Jew at a time"


A Few Important Notes:

1) These handbooks are truly the collective work of the GuardYourEyes community, so please don't hesitate to share with us your thoughts. They most probably contain various spelling and grammatical errors, as well as minor mistakes in content. We ask everyone to please share feedback on the handbooks with us, and any other ideas that you might have about them. For example, let us know if you feel that we should add, subtract or change the order of any of the tools or principles. We may very well implement your suggestions in the next edition.

2) Please help us continue this holy work. We need donations now for the web development of the new site. You can sponsor this holy work and your name will be forever tied to this holy endeavor until Moshiach's time! (Ask us how you can send a donation anonymously from the U.S, and get a tax deduction on it as well!)


Dov Shares (Part 2)

I would like to bring another excerpt today from an amazing post on our forum by Dov (whose story appears here) to a fellow struggler.

Dov posts things on the forum sometimes, that might not make full sense to everyone at first glance. But that's because he is sharing what he "earned" through so many years of sincere determination, and not all of us can relate to his level. There's a treasure trove of experience in his words, and I have found that if we are willing to try and understand what he is saying carefully, we can learn some of the deepest secrets of how to remain sober and achieve true serenity:

Dov writes:

Whenever I have a fantasy, I turn to Hashem as quickly as possible and say "Help Tatty!"; and then I move right on to my business and say Thank-You as soon as I realize that the struggle is way behind me somewhere. Where did it go? I cannot afford to turn back and analyze whether I did it or Hashem did it, or if my heart is purified or not. The heck with my heart! Let Hashem take care of it. The only thing that concerns me whenever I'm in any trouble is: "am I doing what Hashem wants right now?" Later, when I feel no struggle (that might be in the next hour, day, or month) I can afford to go back and look at it, sometimes.

The answer my life has been teaching me to the question of "who are we fighting in this struggle?" is: we are really fighting ourselves. Only with help can we succeed. As long as I dug my heels in and insisted that I was engaged with the Yetzer Hara, my behavior just got worse. I had more secrets from the people (I acted like) I was close with, and that was living a lie. Hashem obviously does not want me to live a lie and trick my wife for the sake of Teshuvah! That NEVER occurred to me, as the preciousness and importance of fighting this struggle far overshadowed everything else in my life. (Even my learning and davening was focused on it 90% of the time). It never occurred to me that Avodas Hashem (divine service) is not supposed to be a heavy package to bear! (There is a beautiful Dubno Maggid parable to this effect, that Hashem's "package" is not a heavy one. It isn't supposed to be "hard to be a Jew". But often we make it such!)

Once it became clear to me that I was quite nuts, I got the help that the fellowship and 12 steps offer, and I learned how to become simply honest with my problem and accepting of Hashem's help in an uncomplicated and basic way. I simply couldn't do it before, even though I was asking for it frequently from Hashem! Everything was a deep and profound religious issue for me then! 


Ahron asks Dov on the forum:

When you say "Everything was a deep and profound religious issue for me then!" do you mean that it was an impediment to true recovery?


Dov Answers Ahron:

Yes, it was a big impediment. As our sages have said:
"Lo hamedrash haikkar, ellah hamaaseh - the main thing is not the philosophy, but rather the doing". This applies more to addicts than to anyone else perhaps.

Rule #62 of AA is: "Don't take yourself so damn seriously". It takes lots of tefilla and siyata dishmaya to get better at focusing on doing what needs to get done for others and for myself, without getting lost in the reasons, motivations, and outcomes. Yes, I need to take what I do very seriously, but not myself. Pick anyone else who needs you, and take them and their needs more seriously, and you'll get more sobriety -and have more fun, too! This takes siyata dishmaya and I don't really understand how it works, but it sure makes a person more effective!

Relationships with others become very frustrating for both parties when too much emphasis is given to details like:

  • "what I am really thinking?"
  • "am I really a tzaddik or a rasha?"
  • "what is the deeper meaning of what I/they did?"
  • "why did I/they do that in the past?
  • "what will be in the future?"
  • etc...

Does that make sense to you? Is this addressing what you were asking at all?


Uh-oh! Am I taking this too seriously? Ahhhhhhh!!!


Dov Shares (Part 3)

I would like to bring the final part of a wonderful post on our forum by Dov (whose story appears here) to a fellow struggler. (The first two parts appeared in e-mails 472 & 474).

Dov writes:

I try to keep in mind that all the tricks, advice, pesukim and chizuk are "tools" and half-measures. They help, but only partially. My hope and wish for people, is that they do not unnecessarily delay the real solution. The only "full measure" that works for me is learning how to lean on Hashem in trust.

But really doing that, requires much more than religiosity. Even Mesiras Nefesh is often not enough for the long-term, because it can be guilt or fear-driven.

I was like a scared rabbit before the Yetzer Hara for years! Hashem does not want a "nation of scared rabbits", he wants a nation of Kohanim, as it says
"And you shall be for me a Mamleches Kohanim and a holy nation". (The Kabbalistic texts explain that Kohanim represent "givers" and "leaders" - from the chesed side)!

The solution that really seems to help people get free of this mess, is a much easier and more natural connection with Hashem. But this has a big price. It requires honesty, acceptance of the truth about myself, and it leads to sanity.

Derech eretz Kodmah le'Torah.
Perek 1-5 of Pirkei Avos come before Perek 6 on Torah.

These basics of sanity though, are often bought with considerable pain, as we tend fight against them for some reason - some of us to the last man, and some of us until we are just sick and tired ("hitting bottom")... But once  sanity started to get its little foot in the door of my mind, the Torah and Mitzvos slowly started to function correctly as well (that took time, and is for another topic.) The intensity and frequency of the tests reduced, and I started to lead a single, not a double, life.

And today, I sincerely believe that this is the most important thing Hashem wants for me, rather than being real frum and yet completely unable to maintain a shred of integrity and self-respect at the same time.


Dov wrote: "it requires honesty, acceptance of the truth about myself, and it leads to sanity". Ahron asks:

I try very hard to be honest and accept the truth about myself. But I don't know what it is?!! I don't know if my self assessment is accurate, or if I'm taking this too far or not far enough.  How do you figure this out?

Thanks for sharing the lessons you've learned the hard way... Hopefully it will help us avoid some of the same mistakes.


Dov Answers Ahron:

You are probably doing fine for now, you just aren't aware of it. But here is my two cents:

I found that writing my whole acting-out history; writing the fourth step as AA (the four columns) recommends, and doing the other steps with a sponsor and with friends (through the fellowship), has led me - and continues to lead me (I hope!), to gaining honesty and living honestly.

I suggest davening a few times a day:

  • to be led only on the right path;

  • to be protected from lying and from falsehood in general;

  • to be protected from accepting counterfeit happiness (lust, hollywood, approval from others, etc.) instead of the real thing;

  • for Hashem to show us what the real thing is;

  • and for honesty.

And be aware that the very best Hashem will probably give us, is just a little bit more honesty that we already have. It seems to me, that if He gave it all to us in one "birthday present", we wouldn't be able to handle it! Or more likely, we wouldn't know what to do with it.

I hope that helped!

P.S. Remember, this journey is the big game - it's the only real game in town. And it is really, really precious, and so, it takes time. Lots of time...

- Dov


May the merit of Rav Shimon Bar Yochai stand for us all today on Lag Ba'omer!

Wherever we may be in the world, we can daven for salvation in the honor of Rav Shimon. As the Ariza"l writes, Lag Ba'omer is the day of Rav Shimon's simcha in Heaven. And as the Beis Ahron of Karlin writes:
"Just as Hakadosh Baruch Hu is for everyone, so is Rav Shimon for everyone, even for the very lowest".

I know someone who accepted upon himself once on Lag Ba'omer to read 10 minutes of Zohar every Shabbos for one year so that he should be saved from the Yetzer Hara, and he truly saw tremendous progress that year in his struggle... (Maybe we should all try that! :-)

The holy fire of the Zohar has a power to instill in us a tremendous AWE for Hashem and for his Torah. When we read the Zohar, we start to see - and feel, how infinitely deep the Torah is and how FAR we are from any inkling of understanding of Chazal's true greatness. And this puts us in awe of even the minutiae of every-day Halacha as well. Because after all, this same Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai who revealed the secrets of creation in every word of the Torah, and to whom all the Malachim came to hear him speak while he revealed the deepest secrets of kabbalah, he is the same Tanna that also taught us so many basic Halachos in the Mishna, such as Tuma & Tahara, Issur & Heter, Chayev & Patur, etc..

We see from this how Chazal were truly one with the Torah and one with Hashem. They were on a whole different plane of perception. The Zohar says in the hakdama, that the written Torah is like a garment to the secrets of the King that lie hidden within its words. When Chazal learned a Halacha out from pesukim, they were able to tie words of the Torah and to cut and paste pieces of the King's garment together as they perceived. Chazal were the MASTER TAILORS of the King's clothes (the Zohar gives this parable on the words "Beyom Kalos Moshe"). Today, we are so far from understanding Chazal. We are literally like ants trying to understand a human being! And when we read the Zohar, we truly begin to feel this, and through these feelings we attain a whole new appreciation for Torah and for Chazal.


In Honor of Lag Ba'Omer, I would like to bring a truly beautiful post from one of the "Bon-Fires" on our forum; "Barditchev"! He writes to a fellow member as follows:

When I was in my first 2 weeks, I monitored myself hourly. When I started the 3rd week, I started to keep track of greater intervals. To be perfectly honest, my goal was to come into Pesach without falling. 40 days was not even on my horizon at the time, I actually hand-drew a chart which only had "30" on it. I felt that if I were to make a goal that was too much, I would never keep it.

I am now passed 50 days B"H, and I would like to mention a few of the things which I can attribute my success so far to, Bli Ayin Horah:

A. I was able to break free.

That I attribute to all that I read and internalized here on the forum and on the website. I realized that I'm an addict, and I realized that I was in a self-destructive situation. I realized that other people who sound so normal and rational, had the same problem and are dealing with it successfully.

B. I was able to stay clean.

This part is the hardest part, because that is where all the work is. Staying clean is a struggle. But I feel that the part that makes it doable, is that we are able to post to one another in real time. (Plus, this forum replaced my addiction somewhat). Not that I have any confidence to say I trust myself, but I do feel that being constantly in touch with people who recognize my problems, can help me deal with them in a positive way.

C. Momentum

There is a real vibrancy on GYE, you can feel the excitement and energy. The Wall of Honor is a great motivator. The fact that you have to monitor yourself and you see the results up on the board, is terrific way to keep up the good work.

D. Communication

What I was suffering from as an addict, is that I thought I was the only lonely person on this planet who is struggling with shemiras einayim. The fact that I can communicate with other people who are open and honest and are dealing with the same issues, gives me the proper frame of mind to stay focused on that goal.

E. Love vrs. Lust

What many of us have to deal with, is differentiating between love and lust. Lust is the wild spontaneous sensation of self gratification. Love is the opposite. On this site we are taught to control the addiction of lusting, remove its veneer, and search for what we are really are looking for, which is love: i.e. love of Hashem and love of our fellow man. And there's lots of it here!

F. Hope

On GYE, everyone is given a second chance. This site is the optimization of
"HABAA LITAHER MISAYYIN OISO - He who comes to be purified, is helped".

Humble and happy



We were in Meron yesterday and we cut our son's hair and made him Payos. I used the auspicious nature of the time (es ratzon) to daven long and hard for everyone on our Chizuk e-mail lists and forum, to see salvation from the Yetzer Hara. So if you find a sudden drop in the intensity of your struggle, don't be surprised :-)


I would like to bring a beautiful excerpt from a post on the forum by Ykv_Shwartz:

As I stared at the Lag Ba'omer bon-fire tonight, the music blared in my ears, my kids ran around with ice cream sticks, the fire roared high in front of me, a thought came to mind.

I realized how Fire consumes and destroys.  It is a destructive force in the world.  However, the very act of destruction is constructive.  The fire can create so much.  When you look at the bottom of the fire, all you see is destruction.  But when you look above, you see how high the flames can reach.  

Where I used to view my addiction as an impediment for growth, I realize today how it served as an impetus for growth. I began to appreciate that my difficult past was an entrance to my future.  I realize that I have grown from my restrictions.  I have learned a lot about life.  I have learned a lot about human nature.  I have learned a lot about honesty. I have learned a lot about Hashem and about what it means to be an eved Hashem. And I realize today my potential for growth. 

The rock bottom of the addicted individual is destruction.  Life is gloomy.  There seems to be no hope.  All he can see is ashes.  But through that very force can come construction and growth.  If you look up to the sky, your flames can reach the greatest heights!


YosefYakov Posts a question:

Ykv's reflection (above) really touched me. But I want to take advantage of his beautiful post and see if I can clarify something. Ykv wrote:

"Where I used to view my addiction as an impediment for growth, I realize today how it served as an impetus for growth".

There is no doubt whatsoever that Hashem accepts our Teshuva and that the sins stemming from our addictions are being erased as we grow. The question is, how do we make up for the things done in the past? How do we convert our sins into merits?


Dear YosefYakov,

I believe that when we use our addiction in the way Ykv described above, as an impetus for growth, then we are uplifting our past sins into merits in a very real way.

  • Through this struggle, we learn how to give Hashem our hearts.
  • We learn the nature of the Yetzer hara and how to avoid him.
  • Through the very falls we had, we learned how to make better and better fences.
  • And through our own past falls, we learned today how to help others who struggle in these areas as well.

Chazal say the Torah cannot be upheld properly unless one was "nichshal bo techilah - stumbled in it first". If we use the "nichshal bo" as the very "kiyum" of our Torah today, then the "nichshal bo" is uplifted too! 

And that's the beauty of the fire that Yakov described...



We mentioned above, that through our own past falls we learn how to help others who struggle in these areas as well. Check out this powerful post from "London" to a bochur who is struggling:

When I was your age, I too struggled with this addiction, and I sought help from my Rabbonim / Masgiach and was given completely misguided advice.

I am now married in my early 30's with children, my wife has been through pure hell as a result of my acting out, and if I do not stop I will loose my children too.

Whenever I see or hear of Bochurim struggling with this issue, I want to shake them and scream at them to get into recovery at an early age.  When I was 17 my m/o was masturbating and porn mags, but as you know, this illness is progressive and by the time I was in my mid 20's I was doing things that in my wildest dreams I never thought I would do.  If you still think that you are not so bad and that you have not done a certain behavior yet, you should know that "yet" stands for "you're eligible too".  Please, please, I beg you to take recovery seriously leave no stone unturned in finding a solution that works for you. Spare yourself and your future wife & kids, years of hell and recovery.

May G-d be with you.


As London said above;
"Find the solution that works for you".
Download the
GuardYourEyes Handbook and get started on your journey to recovery today!


Very often, the addiction is only a symptom of an underlying problem, such as depression or anxiety. In Chizuk e-mail #428 (on this page) we discussed various ideas for dealing with depression. Today we will discuss dealing with anxiety and stress.

Dealing with Stress

Rashkebahag asks on the forum:

I find that people under stress are very prone to this addiction. They use it as an escape. I am under stress in many areas of my life. I used to think that maybe the stress is a divine punishment for my bad habit, but now that I am genuinely keeping away, the stressful situations don't let up, they only seem to be getting worse. Any suggestions or comments?


Dov Replies:

Dear Rashkebehag,

Suggestions or comments? Yes, the 12 steps.
(See Tool 14 & 15 of the GYE Handbook). Working the steps is to learn tools for life, not for a one-time experience. The fact that nothing about "drinking" (or the addiction) is even mentioned in steps 2 through 12, makes it obvious that the purpose of the steps is not just to get us sober but to keep us sober. I believe, as do many who I know, that the lusting/drinking/gambling/whatevering is a symptom of a problem, not the main problem. That means, that if we have enough stress in life, we, as addicts, will escape to our "drug". Plain and simple.

Steps 4 through 11 (of the 12-Steps) are about learning how to maintain comfort with our life and with those around us. If we don't, an addict is very, very likely to eventually act out, no matter how great a Tzaddik he may be. This is what being an "addict", not a "Rasha", means to me.

What set me apart and helped me see/accept my illness for what it was, was the realization that no matter how hard I try, or how good I get, I will eventually act out. Guaranteed. Once a person admits this, it becomes possible (for one who does not wish to give up and lose everything and/or die) to finally find Hashem. But I mean really find Him, not just know He is there. And to use Him like we use everything else, to literally survive.

That has been my first hand, honest experience. No crystal ball or judgementalism, I promise. If it's too heavy, please forgive me.


London Replies:

Dear Rashkebehag,

I relate very much to what you wrote about stress, and to Dov's reply as well. I also use my addiction/obsession as means of escaping. I do not like facing difficult/painful situations and I use addictive behaviors to "medicate". This shows me that my addiction is not the problem, but there is something underneath that I am running away from.

You write that
"now that I am genuinely keeping away, the stressful situations don't let up, they only seem to be getting worse". From my experience, sobriety is the foundation. Once I am sober, I can begin to deal with whatever I have been running from. As Dov so rightly stated, the first step (of the 12-Steps) is the only step that mentions the addiction by name. The rest of the steps are about learning to live right and think right.

On a practical level, I did therapy for stress management. I used to get to work in the morning and within a few minutes become so overwhelmed with what I needed to do, that I would go into addict mode. And the same would happen in my personal life. The 12-steps and therapy have shown me how to prioritize.

The Serenity prayer has helped me as well:
"Hashem grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference".

One of the most helpful readings for me when I am in stressful situations, is the passage in "Acceptance" from the Big Book:

"Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation--some fact of my life--unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God's world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life's terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world, as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes".

Reading your post and reminding myself of the tools, is a powerful message for myself on how to live life on life's terms - without acting out.


To read the story from the Big Book from where London took the above quote (highly recommended) click here.

I also happened upon an article in the news today with various ideas about how to deal with stress. Check it out here (read till the bottom for many good ideas).


Someone posted a great question on
the forum:


Dov answers:

Here are a few things I do, sometimes one and at other times another, sometimes more than one:

* I always mutter "Hashem/Tatty help!". He knows what I need and how to help me; then I ask Him to help me move on to whatever it is that I was supposed to be doing when I got distracted by the goofy idea.

* I immediately daven for the person involved, in a direct and clear way, for their benefit, not mine (then move on).

* I ask Hashem ASAP, that whatever it is that I am truly seeking from that person/act, let me find it in You (then move on).

* I get out of dodge (leave the area) - sometimes that is all I need to do - a change of venue.

* I make a phone call to any of the 15 people I can call, and I tell them exactly what it is I feel like doing (get the secret out).

* I think through what the end result of what I am wanting would be, i.e. what would I do after it'd be over? Usually that's quite sobering and helps me let go for a minute - long enough to get back to whatever it is that I should have been doing in the first place.

* In general, I try to work the 12-steps honestly and humbly, so my life is less painful, maybe even pleasant, and these desires are less attractive to me on a gut level (not intellectually, this isn't about intellect).

For me, the most important thing is to never take credit for "beating" the Yetzer Hara. It is always Hashem deflecting it from me. I am not on this world to fight the Yetzer Hara, proof of that is my dismal failure in the endeavor for 15-plus years. As we say every day in Az Yashir:
"Hashem Ish Milchama - Hashem is the man of war" - only Hashem.

P.S. I also remember that no matter how sick, weird, or extreme the desire is, I never let myself feel bad about it, as I know I am an addict and that is what addicts do - they have these hardwired problems. But I have not had to act out on them in 11 years as the result of Hashems 100% help. I have been helped by the 12-Step program as well as the people in the program, and I have learned how to take off the boxing gloves and simply get out of the Yetzer Hara's way.


Just a quick reflection on the Pasuk that Dov quoted: "Hashem Ish Milchama - Hashem is the man of war". It occurred to me (as I was preparing this e-mail), why does it say "Hashem Ish Milchama"? Is Hashem a man? Shouldn't it say "Hashem oseh Milchama - Hashem makes war" or something like that? But I think that with Dov's explanation, it makes sense. Perhaps the Pasuk means to say that Hashem fights through man. As soon as we realize we can't do it alone and we give over the fight to Hashem, Hashem fights through us.

The Jerusalem Post put out an article about GuardYourEyes in today's printed edition. The article can be viewed on-line as well over here.


The Tightrope

The GYE Logo is of a man on a tightrope. This is based on the famous saying of Rebbe Nachman: "The whole world is a very thin bridge, and the main thing is not to be afraid at all".

There was a deep and lively discussion recently on the forum (starting on this page and continuing on to the next page) where a number of the members were contemplating whether "worrying" about our addiction was necessary and/or healthy for our recovery. After much give and take, we came to an agreement that that there are two types of "worry". There is the "worry" that we should have, and there's the "worry" that we shouldn't have.

1) The "worry" that we should have is a deep recognition of the mortal danger we are in if we continue down the path of lust addiction. We must know and internalize how lust is a poison, and that if we don't take the proper steps to break free of its insidious grip, it will end up destroying our lives. This type of "worry" is actually the core of Step No. 1 (of the 12-Steps) i.e. admitting powerlessness and realizing that our lives have become unmanageable. We must have this "worry" from the very first moment of our journey and on throughout our entire lives, with the knowledge that if we do not continue to do whatever it takes to remain sober, we are in grave danger indeed.

2) But then there is a second type of "worry", which some people might think should be used as a practical tool to remain clean. And that is, to worry whether we'll really make it or not, to worry about how we've failed so many times in the past, or to worry about whether the steps we are taking will be truly helpful or not, etc... This type of worry - I think we all agreed, is very unhealthy for us in our day-to-day struggles. Instead, we should never dwell on the past or be concerned about what the future may hold. We should focus only on the present, and have complete faith that our sincere efforts are what Hashem wants us to do in this present moment. And we should trust fully in Him to succeed as a baby trusts in its mother, without fear or questions.

It occurred to me later how profound the words of Rebbe Nachman are! For in this short saying that we quoted above, Rebbe Nachman addresses BOTH these types of worry. As he says:
"The whole world is a very thin bridge" meaning; we must be very deeply aware of how precarious our situation is, and to make sure that we are taking steps in the right direction. But in the very same breath, Rebbe Nachman goes on to explain what those steps are: "And the main thing is - the secret to success is - not to fear at all!" Never look down from the tightrope! Just put one foot in front of the other and hold on to G-d with all your heart!


"YosefYakov" from the forum sent us this beautiful story which helps illustrate this idea:

Tightrope of Life 

By Moshe Bryski

In the days of communism's fierce grip on the Soviet Union, there lived a Chasidic Jew named Reb Mendel Futerfas. Reb Mendel repeatedly put his life at risk with his efforts to promote Jewish education behind the Iron Curtain, and for some 14 years was incarcerated in prisons and labor camps for his "crime" of teaching Torah. While in the Siberian gulag, he spent most of his free time studying and praying, but he also interacted and conversed with other prisoners -- some Jewish, some not. Among these prisoners was a circus performer whose claim to fame was his incredible skill as a tightrope walker.

Reb Mendel would often engage this man in conversation. Having never been to a circus, Reb Mendel was totally baffled by the man's profession. How could a person risk his life walking on a rope several stories above ground? (This was in the days before safety nets were standard practice.)

"To just go out there and walk on a rope?" Reb Mendel challenged incredulously.

The performer explained that due to his training and skill, he did not need to be held up by any cables and that, for him, it was no longer all that dangerous. Reb Mendel remained skeptical and intrigued.

After Stalin died, the prison authorities relaxed their rules somewhat and the guards told the prisoners that they would be allowed to stage a makeshift circus on May Day. There was no doubt that the famous tightrope walker's act would be the highlight of the show. The tightrope walker made sure that his friend, Reb Mendel, was in the audience.

Everyone watched with baited breath as the tightrope walker climbed the tall pole to the suspended rope. His first steps were timid and tentative (after all, it had been several years) but within a few seconds, it all came back to him. With his hands twirling about, he virtually glided across the rope to the pole at the other end, and then, in a flash, made a fast turn, reversed his direction and proceeded back to the other side. Along the way, he performed several stunts. The crowd went wild.

When he was done, he slid down off the pole, took a bow and went running straight to Reb Mendel.

"So?" he said. "Did you see that I was not held up by any cables?"

A very impressed Reb Mendel replied, "Yes. You're right. No cables."

"OK. You're a smart man. Tell me, how did I do it? Was it my hands? Was it my feet?" the man asked.

Reb Mendel paused for a moment, closed his eyes and replayed the entire act back on his mind. Finally he said, "It's all in your eyes. During the entire time, your eyes were completely focused and riveted on the opposite pole."

"Exactly!" said the performer. "When you see your destination in front of you and you don't take your eyes off of it, then your feet go where they need to go and you don't fall."

The tightrope walker had one more question for Reb Mendel. "What would you say is the most difficult part of the act?"

Again Reb Mendel thought for a moment. "Most difficult was the turn; when you had to change direction."

"Correct again!" said the acrobat. "During that split second, when you lose sight of that first pole, and the other pole has not yet come into view, there is some real danger there. But... if you don't allow yourself to get confused and distracted during that transition, your eyes will find that pole and your balance will be there."


The Foundation

Our sages have called Shmiras Habris "Yesod", which means "Foundation". This week is the week of Yesod in the Seffira counting, and it is therefore an especially auspicious time to work on the area of Shmiras Habris. As we often repeat on GuardYourEyes, the Yesod - i.e. "foundation" - of a building is underground and no one sees it, yet it holds up the entire building! Shmiras Habris is the hidden part of a Jew, it's the real you. If the foundation of a Jew is weak, his whole spiritual structure is in danger of collapse. And conversely - if the foundation is strong, one can build on it a sky-scraper of spiritual achievement!


I would like to bring a few inspiring posts today from "London" on the forum to various strugglers. London's experience is very precious, as he has learned some solid technique in battling this relentless addiction over the years through his membership in the 12-Step fellowships. We must learn from the "old timers" what the REAL secrets are.

London writes to someone who admitted to a "Slip" on his count to 90 days:

Thank you for your honesty. In the 12 step fellowships, the foundation is built on being rigorously honest - as they say in SA "To thine own self be true".

One of my biggest downfalls that preceded my relapse after 3 years of sobriety, was what we call "technical sobriety".  You see, Sex / Porn addiction is worse then most other addictions. For me to get drunk on alcohol / drugs I have to physically swallow them, but with porn & lust I could be sitting next to you in shul with my siddur open in front of me and be completely drunk with lust as the images that I have seen online are burned in my memory almost as clearly as they are on the screen.  And the only way I am going to get recovery is to set up clear and defined boundaries that if broken, I start counting again. Being clean and sober is far more than "a date". It's very nice to be able to say "I am technically clean for x days", but how is the quality of that time?

Well done for being so honest with yourself and with the rest of us here. You must not let this get you down, but put it down to experience. I will just share, that today I was working alone and had terrible cravings to surf for porn. At that point, Hashem in his mercy gave me a choice; I could have surfed, or I could have tried fighting the Yetzer Hara, or I could call someone and share my struggle and "surrender", which is what I did. And as I was on the phone, I actually felt the cravings leave me.

I have been told in therapy and in the fellowships, that when being tested I have to break the cycle and do something different, which is what I did today.  This is truly a "one day at a time" battle, and I am so happy that B"H I found this site where I can share and be inspired by other yidden on this path.


London writes to someone after a fall:

I feel your pain and sadness at your fall. In my experience I have found, that recovery is impossible on my own. The addiction thrives on isolation, and even though this forum is amazing, it is no replacement for a live 12 step program. Have you considered joining one?  Since I joined, I have never felt alone. I have lists of numbers on my cell of people that I can call 24/7 in emergency, and people call me sharing their struggles as well. The meetings are a place where I can see people face-to-face who are sober and their lives have changed dramatically.

Even though I am going through a difficult time now, I know that it is possible to get recovery. However, to really succeed, I know I have to be willing to put my recovery before everything in my life, as this illness has no boundaries, and when I am in the heat of the addiction, nothing is sacred.  I therefore have to teach my Yetzer Hara that recovery is the most important thing in my life, without exception.

As is said at the end of every 12 step meeting: "It works if you work it".

Hang in there my friend.


London writes to someone who keeps having repeated falls:

I relate to how you are feeling.  Until recently, I have never managed to put together more than 2 weeks at the most. You wrote that you fought the Yetzer Hara for 31 days. Lately, I have changed tactics. I have learned that I cannot fight the Yetzer Hara, he is far too strong for me.  Instead, every time I get the craving to surf, I call a member of my fellowship and tell him of my struggles and this really helps. I also daven to Hashem and say "Hashem, take this garbage out of my head, I do not want this, it is too powerful for me, please keep me sober". I have found that the tools of making phone calls and simple tefillah really help. (London is describing here, how instead of using his OWN strengths to fight the Yetzer Hara, he is using the strengths of others - and the strength of Hashem).

I also have to constantly remind myself that I am a sick person, and that I am trying to get better. My Yetzer Hara wants me to think that I am a bad person trying to do good, but this only feeds the "self loathing" and keeps me in the cycle of addiction.  My recovery is only "one day at a time", and today I want to stay clean and sober no matter what!!

The Making of Diamonds

On our journeys through life, we are often subjected to tests that we could not withstand, and failures that seemed catastrophic and irreversible at the time. We wondered what G-d wanted from us, and why we had to undergo such trials and tribulations. But one day we will all look back on our lives and understand.

Although the timeline for success may not be what we imagine, we all have the opportunity - at the end of the day - to make out of our lives a beautiful diamond for Hashem's glory. And one day we will look back and see how the hand of Hashem was guiding us the whole time, through the deepest and darkest places - and out into the beautiful light.

For today's Chizuk e-mail, I want to bring links to two stories that display this truth so beautifully that it brings tears to one's eyes. How wondrous and mysterious are the ways of Hashem. What strange and difficult paths he leads us on sometimes, only to bring out in the end such brilliant jewels for His crown!

Link 1: Just One Jew.

Link 2: From Leading Criminal to Rosh Yeshiva.

In both of these stories, if these precious Jews had not first been steeped in sin and darkness, they could never have become the powerhouses of Kiddush Hashem that they indeed became!

As the Zohar in Parshas Tetzaveh Writes:

There is no light besides that which comes out of darkness... And avodas Hashem can only be through darkness first, and there can be no good, only though bad. And when a person goes into a bad path and then leaves it, the Master of the World's honor is elevated. And therefore, the "Shleimus" (completion) of everything, is good and bad together - and then to leave to the (side of) good. And there can be no good but that which comes through bad, and from such good, Hashem is elevated. And this is called an "avodah shleimah" (a complete service of Hashem).

So no matter how far from Hashem we may feel today, and no matter how hopeless our situation may seem, know my dear brothers, that Hashem has a beautiful path for us yet to take. We have only to LET Him lead us there.

While working on a diamond, all seems messy, dirty and confusing. But if we let the Master Craftsman work with our hearts, if we just let Him in to do his magic, a brilliant jewel will emerge!

Yesod shebi'Yesod

Today is a special day for FOUR reasons.

today is Yesod shebi'Yesod of the Seffirah. Everyone knows that Yesod represents the area of Shmiras Habris, so today is a very auspicious day for progress in these areas.

today is the Yartzeit of Rav Shlomkeh Ze'viller who worked his whole life to strengthen the "Yesod" of Klal Yisrael by building Mikva'os and the like. See this page of our website for more about Rav Shlomkeh. And see the bottom of this e-mail for an antidote from Rav Shlomkeh. May his merit stand for us all today.

today the membership of this daily Chizuk e-mail list ("Breaking Free") just topped 500 members! Please help us continue to spread the word to even more Yidden that can be helped. There are probably thousands of religious Jews around the world who struggle in these areas, sometimes suffering in pain and shame for years, never having heard of GYE! See our new "Monthly" donating options below, it's easy, fast and secure! And in the merit of your help, Hashem will surely help you in your own struggles in ways you never believed - especially today on Yesod shebi'Yesod!!

today is Ano-nymous's half a year mark! "Ano" (for short) is a Bochur who struggled for years with these issues. On the day he wrote us his story we decided that the time had come to make a "90 day Wall of Honor" chart, and he was the first one up on the chart. So the chart is a half a year old today as well, and Ano definitely has a large Zechus in it! We are very proud to have him as part of our community. He has shown himself to be a man whose actions match his words, and a great source of inspiration to many of us on the forum, especially to other Bochurim who believed they could never break free from this. We hope to make our next announcement about "Ano" at his FULL YEAR mark in 6 months from now, and we hope that he sticks with the GYE community for many years to come!

In honor of Ano's half a year mark, we will bring a few excerpts from him today that can inspire us all.

Before Pesach Ano posted on the forum:

Tomorrow is 20 weeks for me! My goal is no more lusting and I feel like I am almost there. When I say lusting, I am referring to the act of thinking bad thoughts or staring at women for the sole purpose of getting that 'tingly feeling'. What I now realize, is that doing those things and looking at porn online are essentially the same thing: food for my addiction to lust. And if you stop feeding the addiction, he dies. I'm living proof to the truth of that statement :-)

Later the same day he wrote:

We don't need to just stop acting out. We need to stop WANTING to act out. Replace the giddy feelings you get when you decide to act out, with the feelings of pain and despair that you know you will feel afterward. Then you will not WANT to act out. I simply don't want to lust anymore. It's disgusting to me. Looking back just a few months ago, I can't believe the filth I wasted hours downloading and watching. Tomorrow is 20 weeks for me, and I'm never going back. Think about WHY you want to quit, and focus more on the 'wanting to quit' than on the 'quitting'... I'm rambling, I know, so I'll stop now. Have a great and clean Pesach!

A few weeks ago Ano posted:

I've passed the 23 week mark! I remember when I first posted here and Guard put up the Wall of Honor right then, after reading my story. I didn't know how I would do it, but I knew I couldn't let him down. It's been almost half a year, and it's indescribably great to not have to worry about what disgusting porn I'm going to watch in order to feed the addiction, or how I'm going to masturbate when I don't have access to porn. For those of you who still don't think you can do it: IT'S NOT TRUE!!! Get started today, and never give up no matter how many times you slip up. Never allow yourself to believe that you're hopeless and may as well give up. It's all the Yetzer Hara feeding you lies. That's how this addiction works. Lies, lies, and more lies. Ignore them, you can beat this!
Ano writes to a Bochur a few years younger than him:

Hey Ezra, I just thought I'd pop in and say how amazing it is to see someone as young as yourself taking the steps to break this addiction. I don't know if you've read my thread on the forum, but it's been almost half a year for me. If I can do it, I'm sure you can too. By the way, the way you write reminds me of myself. I only wish I would have started as early as you did. I could have gotten so much more done in the years between 17 and 20... I'm rambling a bit now, so I'll stop.
Later, Ano writes again to Ezra:

Trust me, I was in it neck deep. I felt so low and dirty. I looked at so much disgusting garbage. Now when I think about what I used to do, the main emotion I feel is disbelief. I feel like that "couldn't have been me". Maybe someone forced me to do it, or I never did it and it was all a dream. The shift in attitude is really that extreme. Think about how you will feel after you get the brief pleasure of giving in and acting out - and you will succeed. Keep up the great work!!!

Ano discusses the "90 Day" phenomenon with someone on the forum:

The "90 days" is a leap of faith. It really does get SO much easier. I'm 20 years old now. I'd never gone a whole week clean since age 12. I went pretty much cold turkey with the help of GUE and a Rebbi at my yeshiva. The 90 days helps give you something to look forward to, and that already makes is so much easier. Once you get there, it is much easier because you are in the habit of NOT acting out. However, by the time you reach 90 days (it took me a while, but I got there) you should not be allowing lust to take hold of you at all. If you are at 90 days "clean" but you are constantly clicking links which you are driven to by lust, you will not be able to hold out. All the filters in the world won't help if you aren't sincere. The lust is a poison, and once you have 90 days without it, it is much easier to see that. And with the clear realization that it is pure POISON, how COULD you click on it? That is how I see it.


In honor of Rav Shlmoke's Yartzeit, I bring here below a small antidote that was posted on the forum recently by "mgsbms" that can help us understand the phenomenon of addiction better:

I saw in the sefer Mezkeinim Esbonen from the Slonimer chasid Reb Yakov Yisroel Kastenlitz, that he once asked the great Tzadik Reb Shlomko Zvihler zatza"l; why isn't anybody who transgresses the dvar Hashem considerd an apikores? After all, if he believed in Torah m'sinai how could he transgress? But Reb Shlomke didn't agree and he explained with a parable of a person whose hand has to be amputated. Although the person knows it is good for him, he still has to be tied down so that he shouldn't fight the doctors. The same - explains Reb Shlomke - is the person who stumbles in a sin. He know's he is wrong, but often the Yetzer Hara forces him into it. (Not to say that he is not liable for his sins, but to explain that we would need another post.)

Well, since we already brought one post from "mgsbms", I just have to share with you his most recent post:

Today I got my fourth week clean. I haven't felt like this in a long time. How can you compare this sweetness of holiness to the sweetness of taavah? I beg you Hashem, please help me keep this perspective. Since about two years ago when this whole thing started, I have had long clean streaks but never was it with a conviction of avodes hashem as I feel now. Thanks to this site, I feel I may have turned my life around. Just four weeks ago I had this helpless feeling of "where am I heading to?". Well, now I see there is future of kedusha ahead and there is hope. Thanks "rabbi guard"!


The 90 Day Chart

We mentioned in yesterday's e-mail that the 90 day chart on our website is exactly a half a year old. One of our Chizuk e-mail members ("misgaber") sent us an e-mail afterwards as follows:

Seeing the chart on your site, it just popped in my mind that it would be a good idea to make a progress chart on your website (that people should be able to download) to fill out every day their progress, and to give themselves a push forward and see how good they are...

So in honor of the chart's Half-a-Year birthday we decided to take "misgaber's" advice!

Please download the new 90-Day chart over here
(Right click and choose "Save Target/Link As")

Today is a very auspicious day to start the 90 day journey. It's Malchus shebi'Yesod in the Seffirah counting (which is the most powerful day in the week of Yesod, since Malchus is the culmination of the Seffira and contains all the sub-parts of that Seffirah).

But even if you are already in middle of your 90 day journey, download the chart today and keep track of where you are holding!

Note: If you want to hang up the chart near your computer at work or in your house without anyone having any idea of what it might be, download the following chart, which is simpler and does not contain anything besides for the chart. (Right-click the link and choose "Save Target/Link As").

See Tool #8 of the GuardYourEyes Handbook for more on the amazing 90 day phenomenon, and why it works - based on scientific studies!

  • See how many people are currently on the chart over here.
  • See how many people already made the 90 day journey, in the short half-a-year that it has been around over here.


Our dear member "Jack" - who was addicted for 38 years before he found our website - recently wrote to me as follows:

It's been 8 1/2 months clean with only one slip, and I can genuinely say that the desire for that junk is fading. It took me a 90 day period of absolutely terrifying rides on the roller coaster [see Jack's 90 day time-line here], but once the rides came to a stop, the junk was gone. And as more and more time goes on, that junk gets further in the past, and fades. However, we must still be careful and we can't let our GUARD down, because the addiction is still there, like a spark in our subconscious that can be ignited anytime. So no smoking around an addict, because the fumes may ignite that dormant spark. "Once an addict, always an addict", (it's in the neuron-pathways; in our psyche). ONWARD!!!



"Ano" who reached a half a year clean yesterday, posted on the forum:

Well today was a big day for me. It's 26 weeks - half a year - from when I quit my addiction to pornography and masturbation. Guard let me know that today was also Yesod sheb'yesod, which I found pretty amazing.

I'm so glad to see all the activity taking place on these forums now (especially all the new members who are here as a result of the articles on Jpost and VIN).

To everyone who is reading the forum but not posting: PLEASE do yourself a favor and register now and start posting. You will receive so much chizuk, advice, and pure love from all the members, making your journey to freedom from this addiction so much easier.

I never could have done it without all of you.

Let me take a line out of bardichev's book, and I end with:

Humbled and happy,


Cold Fish

P.N posted on the forum:
Four days ago I came across this website through the Jpost article after reading some erotica etc, and I was about to go to bed. I literally stayed up from midnight to five in the morning looking at this sight amazed at the genius of it and how Hashem gave the koach for someone to start it. Since then, I only had some small urges on the third day and I'm clean for 4 days.
I was so embarrassed today when I noticed that I left this site opened on my wife's computer. She read my postings, but she said she was very happy to read it because she never really realized what I was going through.

Another issue I am dealing with is why I feel so cold to yiddishkeit right now. I read the chizuk emails and the blog and while they help me with porn etc, I feel no connection to the part about davening to Hashem or surrendering to Hashem like Dov and so many others write. I always thought this filth had a direct correlation to my religious connection, but while I am being so good with keeping away from the dirt for the past 4 days, I still feel nothing with regards to yiddishkeit.

Just writing out the honest thoughts of a cold fish.


Elya K (our 12-Step phone conference moderator) answers P.N:

Dear P.N, 

This is a spiritual malady, so if you're still looking at porn - even occasionally - you automatically separate your neshama from G-d. Otherwise, HE would allow us to look at it and masturbate, etc. 

You can still be an alcoholic and only drink occasionally. I don't know if you're addicted or not, but you can find out. Take this SA test here to see if you are addicted to lust, or take the 40 question test on SLAA here to find out if you are addicted to "sex and love". 

Often this is a disease of connection. We isolate ourselves because we have a hole in our souls that we are trying to fill. We've often experienced trauma, shame, guilt etc. since childhood, and these are areas we need to work on with a CERTIFIED SEXUAL ADDICTION COUNSELOR. Others are Clueless. I accomplished more in 2 years with mine than in 25 years going from psychologist to psychiatrist, social workers, etc. You wouldn't go to a dermatologist to do brain surgery, would you? I hope not. 

You should be thrilled your wife found you trying to get some help instead of finding you looking at porn. She sounds very understanding, and for that you are blessed with an Eishes Chayil. But that is no excuse to rationalize looking at this stuff, even occasionally. This is an insidious disease that gets worse if we don't stop. Soon one thing will not be thrilling enough, and we start to look for new, more dangerous ways to act out.

We are constantly yearning for someone or something to fill this hole. So if my wife is not available, I will look elsewhere. That's not exactly a great formula for a marriage. The Torah dictates the laws of separation to us so we can form an intimate relationship with our wife EVEN WHEN she is a Niddah, and that is by talking, sharing, etc. without sex. Because sex is indeed optional, and should not be the center of our universe, even though we think it is. So using our wives for sex because we're lusting, instead of because we love them and MUTUALLY want to be together, is tantamount to manipulating our own wives for sex. Not a good idea. 

Once you're sober for a while, at least 90 days, your spirituality will start to come back and you'll begin to feel closer. Hashem only shines HIS goodness upon us when we're a clean vessel worthy of acceptance of HIS goodness. But when we're stuck in the mud, it covers up our holy souls.

Feel free to call the hotline anytime to talk. Tel: 901-685-3256.

Be well, Elya.


There was a discussion on the forum recently about using Mussar and "Sifrei Yirah" to break free of this addiction. Although this may work for people who are not deeply addicted, it rarely works in more serious cases. "Dov", who has 11 years of sobriety through SA (see his story
here), wrote a very profound post on this topic which I wanted to share with you all. (We will bring the first part of Dov's post today, and tomorrow we'll bring the second part Iy"h).

Dov writes:

The main contribution of the 12 steps; their goal, is at the end: "Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps..." Most of what I hear and experience in gaining this "spiritual awakening" i.e. a deeper connection to Hashem, is focused on getting myself out of the way and letting Hashem take over.

Yosef Hatzadik represents the middah of "Yesod" and the Torah tells us that when he tried to do things himself;
"vehizkartani lifnei Paroah - mention me to Paroah" he ended up remaining in prison for another two years, but when he said "bil'adai, Elokim Ya'aneh es Shalom Paroah - it's not me, it is Hashem who will answer the well being of Paroah", then he rose up to become king in Mitzrayim!

It seems that the "12 Steps & 12 Traditions" indeed state this as the goal of the steps. In the seforim, on the other hand, teshuva, tikkun, emunah/bitachon, turning my will and life over to Hashem in accepting His Torah (and His better judgement!), and the myriad of levels in keeping the Torah and mitzvos, are all inexorably intertwined. This is good, as it brings yidden to living with Hashem from within their very weaknesses, and it shows us how the Torah and mitzvos are relevant to everyday life. Actually, they ARE for everyday life... a beautiful and powerful way to live!

BUT... it has a weakness for some addicts like me. You see, the addiction short-circuited my avodah (divine service). Like many GYE folks here, I was already frum before being out of control with lust, and my addiction continued to grow tremendously within the framework of my frumkeit, even as I thought I was growing frumer! That is a tremendously painful and confusing way to live. Definitely some variety of gehinom...

In recovery, I accepted that I could not just try harder (or smarter) to use my obviously defective version of yiddishkeit to overcome the addiction. (Every person operates per their own personal understanding of emunah, Torah/mitzvos, there is no gold standard).

For me, Yiddishkeit - especially with all the deep and beautiful aspects of teshuvah, avodah, and tikkunim - was like driving in an eighteen-wheeler at 100 mph! I was just not able to do it. It was too frustrating and complicated. My brain was too messed up, my ego and self-obsession was blocking out too much of reality, and I had the monkey of my sins on my back all the way. Life just drove me crazy. All the "one day at a time" talk in the universe was not enough to make me comfortable enough not to need to reach out for my drug. And it bothered me: "Why isn't Hashem taking care of me?! Why do I seem to absolutely need to reach for this shmutz? (we all feel we really NEED it when acting out, right?)"

I had to learn to get off the tractor-trailer and onto a bicycle. Same path, just in smaller steps and slower, and working them from the bottom up so that they are real and not separated from the heart any more.

But I needed direction for this. It meant the basics (yes, of yiddishkeit), but packaged in a way that let them become real enough to naturally affect my thinking, for they obviously had not till now.



Tomorrow we will bring the next excerpt from Dov's post, where he talks about how the 12-Steps helped him to learn
"the basics (yes, of yiddishkeit), but packaged in a way that let them become real enough to naturally affect my thinking".

And I just want to bring the following two sentences from Dov again for extra emphasis because they are so profound and they really sum up what the 12-Steps are all about:

"I had to learn to get off the tractor-trailer and onto a bicycle. Same path, just in smaller steps and slower, and working them from the bottom up so that they are real and not separated from the heart any more".

Don't we all wish we had learned Yiddisheit like that when we were young? If we had, I believe we'd all be big Tzadikim today. But sometimes it takes an insidious addiction for us to finally start to learn the basics!


Today we bring the second part of Dov's amazing post, where he talks about how the 12-Steps helped him to learn
"the basics (yes, of yiddishkeit), but packaged in a way that let them become real enough to naturally affect my thinking".

As Dov said yesterday:

"I had to learn to get off the tractor-trailer and onto a bicycle. Same path, just in smaller steps and slower, and working them from the bottom up so that they are real and not separated from the heart any more".

Dov summarizes how he views the first 7 of the 12-Steps:

Step 1. "We admitted we were powerless over lust--that our lives had become unmanageable".

What is the truth about myself? I am an addict and hopelessly unable to beat lust, or use it in any way.

Step 2. "We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity".

Do I believe in Hashem? Not as a dogma (a shittah), but do I, can I actually believe that the all-powerful Creator really is here right next to me, sees me, and that He really is purely good? Yes, I can accept that and improve in that.

Ok, well can I believe that this power right next to me is actually concerned and "trying" to help me if I would just let him? And this, in spite of the fact that I have done terrible foul things, habitually, and lied about them? Yes, I can, and I can begin to work to accept that more fully.

Now, do I accept that everything He sends my way is for my benefit, because He alone knows what's best for me? Yeah, I guess.

Ok, so how about making a decision to turn my will and life over to him?

Step 3. "We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God".

This means really believing the Sh'ma (
Sh'ma Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad - which is Step 2 above) and the first possuk (Ve'ahavta es Hashem Elokecha, Bechol Levavcha, u'vechol nafshecha uvechol me'odecha - which is Step 3).

And the proof of that belief would be if I act consistent with this belief.

Well, I can't do that perfectly - I am all messed up!! (at least I can avoid lust to stay sober and work these steps to grow more sane!)... Well, comes the program at this point and offers the fourth step.

Step 4. "We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves".

Finally a chesbon hanefesh. Not the reasons for why I do what I do, just the facts, just what happens. What is the problem of a person who reacts the way I do in these circumstances? What is actually wrong with such a person? With me? Not to change - I just want to admit it. No value-judgements, morality, reasons, nor "should"s in the 4th - "just the facts".

Wow. Every cheshbon hanefesh I had done before was about what I had done wrong, and that was considered in light of what'd have to be done about it. Not so here. The 4th Step was my first real chance to get the facts about myself in a way that I could not argue with. "Fearless Moral Inventory" - why be afraid? It's just the inescapable truth. It has nothing at all to do with the rest of the steps, or anything. One step at a time.

And the truth about me/you is beautiful when accepted. It's like seeing one's self for the very first time. (Why do we all avoid it so?)

Step 5. "We admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs".

Step 6. "We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character".

Step 7. "We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings".

Afterward, with steps 5, 6, and 7, I can begin to get free of the twisted thinking that makes me so uncomfortable with living that temptations to act out begin to actually seem in my best interest (even if it'll mess everything up)...

And after all these steps - Wow, the relief of a little safety.


In the continuation of this great post, Dov goes back to address the original question on the forum, which was; "is it healthy to use FEAR & sifrei yirah to break free of the addiction?" And like we discussed in Chizuk e-mail #470 on this page, Dov differentiates between two types of "fear", one good and one bad. As Dov writes:

It is true that "once an addict, always an addict", but that turns on and off depending on my spiritual state and upon temptations brought on me from the outside, sometimes without warning.

I am allergic to lust. Just like a person with hayfever does not really have "hayfever" until the pollen hits, in recovery we can be in remission and perform just like a normal person (or better). Then something can happen and we need help. Or, we stupidly do something that a normal person can easily tolerate (like look at a little shmutz) and end up losing our days, weeks, months or years of sobriety in an hour, and we can spiral downward to the lowest pit of insanity, to jail or even death. Hey, I've seen it happen, and I've seen it almost happen with me.

So we are incredibly sensitive, even though we are growing healthy in recovery and our avodas Hashem is doing great! So no, I am not safe. Maybe someone out there really is, who knows? But not me.

Is this "Ashrei odom mefacheid tomid"? Well yes, if you understand "mefacheid" as living with the awareness that there is mortal danger on the other side of the curtain. But that's as far as our "fear" should go. As long as we have this "awareness", we need to trust Hashem to help us stay safe from the danger if we do His will for us.

Clearly, everybody knows you cannot drive a car (or a bicycle!) in constant gripping fear of an accident. It's a sure way to get killed actually! So why would avodas Hashem be different? I believe it's not.

In the meantime, after a few years on the bicycle, it seems Hashem has graduates us to a mini-cooper. Never a Volkswagen!

Sorry for the ramble. I hope it is understandable and helpful to somebody...


ShomerAiyin had a slip after 12 days and writes:

I remember saying "No" to the Yetzer Hara quite a number of times during the past 12 days, so I guess that's gotta count for something. But the fact that I've only been able to string together bunches of clean days separated by falls, and that I can't see how I can manage to live a completely clean lifestyle for the long term, is bothering me a lot.

Dear ShomerAyin,

First of all, if you would join an SA group in your area you would start to believe that it truly is possible for the long term. You would meet many people there who were even more addicted than you, and who are clean now for years. I know it feels impossible at this stage, but just read the recovery stories on our website, and look at people like Dov who were much worse off than you - and see what they have achieved today!!

Also, I strongly recommend reading through the GYE handbook carefully, from beginning to end. You will learn that there is hope - and that there are tools, no matter how far the addiction has progressed. And the Attitude handbook will give you some great perspective on this struggle.

I want to explain something. As you can see (or assume), I answer maybe 20 people a day by e-mail and on the forum. I wish I could write each person long detailed posts of Chizuk and advice, but it's impossible. That's why I spent a month, days and nights, working on these handbooks. FOR YOU!! Please, please read them if your eternity is important to you. You will find there so much more than I can offer you in my short answers on the forum. The handbooks will teach you how to approach the falls, to understand this struggle, to appreciate your progress, etc... And you will learn the tools that really work and how to beat this for the long term

YES, YES, YES. IT IS POSSIBLE. That is what Hashem sent you down to the world for. We are not bad people trying to get good, we are ill people trying to get better. But for this to happen, we need to take the right medicine. Just like all the Chizuk in the world won't make diabetes go away, here too, we need to learn the techniques that really work in cases of addiction. Please read the handbooks and find the medicine that works for you!

Today is the first day of the
"Shloshes Yimei Hagbala" in preparation for Kabalas Hatorah. Chazal learn out from the Pesukim that Hashem healed everyone before Kabalas Hatorah. "Hagbala" means "Safeguards". Let's all make the proper safeguards to protect ourselves from the Yetzer Hara - and in this merit, may Hashem heal us all, physically, spiritually and mentally, so that we can indeed receive the Torah properly.


YosefYakov (who is almost two months clean) answers ShomerAyin on the forum as well:

Dear ShomerAyin,

You have to believe that if I am doing it, anybody can do it. If there was anyone who set on himself to suck the marrow of the pleasures that this world has to offer, and if there was anyone who was completely surrendered to the Yetzer Hara, that was me.

I had tried to stop 100's of times in the past without success. This time, I did something different. First, I spent a great deal of time reading most of the information provided on the guardureyes site, especially the FAQs and Tips. Second and foremost, for the first time in my life, I became DEAD SERIOUS about my shemiras einaym. I remember several months ago reading a letter in a Jewish magazine about somebody that was annoyed upon seeing that a house kept pregnancy and diet magazines as "bathroom reading material". And I laughed to myself wondering how could anybody be triggered by seeing pictures of women in these magazines. However, while I laughed, my addiction was out of control. I realized that even if the pictures themselves were not particularly terrible, just looking at them caused subconscious damage to my neshama and this in turn fed the Yetzer Hara. The solution for me was to STOP looking at anything feminine that I don't need to know about.

Now, B'H, I will not look at any women in the street, whether she is beautiful or homely, fat or thin, old or young. I will not look at any of the pretty women pictures that are constantly bombarding us in the internet or the newspapers. I will not look at the woman at the store counter and I could not care less what she thinks. Nothing. Zipo.

And the reason this has worked for me so far, is not just because I am not being stimulated (I still have a memory and an imagination of gargantuan proportions). But there is kabbalistic concept that says:
ITARUSA D'LETATA, ITARUSA D'LEILA, which means that "an awakening" (and effort) from below (i.e. from us) causes a reciprocation of "an awakening" from above (Hashem). 

ShomerAyin, as the holy day of Shavuos approaches, I wish you and everybody in this forum a Kabolas haTorah - beSimcha u'bePenimyus.


How Much Effort do We Need to Put Into Recovery?

"ShomerAiyin" posted on the forum again today:

Sorry to burst everyone's pre-Shavuot highs, but I'm having a bit of a crisis. I don't know how to internalize everything written on this site, including the 12 steps. 

- I've read the 2 handbooks, both the GYE Handbook and the Attitude Handbook.
- I am trying to be honest with myself, and I post on the forum.
- I've admitted that I have a lust addiction and can't beat this thing myself. 
- I've read a lot of material about the 12 steps. 
- I've read the GYE tips and even committed (bli neder) to give 200 shekel every time I fall. I've given 200 so far, need to give now another 200 (I see somebody getting rich off my sinning).
- I've tried so far unsuccessfully to attend both SA and SLAA meetings (I've called and emailed representatives of both). 
- I've joined a daily accountability group within SLAA.

Nothing has helped!!! I still feel lustful, lonely and bored. I still surf the net. I still act out. I make promises every morning, only to break them way too often. 

I've read over and over on the forum and on the website that it can be done, and I've seen all the great stories to this effect, but HOW? How do you take the tefillot and promises made upon waking up and internalize them/carry them out throughout the day?

Dear ShomerAyin,

Your case is typical of this insidious addiction. We all went through the same thing that you are going through now. So it's important to clarify a few things, not just for you - but for everyone here.
First of all, the GYE handbook is not supposed to help by simply "reading" through it. It doesn't contain any magic in its words. It simply gives us a framework of tools to guide us through recovery.

Although we do indeed suggest that one reads the handbook from beginning to end at first, this is only so that we learn what tools are available, and, that there is hope - no matter how far the addiction has progressed. However, reading it alone won't give us very much if we don't work the tools discussed therein, slowly but surely, with patience, thought and determination.

So now that you've indeed read it ShomerAyin, and now that you've seen all the tools available and internalized that it is possible to break free no matter how far advanced the addiction may have progressed, let's go back to tool #1 of the handbook and work it though. Then we'll move on to tool #2, etc...  In other words, the handbooks only give us a framework to work with, but the tools can't do anything just by "knowing" about them if they are not USED.
We want to help you, ShomerAyin, but let's do it right this time, and let's do it systematically. You can use the power of the forum to tell us what have you done - or are doing - about each tool. Let's start with tool #1. Did it work for you, or it does it not seem to be enough on its own? Ok, so let's move on to tool #2. What can you take out of this tool in a practical sense? What parts have you tried already? What parts have you not tried yet? Do you have doubts, questions, or comments about it? Let's discuss each tool by itself, on the forum, one at a time.

You did mention (above) one aspect of tool #3 ("Making Fences"), i.e. that you tried committing to give 200 Shekel each time you fall. Well, how about the other ideas in tool #3, such as committing to taking a 10 minute walk BEFORE falling, or making a whole list of things that you commit to do BEFORE you let yourself fall? We can discuss this - and many other practical ideas - more in depth on the forum, tool by tool, step by step. And if we find that tool #3 is not enough, we will move on to tool #4...

In other words, YES, it can be done! But it takes time, careful thought, work and determination. There are no "magic" formulas. But this time, ShomerAyin, we will work together with you, and we will use the framework of the handbook to start making steady and systematic progress. Not like all the other times, that we got inspired for a week or two, maybe even a month, but then we lost it all again...

Also, about the 12-Step groups, I am sure that if you are indeed determined to join up with them, you will find a way. They will get back to you eventually. The Yetzer Hara knows that he's a goner once you join these groups, so he's doing everything he can to prevent you from joining. Daven to Hashem for help, and you will see all the barriers crumble away. Be aware that Hashem is often just testing our determination!


I also want to bring another great post from "London" (who is already in SA groups for 5 years) where he describes how much effort we need to put into recovery. "London" writes:
Addiction is an illness, and the medicine required for recovery is working the tools of recovery, as written in the GYE Handbooks. Personally for me, my illness had progressed to such a level that I needed to take a strong dose of medicine to get recovery.  I have heard mentioned at meetings, "how much does a person need to put into their program to get well?" And I was told to gauge it by my acting out. In other words, I should put as much time and effort into my recovery as I did into my acting out. And for me, I put hours and hours of time and effort into my addiction, so consequently, the first 12 tools of the GYE Handbook were not enough to get me well on their own, and I have to attend SA meetings and do therapy (see tools #13-#15 of the GYE Handbook). Even therapy on its own was not enough.

At the beginning, it can be hard to find the level that you require, but if a person is honest with themselves and has the desire to get recovery, they will start working the tools and increasing the dose progressively - as the handbook suggests, until they achieve full recovery. 

As it so famously says in the AA Big Book:

"Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. 

There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest". 

To end, I just want to write that since I have started posting on the forum, my recovery has undergone a major overhaul, as I now practice the tools that I write about. I am so grateful that there is a forum where I can connect to recovery and that helps me in my Avodas Hashem as well.



After "ShomerAyin" read the Chizuk e-mail above, he sent me an e-mail as follows:

Thank you for the beautiful post. I felt so down today, like there's no hope for me. You've given me reason to continue. I felt as if all my options were closed, and you've just opened another door for me to walk through.

Thank you for being willing to walk me through this journey. Bli neder, beezrat haShem I'll start with this tomorrow.


The Right Attitude for Kabalas Hatorah

Chizuk e-mail #490 = Taf tzadik. "Torah Tziva Lanu Moshe". (Erev Shavu'os 5769).

In every generation we receive the Torah anew through the Tzadikim of all the generations. Someone sent us an e-mail recently:

"Do you use sayings of R' Nachman a lot in your emails? The reason I am asking, is because in my community they don't learn Breslover teachings".

I would like to answer this person, and I think it can help us all to approach Kabalas Hatorah with a great attitude.

Dear Reb Yid,

On GYE, we use sayings from everywhere... From Rav Nachman, the Ba'al Hatanya, the Ba'al Hasulam, Rav Yisrael Salanter, the Ba'al Shem Tov, the Vilna Ga'on, Rav Chaim Valozhin, etc... We love all Tzadikim and we strive to learn from them whatever we can. See our "
Attitude Handbook" for a great mishmash of ideas, taken from Tzadikim of all groups and from all major strains of Jewish thought.

With today's powerful Yetzer Hara, there's no time or place for deciding which Tzadik we want to learn from or which we don't. We need to use all the tools at our disposal to uplift ourselves from acting like animals and become human beings again! To beat this addiction, we even learn from Goyim. As those who frequent this website and the forum know, we are always quoting from the 12-Steps and from the Big Book of AA, which was written by - and for - hopeless non-Jewish drunkards!

You see, this addiction has taken us to a level lower than animals (even animals don't abuse their instincts!). So before we can contemplate being Yidden and receiving the Torah, we first need to become "human beings" again. We need to first regain our "sanity", and to do this, we often have to re-learn, from the bottom up, the very basics of what it means to be a "sane" human being, created in the image of Hashem. So we go to the 12-Steps and we learn how these non-Jewish drunkards were able to overhaul their entire lives and become people with a real connection to Hashem! We learn what "dependence" on Hashem really means. We learn a true humility and honesty in all our affairs. And as we start to live right and think right, we regain some sanity and start to heal. Only after all that, can we begin to explore how to be the good Yidden that Hashem truly wants us to be, as the Pesukim say:
Ve'heyisem li segulah mi'kol ha'amim... mamleches kohanim ve'Goy kadosh - And you shall be for me "unique" from all the nations... a kingdom of priests and a holy nation".

But as long as we are still struggling with this addiction, far be it from us to even consider which of the Tzadikim we want to learn from, and which we don't.

The Pasuk says that the Yidden came before Har Sinai and stood
"Bitachtis Hahar - at the bottom of the mountain". The Sefarim discuss that this is teaching us that "true humility" precedes accepting the Torah. Similarly, the Pasuk says "Vayichan Yisrael - and Yisrael camped" as Chazal learn out: Ke'ish echad bi'Lev echad - like one man, with one heart". Only when all Yidden feel as one, and only when we are truly humble before Hashem, can we hope to be Mekabel the Torah properly. Because in order to be a "Mekabel", we first need to have a proper "beis kibul - an empty vessel".

Perhaps the most the central idea to the 12-Steps, that which makes them so powerful, is learning how to completely trust in Hashem in all our affairs, and how to give our lives and will over to Him. For only Hashem can help us beat this addiction at the end of the day. As "London" quoted yesterday on the forum from the White Book chapter "How I Overcame My Obsession with Lust":

"How did I do it? I didn't. Someone in AA told me after he spoke in a meeting, quoting Chapter 5 in Alcoholics Anonymous that "G-d could and would, if He were sought." And that's how I did it. By letting G-d do it.  Because I couldn't. But G-d could and would - and did. But I had to go to meetings to learn things like "Meetings, meetings, meetings, meetings, meetings...." That's what they told me. "Just keep bringing the body". "Work the steps, work the steps, work the steps, work the steps". By going to meetings and working the steps; that's how I did it. That's how I learned to let the grace of G-d enter to expel the obsession."

Someone posted a letter yesterday on the forum from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, written right before Shavu'os. I have never seen such a beautiful description of  "Emunah" before, and I want to share it with you all. It is a powerful portrayal of the type of Faith and Trust that the 12-Steps try to teach us. If we can internalize this message properly, breaking free of the addiction will be so much easier, and indeed, there can be no better way to approach Kabalas Hatorah!

The core of Jewish vitality and indestructibility is in its pure faith in G-d; not in some kind of an abstract Deity, hidden somewhere in the heavenly spheres, who regards this world from a distance; but absolute faith in a very personal G-d, who is the very life and existence of everybody; who permeates where one is, and what one does. Where there is such faith, there is no room for fear or anxiety, as the Psalmist says, 'I fear no evil, for Thou art with me,' with me, indeed, at all times, not only on Shabbos or Yom Tom, or during prayer or meditation on G-d. And when one puts his trust in G-d, unconditionally and unreservedly, one realizes what it means to be really free and full of vigor, for all one's energy is released in the most constructive way, not only in one's own behalf, but also in behalf of the environment at large.

The road is not free from obstacles and obstructions, for in the Divine order of things we are expected to attain our goal by effort; but if we make a determined effort, success is Divinely assured, and the obstacles and obstructions which at first loom large, dissolve and disappear.

I wish you to tread this road of pure faith in G-d, without over introspection and self-searching, as in the simple illustration of a man walking: he will walk most steadily and assuredly if he will not be conscious of his walk and not seek to consciously coordinate the hundreds of muscles operative in locomotion. If he did so, he would be unable to make his first step.

Wishing you success in all the above, and hoping to hear good news from you and yours,

With the blessing of a happy Yom Tov of Receiving the Torah with inner joy.


This letter above is so beautiful that I suggest reading it again and again, and maybe even printing it out and hanging it up on the wall!


"Think Good" wrote on the forum:

I am concerned that I may let my guard down after making it past 30 days .

"London" answered:

Hi Think Good,

I have been told at SA meetings, that if I have one eye on yesterday and one eye on tomorrow, then I am cross eyed on today. Yesterday is history and tomorrow is a mystery, all we have is the here and the now. And right here and right now, I want to stay clean and sober.

One of the oldest tricks of the Yetzer Hara is to make a person give up before he has even started by making him ill with worry; "how will I manage to stay sober so long, I am so worried I may act out". And guess what happens? We throw in the towel and act out, and the YH has won.

So when I wake up in the morning, the first thing I say is "thank you Hashem for keeping me sober last night" and then I say "please Hashem keep me sober today", and I commit to staying sober JUST for today, no matter what.  

So my friend, stop worrying about staying sober after 30 days. Moshiach may come then, and then we will all be cured. All you have is the present. Focus on the present. Do what ever it takes to stay sober now, and leave the future to Hashem to worry about. I am sure you have enough worries without worrying about the future.



Jack writes to ShomerAyin (who appeared in Chizuk e-mail #489 on this page):

Dear ShomerAyin,

I feel your pain and frustration because I've been there. It's true, nothing seems to help. But group support really does help. And there is one more thing you need: brute strength. But you can't do it alone, no matter how strong you are. This thing is too powerful. Get a strong sponsor and call HIM every time you want to act out. Do whatever you have to do, but by all means, DON'T act out!

You mentioned that you are lonely and bored. These are two traps to watch out for. You have to deal with these issues somehow. Maybe see the Kosher Isle of the website for some ideas.

Also, the "90 days" is like taking antibiotics - you cant skip a day because the antibiotics have to be present in the blood for the medication to take effect. Similarly here, a slip AFTER the 90 days is A LOT DIFFERENT from a slip DURING the 90 days (as long as it does not lead back into the addictive cycle, which it can do if you let it). So, the 90 days have to be just that: 90 days straight with ABSOLUTELY NO SLIPS, in order for the 90 day rule to work
[Jack is referring to a scientific study that found that it takes 90 days to change an addictive pattern].

Here are some techniques: If you know how, try to meditate. Or go to to a stream and scream loud, where no one can hear you. You have to get the anxiety out of your system in a healthy way. Hit your bed with a tennis racket - but don't act out - it will do nothing for you! It'll only pull you back into that vicious cycle.

You have to go through this for 90 days STRAIGHT! It can be torture, believe me, I know. But you have to do it, for your sake, for your friends' sake, your wife's sake, your children's sake, and for G-d's sake. You are helping only you, you must do it!

You admit you have a problem - and that is the first step. Now, grab the bull by the horns, be mechazek yourself, and you will see the rewards are well worth it.

I wish you the best of the best.


Appreciating the Wife

"Be-Holy" posted once on the forum:

We have kosher internet Rimon and my temptations are getting lighter, but my issue is that I still can't look my wife in the eye because I wish she looked better, and in my mind, I want her to dress sexier - while at the same time knowing that as a kollel yungerman, it is totally inappropriate. Additionally, it is demeaning for her, because a man has his Torah, and a women has her Tznius. But when I see other women on the street, it's still hard for me to control that "double take". I know it is lust, but for some reason, I just can't let go of it. You guys have always been there for me in the past, and we are at 5 months!! But it is the summer and my imagination goes wild when I am on the street... I hope we can get to the bottom of this and that I can learn to be the person that I really can be, and give of myself more to my wife.

- a wondering soul.


"Yakov_Shwartz" answered:

Dear Be-holy,

B"H, you have the right perspective. Everything you wrote is true. Having the right the perspective is obviously the start. Trying to attain it, as you say, is much more difficult.  You are definitely not alone in your avodah, and I have no doubt that if you truly want it, you will get it.

From what I have gathered over the years form comments here and there, I have noticed that your feelings are normal. But let me tell you what worked for me and try to give a few pointers:

1. You must internalize a very fundamental concept in marriage.  People often want to think that their wife is the most beautiful. But in truth, you should view your wife as the only woman in the world. By doing this, you stop comparing your wife to other woman. 

2. Work on shmiras einayim. If you internalize that she is the only woman for you, no other woman will tempt you anymore. You will have no desire to look at a woman for the sake of pleasure (this really worked for me!). 

3. Look at you wife's good attributes. When you become less physical, you become attracted to deeper things. You become attracted to your wife because of what her body represents, i.e. her neshama.  In other words, you are attracted to her soul not her body. 

4. Write your wife a love letter. Sit down, think about why you love your wife, and tell her. Give her affection. 

5. Begin asking yourself the purpose of marital relations. Understand how its main purpose is to bring shalom into the home.


"Me" answers Be-Holy:

Dear Be-Holy, you are doing great, but you need to work on the shoresh. You are still fighting the lusting. Now is the time to leave the lusting alone, and change yourself to a person that no longer lusts; a person that no longer has the "need" to lust; a person that has many many more important things in his life than lusting. 

As we all know, lusting is only temporary. When we go out to grab it..... it was only air, i.e. there is nothing to hold on to. It was all imagination...... it wasn't really REAL.


Ahron answers:

The first thing I'd suggest is thanking Hashem for leading you here to this forum - this is exactly the right place to be!  Also, don't be so hard on yourself.  After reading some of your posts and knowing that you've gone almost 6 months without a fall, I can't accept that this accurately describes your situation. The Y"H does not have you in chains!

As Ykv said above, write your wife a love letter. Think about where you'd be if you weren't married. With far fewer responsibilities, can you imagine how much harder it would be to overcome the addiction?  It sounds like you generally get along with her - that's a huge Bracha!  You have the foundation on which to build a magnificent emotional bond with a life partner who is there with you and for you! Give her everything you have - your money, your heart and your time.  It is an investment that will yield tremendous benefits - she will respond and give you more than you can imagine in return.  You'll find new strengths in you that you never knew you had.  You'll find yourself on a path of true, positive growth, not stagnation. You want to be expressive?  Express!  Use your own words, however inadequate they may sound to you. She will encourage and support every small step you take and she will recognize and acknowledge tiny positive steps that no one else would ever see, because they don't know you as well as your partner does.  Spend time together and get to know her even better - it will be well worth it!


Suggested Reading: For more on the proper attitude to have with one's wife, and on marital relations in particular, read "Day 16" through "Day 20" of the PDF file from the translations of "The First Day of the Rest of My Life".


An Attitude of Gratitude

We have a new member on our forum, Bruce, who is 22 years old and has struggled with this addiction for many years. He comes from a broken home and struggles also with religion as well as many other issues, but he is desperate to break free, because, as he writes:

"I want to stop staying up all night looking at porn (and thereby ruining the following day),  masturbating until my body begs me to stop, thinking inappropriate things about every beautiful woman I see on the street or elsewhere, losing focus and motivation to do things that are actually important and fun, and I want to be able to socialize without feeling uncomfortable with myself and without being unable to see the women that I talk to as people, and not fleshy pleasure things.

And I don't want to go from here to even worse things. All of the porn that I have seen over the years, some of it very messed up stuff, has completely warped my mind and desensitized me to every kind of emotion there is, especially mercy and compassion. Combine that with an intense personality, a natural propensity to anger easily, pent up anger and frustration at the world, and a naturally mischievous mind and you've got a recipe for disaster. I don't want to turn into a monster. To me there is at least a subconscious association in my mind between crime/general immorality and porn. I don't know if such an association is real, but that's how I see it.

I don't see how I can live with integrity this way. I don't see how I can be a good husband. I don't even see how marriage would be appropriate for me the way I am now. I just don't want to turn into a depraved, under achieving, lowlife."


I want to bring a few of "London"s great replies to Bruce, since there is so much we can learn from them:

Dear Bruce,

What you posted regarding a "lowlife" really touched a chord in me, because it seems that you currently see yourself as a lowlife. Bruce, you are very sick with an illness called addiction, and the medication is contained in the GYE Handbook. Work the tools there, until you find what keeps you stopped. You are not a "lowlife". You are "sick" and trying to get "well", not a "bad" person trying to be "good".  

You write that you see yourself on the brink of much worse things. This is classic unmanageability - and that is the first step of recovery, i.e. accepting that you are powerless over the addiction and that your life has become unmanageable as a result. I too struggled with my religion vs. my addiction, but I came to realize that this is just another tool of my addict side to keep me in the sickness. We read in the SA meetings at the beginning that "the sexaholic has taken himself out of the whole context of what is right or wrong".  I was told to leave the debating society, as I am too sick for that. For me, porn and masturbating are lethal. I need to STOP & stay STOPPED. Recovery for me, is the most important part of my life, without exception. Without recovery, my life is - as you describe, a depraved existence, trying to gratify a never ending craving monster that has no boundaries and no respect for anyone or anything.

Bruce, from your posts it seems that you are still young. You have a really holy and special soul that is crying out for help. Read the posts and see how many of us waited until we were married many years with children, and only then got into recovery. You have an opportunity that I would die for, to have this awareness at such a young age. I admire you and hope and pray that you will take action to stop this deadly cycle of addiction.  

Keep coming back,


Bruce responds:

London, Yes I am 22 and still single, so I guess you're right that it's good for me to be tackling this now, but I still wish I had actually realized that it was a problem much earlier than this and that I had taken care of it years ago. Maybe I wouldn't be so crazy if that were case, and maybe things would be normal enough for me to not be single at this point....

It's just so frustrating to see all my friends my age in relationships and getting married, without all the problems that I have. Their lives are so much more normal in so many ways and they have the tools to create successful relationships. I never had an example to follow. It's like their minds are so much clearer and their hearts and souls are so much more at ease. They are at ease and comfortable with themselves, which allows them to share their lives with others. But me, I'm confused, frustrated, I'm uncomfortable with who and what I am (if I can even define that) and I downright can't trust people. I just can't. It's frustrating that I want to be like they are, but I can't, even if I wanted to. I just don't have the tools for it.


Dear Bruce,

You are now at a junction in your life and you have two paths in front of you. You can either carry on the acting out path with devastating consequences, or you can start on the recovery path. If you choose the recovery path (which I hope you will), this is what the founders of AA write in the promises for those who seek out recovery sincerely:

"If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.

  • We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
  • We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
  • We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.
  • No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.
  • That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
  • We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.
  • Self-seeking will slip away.
  • Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.
  • Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.
  • We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
  • We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us - sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.

-- Alcoholics Anonymous p. 83-84"

Bruce, I can tell you from my own recovery (which I am not half way through), that my life today bears no resemblance to when I was in the heat of active addiction. It is very easy for us to look around at our peers and feel self pity about our lot - I used to do this regularly but it got me no where. Hashem has a plan for me. I do not know what it is, but it includes my addiction and recovery. The same applies to you, you are young and you have your entire life ahead of you. Stop looking around at your friends. Who knows what's going on behind closed doors?

One of the tools I have learned in recovery is gratitude. I have a "daily gratitude list" which I give over to a friend in recovery. Even without knowing you - just from reading your posts, I can think of many things that you should be grateful for. My only hope is that you will take the tools of recovery as suggested in the GYE Handbook and work through them thoroughly and honestly until you find what works for you to get recovery. And then those promises mentioned above will materialize in your life before you know it. I have seen the transformation in my life and in the lives of countless other people in recovery who are prepared to do what it takes to get well.

Keep coming back,


OK, London. Just for kicks I'll call you out on it: What can you see in my posts that I should be grateful for? I'm curious to know if you can get any of them right or if you can show me something I never thought of.


Dear Bruce,

Your challenge to me reminds me of when I first got into recovery. My therapist asked me to give her a list of 10 things that I am grateful for and I was stumped, I could not think of one. That's how closed off my mind was. But as for you, here goes:

1. You're alive
2. You write that you have friends / room mates.
3. You are extremely articulate
4. You are very intelligent
5. You have found the recovery path at a very young age
6. You are studying
7. You have your entire life ahead of you
8. You spent 2 years in Israel

That's just from reading your posts. I am sure that if I were to get to know you better, I could write a lot more. I have found that for me, developing an "attitude of gratitude" is one of the cornerstones of my recovery. I have so much in my life that Hashem has bestowed on me, but when I am acting out I cannot see His blessings in my life, all I can see is what I don't have.

There are so many people out there who are sick with this illness and are suffering a living hell. I am so grateful to Hashem that just for today I do not need to live a life like that, that Hashem has allowed His Grace to come into me to get recovery. I hear at meetings that recovery is a gift from Hashem, that I can do Teshuva and that I can make living amends for my past. What a blessing! My worst days in recovery today are still 10 x better then the best days of when I was acting out.

Keep coming back,


Lust: The Dummy Light


In Chizuk e-mail #492 on this page, we discussed the issue of "lust vs. appreciating one's own wife". I received a response to that e-mail from someone who calls himself "DuvidChaim". He has been in SA groups for over two years and has changed his life around.

His e-mail contains a lot of wisdom and it can help us all to approach our struggles with lust with the right attitude. DuvidChaim writes as follows:

Dear Guard,


First and foremost, a huge Yasher Koach to you for this site and the countless hours that you undoubtedly spend on it. I have only been visiting the site for about a month and I am so pleased to see that the frum community has a real resource for help in this area.

In case you don't remember, I am 52 and have been in SA for nearly 2 years, and with G-d's mercy, have been making amazing progressive recovery. See my comments below to help understand why.

I would like to comment about the postings for "Appreciating the Wife" in e-mail #492. Regarding, "Be-Holy's" comments and the postings in response, I just want to remind everyone that the 12 Step Program is not about controlling lust. The Program is about attaining a "Spiritual Experience" that gives us freedom from lust.


It doesn't matter how many filters we put on our computer or how we hide ourselves and our eyes from the inevitable "sights" out there, if we are not seeking a spiritual remedy, we will get "tangled up" and eventually lose our sobriety.


Haven't you ever wondered why the AA Big Book is the core of all Programs for addictions; be it drugs, eating, gambling and yes, lust? It must mean that all addicts have something in common. That is why, as a sponsor (and I still consider myself a sponsee as well), I focus on what is going on beneath the surface that creates lust in the first place

As we progress through the steps of the Program, we notice that when we take the "fearless moral inventory" of Step 4, we list our Resentments and Fears.  And then in Steps 8 and 9, we make amends to the people we have harmed (invariable the same people we have resentments toward).


What does this teach us? The Program is teaching us that in order to find freedom from our addiction, we have to focus on getting RID of "R.I.D." - Resentment, Irritability and Discontent. This is the universal cause of all our addictions, the underlying tangled up feeling that drives us to "soothe ourselves" with our drug of choice (in SA the drug of choice is lust).


So I would encourage everyone that participates in these forums to keep coming back to the question that we all need to ask ourselves when we feel lust (some days I ask myself this 100 times a day), "Hashem, help me understand, why am I feeling R.I.D - resentment, irritability and discontent, right now?"


In fact, I no longer see my lust as a curse or that there is something wrong with me or with my feelings toward my wife, but rather lust is like the "dummy light" in my car that lights up red when my engine oil is low. If I get annoyed at seeing the light, should I ignore it or disconnect it? No, instead I thank G-d that I got the warning light and that I can take my car in to get serviced. So too with our lust, it is just a warning light that we are getting tangled up with R.I.D.


And now we can all use this tool that Hashem has blessed us with (the "lust dummy light") to move forward with progressive recovery.

So to Be-Holy, I would simply suggest that he thank G-d for his feelings towards his wife. And by working the Steps, not only will he see his wife in a whole new light, but also himself and the awesome spiritual being that he is.


Warmest regards,




Moving Forward - One Day at a Time

A beautiful post from "London" to a fellow struggler

It's interesting to note, that although there were four people who never sinned; Binyamin, Amram, Yishai, and Kilav (son of Dovid HaMelech), only Yosef is called a Tzaddik - Yosef Hatzadik. Why? Because he was tempted and withstood the temptation. In my opinion, every member on this forum can add "Tzaddik" after their names.

Let us focus on how many times we are successful in overcoming our temptations. I was told by a Mashgiach once (who quoted Rabainu Yona) that I should not beat myself up for my past. Doing that is like going on a journey with a knapsack full of rocks; your progress is sure to be slow and painful! However if we put the rocks down, we can start to move forward with ease. I know that if I keep looking back at my past and beating myself up over it, I am never going to get recovery.  

Recovery is within your reach, if you really work hard for it. Read through the GYE Handbook and find the solution that works for you. If you think you are successful today in your marriage / kollel life, you will be amazed by how much more you can achieve without the constant craving for masturbation. One of the biggest blessings I have had in recovery is the physical removal of the cravings. The cravings were the worst part of the addiction, they were constantly driving me to distraction. I am now slowly recovering from a relapse, and I can feel that - one day at a time - the cravings are subsiding again.

Try not to concentrate on getting clean for the rest of your life, it won't work. Make a daily commitment to stay clean. And if 24 hours is too long (for me it is), make a commitment for a morning, for an hour, whatever you feel is within your reach, and do whatever it takes to stay clean for that time.

I know a fellow with over 20 years clean-time and he was in the depths of this addiction. He told me that he makes a daily commitment to Hashem that he will stay clean and sober for 24 hours even if his tuches falls off!

And me too, I commit to staying clean and sober today no matter what.

Keep posting on this forum.

"It works if you work it".

Keep coming back,


Remaining "An Addict in Recovery"

An insightful post from "Dov" to a fellow struggler

One of the most frequent causes of failure at actually getting better - is forgetting. It would be quite natural for me to consider myself "fixed up" as soon as I turn my back on the first temptation! "It's been three days - I feel better!! I am better!" You'd think that after a year of not screwing up, all of us would just figure we are OK. In fact, the overwhelming majority of people I have met in recovery rooms over the years use a "revolving door" approach for a while, and then finally disappear. Strangely, the "last gasp" is often when they start giving advice to others in meetings, instead of sharing. I guess it's because they figure they are all better now. They also start to use "you" a lot when sharing, rather than frankly opening up about themselves directly.

Fortunately though, some do not. They retain faith - and it really is exactly that; "faith" - that they are not OK yet. This means, that no matter how long Hashem has helped me be sober:

  • I still cannot expect to act in the same ways I did before (when addicted) and expect to remain sane/healthy.
  • I cannot use lusting behaviors and remain in control of them (or myself).
  • And I cannot lie my head off and stay sane in every (or any) other respect,
  • etc...

In order to actually keep getting better, I need to stay "an addict in recovery". When I share with others, I try to say things like: "when I lose my temper/lie/act out, etc... I do XYZ."

I can't talk like I am all better, lest I actually begin to believe it.

Yes, it sometimes makes others think that I am still doing that stuff, and that I am still just as sick. Too bad. The Gemara puts it most beautifully in the story of Rav Amram (see Chizuk e-mail #275 on this page): "Better I should appear a fool in the eyes of my fellow man for a short time (like a lifetime, for example) than be a fool in the eyes of the Almighty forever".

Hatzlacha and stay in touch,


The Crushing Crush

Ilan posted a question on the forum:

Hi Reb Gue and the Rest of Us,

About 4 years ago, there was a certain girl who was in one of my university classes. She caught my attention as soon as I saw her, but as a decent observant Jew, I always avoided her like I avoided all girls that I found to be attractive. This particular girl was really pretty, and even many years later as I am starting to date seriously, I still think about her looks and stupidly hope that I will find someone who is as pretty. That will not happen. When I find someone, I am sure she will be attractive, but not in the same way, nor should she be. And unless we live in an absolutely closed environment, we will always see attractive women, but my question is, how do we handle it when we find them to be particularly attractive in the sense that we have a "crush" on them? How does one move on and keep one's mind focused on reality and not sensuality?


Dear Ilan,

You ask a very good question, and even those of us (on this forum) who are married for many years struggle with this issue. It all boils down to learning to differentiate in our minds - and internalize in our hearts - the difference between a relationship built upon shared goals and values, growing together, making each other whole, building a family, etc... VS. ... Steak.

Uh.. what? ... Steak??

Exactly. Because having a crush on a beautiful girl is nothing but that. It is an animalistic desire of lust, based only on self-gratification. We couldn't care less who that pretty women really is, as a person. She may as well just be a juicy piece of steak to our minds.

Ilan, I bless you that you will get married soon and have a lovely wife, and you will be able to build a beautiful family based on Torah values together with her. But like you so wisely pointed out, there will ALWAYS be women that will catch our eyes and make us wish we had some of that "steak" as well. So it is essential to internalize this differentiation very clearly in our minds and hearts. You are lucky that you are addressing these issues at such a young age, before getting married.

PLEASE read "Day 16" through "Day 20" of the PDF file from the translations of "The First Day of the Rest of My Life" to get many more insights into the proper perspective we should have on our "Lifetime Partners". Even those of us who are married already can greatly benefit from reading these chapters, and it can help us achieve a whole new appreciation in the differentiation between a true relationship and Lust.

May Hashem help you find the right one (as soon as you finish reading those chapters! :-) 


"Me" answers Ilan on the forum:

It could be that the very word "crush" contains the answer to your question. I don't believe that this word exists in chazal. So I would venture to say, that this word is exactly that; a "crush" is where one's head is really...."crushed".

When we feel a crush, we are NOT using our minds at all, but using only our eyes and hearts to do all of the perceiving. In order to remove our heads from being in "crushed" mode, we need to use our minds. We need to move ourselves - via our minds - to a higher state of perception.

Here are some things to reflect upon in our minds:

1) The Baal Shomer Emunim says that when we see a beautiful women, we should reflect upon the fact that her beauty exists ONLY because Hashem wishes it to exist. As soon as Hashem changes his wish, this "head crushing" beauty will cease to exist. And my mind tells me as well, that the root and source of her beauty is, after all, Hashem! and NOT this mirage that I am being crushed by.

2) Her beauty is only temporary. If, for example, she would crash straight into a wall head first, she would look completely different in one second. (This reminds me of the last picture on this page - you may not wish to look at it - on GUE site. There are pictures there of peoples insides, outsides, etc. WARNING: this is the "last resort" page for people who cannot control their lusting. The last picture on the page is what is left of a pretty young girl's face after it was "crushed" in a traffic accident). However, in a relationship built on holiness, the beauty lasts no matter what happens on the outside (physically). Since it is "real", it continues on and on and is everlasting.

So if we use our minds properly, we will NOT feel a need to focus on this temporary beauty. Because we know that in truth, it is not "real" at all. The beauty we see belongs to Hashem, and as the Baal Shomer Emunim said, don't look at the woman's beauty but rather at it's root, which is the beauty of the Creator - the Artist - to whom all beauty in this world is attributed to.


YosefYakov answers Ilan:

I attended a co-ed day school, and I spent four years at an "all-American" college, all with their number of "crushes". I can only tell you that my brain circuits regarding sexuality have been "fried" forever and I am UTTERLY UNABLE to look at a good-looking woman today without being overwhelmed by the most powerful lusts.

I went today to visit somebody in a gigantic nursing home. Those who have been in a nursing home do not need to be reminded that it is quite sobering, to say the least. I am sorry for the language, but just think for a moment that many of the women there who are now demented, babbling, drooling saliva and wearing diapers that are perhaps filled with urine and other things, were once attractive maidens worthy of everybody's crushes and lusts. Just reflect for a moment: Is it for this that I will sell my soul??

This reminds me of the proverbial desert mirages depicted in cartoons, where the character thinks he sees an beautiful oasis with a palm tree, runs to it and jumps into the water, only to end up with no water and a broken nose.


My Best Friend

"Dov" answers someone's story of addiction on the forum:

Dear PFN - It was sweet reading your post, though the pain it brings up in my memory is horrible at the same time. I also told some of my story on this site in an earlier post, and I also went through the therapist and medication route. Before that, I went through the teshuva and frumkeit route. But at both of those stages, I was not yet able to use any of those tools to stay sober (not meds or therapy, and not teshuvah or frumkeit), until I started to work the 12 steps in SA. In my case, working the steps, going regularly to weekly SA meetings, getting a sponsor, and making many calls to other members, helped my life get turned around.

I'd be happy to give you all the details of my story, but for now, suffice it to say that my entire consciousness and inner life (and as much of my outer life as was possible) were about lust and nothing more. I was in a constant state of either: excitement/anticipation of when I'd act on my lust again, or depressing/exhausting fear of when I'd screw up and act on my lust again! That went on for fifteen years (beside the adolescent phase of all that).

But I digress...

I was going to a therapist because I got caught. He put me on meds and gave me "talk therapy" but I got progressively worse. I introduced him to the 12 steps in some literature that I had come by in one of my many 'bad' searches, but he (not being an addiction therapist) did not consider it worthwhile. The question he asked me was: "Look, do you want to beat this thing and get healed (which he professed he would do), or do you just want help to learn how to live with it? Cuz that's all 12 steps will give you."

Well, when I acted out (that last time) 11 years ago this past February and saw how out of control I was (married with three children at the time), I had a gift from Hashem of clear recognition that there was nothing really stopping me from taking the very next step in acting out, which would require me to throw away my entire life - family, religion, community, and everything. I saw my death looming and felt, "I need to do something - anything - to stop and stay stopped, NOW." That's when I went to an addiction therapist who connected me with SA, and I have been working the program, doing service work, making friends, and staying sober ever since.

My life and the life of my wife and children is immeasurably better now, and I have a best friend who is the answer to all my needs. It's not a picture of a woman, nor is it a woman at all - not even my wife. It is the Almighty Friend I always had, who created the world, all lust, all pleasure, all goodness, and me. He will take care of me, and as long as I do what is necessary to remain aware of him and be honest with myself, I will live a life that is made beautiful with the awareness that Hashem is with me and that everything will be OK.

So far, with a lot of help, I have not needed to reach for my drug (like I did in the past) to live. But back then, just being religious or davening was not enough for me, because I was very, very broken and very "goofy" in the head.

Now I am a sick person getting better/fixed up, not a bad person getting good.

Hope something here was helpful,


The "Action" Committee

Miribn posted once on the forum:

My Yetzer Hara is telling me that the only reason I am abstinent is because I am busy, but I know that this is not true at all. This addiction took a hold of me no matter what was happening around me. Rather, I know that I am abstinent today because Hashem is keeping me abstinent. I work the 12 steps, I daven daily to Hashem for my abstinence, and I share on this forum. That is my part, my work.  So basically, I am the "action" committee and Hashem is in the "results" committee.  I need to do my part (share, 12 steps, daven) and Hashem is doing the rest.

This beautiful post from Miri conveys one of the deepest Yesodos that we all need to internalize. The "results" are not our business, they are entirely our of our hands. Our past failures were from Hashem and we should never let ourselves dwell on them, rather get up and keep doing our part. And if we are succeeding today, it is ALSO because of Hashem - not US, so we need to stay humble and continue doing our part.

At all times, we need to be the "action" committee and leave all the "worrying" about the results for Hashem to deal with.


When we find that we are increasingly more sensitive to triggers, are we moving forwards or backwards?


Dov writes on the forum:

Once sobriety became my #1 priority and I achieved some time sober, it became precious. And to do anything that will make me lose it, is unthinkable.

Nevertheless, when I feel lust, suddenly doing the unthinkable becomes very sensible, and I actually think I need it! Even though this is truly crazy, I know beforehand that I really do work that way! But I also know that "my thoughts" are lying to me. (Some people call that "my addict" - I call it "my body").

When a lust opportunity/image/fantasy/book occur, I calmly close my eyes, avert my thoughts to Hashem and - clearly and verbally - ask Him to help me, giving Him all the credit. I might make a phone call to another program guy. My motivation to do this is; to save whatever precious sobriety and sanity I have accumulated. Also, not to have it even harder the next time, because I know I'll be even crazier/stupider next time! But to fight the lust, is out of the question. All I can do is give it up, and ask Hashem for help just to give it up, while I do that.

As time goes on, the aspect of this that gets easier is the progressive nature of this "giving up", or surrender. But on the other hand, it seems that it takes less and less to turn me on and endanger my sobriety. Not that I am trying to be on a higher madreiga at all, it just works that way. My tolerance for lust gets less and less. And as a natural result - not a choice - I undergo the above process (of surrender) on more benign lust situations.

For example, in my first year of sobriety I was able to sneak a look through a dirty book for ~ 30 seconds. It was wrong for me and made life harder (i.e. it was harder to give it up the next time), but I did do it and other things like that. Finally, it just became impossible to do if I was to remain sober, so when the thought came, I gave it up with Hashem's help, as above. Over time, giving it up got easier, but now I cannot afford to even look at clothing ads, or what I consider suggestive comics in the newspaper. Occasionally it is easier, occasionally it is more painful. But no matter what, I simply cannot look at that stuff and stay sober. It's not a choice nor a madreiga. I know I will lose my sobriety if I do it, so when the opportunity presents itself, I ask Hashem for help not to.

Of course, since it is really important to me, I take whatever steps necessary to eliminate that stuff from my environment, so that the opportunities are less likely to present themselves.


Ahron elaborates beautifully on this idea above from "Dov":

Sobriety depends on avoiding the FIRST drink, not the last. You are not sober if you merely avoid porn and masturbation (the "bottom line"). You're sober if you don't take the first drink of lust (i.e. looking). I found that if we work on sobriety, staying clean will follow, and not the other way around.

I found a huge chizuk in this, and it has helped me answer a question that has been bothering me lately... Why do I feel like I'm going backwards even though I remain clean? The answer is, because over time, as we continue to stay clean, our tolerance for lust becomes less and less. More and more situations become triggers. 

In our quest for avoiding "the first drink" we will naturally make tighter and tighter guidelines to avoid lust. Because that's how it works, it's NATURAL to feel like we're going backwards. We ask ourselves: "I wasn't tempted by this yesterday, why am I tempted today? Am I slipping?"  NO!  You're not slipping, you're IMPROVING.  And as a result, your tolerance level has declined, so you're now tempted by a formerly "innocent" trigger.


"London" continues this thread:

I am going thorough this exact phase now. B"H I am slowly recovering from a relapse and getting in sober days now. But as I pull back from the lust, I am now becoming increasingly more sensitive to lust triggers. This is normal.

When I get triggered, I try to remember to say a quick tefillah: "thank you Hashem for reminding me how sick I am". 

My mind is slowly emptying out of all this muck, grime and trash, and I now have the capacity to replace it with love for my wife & children, Torah and Tefillah. Since I have now started to get sober, I have noticed that my chayshek (desire) for learning Gemara has increased. 

I will share though, that today (on Shabbos) I struggled after shul and at a Kiddush I went to, with lust triggers. But I was able to share this with someone who is understanding of my issues, and after Shabbos I called another member and shared again. A few weeks ago, I would not have been bothered by this and would have almost automatically gone right into lust and fantasy, but today that I am sober and working my recovery program, I have a choice. And B"H today I chose to stay sober, and not to lust after these women.


"Rashkebehag" posted on this thread:

This morning I was driving down a side street and ahead of me was jogging a female dressed provocatively, an unusual sight in my neighborhood, and I wasn't ready for it. Normally I would have looked as I got closer, but now that I am in touch with you all, I said, "Whoa!" and averted my gaze.


Dov shares his amazement with Rashkebehag and London:

These shares above - from London and Rashkebahag, depict the real program. This is real recovery in action!

My disease is "wacko", too. When presented with a lust opportunity, I sometimes feel like "THIS is just a little thing, this is not what they are talking about when they say "lust" or "a first drink"... As if there are supposed to be trumpet blasts or bad music in the background when a "real" lust trigger comes along to signal it to me! Ha! But it's true, I really think that way, sad to say.

But lucky for me there are enough other people around me "losing it" over "little things". That makes it less necessary for me to experiment.


Researching Recovery Before We Start; Wise or OtherWise?


Bruce posted on the forum:

OK folks, I have to shamefully announce yet again that I had a fall this weekend. Perhaps it is the final push of the Y'H before I start the 90 day challenge. He knows I'll make it, so he's trying to delay it. And he did a good job, too. But when I get Hell-bent on something I ALWAYS see it through to the end. I don't quit, I don't give up or let up until it's through.

But I realized something: I'm the kind of guy who likes to do a lot research before committing to something. For example, buying an expensive appliance. I like to educate myself about things before doing them. In this case, that meant reading through the handbooks before starting the 90 day thing. But that's a mistake.

The addiction is very costly. I'm studying for a big exam to get into grad school, but when I "act out" the whole day is shot. Quality of studying basically doesn't exist. Not good. But I need to stop this behavior for reasons that are bigger than this exam. I need to start the 90 day journey as soon as possible and read the books concurrently. Even if I fall along the way, it's better than waiting until I've read all that and then committing only once I feel I can do it all the way through. It's about taking the first step, not some quantum leap to the end.

I believe General Patton once said: "A good solution applied with vigor now, is better than a perfect solution applied ten minutes later".


Dov answers Bruce:

We all do a lot of research before committing to something big. This recovery thing is pretty big and requires a change in attitude. The attitudes I achieved through recovery, be they wise or otherwise, are among my most prized possessions.

There is nothing abnormal or stupid about what you are experiencing. We all need to reach a point at which any further research is just too costly and will need to be left to "more capable hands" to finish for us, as it were. Then we run, fall, or blunder our way into recovery...


"London" answers Bruce:

Dear Bruce,

In the UK I constantly see advertisements claiming: "100% satisfaction guaranteed or your money back!". I am sure you see them in the States too. Well, recovery does not offer 100% satisfaction, but it does offer you a life! Try it, if it does not work, we can refund you all your misery and suffering! What have you got to loose?

I too have this tendency to analyze, but look where my best thinking got me! Sometimes I have to admit defeat. I am beaten as far as this addiction goes, and I have to listen to the people who have gone before me and have been successful in overcoming this horrendous addiction. This is what AA's "12 & 12" - the guide to working the steps - says in Step 1 (replace "alcohol" with "lust"):

"Who wants to admit complete defeat? Practically no one, of course. Every natural instinct cries out against the idea of personal powerlessness. It is truly awful to admit that, glass in hand, we have warped our minds into such an obsession for destructive drinking that only an act of Providence can remove it from us. No other kind of bankruptcy is like this one. Alcohol, now become the rapacious creditor, bleeds us of all self-sufficiency and all will to resist its demands. Once this stark fact is accepted, our bankruptcy as going human concerns is complete. But upon entering A.A. we soon take quite another view of this absolute humiliation. We perceive that only through utter defeat are we able to take our first steps toward liberation and strength. Our admissions of personal powerlessness finally turn out to be firm bedrock upon which happy and purposeful lives may be built."

A few paragraphs later, the 12 & 12 says this:

"We had approached A.A. expecting to be taught self-confidence. Then we had been told that so far as alcohol is concerned, self-confidence was no good whatever; in fact, it was a total liability. Our sponsors declared that we were the victims of a mental obsession so subtly powerful that no amount of human willpower could break it."

Try working the program in bite sizes, hour by hour, day by day. Keep posting. Read the tools in the GYE Handbook and listen to the suggestions. You will be amazed by how much your life can change in a very short period of time.

In my first post on this forum approx 6 weeks ago, I was stuck in a rut and could not see any way out. But thank G-d I am now working hard on my program and getting sober again, one day at a time. And I can tell you that the mental fuzz - the foggy cloud - that was my constant companion, is slowly leaving. And the cravings and the obsession to act out are also slowly leaving me.

Keep coming back.



A "Love Letter" From Our Addiction:

Dear Friend,

I have come to visit once again. I love to see you suffer mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially. I want to make you restless so you can never relax. I want to make you jumpy, nervous, and anxious. I want to make you agitated and irritable so everything and everybody makes you uncomfortable.

I want you to be confused and depressed, so that you can't think clearly and positively. I want you to feel guilty and remorseful for the things you have done in the past and you'll never be able to let go of. I want to make you angry and hateful toward the world for the way it is and the way you are. I want you to feel sorry for yourself and blame everything but me for the way things are. I want you to be deceitful and untrustworthy and to manipulate and con as many people as possible. I want to make you feel fearful and paranoid for no reason at all. I want to make you wake up all hours of the night screaming for me. You know you can't sleep without me, I'm even in your dreams. I want to be the first thing you think about every morning and the last thing you think about before you black-out.

I'd rather kill you, but I'd be happy enough to put you back in the hospital, another institution, or jail. But you know that I'll be waiting for you when you get out. I love to watch you slowly go insane. I can't help but sneer and chuckle when you shiver and shake; when you freeze and sweat at the same time; when you wake up with the sheets and blankets soaking wet. It's amusing to watch you ignore yourself; not eating, not sleeping, not even attending your personal hygiene.

Yes, it's amazing how much destruction I can be to your internal organs while at the same time working on your brain, destroying it bit by bit.

I deeply appreciate how much you are sacrificing for me. The countless good jobs you have given up for me; all the friends that you deeply cared for, you gave up for me.

And what's more, the ones you turned yourself against because of your inexcusable actions. I am eternally grateful, especially for the loved ones, family and the more important people in the world that you have turned yourself against. You threw even those away for me!

But do not despair, my friend, for on me you can always depend. After you have lost all these things, you can still depend on me to take even more. You can depend on me to keep you in living HELL, mind, body, and soul. For I will not be satisfied until you ARE DEAD, my friend.

Forever Yours,

Your Addiction


Pleasure vs. Happiness

Kedusha posted today on the forum:

Hello to all, just wanted to share the news that I've decided to aim for a life of pleasure. The question is, how to achieve that, by giving into lust and inappropriate sexual desire? I know from experience, that after experiencing some brief pleasure, I am totally miserable and it takes days just to BEGIN recovering. So it seems clear, that whatever it means to live a life of pleasure will require me to stay clean and sober, one day at a time. The truth is, I don't think a life of pleasure is really the goal. A life of happiness - of "Simcha shel Mitzvah" - is really the way to go.

Thank you Kedusha for this inspiring post; you hit the nail on the head! It is not "pleasure" that we really seek, it is "Happiness" that we all want. When we confuse the two, we have difficulty breaking free of our addictions. But when we internalize that true inner happiness is really the greatest pleasure that a human can achieve, we aim for a whole different life-style!


Rav Noach Weinburg Defines Pleasure vs. Happiness

I would like to share with everyone an inspiring Shiur by Rav Noach Weinburg called "The Five Levels of Pleasure" where he beautifully defines what pleasure is really all about, and he helps us decide on our own what type of pleasures we really want out of our lives. (Download the Shiur in MP3 format by right-clicking on the link and choosing "Save Target/Link As")


Rabbi Avraham Twersky Defines Pleasure vs. Happiness

Rabbi Avraham Twersky, a renowned psychiatrist who has written over 50 books dealing with human psychology, tackles happiness verses depression in his new book, "Happiness and Human Spirit: What Happiness is All About, and Why it is Important for You."
Rabbi Twerski was interviewed by Arutz 7's Tovia Singer about his new book and the secret to true happiness. You can download the entire interview over here (Download the MP3 file by right-clicking on the link and choosing "Save Target/Link As").

I would like to bring some excerpts from the interview:

Tovia Singer:  How can a person find true happiness?
R. Avraham Twersky:  A person cannot truly be happy unless he is complete.  For example, if someone is lacking in iron, he will have iron deficiency and symptoms of illness.  Now, a person is more than a body.  There is something more that makes us human other than the fact that we walk on two legs. 
The things that make us human are a number of unique traits that animals do not have. We are the only living things that have the ability to be humble. We are the only living things that can make ethical and moral choices, even in defiance of our bodily drives. We have the ability to improve ourselves, to be compassionate, to have perspective for the future, to search for truth, and to have a goal in life. All of these make us into human beings.
If we do not use these traits, we are incomplete, and incomplete human beings cannot be happy. When we lack these character traits and have this chronic unhappiness, we desperately look for things that will make us feel better. One may find comfort in alcohol, the other seeks it in drugs, gambling, sex, food, pursuit of money, etc. We look for many things to get rid of chronic unhappiness, but our chronic unhappiness is due to our being deficient in key areas.
Now please note that even though I am a Rabbi, and even though I have taught religion, I am now functioning as a psychiatrist and I am talking about being spiritual. I don't ask a patient about his religion. That is a private thing. However, as a physician, I want to make sure they have all the necessary nutrients for their bodies that makes them human beings, which I refer to as a spirit. The spirit is not a religious concept. That's why I say that happiness depends on developing the qualities of the human spirit.
Tovia Singer:  You speak about self-esteem. That is a very important message in all your work.  What does that really mean?  Let's say there are folks who are listening to the show right now who sometimes feel this sense of depression inside. They feel worthless. Is that the trapping of what brings people into a life without coping and happiness?
R. Avraham Twersky:  I have gone on record as saying that if mental illnesses and emotional problems which are due to chemical imbalances are excluded, all the rest can be traced to the fact that people lack self-esteem. A person should have a true self-awareness.
What is unfortunate is that most people underestimate themselves. They have negative feelings about themselves. I wrote so much about this because for 38 years of my life, I suffered because I was not aware of myself. I lacked self-esteem, and I did not give myself the credit I was due. (Listen to Rabbi Twerski talk about his own struggle with self-esteem in THIS GREAT SPEECH).

I pointed out in my books that having self-esteem does not mean being vain. In fact, I quote Rabbeinu Yonah, one of the great ethicists of 1000 years ago. He says that vanity is simply a desperate defense by a person who feels worthless, to give himself some kind of good feeling.
I believe that we should come to a true self-awareness. As I have said, a person without a purpose can't have too much self-esteem because of the things that we value. We value things either because of their function or because of their aesthetic value. Not many people have an aesthetic value. We're not all that good looking. Our selfish being has to be based on our function. What is our function? If our function is merely to go through a day's work, kick off our shoes, and sit in front of the TV with a couple of bottles of beer, that is not any kind of edifying function. We can't get self-esteem from that.
Self-esteem means developing a purpose in life, living our life to the fullest and not like an animal. Animals are not motivated by anything other than self-gratification.  Animals, other than pet dogs, do not know how to get out of their skin. What makes us human beings - and this is why our forefather Abraham emphasized chesed [kindness] so much - is that to be a true human being, one has to be able to do chesed to get out of himself. He needs to do kind things for other people. A person can be a mentsh - a spiritual being - but not with animal traits.

If people will begin looking for a purpose in life, they may not find it in a day or a week, but they will eventually find a real purpose over and above seeking pleasure. Pleasure is fine, and I don't deny anybody the pleasures of life, but I don't think that we were created simply to have pleasure. We were created to find our purpose.

And by finding and LIVING in our purpose, we are able to achieve TRUE Happiness.


To view a transcript of the entire interview, see this page.

'Happiness and Human Spirit' is available for purchase on