Guard Your Eyes

GuardUrEyes
A website for Jews struggling to maintain their moral purity in today's world
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501.


A Few Important Announcements:

1) We hope to launch the new website at guardyoureyes.org this Friday Iy"h. The old site, guardureyes.com, will remain on-line and the new site will have links to the material and tools on the old site as well. The new website will have many new features Iy"h, and it will hopefully be updated daily with new articles, stories and tips, in a variety of 10 different categories. (Not everything there will be functional yet as of Friday, but we hope that most of the site will be functional already).

From today's Chizuk e-mail (#501) and on, we will be storing the daily e-mails in the database of the new website - as you can see in this example, instead of on the pages of the old site (such as this last page here).

Please help us pay for the continued web development of the new site, so we can reach thousands of more Yidden who need help. Make a donation today or tomorrow IN HONOR OF THE LAUNCH. To donate, please see the right side of the page on the new website for various PayPal options, or ask us how you can donate anonymously and get a tax deductible receipt!

2) We would like to draw your attention to two new boards on the forum. One of them is for "Accountability Groups", and one of them is for "Working the GYE Handbook".

3) Also, please see today's announcement over here about a new phone conference starting soon, with a professional addiction therapist on the line.

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"Surrender" & the Art of Capturing Monkeys

Hoping posted on the forum:

I don't know if this is true, but I just read this:

"African hunters have a clever way of trapping monkeys.

They slice a coconut in two, hollow it out, and in one half of the shell cut a hole just big enough for a monkey's hand to pass through. Then they place an orange in the other coconut half before fastening together the two halves of the coconut shell. Finally, they secure the coconut to a tree with a rope, retreat into the jungle, and wait.

Sooner or later, an unsuspecting monkey swings by, smells the delicious orange, and discovers its location inside the coconut. The monkey then slips his hand through the small hole, grasps the orange, and tries to pull it through the hole. Of course, the orange won't come out; it's too big for the hole. To no avail the persistent monkey continues to pull and pull, never realizing the danger he is in.

While the monkey struggles with the orange, the hunters simply stroll in and capture the monkey by throwing a net over him. As long as the monkey keeps his fist wrapped around the orange, the monkey is trapped.

It's too bad the poor monkey could save its own life if it would only let go of the orange. It rarely occurs to a monkey, however, that it can't have both the orange and its freedom. That delicious orange becomes a deadly trap".

I realized that the difference between humans and animals does not lie in the fact that animals have such strong instincts; humans have some of the same types of instincts. The difference is our ability to let go of the "orange". Every person has their own "orange", and it our job to recognize it for the trap that it is and just 'let go'.

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"London" posts to "Hoping":

Dear Hoping,


What a sad and amazing story at the same time! The SA White book brings this same story in Step 1, and I will quote the preceding chapter:

"Before finally giving up, we had tried one or the other of two options: On the one hand, we expressed our obsession by acting it out. On the other hand, we tried suppressing it by drinking, drugging, eating or by fighting it with white-knuckle will power. And with what a show of promises and resolutions! Many of us switched from acting out to suppression, back and forth. Neither option brought us the peace we sought so desperately. Expressing the obsession made it progress relentlessly, on and on, and suppressing it only made the pressure build inside until something had to give. We never knew there was another option - surrender. What a beautiful word to those of us who do it! Surrender is letting go!"

And after the monkey story, the White-book continues:

"Merely knowing and admitting we were powerless over lust, or whatever form our acting out took, didn't help until we gave up our right to do and let it go.  There was no mistaking this change of heart when it happened; we knew and those about us knew. There is no faking surrender. And thank G-d, when we did give up and stop fighting, He was always there, waiting with open arms. Instead of killing us as we had feared, surrender killed the compulsion!"

For me the solution is simple, as above, but as I have been told, it's simple but hard.  But with tools like this forum, it makes the battle so much easier.

London

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 Dov responds:

Heche'yisoni! You have breathed new life into me with this concept. It just so happens that I really need lots of help today, as I am feeling very low. It is hard for me to admit that I need to take rather than give. On take mode, I am very, very uncomfortable. Today - for b"H the first time in a long time, I felt - at times - just a few steps away from acting out.

Thanks for your support,

Dov

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Thank you Dov, for reminding us how this disease doesn't go away. But if we use it in the way that it was intended by Hashem and in the way that we all witness how YOU use it every day i.e. as a spring-board to a very close relationship with your Father in Heaven - your "eternal friend", then this disease is really a blessing in disguise. And in that case, the fact that it doesn't go away is ALSO a blessing in disguise! So let the reminder today that it's not going away give you JOY!

We love you Dov. Keep keeping us strong!

P.S. For some help when feeling down, please re-read yesterday's Chizuk e-mail (#500 on the bottom of this page) and see also Chizuk e-mail #428 on this page.

502.


Torah or the 12-Steps?

We all know that Chazal tell us how Torah is an anecdote against the Yetzer Hara and that learning Torah protects us even during the times that we are not learning. The question is, why didn't our Torah learning protect so many of us in our struggle with lust addiction? And what secrets do the "12-Steps" have that our (obviously defective) approach to Torah learning wasn't able to give us? Are the 12-Steps just a "technique", or do they hold some intrinsic "holiness" as well?

In a lively discussion on this thread on the forum, members debated and shared their enlightening and inspiring views about how the 12-Steps and Torah learning are not at all mutually exclusive in our struggle with Yetzer Hara.

Although there were so many amazing posts on this topic, I would like to share today one of Dov's posts. I chose Dov because his addiction was one of the most advanced of anyone on our forum, and yet, he's sober already for 11 years!

Besides for being quite a Talmid Chacham, Dov's honesty, humility, wisdom and hashkafa are inspiring us every day on the forum.

We love you brother Dov. Don't you EVER leave us!

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Dov writes:

Hi Brothers!

Although I use the 12-Steps in my recovery, I do not accept that I have fallen off the wagon and am lost from the derech Hashem for me.

The advanced level that my addiction reached - and the ensuing 12 steps, seem to be - in retrospect - the only way I could have "found Hashem and myself". Yes, perhaps if I had learned more Torah and had had more mesiras nefesh I may have merited to accomplish the same thing without the steps, but this is not the way Hashem did it for me! I did try, and lost. I choose to believe that this was my destiny. It may not be yours, but so what?

What my experience has taught me is that I - and many others I know - learned Torah rather well while they were addicts. I gave a shiur in Mishna for Kiruv while in the midst of the very worst part of my addiction, sometimes even acting out the very same night. Some people (like me) would either learn Torah and soon afterward shock themselves at how fast and far they could fall; or first fall deeply and very soon afterward feel a religious high. Sadly, the high gave me a kind of "condolence" for my acting out, and in the long run it allowed me to "save face" enough to continue my stupid struggle. Here was a man proudly standing against a tsunami wave; what an idiot.

But I did not know any better and I really thought that I was supposed to struggle and be patient. Patient - as my relationship with my wife deteriorated under the weight of my mounting secrets; Patient - as I became well-learned in my twisted brand of "avodas Hashem" that was all about a new kind of "veHachayos Ratzo Vashov": looking at porn, lying, chasing lust, more lying, hiding and acting out, and then I would come (really) screaming and crying to Hashem, "Take me back!" Ach and Vei. Not exactly the type of "Ratzo Vashov" that the Malachim are doing around the Merkavah, is it?

So no, learning Torah as an "active addict" did not seem to "protect" me from my addiction. If anything, it made it worse at that time.

However, I do not accept that most people are addicts. I do not accept that Dovid Hamelech struggled with addiction, though he surely knew of it like he knew of every other type of suffering, L"A. I do not think that normal people are really made for the 12 steps, as presented in the AA literature. The actual implementation of the Steps (i.e. "working them" - not just reading them) usually seems to be unnecessarily heavy for normal people.

My wish is for everybody to be free of addiction and have all the fruits of the program without needing to "work" the steps. But it sure is nice for me to finally feel (at least some connection to):

  • really living (at least a bit) for Hashem,
  • (some) freedom from fear,
  • Emunah that really works,
  • usefulness to people (often),
  • a close (and growing) relationship with my Eternal and True Friend,
  • and let's not forget - good old Sanity!
     

I needed the 12-Steps for all this and - as I was - I could not get it from Torah. Theoretically, maybe it's unfortunate for me, but I choose not to accept that. You don't win a battle with a dirge, but you go ahead to victory with lively marching music! So it is a good thing that many of us in the groups just accept the facts as they are on the ground, hold our heads high, and grow using this path as though our very lives depend on it. It may. At that point, it is certainly a precious and holy derech of Hashem for us!

B"H today I rarely feel I am fighting. When I do have a temptation in lust, I choose not to look at it as a "Yetzer Hara" issue. I view it like a "little tentacle" of the beast of my addiction. The Yetzer Hara had total and relentless control of my life and that approach seemed to be a sure bet for keeping it that way! Now, B"H, it's "body" is locked in a "dungeon" guarded by Hashem, until He decides to "recycle" it - bimheira beyamieinu.

In the meantime though, it's tentacles are still dangerous, having a connection to the beast and can destroy me totally, though they now appear to be weaker and thinner (just a "thin string", if you will), but bitter. Till today, I use the same tools in the same way as I always did from the very beginning. Today it's just faster usually, and not as big a deal as it used to be. (Occasionally, like the last day or two, it has been scary. But Nu, what do you expect from an addict? B'H I'm feeling better, and your support is appreciated)!

Along the way, some people think that because of the way I share and frame/describe my challenges, that I am still listening to or watching or running after shmutz or acting out just like before! Although this is B"H not the case, I know I need to face it the same way as Dov-the-newbie, or I'll trip, get stuck, fool myself, act out, and eventually - die. (I once sat through a long verbal thrashing about selfishness because I shared that I believed in some way that I was still selfish and disrespectful to my wife. Phew! The guy had 2 years of sobriety and I had five, but I kept me mouth shut tight, even afterward. Who knows, maybe it was good for me!)  Better to be a (safe) fool in peoples eyes for a few minutes than to Hashem (permanently).


I have no evidence that I will ever be cured. I do not know if what they say: "Once an addict, always an addict" is true. I just choose to apply it to myself for lack of a reason not to. I assume I'll be going to meetings till I die, which is good because it seems I am more pleasant to live with when I have meetings in my life. And I get to help addicts too, just by being there. If I somehow become certain that I am cured, I may not go to meetings any more and I hope to let you and others know. If you think you are cured, gezunterheit, and I will assume you are right until proven otherwise. (But it is not clear to me exactly what the litmus test would be though; feeling cruddy? acting out once? a pattern? arrest?)

My goal in life is to be a pure and total eved Hashem. I know this deep in my heart. But most of the 12 steps are truly Derech Eretz Kodmah LaTorah as far as I am concerned. The 11th Step ("We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out"), it seems, is about moving on from the steps and truly starting your life as a Yid (in my case), no?

Is the 3rd step (turning our will and our lives over to the care of God) Kriyas Sh'ma? Yes, in retrospect. But I could not - and would not - have "gotten it" from that, had you taught it to me that way. I had been saying kriyas sh'ma all those years in addiction and yet in my mind, Hashem still wasn't truly in charge enough, He wasn't on my side enough, and He wasn't able to help me enough, as far as I was concerned, and I wasn't able to really trust Him. It was all too complicated in my experience of Yiddishkeit.

I had to hear and learn all that in a different way
. I had to get off the 18-wheeler (or airplane, helicopter, whatever!) and get on a nice, quiet bicycle with training wheels. That's the 12 steps. Simple, focused, and real.

Now, certainly Torah is the ikkar and hopefully a frum recovering addict will be able to maintain enough sanity to make Torah the ikkar and grow in it. But unfortunately I have met some who can't yet. Let's daven for them, that they should have what we have too.

Hoping some of this megilah was helpful, 
Dov

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Dearest Dov, your posts are so beautiful they bring tears to my eyes!

I think to sum it all up, we can say that the 12-Steps teach us how to live and think right. But "Living and thinking right" is not the end goal in itself. Perhaps for a non-Jew it is, but for a Jew, we can go much higher. But how can we start with XYZ before learning ABC? Once we know ABC, we can take that WITH US into the XYZ. We need to take this honesty, humility, selflessness, and this close connection to Hashem that we learned in ABC - into our TORAH as well. And if we do this, then our Torah and Avodah become truly powerful, much more than before; they become nuclear weapons against the Yetzer Hara!

503.


Miri Shares
[The grey parentheses below are not Miri's words]

I want to share today a few wonderful things that have come about for me through this program of 12 steps. I feel like I have not shared in a while and so I will do some "service" and share my "experience, strength and hope."

My life has completely changed since I started working the 12 steps and going to OA meetings. The Big Book has "the promises" and the list is very lengthy and unbelievable [see chizuk e-mail #493 on this page for some of the "promises"]. I never thought that I could have peace and serenity. I never thought I could have ANY of the promises in the Big Book. But since I started, a little over 19 months ago, I have to say that some of these promises are truly starting to come true.

I have to say that I work very hard for my abstinence. I started the 12 step program for my food addiction (19 months and 11 days of back to back abstinence from sugar, sugar substitutes, wheat, flour products and volume) and now I am counting my abstinence from lust (39 days current back to back abstinence) [after a streak of 70 days before that!]. I no longer read dirty material, watch anything that may suggest lust on the computer and other related things. BARUCH HASHEM.

I have such peace of mind and my self esteem is so much better now because I no longer beat myself up for being a two faced person/Jew. The obsession has been lifted and I can now be the real ME.

Anyway, I really wanted to share how the fourth step (which is the step I am working on now - and plowing through...) has affected my life, and the way I think and view things.

I work the steps using the "big Book Awakening" workbook in conjunction with the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. The fourth step ["We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves"] is grueling to say the least. Unfortunately, I have been sitting on this step for a few month now because it was SO painful to do, I was only able to do a tiny bit at a time, once or twice a week, UNTIL I started to daven. I want to share with you the davening I say before and after I work the fourth step (which I now I have been doing Monday through Friday): This is what I say before I start:  

"Hashem, I am here to write an inventory. Please help me face and be rid of the things that are blocking me from You, myself and others. Please help me to see the truth, and please, when it is time to stop writing, help me to stop, and to be able to live my life today."

When I finish working on the fourth step for that day (I do about 10 to 15 minutes daily) I say:

"Hashem, I have to go back to my life now. Please, help me to leave this inventory with you for now. Keep it in your hands. Give me Your grace to go back to my day and to not hurt those around me because of the struggles I am facing. I am supposed to be getting rid of self-centeredness, but I can't do that without You. This has really got me, I am feeling it. Please, HELP!"  

Once I daven this, it is SO much easier - it is a miracle how it works for me.

Anyway, just an example of a fourth step that I was working on, that I think people here on this forum may relate to, is my resentment towards my husband for not giving me enough attention. When I worked through that resentment, doing it the way it shows me in the Big Book Awakening, I have "learned" a few things:

1) My fears are that he does not care or love me (which I know are not true).
2) I also fear that I am not good enough and not deserving of his attention (deep down I know that is not true either).
3) I learned that I too am not giving him enough attention in other ways! And besides, I don't give enough attention to others who deserve my attention too. And my excuse??? I am only a human being!


Once I realized that I too am lacking in those areas that I am resentful for, and once I realize that my fears are just "fears" and not reality, the resentment becomes almost nonexistent!  

Today, a relative of mine called me, telling me how angry she feels against someone.  It had to do with money, and she was determined to do her very best to recover that money, and she was seething mad.

I told her that it is a very uncomfortable and distressing situation and she needs to do her very best Hishtadlus to get her money back, BUT, the "results" need to be left to Hashem. Once she realized that the results (having her money back or not) is truly determined by Hashem, she calmed down!

This is how I am these days. I look at my life and what I do - I am on the "action committee" and Hashem is the "results" committee. I am so much more at peace because Hashem is a reality for me. I feel Hashem is holding me every step of the way throughout my day, and somehow I feel Hashem's love for me and it is a feeling that I treasure.

I would not have all this and much more without my abstinence. I know that every day that I have abstinence from my addictions it is a true gift from Hashem.

My mind and heart are free and open to receive Hashem and feel His love for me, because my brain is not fogged from the food or busy with lust.

My life is far from perfect. I have challenges all the time - with my kids, family, health, financially, etc. etc.  BUT today, I am not consumed with worry or nerves.  Today, I am not burying myself and escaping through my addictions. Today I have peace and serenity because I know that Hashem is with me 100%.

I never liked to "feel" my feelings. This is why I ate over everything. And that is why why I was watching movies and reading books, for hours on end. I wanted to escape from my feelings and from reality.  

Today I do not escape. I feel my feelings and many times it can be very uncomfortable. But today I know that it is OK to feel. "Feelings" will not kill me. I do not need to escape, because it will pass.

Another wonderful thing that has happened to me, is that I see Hashem's hand in my life EVERY SINGLE DAY! I constantly see Hashem's help in my life! I am SO grateful for that - THANK YOU HASHEM FOR OPENING MY EYES TO SEE YOUR GOODNESS!

Thank you to whoever read through this megila. It is a service for me to share because it reinforces my recovery.

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Miri's post reminds me of something I once saw posted on an Arutz Sheva talkback. The guy wrote:

Many find themselves in destructive behavior when they feel pain and don't see a way out. When I felt pain, I wanted a way to avoid it ...which only took me further from reality. 
It's OK to sit with pain ... it's better than the mind-numbing behaviors that remove us from the world. 
Thank G-d that we FEEL AGAIN! ... even if it's pain. 
Be assured that you are making progress!

504.


The Keys to the Dungeon

"Chaim Duvid" shares - and offers to start a phone group for step work with GYE members! (see the bottom of this e-mail)

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In yesterday's Chizuk e-mail, Miri shared with us the amazing progress she is experiencing by working the 12-Steps, particularly the 4th step, which reads: "We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves".

One of the members of our daily Chizuk e-mails, "Duvid Chaim" - who is sober in SA for a few years and acts today as a sponsor with others - wrote us the following inspiring e-mail in response:


I appreciated Miri's Sharing about completing the 4th Step. I remember how difficult it was for me as well. How could I actually put down on paper all the history and "stories" that I had that I considered to be so shameful? And how could I possibly share it with another person; my sponsor; who was practically a stranger??

I even remember telling my sponsor that I was such a happy and easy going person that I didn't have any resentments! After he stopped laughing, he asked me to be really honest with MYSELF.

And that's when it really hit me. It wasn't bad enough that I being deceitful with my wife, my children and my friends, but I was also lying to MYSELF! Yes, I couldn't even tell the truth to myself. It was as if I had taken my poor Neshama and locked it in a dungeon - in solitary confinement, far away from the light.

My sponsor told me - and I share this with others today - that each of the 12 Steps is like a KEY. A key that unlocks the dungeon in which we incarcerated our Neshama. Each Step is a KEY that gives us the freedom and the light to achieve sustainable and progressive recovery from our addiction. Each Step is a KEY that opens the door to make room in our lives for Hashem. (In case you think you are already so religious and have Hashem in your life, just read chapter 4 of the Big Book called "We Agnostics").

Once I started working B'Emes - with real honesty - on my resentments, I found that I filled up two pages on my Resentment worksheet. And then, as if I was having an out-of-body experience, I (a man of great emunah-or so I thought) completely filled up multiple sheets on the Fear worksheet. And I don't have to tell you how many ugly and regret-full experiences ended up on my Sex-Conduct Worksheet!

And when I was done, I felt like I had tossed a huge weight off my back. Like the story in the Gemara about the man who placed a baby calf on his shoulders without any big deal. And he fed the calf while it was still on his shoulders. And as the calf grew, so did the man's strength and ability to keep the growing calf on his shoulders. With the passage of time, the calf grew into an ox. Yet thanks to the gradual growth of the cow and the man's "conditioning" that allowed him the carry the weight; he spent a lifetime walking around with a huge ox on his shoulders.

The "ox" in our lives is the lustful addiction that we carry on our shoulders. It grew over time, starting off like a sweet innocent calf and then becoming the nightmarish burden that most of us resign ourselves into thinking that we can never get rid of. And who's surprised? Not only was the calf (addiction) growing into an ox, but so was the "acceptance" and resignation of our condition growing along with it.

Fortunately for us, the 12 Step Program gives us the tools and the Keys to unload this burden from our shoulders and give it over the Ba'al Ha'Milchama - the Master of Wars - who can carry this - and any - burden we have, as long as WE LET HIM.

So to Miri I shout: "Yasher Koach on working the 4th Step. Be honest. Unload your Burden. Feel the Freedom, and enjoy the Light!"

"Keep coming back!"

With warm regards,

Duvid Chaim

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Duvid Chaim prepared an SA - 4th Step Worksheet for "Resentment, Fears and Sexual Conduct". You can download it here in PDF format (right-click and select "Save Link/Target As"). And for all you Excel Spreadsheet mavens out there, download the Excel version over here (hit "print preview" to see the headings). Duvid Chaim says that he prefers this form to handwriting, since he can make changes and additions to it, and then use it for Step 10 as well (which is: "We continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, we promptly admitted it").

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IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT

At our urgings, Duvid Chaim has offered to guide a group of GYE members in step-work. Please send us an e-mail to let us know if you want to join. Here is what he wrote:

I suggest we start by "testing the waters" and offering a phone conference call Monday through Thursday at either 11am or Noon Central Standard time. We could aim for a target date of say, Monday, July 27th, and see if we can get 6 guys to commit to this.

The call would start with the Big Book on Roman numeral xiii (13) and continue 4 days a week until we complete page 103. It would be a Big Book "text-based" book study "bi'Chavrusa" to include Step 4 Inventory work when we get to it. I'll act as the Sponsor and help the guys get through the readings. At best, we'll do about 3 pages per call, sometimes less. Once we get to page 67, we could have the participants fill in our 4th Step Spreadsheet (see links above) and email it back to us. We would then have "private" calls with each participant to go over the Sheets.

Although long-distance step work is perhaps not the "ideal" way, the origins of the 12 Steps actually depended on long distance interaction with the sponsor. So this can hopefully still work well, be"h.

I'm optimistic that we can make a difference in these men's lives. I look forward to seeing if we can work together to be of maximum service to your GYE group. (It's an amazing community - you should be blessed with much light yourself for all your hard work!)

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"Swine Flu" and Tikkun Ha'olam

Duvid Chaim's name (above) reminded me of something I saw in the news today... Please daven for Chaim Duvid ben Leah, critically ill from Swine Flu. May today's e-mail be a Meilitz Yosher and a merit for his Refuah Shleimah.

What can we learn from the worldwide swine flue pandemic? "Ain Puraniyos Ba Le'olam Ela Bishvil Yisrael", no suffering comes to the world that isn't somehow connected to - or a lesson for - the Jewish people.

We don't profess to know Hashem's inner workings, but the fact that this disease originated with swine can perhaps be a lesson to mankind about the level of 'treifkeit" that fills the world today in our licentious and promiscuous generation. This disease, which came from the most treif and dirty animals, has entered into mankind! And just like people can't go out without face-masks today in many parts of the world because of the swine-flu, we can't go out into the streets today without a cover over our faces for other reasons as well!


I am sure that the merit of the guardyoureyes community is standing as a counter weight to this international pandemic. And the more we continue to strengthen ourselves in these areas, the more we are purifying the entire world along with us.

505.


Welcome Back Boruch!

Who is Boruch? Well, for those of you who are new to our network, we called him "our 12-Step Expert" and we cherished his long and brilliant posts on the forum. Boruch was quoted in tens of Chizuk e-mails in the past, most noticeably in e-mails #439 - #450 on this page.

When Boruch first joined our forum, he was thoroughly convinced that the 12-Steps were not for him - or for any of us for that matter. He came onto the forum blasting against the 12-Steps, claiming that they were counter-intuitive and had been born out of another religion, while we Yidden have Chazal who teach us clearly how to do Teshuvah.

Well, one day Boruch broke the news of his addiction to his therapist and was given the suggestion to try the 12-Step groups - just once. Boruch was determined to do all he could to break his addiction, and if that was what his therapist asked him to do, Boruch agreed to try it.

Today, Boruch is a changed man. He has become the most ardent advocate of the 12-Steps and is working them into his life through the groups with a passion.

Boruch is extremely intelligent and also a big Talmid Chacham, so we asked him to lead a group of members on our network and teach them how to implement the 12-Steps into their lives. As a matter of fact, in Tool #14 of the GYE Handbook, we implied that our network would soon be starting an entire division based on the 12-Steps and "Step work", and Boruch had agreed to help lead it. Unfortunately though, Boruch disappeared for a while as he was diligently working on himself along with his sponsors and with others (sponsees), and we weren't sure if and when he would come back - until TODAY.

Ironically, just yesterday, we announced a venue for "step work" with the help of another valuable member of our network, Chaim Duvid. Now that Boruch is back, I believe that both Chaim Duvid AND Boruch can work together and compliment each other's contributions to this important project. We will definitely need them BOTH, as the new GYE 12-Step division is sure to grow and will need many competent 12-Step experts such as Chaim Duvid and Boruch (maybe Dov, Elya and "London" too - if they agree) to help guide us along. Just for example, Chaim Duvid is more of a "phone guy" and "Boruch" is great "on-line", so we may be able to use Chaim Duvid for the phone conferences and Boruch for the "on-line" step work. We'll see how this will work out, one step at a time.

Meanwhile, who ever is interested in working the 12-Steps into their lives without having to actually join live meetings (as detailed in Tool #14 of the GYE handbook), please contact us as we try put together various groups and find what works best for everyone.

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After a long break of absence, here is Boruch's inspiring post on the forum:

Shalom All,

It is fantastic after such a prolonged absence to be able to come back here to GYE where everything started for me. B"H today I have 147 days of sobriety and here is the miracle Hashem has done for me:

I joined Sexaholics Anonymous (SA) 137 days ago and I knew then that I was mentally and physically sick. My wife and I had been seeing therapists on and off for 12 years. I was on medication and was going regularly to a counselor for therapy. My wife suffered from serious depression and she too was going to therapy. We had tried going to the same therapist but her therapist had thrown me out and so I had to get my own. 

I was seriously overweight. I was down in weight from my all time high but I was eating crazier than ever, going from fasting to binging on the same day and I suffered from high blood pressure. My sleeping was all over the map. Even after I was sober and had stopped acting out I would stay up at least two entire nights every week only to go to work feeling half dead and stay at work the entire day and late into the next night until I would collapse.

My life had ground to a halt amid severe financial paranoia. I was unable to get involved with money at all. I had not recorded at all of any of the checks I had written over the last two to three years. On a daily basis, I was totally unaware of my bank balance and would write checks anyway. I had no concept of how much money I owed Credit Card companies. I was chronically late in paying bills, including credit card bills. The simplest tasks that in minutes would have moved desperately needed money into my bank account to prevent overdraft charges were totally beyond my reach, and in the space of a few months I had racked up a thousand dollars in overdraft fees alone. I ran a small online business on the side that had promise, but I had just totally stopped processing any of the sales. At work I had also ground to a halt.

Therapy for both myself and my wife was going nowhere. We were totally stuck. I needed an absolute miracle to recover and so did she. 

But I never joined SA for any of that, I did not and could not have believed that SA could help me in those areas. I joined SA for one reason only - I wanted to get sober from my addiction. I never knew that  Hashem would guide me to an SA sponsor who would take me several times through all 12 Steps of SA. I never dreamed that after doing my hishtadlus (effort) in following my sponsor's guidance on Step Taking, I would experience the miracle of Hashem's healing in a way that I could never have imagined.

Today, 137 days later, I am off medication and have never felt better. With the guidance of my SA sponsor and the blessing of my therapist, I no longer need therapy and I am calmer and happier than I have ever been. After I was 65 days in SA, I disclosed my addiction to my wife and she joined S-Anon and later changed therapists at the recommendation of a fellow S-Anon member. Be'Chasdei Hashem her depression has lifted and last week she had her last therapy session with the blessing of her new therapist, and we are now - one day at a time - getting closer to each other than we have ever been.

Today, without any struggling at all, I eat three full nutritious and balanced meals a day and I have lost over 25 lbs since 3 days before Pesach, for a total loss of over a full quarter of my body weight, from my all-time high of 225 lb over a year ago. My blood pressure is now text-book 120 over 80. And as a rule, Boruch Hashem, I now get a decent night's sleep every night of the week.

Today, for the first time ever, my wife and I have a daily record-keeping of everything we spend and earn. I know exactly how much I owe and to whom. With Hashem's help, one day at a time, we are now working towards earning wiser, spending wiser and with Hashem's bracha we are working on becoming debt-free.

But most importantly for me, life is no longer about me. Life is now about my wife, my children, and everyone else around me. Hashem has blessed me with three wonderful SA sponsees with whom I have been fortunate to share the life-giving message I got from my sponsor. Having shared my sponsor's message with three others, I am now back here on this forum to share my sponsor's message with anyone out there who cares to listen. 

Even if I am the only one listening, that is fine for me, because even though I have gotten so much - so soon, it is so good that I just can't get enough of it --- I just have to keep coming back for more...

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Boruch is jumping right-in and writes today:

Who ever wants can download the "Back to Basics" text (right-click and choose "Save Target/Link As"). This is the text that my sponsor used when I took the Steps, and I will be using this text as the basis for online step work with whoever wants to join.

To e-mail Boruch directly: boruchshemo@gmail.com

506.


MAZAL TOV BARDITCHEV!


One of the most active and lively members on our forum in recent months who calls himself "Bardichev" (since his biggest inspiration is the holy Barditchiver Rebbe, Rav Levi Yitzchak), has completed 90-days clean yesterday and joined the Tzadikim on the "Wall of Hashem's Honor"!

Since he is a Chassid and always full of Simcha, I would like everybody to drink Lechayim with Bardichev today by watching this Purim Tanse Video Clip (from frumtube.com). Somehow, the guys dancing there in the video remind me of the picture I have in my mind of Bardichev!

Everyone loves Bardichev on the forum, and he is always bubbling over with Simcha, Chizuk, Torah and Chassidus, besides making a lot of us laugh! We hope he stays with us for many years to come, and continues to inspire many Yidden to recovery.

Today we will bring some very inspiring posts from Bardichev's 90-day journey.

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Bardichev wrote in his first powerful post:

I found your website in March. It is the most wonderful thing that has happened to me in along time.

I cried my eyes out reading all the machshavos tovos and sincere hirhurei teshuva.

I cried for along time when I realized that most of what I thought I was going through was crazy and only happening to me, was in fact happening to so many others as well.

I cried for the honest people who are trying to save their neshamos,their lives, their marriages, their NORMALCY.

I cried to Hashem to please let me also become a baal teshuva and not just go back and forth and be caught in a vicious cycle.

Shabbos "Hachodesh" was anew hischadshus for me. I felt like air was being filled into a deflated balloon.

I cried so hard by Kabbolas Shabbos, my kids were looking at me as if something was wrong.

I cried by the passuk "ohavei Hashem sinu ra shomer nafshois chasidav miyad rishayim yatzileim". And I begged Hashem with all my heart that the next Shabbos I will not stand in shame in front of him when I said this passuk again.

Sunday morning I started to monitor myself. I reactivated my accountability program and I started keeping a log on paper of every hour that I was in front of my computer. It was really phenomenal to see for myself how many times I would want to just go online for a few minutes. That was my first clean day (I am not counting Friday, for that was my real hard "soul searching" day).

Monday and Tuesday were very hard, but I fought like a lion and I was in full control. I kept on reading all the posts on the forum and the stories, etc. It was (and is) my new lifeline.

Wednesday and Thursday I was very busy with a dvar mitzva so I had little access to my computer and it was a breeze.

Now here is where it gets interesting. Wednesday night I went to a chasuna, and for the first time in years I felt so happy and excited to be by someone else's Simcha! I cried like a baby by the chuppah and I davened for siyatta dishmaya in my war. And suddenly by this wedding, I had almost total control of my eyes. I was ashamed to be in the lobby. I stayed on the dance floor the entire time.

By the time Shabbos came around I felt such simcha and real kedushas ha'shabbos, it was wonderful!
 
I have one last thought. The Heiliger "Kedushas Levy" (the Bardicher Rebbe) would weep from Nachas and be Meilitz Yosher for all the Mevakshay Hashem on this forum.

Please put me on the 90-Day-Chart.
 
Humbled and Happy,
Bardichev

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We also encourage everyone to read a very inspiring post from Bardichev in the second half of Chizuk e-mail #459 on this page.

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Recently Bardichev wrote:

I struggled with these nisyonos since first year of high school. It only got worse as I got older. I have Rabbeim from all ends of the spectrum, from the Kedushas Levi to the Bais Halevy, and I read every word in Lev Eliyahu and almost all of the Igros Chazon Ish and the Steipler Gaon, and almost every word of Nesivas Shalom, etc.. All of them talk about this struggle, and yet I was still struggling! But I firmly believe that it is the koach of the Torah that kept saying to me: "Bardichev keep on trucking!!! You will get there!"

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Today - on his 90th day, Bardichev posted:

TZADDIKIM, DEAR BROTHERS,

FIRST I NEED TO THANK THE HOLY CREATOR THAT ALLOWED ME TO FIND THIS SITE.

SECOND OF ALL, WE ALL NEED TO THANK THE HEILIGER GUARD.

RABBOISAI (AND REBBETZINOISAI), DO WE REALIZE WHO THE HEILIGER GUARD IS?

I AM CONVINCED HE IS ELIYAHU HANAVI. FIRST OF ALL HE IS INVISIBLE. SECOND OF ALL, HE IS THE MALACH HABRIS. THIRD, HE DRINKS L'CHAIM AT THE END OF THE SEDER!!!

IF WE STAND BACK AND TAKE STOCK, THE GEMARA TEACHES US "GADOL HAMACHTI'OI YOSER MIN HA-HURGO" (worse is one who causes another to sin, than if he had killed him). SO IF HE SAVES US FROM SIN, HE GAVE US LIFE, HE GAVE US OUR HUMANITY - OUR NORMALCY BACK, HOW MUCH DO WE OWE HIM??

I WOULD LIKE TO THANK ALL THE PEOPLE WHO READ MY POSTS, AND I WOULD ESPECIALLY LIKE TO THANK THOSE WHO RESPOND TO THEM. IT IS YOUR CHIZZUK AND YOUR KEEPING ME ON THE BALL - TO CONCENTRATE ON WHAT WE ARE REALLY TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH HERE, WHICH IS; MORALITY, KEDUSHA, YIRAS SHAMAYIM, ETC.

I ALSO WANT TO THANK ALL MY CHAVEIRIM HERE. I AM SO ENGROSSED IN TORAH ON THIS SITE, IT IS REALLY A KIDDUSH HASHEM.

THE SADDEST THING ABOUT THIS SITE IS THAT WE CAN'T ACTUALLY MEET ONE ANOTHER.

WE NEED TO DAVEN TO HASHEM: "LEV TAHOR BI-RAH LEE ELOKIM VI-RUACH NACHON CHADESH BIKIRBI" (Hashem, make me a pure heart; renew a spirit of integrity in me").

Humble and HAPPIER THAN EVER,
Bardichev

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To our dear Bardichev I say:


We will yet all dance together one day, in the world of truth!

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"Hoping" writes to Bardichev:

As you give credit to everyone on this site, you should realize how much credit YOU deserve. Your simcha and upbeat attitude lift me up every day, and it is just impossible to be sad after reading your posts. I can't imagine how many people you inspire and I'm sure they include many people who never post but just come to be uplifted. I wish you much Hatzlacha in all of your Avodas Hashem and especially in continuing to help people on this site with your joy and insight.
507.


R' Avraham J. Twerski, MD, is the founder and medical director of Gateway Rehabilitation Center in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania and is one of the world's leading experts on addictions today. He is also the author of over 50 books and a Gadol and pioneer in Klal Yisrael. It is one of GuardYourEyes network's greatest honors to have Rabbi Twerski as one of the guiding forces behind our work. Besides for providing invaluable consulting and advice, he also contributes to our network and is often quoted in our articles, tips and daily e-mails. (Click on the picture of Rabbi Twerski to go to a page of various tips, articles and correspondence that we have had with Rabbi Twerski in the past).

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Rabbi Twerski shared with us today the following beautiful inspiration:

Keep it Simple

Here is something you might add to my "tips":

One of the slogans of the 12-step program is "Keep it simple (stupid)". It is important to keep things simple. We make things difficult by complicating them.

"Simple" does not mean "easy." A command to lift a 100 pound weight is simple, it's just very hard. If we keep things simple and are willing to do hard work, we can triumph.

Before Rebbe Yohanan ben Zakai died, his talmidim asked him for a bracha. He said, "May you fear Hashem as much as you fear other people". There are things a person would be ashamed to be seen doing by others, but is not ashamed to be seen doing them by Hashem."

People who would be afraid to look at pornography in a smut store because someone might see them there, have no shame in being seen by Hashem. The first paragraph in the Shulchan Aruch instructs us to constantly be aware that we are in the imminent presence of Hashem and behave accordingly.

That is simple. There is nothing complex about it. It is just very hard to do.

We must work hard to attain yiras shamayim. Mesilas yesharim points out that we must work diligently to get it, "like one who searches for silver and digs for treasure." If you don't find the treasure at first, you don't give up. You continue digging, even exhausting yourself in order to find the treasure. That's how we must work for yiras shamayim. It is not going to just drop down from heaven.

Pray hard and tearfully for yiras shamayim. Our lives depend on it. Read the essays in mussar on developing yiras shamayim. This is a prayer that is always answered, provided that we really want it.

Twerski

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The Big Announcement:
Taking GuardYourEyes to a whole new level

Receiving Rabbi Twerski's e-mail today was nothing short of a "divine HUG" for us, because it ties in exactly with the MAJOR announcement that we would like to make today.

For the last 20 years or so, Rabbi Twerski has been consistently telling people who turn to him for help in regard to conquering lust addiction, that the most successful program in this regard is the world renowned 12-Steps (SA and SLAA groups). See Rabbi Twerski's Page on our website and read through the various articles and advice posted there from him, to learn more about his views on the 12-Steps and why they are so powerful. Basically, it all boils down to what Rabbi Twerski wrote above. The 12-Steps "keep things simple" and help us develop a whole new and more REAL connection with Hakadosh Baruch Hu. Instead of dealing directly with the addiction, they teach us how to "live right" and "think right", and somehow the addiction miraculously falls away! The 12-Steps teach us absolute dependance on Hashem, humility, rigorous honesty in all our affairs and acceptance of life on Hashem's terms, etc... (We have been focusing a lot on the many deep lessons of the 12-Steps in the past 70 Chizuk e-mails or so, almost every day. See this page and this page of our archives). Please read Tool #14 and #15 of the GYE Handbook to learn more about the secret power of the 12-Steps.

However, many of us needed to really "hit bottom" before being willing to join face-to-face groups. Religious Jews tend to be more wary of anonymity issues and are also more reluctant to join non-Jewish (and sometimes mixed) groups, even though Rabbi Twerski calls this addiction a "spiritual cancer" and tells people that nothing should stand in their way to recovery. Still, it often takes years of vicious cycles and far too much pain, before a religious addict will be willing to give himself over to the face-to-face 12-Step meetings. (See Chizuk e-mail #465 on this page for "Dov's Story" where he mentions that Rabbi Twerski had encouraged him to join SA groups 6 years before he finally had no choice. Today he is 11 years sober and inspiring us all on the forum every day!). Well, that's where today's big announcement come in.

For the first time ever, GuardYourEyes will be offering two different 12-Step phone conferences that will help religious Jews work the 12-Steps into their lives without having to join face-to-face groups.

Please see this page for the "marketing pitch" for these two new 12-Step groups being launched!

Here is a short description of the two group ideas:

Group 1: Led by "Duvid Chaim". An in depth 12-Step Big-Book Study Lunch & Learn, 4 days a week, Monday through Thursday at 12 Noon EST - Phone Conference Call. (Steps 4 and 5 will use spreadsheets filled out by the members and e-mailed back to Duvid Chaim. Private follow up phone calls will be made to each member individually). Write to us if you want to join this group. Target starting date: Monday, June 29 (if we get enough guys signed up).

Group 2: Led by "Boruch". A "Back to Basics - 12-Steps in 4 Weeks" program. This group will be a combination of on-line readings and phone conferences. Boruch will be posting from the SA "Back to Basics" literature a few times a week on the new board of our forum that we created for this purpose over here. These postings will be followed up by a once-a-week phone conference on Wednesday at 9 PM EST. Write to Boruch if you want to join this group. Target starting date: Boruch has already began posting from the literature on the forum. The first phone conference can be as early as the coming Wednesday, June 24 (if we get enough guys signed up).

These two groups are an unprecedented opportunity for religious Jews to learn how to work the 12-Steps into their lives with the help of professional 12-Step sponsors, without having to join live groups. If you have been struggling with this addiction for years and trying all sorts of approaches with little progress - today is YOUR DAY. But even if you have seen good progress through our network so far, these programs can help you attain "progressive victory over lust" for the long-term, as well as help you achieve a new awareness and serenity in all areas of your life.

508.


The Right Attitude


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Recently we got a cry for help from someone, and we replied to them as follows:

Dear Neshama, you've come to the right place!

As much as reading your story was painful, it also made me smile because it is SO typical. Everyone who turns to us for help at first, thinks (and I quote your words below):
 
- "I feel like I don't have an ounce of self control". 
 
- "There is not even a drop of yiras shamayim in me".
 
- "the tips about what to do once you're lusting hasn't helped me, for in that minute of crazed desires, I don't want to think about anything, I want to continue".
 
- "when I fall, I rationalize that if I'm doing it anyway, I may as well enjoy it".
 
- "I keep having to start over and over"....
 
And that's exactly why we created the two GuardYourEyes handbooks! They answer every one of your points much better than I would be able to in one short e-mail! 
 
Let me just say a few things quickly, before I give you the links.

1) It has nothing to do with self-control, an addiction is a spiritual disease. You need to learn the tools of how to cure this illness.

2) It also has nothing to do with Yiras Shamayim. Even the biggest Tzadikim could not control themselves when faced head-on with lust (see principle #10 in the Attitude Handbook). The trick to beating this is not to fight the lust head-on. Please read the handbooks to find out HOW.
 
In the GYE handbook, you'll learn all the tools you can use to break free of this addiction, and all the rest of your points are answered in the Attitude handbook as well...

May Hashem be with you!

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This morning we got a reply from this person:

I know I'm probably making you crazy and all, but too bad; I must tell you that I downloaded the attitude handbook and was crying all night (Ok fine, it was morning already :)


So many of the thoughts expressed there put me at ease. I realized that I haven't been thinking of myself as a person lately, seriously. I just thought I'm behaving like an animal, and I stopped believing in myself after falling so far. I didn't even think of it as a "challenge", because I believed that I had put myself into this willingly. But now I realize that Hashem gave me these tests, and that it is part of my soul's journey.

Before I started having nisyonos in this area, I was very complacent about my yiddishkeit. Don't get me wrong, I was doing everything right, but  in a "detached" sort of way. Then I cried to Hashem that he should help me be able to serve him better, and I remember now that not long after I davened for this (a few years ago as a teenager), my spiritual life became much more elevated. Now I see that this was probably because I was having a lot of spiritual tests then. So... maybe this addiction is actually the answer to my prayers! In other words, davka through this huge spiritual nisayon, Hashem wants me to draw closer to him! Isn't that an amazing thought?

The handbook expresses the idea that Hashem can put us into this challenge just so we can grow and become better Jews. That has really uplifted me, because until now I didn't feel worthy to fight, worthy to become close to Hashem. But the handbook helped me put it in the right perspective; that it's a nisayon just like all others and that I will overcome it, just as I have overcome others. This is not about me, it's about a challenge and mission that I have, in order to serve the almighty even better.

Another thing that really helped me, is this idea in Principle #17, and I quote:


"In general, those who struggle a lot with these issues, have a great deal of emotional and spiritual energy inside them. It is also known, that people with particular character traits, such as creativity, love for people and spiritual sensitivity, are more prone to seeking alternate expression for their inner strengths through a stronger than usual sexual drive."

I felt like I can certainly relate to that, and I had thought that my drive was only an animalistic desire until now. It made me feel much better.


Also this really helped:

"Even if we started to slip, we can achieve the greatest levels of Kedusha by stopping ourselves from sliding further."

This idea and the example of Yosef in Principle #22, helped me with what I told you yesterday, that "If I was falling anyway, I might as well enjoy it".


Also, lately I wasn't davening to well, feeling very far away from everything our Father in Heaven wants us to be, but the idea in Principle #26 was a strong wake up call:

"Am I an eved hashem because it's my nature and/or because it keeps me emotionally happy, or do I serve the Almighty because that's His will and nothing else?".

I know He certainly wants me to continue to daven and talk to him, even though it makes me feel bad/embarrassed, because its HIS will.

Additionally, I was trying to accomplish things like; "never again will I succumb to lust"... etc. But I've learned from the handbook now to try it just for the day, or even for the moment. As it says:

Therefore, when feeling weak we can tell ourselves, "Just for today, I will stay clean".

For the record, I'm up to my third day now. It was a bit hard today and I kept on thinking that "for this moment, I'll manage".


Thank you so much!!!!!

509.


Momo's 10 Tenets


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We have a member on our forum who calls himself "Momo". When he first read through the GYE handbooks (here), they did not seem to have a lasting effect on him. We managed to convince him however, that the handbooks can't work unless we read them slowly and try to IMPLEMENT the ideas inside them. So Momo took the initiative and began to work through the Handbooks together with all of us on the forum, tool by tool, principle by principle. His thread quickly became so inspiring that we began a whole new board on the forum for him and for others to follow his wonderful example. Today, Momo is quickly becoming one of the most "promising" students of the GuardYourEyes community, and he is already offering great Chizuk to others on the forum as well!

We strongly encourage everyone to follow Momo's lead and begin journals on this new board! There is truly no better way to beat this addiction than to go through the handbooks slowly and systematically, and carefully examine each tool that we have - or have not yet - tried. And by methodically writing down our thoughts, comments and questions on the forum, not only are we forced to clarify what we are reading, but we also will get tons of chizuk and feedback - and inspire so many others as well!

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After "Momo" spent a few days working through the GYE handbooks, he posted the following inspiring post:

I'd like to share my list of 10 tenets for fighting my lust addiction. If I can only live by the following rules - and I believe they are attainable, then I think I would have "arrived".

I purposely begin each "tenet" below with the word "today" since this battle must be fought one day at a time.

Note: I think each person has to read through the GYE handbooks themselves and make their own list of tenets. Maybe some of these ideas will be helpful for some of you reading this. But it's mainly a reminder for me of what I need to do each day to get better. So here goes:

I will, bli neder, read and perform the following, daily:

Tenet #1: Fill my day with chizuk
Today I'll read through the GYE handbook when taking breaks at work, instead of surfing around. I'll read and respond to other people's posts and to my own posts on the forum, and get chizuk from them.

Tenet #2: Remind myself of my addiction
I am addicted to lust and it takes over my life if I don't try to control it, and I know that I can't control it all by myself.

Tenet #3: Strengthen my belief in Hashem
I believe in Hashem who will help me with my battle. I also have a circle of friends here on this forum who are helping me.

Tenet #4: Make Hashem's will my will

  • In matters of lust I pray: Hashem, while I will try today not to give in to any of my desires that are against your will, you Hashem, are the only one who can truly relieve my addiction. Please take it away from me!
  • In matters of anger and control: I believe that Hashem controls the world and the outcome of every situation. Therefore, I will try today not to get angry when something happens against my will. I have a natural tendency to want to control my life, my environment, and other people's lives. I need to learn to accept myself and others. I will try to learn to stop fighting, and let You Hashem, run the world the way You see fit.
     

Tenet #5: Remind myself why I must remove lust from myself
I have to stop lustful emotions as soon as they start, by reminding myself of the difference between "Pleasure" and "Happiness", and that I WANT to let go of the lust because of the following:

  • "Pleasure" is fleeting and false fulfillment. It cuts me off from the world and doesn't let me feel the tremendous kindness of Hashem. It doesn't let me bind to the goodness in the world, and it makes me lose appreciation for my wife and children. The more I indulge, the more I am unable to find inner peace, and I remain closed up within a shell of "myself".
  • "Happiness" is real and ever-lasting fulfillment. It reconnects me to the world, lets me feel the tremendous kindness of Hashem and helps me see the goodness in the world. This helps me gain appreciation for my wife and children, and to find inner peace.
     

Tenet #6: Break up the day, be happy
Today I'll be happy. I'll break the day into 3 segments: morning (when I wake up until lunch), afternoon (lunch until I get home), and night (when I get home until I wake up). For every hour, and especially after every segment I stay clean, I will be happy about it!


Tenet #7: Guard my eyes
Today I'll guard my eyes in the office and on the street. I will use my filters to guard my eyes on the internet. When I feel weak, I'll try to read from the GYE handbook instead of trying to bypass my filters.

Tenet #8: Make fences

  • Today I will not touch myself.
  • Today I won't act out when I "feel like it". I'll wait 10 minutes, sitting or walking around if need be, and by then the lust will have passed.
     

Tenet #9: Daven better
Today I will direct my energy and spiritual vigor into my prayers. Today I'll focus on davening with more kavana.


Tenet #10: Love, not lust
Today I will work on understanding and living with the awareness of the difference between "true love" and "animalistic lust".

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Momo writes to someone who had a fall:

We're human, not angels, so it's OK that we fell. If we learn from our mistakes and use them to raise us up to an even higher level than before the fall, then our fall turns into a merit (thus Chazal say that our sins turn into merits after teshuva me'ahava).

And always repeat to yourself this great truth that "Hoping" recently posted on the forum:

 "A fall while on the journey is worth more than a clean day while you aren't trying."

510.


Attention Please!

 

There is still some time left to sign up for the two new 12-Step phone conferences (announced in Chizuk e-mail #507) that will hopefully be starting soon! So far interest has been lower than expected.

Yidden, this is a
very unique opportunity to learn how to apply the 12-Steps to our lives, together with a Frum group and a professional sponsor, without having to join live, non-Jewish SA meetings (which Rabbi Twerski has been encouraging addicts in our situation to do for the last 20 years)!

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"To Me, the 12-Steps ARE Torah"
..."London"

"London" writes on the forum to someone who believes that Torah and Mussar will be enough to get him out of his addiction:

My question to you is simply; is what you are doing now working, are you staying sober, staying stopped, and leading a purposeful life? If you are then, great! However, if what you are doing is not working, then why not try working the steps and join an SA meeting? What have you got to lose? We have it on good authority that the 12 steps are not contrary to Judaism; quite the opposite is true, the 12-Steps teach us the fundamentals of religion all over again, in a way that can often penetrate the hardest hearts.


In my experience, long before I came into SA, I went to speak to Rabbonim and Mashgichim, and they all sympathized with me, but none of them gave me the answer like the 12 steps do. If the answer was so simple as to learn more mussar or daven harder, why did they not tell me this? The answer to me is, that most Rabbonim are way out of their depths with mental issues like addictions, they do not understand the phenomenon. And why should I expect them to understand it? Perhaps if one of them has had the occasional urge to look at porn, etc... the answer for them was always to be mechazaik themselves with mussar, etc. 

Nowadays, we do not have the capacity of the previous generations to look into the Torah and derive the practical solutions for the world's problems. I am sure beyond a shadow of doubt that there is a cure for cancer contained within the Torah, but which Rav would be so foolish to advise someone suffering from cancer r'l to immerse himself in the Torah to find the solution? He has to see a Doctor and start a treatment of chemotherapy. Lust addiction is a spiritual cancer of the soul, that at any given moment is only getting progressively worse, as we try and maintain the highs. The 12 steps is a spiritual chemotherapy. For me (I speak for myself only), learning mussar in isolation would not work, I need the physical interaction of going to meetings, speaking with my sponsor, making and receiving calls during times of distress, and working the 12 steps.


Therefore, if you are still struggling with this insidious addiction, perhaps you should try joining a meeting and asking for help. You may be pleasantly surprised. For me, working the steps has given me a new foundation for my yiddishkeit; it is helping me to be a true Eved Hashem. For me, it's not a question of "Torah vs. the 12-Steps, Torah is the 12 steps.

And the fact that it was originated by Non-Jews? I will leave that up to Hashem to worry about. There are so many inventions out there that were invented by the Non-Jews that we use to help us in our Yiddishkeit, let this join the ranks!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Growing Peppers

Boruch, who will be leading one of the 12-Step phone groups, writes to someone on the forum about the 12-Steps:

A "Step" is a way to get from place A to place B. 


To get successfully from place A to place B you need two things, the theoretical knowledge of what it takes to get from one point to another, and the practical recognition of how to apply and use that knowledge. So, for example, you could study driving in theory by reading the best instruction manuals, but until you take driving lessons and get practice in how to apply that knowledge, all the theory will remain useless. 

The Ramban in his hakdomo to Bereishis says that all of wisdom in the world can be learned from Torah, and that Shlomo Hamelech was able to plant peppers most successfully by deriving his knowledge directly from Torah. The level of Shlomo Hamelech's knowledge and understanding of Torah was such, that he was able to master both the theory and practice of planting peppers directly from Torah.

Well, how about if I need to grow peppers? I could do one of two things:

1) Try and learn so well that I reach the level of Shlomo Hamelech in Torah so that I too could derive both the theory and practice of planting peppers directly from Torah.

2) Get a book on agriculture, study it, and then go down to a farm and spend time getting experience until I am ready to grow peppers myself.

Which one will I choose? Obviously the second. Does that mean that a book on agriculture and some months on a farm are somehow equivalent to Torah? After learning the book and spending time on the farm, am I on the same level as Shlomo Hamelech? Obviously not. It's just that for me, becoming like Shlomo Hamelech is impossible. 

Let us now move to the question of mussar and of "overcoming the Yetzer Hara". Rav Yisroel Salanter wrote in Or Yisroel (Iggeres 19) that Torah is the theoretical knowledge where practical experience is not required, but mussar is the practical knowledge of how to apply Torah to life, and for that, practical experience is a must. 

R' Yisroel also writes about mussar there, that different people need different paths, and what works for one won't necessarily work for another. Furthermore, he writes what works for one middah in one person will not necessarily work for another middah in the same person (Iggeres 20). For this reason, R' Yisroel refused to give written mussar advice to one of his talmidim, and insisted that they need to meet one-on-one at length before they can determine the correct course of mussar (Iggeres 19). 

Mussar advice requires great experience on the part of the Rebbe, who then uses his own personal experience to work one-on-one with the talmid to develop the correct plan of action.

So following R' Yisroel Salanter's approach, if I needed guidance in parenting, I would not be well-advised to go for advice to someone with no kids, and if I needed mussar in Shalom Bayis, I would not be well-advised to go for advice to a bochur.

That is the problem with addiction. In general, we do not have Rabbeim that have their own practical experience of overcoming addiction, to be able to prescribe the right mussar. Does this imply that the Torah is lacking Chas veshalom? No doubt Shlomo Hamelech could have used his knowledge of the secrets of Torah to have derived the practical knowledge to help addicts, even without first-hand experience. But when an addict came to one of the most practical mussar teachers of our generation, Rav Avigdor Miller Zt"l, Rabbi Miller told him that he could not help him and told him to seek professional help instead.

When I was fighting addiction and my own mussar was not working for me, I had no choice; there was no Shlomo Hamelech to go to. So I went to the practical experience of millions of addicts. 

Their experience is that the basic prescription of AA co-founder, Dr. Bob (see a copy of his prescription here) to:
(1) Trust in G-d
(2) Clean House
(3) Help Others
is just what the addict needs.

And their experience is, that these three precepts are most easily achieved through the 12 Steps.

And their experience is that the best way to get the 12 Steps, is by working one-on-one with someone who has experience of the same addiction, and who experienced overcoming that very addiction by using the Steps.


This is how it is summarized in the AA Big Book:

"One alcoholic could affect another as no non-alcoholic could... Strenuous work, one alcoholic with another, was vital to permanent recovery." (p xvi-xvii)

Does this mean that we need to get defensive about the supremacy of Torah? Absolutely not. Mussar, as R' Yisroel said long before the AA Big Book was ever written, depends on experience. And fortunately, our Rabbeim have no experience in addiction.

511.


Of Nuclear Power, Babylonian gods and Shmiras Habris...

Today is Rosh Chodesh Tamuz; a day of renewal, as well as the Yartzeit of Yosef Hatzadik's birth and passing.

In Babylonian tradition, Tamuz was a god that came to symbolize the death of nature in the heat of summer, and they named the month of "Tamuz" after this god. Saddam Hussein YM'Sh named his Osirak nuclear reactor "Tamuz" after this god as well.

The Zohar (in Chelek Beis, pg 78b) writes that Yakov Avinu took the months of Nissan and Iyar for himself (hence Yetziyas Mitzrayim, Kabbalas Hatorah), and Eisav took the months of Tamuz and Av for himself (and hence, the 17th of Tamuz and Tisha Be'av).

It occurred to me that Tamuz is the epitome of Kedusha vs. Tumah; as it says "Zeh Le'umas Zeh bara Elokim - Hashem created this one opposite the other". On the one hand, Eisav chose this month for himself and the Babylonians also chose it as a symbol of "death". But on the other hand, Hashem prepared the "refuah" (healing) before the "makah" (disease) and Yosef Hatzadik was born in the very beginning of Eisav's two month reign. The Pasuk says that when Moshiach comes "the house of Yosef will be a flame and the house of Eisav will be like straw". Yosef's flame of Kedusha will devour and eradicate the power of Eisav from the world.

How can we understand these two opposing forces in the month of Tamuz?

The "death" in the heat of summer is really a preparation for the renewal that comes in the rainy season. While everything in Israel (and Babylonia) becomes dry and withered in Tamuz, Yosef Hatzadik symbolizes bounty and plenty. According to Kabbalah, Yosef is the Middah of Yesod, which passes on all the heavenly light to "Malchus" (our world), as it says "ve'Yosef Hu Hamashbir lechol am ha'aretz - and Yosef was the provider for all the people of the land".

While Eisav dwells in the death itself, a Jew uses the death for renewal, turning it into endless divine bounty. A Jew is able to take his past falls and uses them as a spring-board for growth. Like a seed that needs to rot in the ground before it can sprout into a fruitful tree, Hashem wants us to use the times of darkness to appreciate the light that will inevitably follow.

We have the ability to turn the falls of our past into a foundation for our closeness to Hashem now. As we all said in Hallel today:
"Yaser Yasrani Kah etc... Hashem has brought me great suffering, but to death he did not hand me over... Odecha Ki Anisani etc... I thank thee for the suffering, and it was for me a salvation". Through our past falls, we learn how to overcome the darkness and follow the light, and we use our past experience to help others towards the light as well.

Yosef symbolizes Shmiras Ha'Bris, and perhaps the biggest lesson that we can learn from him was that it was only through the merit of his "withholding" that he merited that so much bounty and goodness should flow forth through him. And this is the secret of the divine channel of Yesod. When we close all the holes in our divine "pipes" (and we are willing to go through the dryness of "Tamuz" first), Hashem's blessing and bounty is able to flow through us properly.

The Koach of the Bris is somewhat like a nuclear reaction. Our job is to take this "nuclear power" and harness it for constructive purposes; to bring forth life, not death. How is this done in a reactor? By inserting fuel rods into the reactor's core to absorb and "hold back" the nuclear chain-reactions from continuing. By doing this, we are able to harness the tremendous energy, and we are able to light up entire cities with electricity! Our enemies on the other hand, want to harness nuclear power for destructive purposes. This happens in atomic weapons, where their is no "containment" of the nuclear reactions. The Jewish people succeeded in destroying the nuclear reactor "Tamuz" of Saddam, on erev Shavuos, the 5th of Sivan, 1981, in the month of Yakov Avinu. Shavuos is the time of kabbalas Hatorah, and the Torah is like the "fuel rods" that teach us how to harness the power of the Yesod properly through the Mitzvos. The Mitzvos of the Torah, such as "Pru u'revu - be fruitful and multiply" on the one hand, and "lo sikrivu legalos erva - do not come close to revealing nakedness" on the other, teach us how to channel Hashem's bracha in the right ways and harness the tremendous energy of Yesod for the good.

The Yetzer Hara wants us to use the potent power of the Bris for destructive purposes. But through the power of Shmiras Habris, by withholding this potent energy and harnessing it for constructive purposes only, we become vessels for divine bounty, and we succeed in "containing" the designs of our enemies, who once again desire to use nuclear power to destroy us...


And that is the beauty of the seeming contradiction of Tamuz. And that is perhaps the reason why Yosef was born on Rosh Chodesh Tamuz. Let us harness the tremendous power of Yosef on his Yartzeit today, by properly "containing" the power of Yesod and thereby harnessing it for LIFE and endless divine blessing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There is still some time left to sign up for the two new 12-Step phone conferences (announced in Chizuk e-mail #507) that will hopefully be starting soon!

Yidden, this is a
very unique opportunity to learn how to apply the 12-Steps to our lives, together with a Frum group and a professional sponsor, without having to join live, non-Jewish SA meetings (which Rabbi Twerski has been encouraging addicts in our situation to do for the last 20 years!).

512.


Yetzer Hara
or Illness?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Yankle posted on the forum:

I regret that I have lost yet another streak. I do not know if I should stay on the list or chart, as I can't seem to fight any more. How far I have fallen from who I was! I am divorced and alone. The loneliness gets to be too much for me. I turn only to Hashem and the handbooks for help. As I type and cry, I only wish things were different. I want to be able to sit and learn all day again to get a relationship with the Ribono shel olam and to have my own family again. Instead, I have brought this terrible illness of lust upon myself and I feel that until I break it nothing positive will come to me anymore, as I do not deserve it, as I go against Hashem. How can I expect Him to be good to me, or even provide good for me, if keep on falling to my yetzer harah and defying Hashem?

Dov (who is sober in SA for 11 years) answers:

Dear Yankle,

#1: I love you because you are a fellow creation, and especially because you are a yid; and especially because you are a fellow addict. "Love" means I will do anything I can to help you, gladly, with no expectation of receiving anything in return at all. The only thing you can do for me, would be to benefit from my help :-)

#2: Certainly Hashem loves you more than I do, and more than anyone ever did or will. Actually, He must also even love you even while you are acting out. Not approve, but love - and love all the same. This is very important to internalize.

Whenever I calmly think about:

  • "Who/what" Hashem is, 
  • that He created us without giving us a choice (al korcha ata nolad - pirkei avos), and even though He didn't have to at all,
  • and that He must be only giving, since He has no needs at all
     

then I am able to recognize that "bishvili nivrah haolam - for me the world was created" really means that Hashem is 100% totally and unconditionally ON MY SIDE, and always will be. 
 
How about you? Can you accept that? Even partially? I believe that acceptance of this fact was an indispensable foundation of the 12-step recovery for me. I actually came to it by doing my fourth step ("We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves"), which helped me truly recognize and accept for the first time who I really am (good and bad) and realize that Hashem still has a relationship with me! Shortly after that (1.5 years into the program), I discovered completely by chance that I could actually smile at who I saw in the mirror for a change. It was incredible, and it still is.

#3: You call acting out "defying Hashem". I doubt you ever acted out to defy Hashem at all. So, let's get perspective here: I believe we all "defy Hashem" (even non-addicts), as we are ultimately all selfish ignoramuses when it comes to recognizing our total and constant dependence on Hashem Yisborach, and we probably always will be. And there's not really very much we can do about this. Our purpose here in this world is to recognize that we are handicapped by virtue of the fact that we are human, and yet react with a resounding: EVEN SO, HERE I GO! - and do mitzvos be'simcha anyway. Moshe Rabeinu answered the Malachim: "hey, do you die? do you have jealousy, desire, stealing, etc?", and yet Hashem still wants our little avodah!

This is not to say "why bother trying to be a tzaddik, or even any better at all?". I am just pointing out that if you want to call your choices "defying Hashem" or "evil", then at least recognize that the best any of us will likely ever do is still rather pathetic, even though every bit of improvement towards goodness and perfection and towards Hashem's Ratzon - is precious beyond our imagination. That's just what we are! Like babies without any understanding, compared to Hashem.

So please consider some alterations to your perception of reality and "cool your jets" of self-condemnation, and then you'll be able to get better.

Are Hashem's hands ever tied Chas veshalom that He can't be in love with us? I believe that it is our Yetzer Hara that tells us: "Hashem only really loves me when I am good (if He loves me at all), and even then, only after I do some Teshuva".

These are normal sentiments, particularly for us frum Yidden who have been taught the standards that Hashem wants us to live up to, for our own benefit. But they are poison, and for me, they were a convenient cop-out actually, which led me only to a downward spiral and to a more unrealistic understanding of Hakadosh Baruch Hu.


You wrote:

"I regret that I have lost yet another streak. I do not know if I should stay on the list or chart, as I can't seem to fight any more. How far I have fallen from who I was!"

I'd like to know who fed you the idea that if you only try hard enough you will "beat it". Who told you that you are locked in a mortal combat of wills against lust? Whoever it was, they may want to re-evaluate their thinking, because it seems that you only need to fail a few more times before you have no more ability to fight. And then what? Apparently you will just keep losing, basically giving in to what you call the "Yetzer Hara" completely, no? You sound just as I did, once upon a time. I was sure I'd get better. Later I wasn't so sure. Finally - after medications, psychiatrists, therapists, near-arrest, near-death twice, and near-divorce, I was finally sure that I'd never get better. I drew comfort only from the fact that I'd keep my secret to the grave. Not a life for a nice Jewish boy. 


My dear friend Yankle, this is not the way of the program that I am familiar with at all. No, the 12-step program that works for me and others is not for the man who needs help to try harder. It is for the one who is hopelessly lost and realizes he cannot win because there is something wrong with him. He needs an honest and realistic partnership with the G-d he thought he had. (You can read about this in "The Doctor's Opinion" at the beginning of the AA Big Book). The program I know says to this person: There is hope, even for you! Just take these steps. (You can read exactly this, at the start of ch. 5 in the Big Book). Yankle, we are talking about your life here.

You also wrote:

"How can I expect Hashem to be good to me, or even provide good for me, if keep on falling to my yetzer harah and defying Hashem?"

Well, see the above (and the Tomer Devorah) to see that Hashem is big enough to be really, really good - even to you. Please see the Heiligeh Divrei Chayim in Vayishlach on the posuk:
"vayikra lo keil, elokei yisroel"  to see exactly how Hashem takes "revenge" on people like us! Amazing. (It tells my life story all the way through, BTW!)

Again, if you have a love-affair with this "Yetzer Hara" business, good luck. But if you look honestly inside and decide that it's not a Yetzer Hara issue anymore, but rather that something is wrong with you (you are addicted), then consider reading the first couple of chapters in the big book for Bill's story, and then decide if you are just as hopeless as he was. If you are, then we have an answer that may work for you as it does for us.


And you wrote:

"Instead, I have brought this terrible illness of lust upon myself and I feel that until I break it nothing positive will come to me anymore, as I do not deserve it"

More of the same. Maybe you are at fault for bringing this terrible illness upon yourself, maybe not. I don't know. Kaballah seforim have much to say about proclivities, responsibility, bad levushim from one's parents, etc. It is all a complicated and confusing issue really. But it is also irrelevant. What I do know, is that you are calling it an "illness". To me, that is a worthy of a dance, as it may mean that you feel in some way ill, and that it's not just a Yetzer Hara issue. Now, maybe you'll consider that perhaps you are handicapped and stop beating yourself up over it. I truly hope that you will get the help that ill people like you and I need, instead of doing what I did for over ten years; watching my life go down the drain in a valiant struggle against the Yetzer Hara.


You wrote:

"I want to be able to get a relationship with the Ribono Shel Olam".

Bingo - You hit the nail on the head! If this is what you really want, then you'll be OK. But first recognize the relationship that you already have - as above, and learn how to go from there.


You wrote:

"The loneliness gets to be too much for me. I turn only to Hashem and the handbooks for help."

Again, you are obviously a deep and holy Jew, yet you are still lonely. Now how about connecting a little more than you currently are, with other lust addicts? This forum is a nice start, but being in a LIVE chevra and having a human sponsor/role model was indispensable to me. 


I love you! 
Dov

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Let's follow Dov's invaluable advice...

and sign up TODAY for one of the two new 12-Step phone conferences that will be starting soon! This is a very unique opportunity to learn how to apply the 12-Steps to our lives, together with a Frum group and a professional sponsor, without having to join live, non-Jewish SA meetings (which Rabbi Twerski has been encouraging addicts in our situation to do for the last 20 years!).

513.


"The Porn Trap"
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From:
Wendy Maltz LCSW, DST

Dear Friends at Guardureyes,

Given the work you are doing in helping people with pornography problems, we thought you would like to know about our new recovery book:

THE PORN TRAP:
THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO OVERCOMING PROBLEMS CAUSED BY PORNOGRAPHY (Collins/HarperCollins, hardcover, 2008).


We wrote this book to fill the need for a comprehensive resource for people who are struggling with personal and relationship issues related to pornography, and it discusses numerous strategies for "Getting Motivated to Quit Porn." While "THE PORN TRAP" is written primarily for a secular audience (we are Jewish), it validates the importance of faith-based support and recovery help, and it can be used as an adjunct to the 12-step programs or faith-based programs. We see group work and these kinds of programs as extremely beneficial, because they help people come out of social isolation and learn skills for being honest, real, accountable, and to be able to learn from others.

You can also ask the people who read you daily email to send in questions for me. I would be willing to answer some of them that you choose.

[Note from GYE Admin: Send in your questions for Wendy to eyes.guard@gmail.com and we will choose the best ones to pass on to her for a professional reply!]

Here is a short article on "Facing Your Fears" for your daily newsletter, adapted from a chapter in our book.

 

Identifying and Facing Your Fears


Fear is a common emotion that arises when someone tries to quit porn. When left unaddressed, it can sabotage your recovery efforts by increasing ambivalence and continually undermining your motivation. Like a nail you are unaware of in one of your car's tires, an unidentified and unaddressed fear can slow your healing journey down without your even realizing what is happening.

The idea of making any kind of major life change and facing the unknown is often initially frightening, even when we are fairly certain that the change will improve our lives. Quitting means letting go of a product that brought instant pleasure and stress relief, and it involves making significant lifestyle changes, such as saying good-bye to well-established sexual habits, finding new ways to cope with emotional stresses, and learning how to relate to others more openly and honestly.

Identifying and being able to admit your particular fears about quitting porn is an important first step in ultimately resolving those fears. Many of the people we have counseled and interviewed found it beneficial to do this as they started out on their healing journeys. Below is a list that includes many of their responses. You can use this list to help you identify your own fears.   

 

COMMON FEARS OF BEING WITHOUT PORN
Put a check next to each item with which you agree:

 
____ I'm afraid of becoming depressed.
____ I'm afraid of getting angry and upset.
____ I'm afraid of feeling lonely.
____ I'm afraid of getting stressed out.
____ I'm afraid I won't be able to masturbate without it.
____ I'm afraid of losing my sense of sexual power.
____ I'm afraid of losing interest in sex.
____ I'm afraid of having less enjoyment in sex.
____ I'm afraid of feeling sexually frustrated.
____ I'm afraid I'll get involved with even riskier sexual behaviors.
____ I'm afraid of becoming more dependent on my partner for sex.
____ I'm afraid of feeling "less of a man" or less sexually liberated.
____ I'm afraid I'll have to tell others about my problem and they'll reject me.
____ I'm afraid no one will understand and be able to help me.
____ I'm afraid I will fail if I try to quit.

____ Other

___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________

 

As the list demonstrates, fears of quitting porn fall into the categories of emotional well-being, sexual enjoyment, and relating to others. These fears make sense given that porn use can play an important role in temporarily fulfilling needs in any one of these three areas. Go back over the list and look at the specific fears you identified. Notice which of your fears have to do with emotional, sexual, or relationship concerns. Do you have some fears in each category, or do your fears tend to concentrate in one area or the other? Understanding the type of fears you have can help you become aware of what particular issues you'll need to focus most on in your recovery; by doing so, you can ensure you meet that need in some other way than by using porn. For example, if you identified that you are afraid of feeling lonely if you stop using porn, then you have a legitimate need to not feel lonely. You can tame this fear by planning things to do so you won't feel alone without porn.

It is common for recovering porn users to have fears related to sex. They may worry that quitting porn will in some way mean losing out on sexual opportunities or no longer being a sexually active person. This fear is understandable and often strongest in people who have come to rely on porn as a primary sexual stimulant and outlet. You can minimize this fear by remembering that while quitting porn does involve closing a door on one type of sexual outlet, it also opens doors to other types of sexual experiences that can be enjoyable and fulfilling. Sexual behaviors that involved porn and caused you problems, can eventually be replaced with new sexual behaviors that support healthy self-esteem and emotional intimacy, such as with one's spouse.

Identifying the false beliefs that underlie some of your fears, and countering them with truth and reality, is another way to help maintain your motivation to quit. For example, some male porn users are afraid that giving up porn will mean giving up part of their self-identity, even their manhood. They think, I'll be less of a man if I don't use porn. This fear can relate to false ideas about what it means to be a man that were learned in childhood, which were reinforced by porn's messages and never altered. Looking at this belief closely and challenging its assumptions can reveal its inaccuracies. For example, Randy, a recovering porn addict, said, "I grew up thinking that 'real men' looked at porn. When I quit porn, for a while I worried what other guys would think if they found out I wasn't looking at it anymore. Then I realized the truth of it is it actually takes a strong man to overcome a powerful addiction like this. And only a real man who isn't into porn can love a woman deeply."

Saying each of your fears out loud can also diminish their power. When you say a fear out loud to yourself or talk to someone else about it, the fear can start to feel less absolute and imposing. Out in the open, some fears may suddenly seem irrational. You may start to realize that, like anyone else, you have a natural ability to adapt to change, and that despite years of using porn, you are still capable of learning new ways of dealing with your problems. You can call upon friends, support professionals, and other resources to help you. The more you identify and express your fears, the clearer new options for getting your needs met will become. 

Regardless of the nature of your fears, getting them out in the open weakens their influence and helps you stay motivated to quit porn. When you start to challenge your fears, and counter them with ideas for making valuable changes to improve the quality of your life, you'll feel emboldened and empowered to continue on your healing journey. Remind yourself that anyone who has been brave enough to quit porn has faced similar fears and came out stronger, because they had the courage to move forward and did not allow their fears to hold them back.

 
2009 Wendy Maltz and Larry Maltz. Adapted from The Porn Trap: The Essential Guide to Overcoming Problems Caused by Pornography, HarperCollins Publishers, 2008, pp. 150-154, by Wendy Maltz and Larry Maltz. This excerpt was provided for GuardYourEyes by the authors. For permission to duplicate or reproduce, contact the authors at www.HealthySex.com.

To see the "Table of Contents" of "The Porn Trap" and to read endorsements click here. You can purchase "The Porn Trap" on Amazon over here.

514.


True JOY vs. Counterfeit Joy

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As you've no doubt seen advertised in the past few e-mails and on the website, we are launching two new 12-Step phone conferences for the benefit of everyone on the GYE network.

Boruch's "Back to Basics" group
had its first weekly Phone conference at 9 PM EST this past Wednesday evening. We had a nice group on the line and got good feedback from the members B"H. Boruch's next meeting will IY"H be on the coming Wednesday again, same time.

The second phone group, Duvid Chaim's "Lunch & Learn" (four times a week), will begin IY"H next Monday at 12 PM EST. See below for details on how to join the call.
 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A "Taste" of one of the many exercises on Duvid Chaim's "Take-Out Menu"

Do you want JOY in your Life??

Of course you do!! Who doesn't want JOY in their life? What's wrong with being a "thrill seeker?" In fact, we learn from the Ramchal that HaKodesh Baroch Hu specifically created man to bask in His light and receive His Joy. How can there be anything wrong with us if we seek Joy in life? After all, we are "wired" that way by the Creator Himself!
 
The problem that we face in our addiction is NOT that we seek Joy. The problem is that we can NOT tell the difference between "True Joy" and "Counterfeit Joy".
 
In other words, it actually feels the same to our mind and body whether we're in the midst of enjoying our sexual addiction or when we're in the midst of enjoying a mitzvah, like chesed for example. That doesn't seem fair, you might say. How can Hashem really expect us to break our addiction when He makes it so enjoyable to be acting out?

That's why I suggest we practice an EXERCISE to FIND TRUE JOY, as follows:

Find a quiet time and space to sit down and write in your notebook. On one page, write down some of the TRUE JOY in your life. For example, you might write on this page:

  • "spending time with my kids at supper time"
  • "taking a leisurely walk with my wife"
  • "the experience of bentching my children on Shabbos"
     

And on the "Counterfeit Joy" page, you might write:

  • "the Billboard I drive by everyday on the way to work"
  • "the young girl I see at Starbucks dressed provocatively"
  • "the pop-up that shows up while I'm on my computer with the latest news about some celebrity or another".
     

How do we distinguish between True Joy and Counterfeit Joy? True Joy is something that when we experience it, we feel close to G-d. And more than that, when the experience is over, we feel good about ourselves. And later, we look back with fond memories about the experience. Counterfeit Joy however, is something that when we experience it, we feel removed from G-d. Afterwards, we feel impure and full of shame. And later, we look back at the experience with regret and remorse.
 
Since our bodies can not tell the difference between True Joy and Counterfeit Joy, by doing this exercise, we "concretize" the experiences that we often face in our lives. And the next time we encounter something that is written down on our "Counterfeit Joy" page, a light will come on in our mind and we will be able to "point" at that opportunity for joy and say, "hey, you're on my "Counterfeit Joy" page. I don't want to have anything to do with you!"
 
This Exercise is so simple and yet so effective.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 
We hope you enjoyed this "Taste" from Duvid Chaim's "Take-Out Menu". Sign up for the upcoming In-depth 12-Step Big-Book Study Lunch & Learn and learn more of Duvid Chaim's invaluable exercises! Send an e-mail to duvidchaim@gmail.com to let him know that you want to join.
 
Rabbosai, these two new 12-Step phone conferences are a very unique opportunity for Frum Jews to learn how to apply the 12-Steps to our lives, in a Frum group and a professional Frum sponsor, without having to join the live, non-Jewish SA meetings (which Rabbi Twerski has been encouraging addicts in our situation to do for the last 20 years!). This is a historic moment for Klal Yisrael. Be a part of it!

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Information for the first phone call:
(feel free to listen in even if you didn't let us know!)

Monday, June 29, 12 PM EST

Please be prepared with a hard copy of the 12 Step Big Book, an empty journal or notebook and a pen. (If you were unable to purchase a hard-copy of the Big Book yet, download a PDF version over here : for Palm OS over here).
 
Please read the "Forward to the First Edition" on Roman numeral page 13 (xiii).  And underline those phrases that seem meaningful to you.

The Big Book Study Lunch & Learn Conference Call Dial-in Number is:

 

(712) 432-0080

 
When prompted, enter the "Conference Access Code" - 121318 and then the # sign.
 
Standby and you will asked to give your name (first name or nickname only please).
 
Then you will be included in the call.
 
To MUTE - enter Star - *6 or mute you device
To EXIT - enter Star *3 or hang up
For Instructions - enter Star *4

See you there!

"It works if you work it - and you're worth it!"

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Y.L wrote us:

I would like to sign up for Duvid Chaim's group PLEASE. But I'm still a little scared of someone maybe recognizing my voice or something. I can't deal with the awkwardness of that. I am very nervous about it actually, and if theres anything that you can say that you think will alleviate my nervousness, please do. I just want this out of my life. Hopefully this group will work for me. I very much look forward to working with the group and if anyone is guaranteed a spot in olam haba, it's you guys, front and center. The hishtadlus you have put into this gives me more happiness and faith in Klal yisrael than anything else. This is a disease that is present at all levels, and it is a disease that is eating away at the hearts and minds of our nation's finest and bravest. Be Matzliach, Y.L.

Dear Y.L,

Thank you for your warm words. I will put you down for Duvid Chaim's group.

 

Please don't worry about voice recognition. First of all, no one is forcing you to talk, you can just listen in at first, until you feel comfortable enough to speak up (or don't). Second, there won't be more than 5 to 10 guys on the line, and these are people from all over the world, so what are the chances that any one of them would know you? And thirdly, your secret is everyone's secret! We're all in this together. Addicts are always vigilant to protect the anonymity of everyone in the group, because this is for their own benefit too.

We must do whatever we can to break free! As Rabbi Twerski always says; this addiction is a spiritual cancer, and if someone has cancer r"l, nothing should stand in their way of recovery.

May Hashem be with you!

515.


R' Avraham J. Twerski, MD, is the founder and medical director of Gateway Rehabilitation Center in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania and is one of the world's leading experts on addictions today. He is also the author of over 50 books and a Gadol in Klal Yisrael.

It is one of GuardYourEyes network's greatest honors to have Rabbi Twerski as one of the guiding forces behind our work. Besides for providing invaluable consulting and advice, he also contributes to our network and is often quoted in our articles, tips and daily e-mails. (Click on the picture of Rabbi Twerski to go to a page of various tips, articles and correspondence that we have had with Rabbi Twerski in the past).

Rabbi Twerski shared with us recently the following two inspirational tips:

In Truth

There was an incident that taught me something about turning to Hashem for help:

At a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous in Jerusalem, one man who was seven years sober related that he had resisted AA at first because it was God-oriented, and he was an atheist.

"One day", he said, "I was walking along the beach in Tel Aviv, thinking whether I should just walk into the ocean and end it all. I had nowhere to go, my wife had thrown me out of the house. In desperation, I looked toward the sky and shouted, "If You're up there, then help me!"

And He helped me.

Now, with the help of G-d, I am seven years sober."

When I heard this, I thought of the verse in Tehillim: "Hashem is close to all who call upon Him, who call upon Him in truth".

That's the clincher: in truth.

Twerski

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Guarding the Tongue Guards the Bris

There are many people who are desperate and say that they would do anything to be free of the compulsion. Here is something that will indeed take much effort, but if one is really ready to do anything, this can help greatly:

WATCH YOUR SPEECH! Be meticulous in avoiding ALL lashon hara (defamatory talk), any untruth, and any coarse language (see sources below).

In order to know what proper speech is and what is forbidden, avail yourself of the Chafetz Chaim's "Guard Your Tongue."

This may seem simple, but it really takes great effort, because we are in the habit of talking without giving much thought to what we say. To become conscious and watchful of speech is anything but simple, but if one is really interested in being free of sexual compulsions, this can be of great help.

Twerski

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To receive daily lessons in Shmiras Halashon from the Sefer Chofetz Chaim, send an e-mail to dcompanion@chofetzchaimusa.org with subject "subscribe".

Sources: Many Chassidic works are replete with the idea that "bris halashon mechuvan negged bris hamaor" and that shemiras halashon leads to shemiras habris (see Sefer Chareidim 66:9). The most common Posuk quoted in this regard is "Al titein es picha l'hachti es bisorchoh".... See also the mafteach in the Yad Ramah edition of the Shaloh hakadosh for something a bit earlier than chassidish, and this concept also comes up quite a few times in the out-of-print Peleh Yoaitz from the Hornisteipeler (Rabbi Twerski's grandfather).

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Reminder! Duvid Chaim's 12-Step Big-Book Lunch & Learn Study Group will be starting Tomorrow IY"H

Here is a short letter from Duvid Chaim to those who are interested in joining:

Gentlemen,

Please allow me, please to introduce myself. My name is Duvid Chaim.
 
For your information, the Big Book Lunch & Learn Study Group (BBL&LSG) will focus on your recovery through the most widely tested and proven recovery method to date; by "working the steps" - the 12 Steps that is. Time has shown that the fellowships that are "pure" and focused on the Steps through the Big Book Textbook have the most success.

So if you're looking for success and you're willing to make the commitment to finally transform yourself, then I promise you, you will see results.
 
How do I know it works? I myself am a living miracle. I'm 52 years old and spent nearly 40 years of my life completely powerless over my addiction. I had given up hope and resigned myself to just accepting myself for who I was, in spite of my acting out, my shame and my weakness.
 
So I'm offering a chance to see for yourself the power of the 12 Step Program.
 
Even if you're "not ready" to make the commitment, at least listen in to the first few sessions and see what you think. You have nothing to lose (except your powerlessness, perhaps)!
 
We will be starting (I"YH) Monday June 29th at Noon, East Coast Time. And we will be meeting four days a week - Monday through Thursday.
 
Please be prepared with an empty journal or notebook, and a pen, and a 12 Step Big Book (you can buy one at any major bookstore or order one from Amazon.com here). It is much preferable that you own a real copy of the Big Book, so that you can underline the sentences that speak to you the most, and take notes on the sides of the book. However, if you did not have the opportunity to buy one by tomorrow, you can download it online here.
 
Please read the "Forward to the First Edition" on Roman numeral page 13 (xiii).  And underline those phrases that seem meaningful to you.

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Please join our conference call with the following instructions:

The Big Book Study Lunch & Learn Conference Call Dial in Number is:

(712) 432-0080

When prompted, enter the "Conference Access Code" - 121318 then the # sign.

 Standby and you will asked to give your name (first name or nickname only please).
 
Then you will be included in the call.
 
To MUTE - enter Star - *6 or mute you device
To EXIT - enter Star *3 or hang up
For Instructions - enter Star *4

I look forward to meeting you in our Study Group.
 
Those who plan to join, please RSVP to me here.
 
Thanks,
Duvid Chaim

516.


Three Important Announcements

1) It's 90 days before Yom Kippur so if you haven't started your 90 day journey to sobriety yet (scientific studies show it takes 90 days to break an addictive pattern in the mind), now is the perfect time to start! Join our 90 day Wall of Honor chart according to the rules here, download your own personal 90 chart here, post a log of your 90 day journey on the "Wall of Honor" board on our forum, or post in the "Accountability Groups" board that you want to join a group of five others in their journey to 90 days.

2) Reminder! Duvid Chaim's 12-Step Big-Book Lunch & Learn Study Group will be starting TODAY IY"H, at 12 PM Noon. See details on the bottom of yesterday's Chizuk e-mail #515 over here.

3) Mrs.Zeva Citronenbaum, a professional sex addiction therapist for the frum community, is starting a new cycle of her year-old phone conference group tomorrow, Tuesday evening 9 PM ET, with members from GuardYourEyes. If you are looking for real clinical recovery with a professional and highly trained therapist for almost FREE ($10 a session!) then this is an opportunity that can't be missed. Please see this announcement on our forum for more information and to download the sign-up forms.

 

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Q & A from the authors of "The Porn Trap"


In Chizuk e-mail #513 we brought an excerpt from a new book called "The Porn Trap". The authors offered to answer a number of questions that our readers would send in. Here are two questions that we presented them with, along with their enlightening answers:

 
[Note from GYE Admin: They are willing to still answer another few questions, so send in your questions today to eyes.guard@gmail.com and we will choose the best ones to pass on to them for a professional reply]

1) How can we stop? The world is full of it, everywhere we go. We can get around the filters and we have wi-fi and can access it anywhere with the click of a mouse. And Movies and advertisements are all full of promiscuity, the street is like walking on a beach, and the slightest triggers make a lust addict go wild. What hope does he have to stop in today's world gone mad?
 
Yes, we live in a world filled with commercially-driven sexual images and unprecedented easy access to pornography. We also live in a world with unprecedented amounts of and easy access to junk food. In both cases, choosing and maintaining personal health means making smart decisions about what we allow ourselves to take into our bodies - through our eyes and ears with porn - and what we choose to stay away from and reject. 

In our recovery book, The Porn Trap: The Essential Guide to Overcoming Problems Caused by Pornography, Larry and I outline a number of strategies that you can use when dealing with everyday temptations. These include spelling out your reasons for not using porn, developing a support network of people you can call on at anytime, reducing unexpected exposure to porn, and using specific techniques such as the "eye bounce" (described on pages 175-176 of The Porn Trap):

 
Hank uses what he calls an "eye bounce" whenever he unexpectedly encounters porn images or materials that remind him of porn. "My mind and my eyes instinctively go to porn because I've always gone there and they're trained to go there," he said. "So when my eyes see something sexy now, I bounce away. 'Oh there's a picture of a sexy girl,' BOUNCE, I look elsewhere. It felt strange doing this at first, but now looking away has become a new habit. The more I do it the easier it is. For most of my life I walked around with a kind of low-grade sexual fever. But lately, for the first time, it's starting to diminish and almost disappear because I'm no longer feeding it. It feels like a part of me has been set free to do other things and it's fabulous."
 
In porn recovery, it is also very important to learn about healthy sexuality, so you have a clear idea of how you can re-channel your natural sexual drives and needs in ways that support positive self-esteem, healthy sexual thoughts, and a satisfying sexual relationship with your spouse.
 
2) What does someone who is trying to quit porn do when the withdrawal symptoms set in? How does he fill the inner "void" that he used to fill with porn? Many people use it as an escape from boredom, anxiety, stress... Now that they are giving up their "drug", how do they learn to deal with all these emotions and their free-time?"
 
In general, the most effective way to deal with urges is to move out of isolation. Reach out and talk with someone who understands and respects what you are working to accomplish. Share the difficulty and pain that you are feeling. Talk with someone who is farther along in his recovery and can help you to normalize your reactions and get ideas for how to shift your attention into other kinds of activities and pursuits that are enjoyable and that relieve stress.

Many of our clients tell us that quitting porn is a humbling experience because you need to realize that you can't go it alone. It's about moving out of self-centeredness and letting go of the notion of "I'm in control, I can do this myself," and admitting that porn is extremely powerful and is capable of taking over your sexuality and seriously damaging your integrity, relationships and your future.

In "The Porn Trap" we have a whole chapter devoted to "Handling and Preventing Relapses." Here we explain why people relapse, how relapses progress, how to reverse a relapse, and how to prevent future relapses. It contains a powerful exercise called "If I Were to Relapse" that can help you identify and reduce thoughts, feelings and behaviors that might trigger a relapse. We also include many examples of specific changes that recovering porn users made, that reinforced new ways of dealing with emotional needs, boredom, and stress.

 
Wendy Maltz LCSW, DST, www.HealthySex.com

 

To see the "Table of Contents" of "The Porn Trap" and to read endorsements click here. You can purchase "The Porn Trap" on Amazon over here.

 

517.


Two Notes...

1) Duvid Chaim's 12-Step Big-Book Lunch & Learn Study Group launched (lunched?) its maiden voyage yesterday with 12 guys on the line. We covered the "Forwards", and today we will be starting the "real" Big Book material; "The Doctor's Opinion". So if you missed yesterday, join up with us today! See details of how to join at the bottom of Chizuk e-mail #515 over here.

2) In light of the announcement yesterday about Mrs. Zeva Citronenbaum's recovery group starting a new cycle, Zeva decided to push off the new cycle for a week or two, to give more time for people to sign up. The group will meet on the phone every Tuesday evening 9 PM ET, with members from GuardYourEyes. If you are looking for real clinical recovery with a professional and highly trained therapist for almost FREE ($10 a session!) then this is an opportunity that can't be missed. Please see this announcement on our forum for more information and to download the sign-up forms.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 Attitude Heroes

"Trying" posted today:

I'm sorry to say I had a fall yesterday. I didn't post right away, cuz I was depressed. I was extremely MAD at myself and I felt soooooooooo lost. I hated every part of me and my animalistic desire to sin. The feeling of shame trickled down all over my body. I felt oh so far from Kedusha, so far from Hakodsh Boruch Hu, and couldn't even bring myself to talk to him. It was pure agony. 

I slept it over and thought a bit. I tried taking some of the anger and directing it towards the sin and towards the forces (YH) that are making me vulnerable to it, instead of directing the anger at myself. 

I reviewed the Attitude Handbook and found solace in it once again. (Thank you GYE, I could never do it alone!) Some excerpts that helped me:

Quote: Now matter how much we have fallen, we must never view ourselves as "despised" by Hashem, or imagine that Hashem is annoyed and frustrated with us. Instead, as we learn to give over the addiction to Hashem and trust in Him to take it away from us more and more, we will begin to feel that Hashem is truly our closest and most eternal friend.

Despised was exactly how I felt. I was already 13 days clean beforehand, feeling much better, but my relationship with Hashem hasn't been growing so fast. Perhaps it was too slow and Hashem desired something more. "Hashem is truly our closest and most eternal friend", how I hope to feel that some day!

Quote: What makes a person great is his ability to get back up, despite his falls. And davka by having to renew your determination from the ground up, you will be rocketed into a much closer Kesher with Hashem than you ever had before!

This was really comforting. The first line is a cliché that people are always saying, but the next few words render it so true. This could be the way to get a closer connection with hashem!

Quote: Rabbi Nachman also said: "If you believe you can destroy, believe you can fix".

Efshar L'taken. I sang this song in my head all day, it has empowered me to finish my first clean day again. After all I do, Hashem in his infinite kindness, gives me another day, another tomorrow, which I can fill in the best way possible. Isn't that the greatest gift of all? :-)

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"7Up" posted on the forum:

Yesterday was day 25 and I got as close to falling as I have so far. But before I acted out though, I made myself picture a scale. On one side were all the seconds of sobriety that I have accumulated over 25 days. Did you know that 25 days has a whopping 2,160,000 seconds? On the other side of the scale, I imagined how many seconds of pleasure the fall would bring. Maybe 10? The equation was so clearly off that I lost interest immediately!

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Bardichev posted:

Often times I thought, what does the Y"H want from me? Am I going to take this with me to my kever??

The answer is - morai virabboisai - there are yiddin here on the forum who are living proof that it is never too late in the game to change course!!!

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Hoping responds:

Bardichev's words really resonated with me. The concern that I would take my sins to my grave was what really got me going. It is true that it is never too late to change, and it is also true that it is OK if I fight the YH till the day I die. That will actually be the biggest Zechus. We are not fighting the YH as a process to get through in order to be able to get back to normal life; the fight with the YH is the essence of our existence and that is what will stand before the Kisay Hakavod on the Yom Hadin Hagadol. And I hope that my place will be close to the Tzaddikim who inspire us with their battles on this site every day!'

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A new member who calls himself "needSomeHelp" just found our website and began his journey to 90 days clean. He posted today on the forum:

So I woke today feeling a new found spirituality. Don't ask me how... Maybe it was that little prayer I said when I woke in the middle of the night and couldn't sleep, and having my son sleeping next to me, I davened for Hashem to remove my stress and He did! So when I woke this morning to go daven, and I had never really paid attention to the words in davening before, but my gosh, how much there is just in brochas to combat the YH, I was like, WOW.... Hashem gave us the tools every morning to combat the YH and we never use them! So after davening, I got in the car to go to work and the perfect song came on: "Hamelamed Torah" from Yaakov Shwekey. And driving to work and listening to this song, I don't know what came over me, but I started to cry. I felt the small pipe to Hashem become a huge pipe, and I felt as if Hashem opened all the communications, just like he removed the stress last night. And it was like He was saying: "you have nothing to worry about my son, just keep on this new found path and I will keep you from all evil" and it feels amazing!

518.


The Tzadik Nistar with the Roman Catholic Sponsor
(Sorry for giving it away Dov :-)


One of the most inspirational members of our Forum is a guy named Dov (see his story here). He is sober in SA for 11 years and continues to join SA meetings until today. He often posts how the 12-Steps help him remain sober and live with Hashem day by day, but he never really gave us a glimpse into his personal Avoda - and he probably never would have - if not for a recent post on the forum.

One of the well meaning Tzadikim on our forum, who himself recovered without the 12-Steps, by using a lot of hard work and a deep understanding of the proper attitude in this struggle, posted the following about Dov:


I cry for a holy neshama that for 11 years feels like he still needs his Roman Catholic sponsor to help him be human. After whatever time it takes to break the cycle, it's time to GROW!

Dov believes in SA philosophy, which says that he needs to continuously concentrate on preserving his humanity. For preserving humanity, a Roman Catholic sponsor is indeed appropriate. But a Jew should be able to move beyond "preserving his humanity"!

All the sins are caused by the Yetzer Hara who has become "baal-habayis", but once we evict him, we can begin to soar. The very best way - according to the Torah - to effect the sinner positively, is to get him to understand that he is holy!

Dov replies:

What I am about to share with you is not tooting my horn at all, with Hashem's help. It is to let people who may not understand, become aware of what it is like for this sexaholic yid to have a Roman Catholic sponsor and still be going to meetings and using the steps, while in the twelfth year of Hashem's gift to me of recovery from all-consuming addiction to lust.

Before and during the years I was acting out, I was exposed to yiddishkeit (a product of Modern Orthodox day school, Yeshiva high, etc) and I was always a bit attracted to frum people, feeling that there was an answer there, to something...

I cried at NCSY sing-alongs and felt a strong "deveikus-like" thing in me; went to Yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel after high, and stopped masturbating for two years, except for one or two times during the summer while at home in the U.S. When I got married it got much worse, as I described a bit in my first post. Look at it if you want to get to know me any better... I'd be glad to describe the details of my behaviors in addiction privately if you'd like, but this is not the best venue for the gory details.

Anyhow, after starting SA in 1997 - and I'll fast forward to the past five years, as my avodah began to warm up. I was still going to meetings and using the steps I had worked, in my daily life. My sponsor shared how he worked them with me. He is now more of a friend than a "sponsor" (as his sponsor now is to him). I have many program friends, sponsees, etc, and I get and make recovery calls many times throughout the day. I do not see any advantage in pretending that I "got back on some kind of track" and that now I am OK, because I have experienced that my "allergy" to lust has not gone away. But I am free of lust almost all the time B"H, and my focus is on living with Hashem, as I'll elaborate on in a bit. I go to one meeting a week.

Over the past 6-7 years, my avoda got a boost from my finally going deeper into sfas emes, bnei yisoschar, and divrei chayim. This occurred around the same time that I had a little trouble with lust and finally started to work the steps into my daily life more seriously. Gemorah and TU"R have become more of a success over the past three years since I joined a Dirshu morning program (initially with an SA chavrusa!). I B"H gravitated toward kisvei Ariza"l with a chevra learning them in my neighborhood, and I began finding deeper meaning in my davening. This is in consonance with the 12-Step program concepts as well, Boruch Hashem. This was bolstered with Shaarei Ramchal for already 3 years now; and my chavrusa and I should be moving to Kla"ch soon, Be"H.

I was moved to start wearing Rabeinu TamTefillin about a year ago, and I find going to the Mikvah a great experience. I ask a Tzadik in my neighborhood for advice regularly and surrounded myself with experts on chumash, mussar and kaballah as much as possible. For the past two years I have been going through much of the Shelo Hakodosh on the parsha and sharing ideas from him with friends and family when I can. My physical relationship with my wife, as well as my relationship with all people, has been growing in ways that I see described in the seforim, thank G-d, and it is exhilarating. I am mostly able to be motivated by being useful to others, rather than by getting/taking. Enough said there.

My experience has been, that either I grow and change, broadening and deepening in avodah, or there is no point to it all. I perceive a force more powerful than I can understand, drawing me closer to Hashem. Still, I feel at peace most of the time. Because of being awakened by the steps, I want above all else to live with and be useful to people, more than ever before, yet be alone with Hashem all the time. My formerly very "self-centered" avodah never allowed me to do that, even though I was convinced I was a "kadosh". In fact, before the steps, the idea that I was intrinsically a "kodosh" was a tremendous ball and chain for me. It made failure so much more disappointing.

And please consider not assuming that "if only someone would have explained to me what it really all means, I'd have been "OK". That is not my experience. For most sexaholics and alcoholics I know, the holier they think they are, the worse and more depressed or pompous they get. I know what you really mean (which is that a Jew should see his intrinsic holiness as a great honor / responsibility), I just believe you can TELL addicts about it (or even convince them that they SHOULD believe it), but you cannot CONVINCE them that it is REALLY TRUE. This is a concept non-addicts do not ever seem to grasp.

Finally, I have been able, for the most part, to avoid looking at "normal" yidden who do not seem to need the depth and intensity of a relationship with Hashem as unfortunate. I also avoid shoving my perceived awareness in their face by asking them, for example, why they say brachos in a rush, as opposed to they way we'd say "thank-you" to anyone real. You know, stuff like that...

I have seen others give this "mussar" as though it was their own. It is not pretty, and it's unhealthy for me to pretend I deserve any awareness I got through my addiction/recovery. They were all free gifts and will stay that way. And I assume I'll lose them (along with my sobriety) if I forget that and start acting as if they are truly mine.


So I ask you, what more should I expect from myself, a sexaholic? I am sure we can all do better - me most of all - folks. But do you really still think I need to be cried for, and that the fact that I look up to a Roman Catholic man for sharing his sanity with me is hindering me?

Finally, I do not accept that my addiction to lust should be described in terms of "aveiros" and the "Yetzer Hara" as you describe it. I choose to just live right today, and I rely on Hashem to make the Tikunim. Yes, it is clear that recovery has lead me on what - in retrospect - the sforim describe as Teshuvah. But I choose not to "understand" the process that much, and leave it to Hashem.

519.


The Allergy

Ilan wrote me today:

Sometimes I wonder, "how can an amazing guy do nonsense like this?" I was thinking yesterday that I cannot really beat this addiction. Even if I put a filter on this computer at the university, there are five computers next to this one. I thought last night, just like a smoker smokes, a p-rn addict looks at p-rn. That is just my problem, and I must live with it. BUT I CANNOT LIVE WITH IT, BECAUSE EVERY DAY I LOOK AT THIS STUFF IT DESTROYS MY DAY AND NIGHT, AND IF I DON'T STOP IT WILL DESTROY MY LIFE AND MY DREAMS, AND I WILL EVENTUALLY GET INTO BIG TROUBLE.  

Sorry to bore you with this. I just don't know who to turn to anymore.
 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Ilan,

I would like to address three of your concerns:
1) The fact that you keep falling and can't seem to control it
2) The fact that installing a filter for you cannot really solve the problem
3) The fear that this will eventually destroy your life

(1) As far as not being able to control it, I just had a similar discussion this morning with an unmarried boy in Australia who also can't understand how he keeps falling again and again, even though he's been on our network for over a year and he had thought that he already internalized all the "Yesodos". But the moment he is faced with a serious lust trigger, everything he learned flies "out the window" and he falls.

Duvid Chaim recently shared with us all on the phone conference, that lust addiction is like an "allergy". If you'd be walking down an isle in a super-market and someone banged into you from the back with his shopping cart, once, twice, three times, you'd get really upset, no? You'd turn around and say "what's going on? Can't you watch where you're going?!"... But what if you turned around and saw that the guy was crippled and that he was trying to shop while balancing on crutches, would you yell at him? No, you'd say to yourself "nebach, poor guy" and even offer to help him.

We have to understand that we lust addicts are crippled in this area. We have an ALLERGY to lust. If someone is allergic to peanuts and he eats them anyway, his face will blow up. There's nothing he can do about it, he will never be able to "control" his allergic reaction; all he can do is avoid the peanuts in the first place. When a lust addict is faced with a trigger, he is powerless and will be pulled into it. Duvid Chaim explained to us that an addict will never be able to CONTROL his addiction, i.e. his allergic reaction to lust. Rather, the 12-Steps teach us how to be FREE from it.

To reinforce what I am saying above about the importance of the 12-Steps, and also to address (2) your concern that installing a filter can't really help you now, I want to remind you what Rabbi Twerski wrote to you once (since you shared this with me):

Dear Ilan,

The campaign by some haredi leaders to eliminate the internet, even if desirable, is not realistic. While anyone with a bit of know-how can work around a filter, it can nevertheless be of help to a person who is sincere in escaping from this quicksand.

Chazal say, "Tzoras rabbim chatzi nechama." I don't know if it applies to this. Yours was the fourth contact of its kind this week. Internet addiction has become epidemic among the frum men AND women! If you have a fax machine, I can send you copies of letters just like yours.

You are right. Promises don't help and nedarim don't help. Psychiatry and psychology are not of much help. It is very much an addiction over which self-controls don't work.

For alcohol and drug addiction, there are support groups of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. For sexual addiction there is Sexaholics Anonymous.

A frum person will say, "No way I can expose my problem by going to a meeting." I understand. There is a very fine, very frum young man who is in recovery from this problem. He'll be glad to talk with you. He does not need to know your name. The most effective help can come from someone who has overcome this problem. I'll e-mail you his number. You can call him and you will remain anonymous.

Twerski


So Ilan, we see from Rabbi Twerski's reply to you above, that although installing a filter can be of help in keeping it out of immediate reach, it is not meant to be an adequate solution on its own. We also see from his reply that "self-controls" don't work in cases of addiction, and your best bet is a 12-Step group.

So even if you are not ready to join an SA group in your area, join Duvid Chaim's daily group by phone! (See info at the bottom).

Now, to address your last concern (3) that this will eventually destroy your life; I would like to share with you what Duvid Chaim wrote to all the members of the phone group yesterday:

To the Chevra,
 
For those of you who have come "on board" the BBL&LSG (Big Book Lunch & Learn Study Group) Cruise Ship during the first three days of our Journey, I want to express my appreciation and admiration for your courage and commitment.  I know it's very tough joining a new Fellowship of Men, each a stranger to the other, and all of us unsure if we feel totally safe.
 
This feeling is totally understandable and it fits quite well with the Cruise Ship analogy.  I remember taking a cruise for the first time and got quite nervous when one of the first things they did was conduct an emergency drill. All of the passengers had to learn careful directions what to do, where to go and how to find your life preserver - all for the possibility that the ship might sink!! 
 
And I thought that I paid big bucks to go on a vacation that was promoted as relaxing and luxurious. I guarantee you that when I woke up the next morning and saw that we were out in the middle of the ocean and there wasn't a drop of land in sight anywhere, I was beginning to wonder what had I gotten myself into. You can be sure that I knew exactly where my life preserver was and the route I needed to run to get to the escape boats.
 
In our discussion today, we discussed the ATTITUDE one must have to find success and recovery in the Program. Those who follow the history of the 12 Step AA Program recognize that the individual most likely to succeed in the Program and find recovery is the one who has hit rock bottom and has lost it all. 
 
Chas V'Shalom though, that we should hit rock bottom. But ask yourself, "how really far away am I from rock bottom?"  Just think how one small step, or one tiny mess up and how your world could come crashing in. Ask yourself "what would my life be like IF my spouse found out about my addiction or my kids or my boss or community? How quickly could my life end up in a nightmare, with divorce, kids that hated me, a community that rejected me?"
 
If your first response to my question is "how quickly can I get myself out of the Group and back into my isolation and seclusion", then you know that your attitude is pulling you in the wrong direction. INSTEAD, you should take my questions and think seriously, "where am I headed?" And "how comfortable have I become in my addiction that I think that I'm safe and in control?"
 
That's why in our call today, I asked everyone to now imagine that our Cruise Ship is the Titanic.  You can be sure that all of the passenger that embarked on the Titanic paid a huge sum and were confident that they had boarded an "unsinkable Ship". Of course, we all know the rest of the Story.
 
The message of the Titanic is that we need to treat our addiction like a sinking ship and that MY LIFE DEPENDS ON THE 12 STEP PROGRAM! And only through a serious commitment to learning and working the Steps, will I find recovery and a life full of contentment, peace and connectedness to G-d, family, and to the precious Neshama that Hashem placed inside me. 

YOU are your Neshama's LIFE PRESERVER. It's up to you to save it - BEFORE you hit rock bottom.
(See Chizuk e-mail #441 on this page for more about "Hitting Bottom while Still on Top")
 
So please keep coming back, because YOU'RE WORTH IT!
 
Your friend,
Duvid Chaim

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For those who haven't joined Duvid Chaim's group yet, we still haven't gotten so far out of the Port that you can't join.

Join the BBL&LSG conference call TODAY with the following instructions:

Dial in Number is: (712) 432-0080

When prompted, enter the "Conference Access Code" - 121318 then the # sign.

Then you will be included in the call.

To MUTE - enter Star - *6 or mute you device
To EXIT - enter Star *3 or hang up
For Instructions - enter Star *4

520.


Pearls of Wisdom From "Rebbe Dov"

Excerpts of Dov's posts on our Forum

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The addiction is really a gift in disguise...

I was frum before and I'm frum now, but it is clear to me that my relationship with Hashem was not personal and not real to ME, before sobriety. All addicts who recover through AA feel the same way, it seems. So I say, without what you call "the Yetzer Hara" - I call it "our addiction" - I obviously would not have had a true relationship with Hashem. This was because I did not perceive that I needed Him, period. So in this respect, the addiction is our friend. After all, who needs Hashem when they think they are OK? 

The single most powerful Emuna/Bitachon tool in my life, came through sobriety. Especially early on. Learning moved me a great deal, but I was not able to put it into practice, particularly when lust was involved. But... actually experiencing Hashem helping little me stay sober in the moment, did the trick. Then slowly, the Torah I had learned began to blossom, and it still is.

At first this was distressing: "why couldn't I learn these things and really believe them like everyone else I know does (I guess)?!" As Guard wrote, I may have known it, but I was not able to live by it!

But after really finding that I was successfully using Hashem's help every day, it dawned on me: "who cares what event brought this awareness into us? What matters is that we definitely get (through recovery) what the tzaddikim were trying to teach us about.

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What to do when feeling lust...


When my house is on fire with lust, and my body is telling me "I need it, I need it," and it feels clear that it is in my absolute best interest to do this crazy thing, I need to remind myself that it is a 100%, total, lie. But that is not enough. I must also have a truth to replace it with! And that truth is; Hashem loves me, He has nothing better for me than what He is giving me right now, this moment is precious, etc...

B"H, hearing and seeing other guys in person, and sharing their experiences in doing this very thing, was - and is, very important to me. "We are only as sick as our secrets" is a big motto in 12-step circles. When we get the insides OUT, we are grabbing hold of a long term solution.

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Simcha vs. Pleasure


The basis of addictive behavior is "I want to feel good right now". Certainly being be'simcha is a yesod of yiddishkeit (and as AAs say "if you are sad all the time you are not working the steps right"), but nowhere do we see any Torah source saying "if it feels good, do it" - or - "if it is hard or painful, then it avoid it!". Rather, we see things like lefum tzaara agra, etc....

Remember, you and me did all our acting out to "feel good", right? We addict-types obviously have no clue (functionally speaking) about what really makes us happy in life.

Life - and certainly living right - is not all about feeling better right now. It is about being fulfilled; the "feeling good" comes me'meila. But if it's our goal, forget it.

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R' Dov's Married Life in Recovery

For my wife, the best day of our lives together was the day she realized that I had started to change. It was after about a year of sobriety, soon after my 4th & 5th steps (which incidentally, I felt I had done a lousy "job" on). We have never watched our wedding video since I got sober, and it's been a bunch of years... She has no interest in it because it pales in comparison to what is going on now. We are really a unit today (though far from a perfect one).

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The Damage of the Addiction


Someone posted: "having a handle on the lusting is proving to leave me with enough energy, which can be more profitably used elsewhere".

R' Dov responds:

Please consider that you are really only recognizing the tip of the iceberg when you say this. It is much, much more than a waste of your precious energy. It is actually deforming and poisoning every aspect of your life with self-centerdness, disproportional comparisons and irrational thinking.

If you take hold of the steps and actually work them the way your sponsor did, get a sober chevra to stay sober with (preferably alive and talkable, like in a meeting) and make calls as needed, your chances are really good.

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Regaining our Sanity


Once we stop acting out, we embark on a journey of recovery. "Recovery"? from what are we recovering? We are getting our Sanity back! (we probably did have it when we were five or six years old...). After all, it is insane (see Websters, really) to be doing all kinds of things that we really know are destroying us, our families, etc.

I didn't feel insane, per se, when I came to SA, though I was very frustrated with my weakness and apparent stupidity. But over the first year and a half I recognized it: "Uh oh, Sanity! I guess I really was nuts before, cuz I didn't have this!

I assume, like me, you have not come this far (posting and asking for help on a forum for men with por-n problems!) just because you are just "sick and tired" of disappointment with yourself, or even because it's so upsetting to be doing aveiros. Don't get me wrong, I am not a fan of aveiros! But, as I have posted about before, trying to finally stop doing these terrible aveiros never got me into recovery. Well, let's say it never kept me there. Trying to stop dying, on the other hand, did wonders. I presume you feel clear that in some respect, this lust problem is killing you and that is why you are going this far to get help. If so, Sanity is definitely for you, and you have come to the right place to start getting it back! :-)

So, here it is. After we stop acting out, with Hashem's help, the program is here to help us change into the kind of people who do not need to go back to acting out. Basically, that means "getting a life" and learning what to do so that you can stay in it, for a change.

Lust "opportunities" (including sights, sounds, ideas, memories, people, whatever triggers us) can distract us from our lives. It's not really about acting out any more, it's about reality. It's about staying alive. That's it in a nutshell: we can't afford to get distracted from our real lives, at all.

Even though the steps talk a lot about G-d, the program is not religious: it ends with you getting your freedom back. You are now awake!  Now it is up to the individual to determine how he knows what G-d wants him to do, and that is where religion (may) start. And B"H we have a Torah that is true, that we love, and we believe Hashem helps us live it!

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If you feel I am "pushing too hard", please consider that I'm not telling you what to do at all, just sharing what worked for me. That is what loving someone is about, no?

Hatzlocho and good Shabbos, brother!

521.


Yesodos A to Z by "Battleworn"
(Part 1)

Excerpts of Battleworns's "Torah Approach" on our Forum Here.

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In this struggle, we must internalize the following truths:

a) Those who struggle with this issue should understand that the purpose Hashem sent us to this world was to work on this very issue!

b) The reason we are given a lifetime, is because that's how long it takes until we get it right. And no one said it's supposed to be easy!

c) Hashem doesn't make bad investments, so when He gave you this mission He knew what He was doing!

d) Everything depends on the eyes, the heart and the mouth!

e) Every effort that we make is worth infinitely more than anything in this world, EVEN IF WE FELL IN THE END!

f) The only thing we really have bechira (free choice) on is ratzon (our WILL). Even hishtadlus (our effort) is part of ratzon. Success is only in the hands of Hashem!

g) Our job is to do everything that we can. What we can't do, is not our problem. And if we can't do anything, all we need to do is have pure Emunah and leave everything up to Hashem! The clear realization that there is "nothing besides Hashem" has the power to bring tremendous Heavenly assistance, and at the same time - it destroys the lust at it's source!

h) The only way to fight the y"h is to learn how to avoid him! 
 
i) Not only is this nissoyon (test) not a hindrance to your success, but in fact it's the only way possible for you to reach your goal!

j) Hashem is totally and completely on your side, and he's NOT disgusted with you!

k) Every yerida (downfall) is always a preparation for an aliyah (going up)!

l) The greatest nachas ruach for Hashem is when someone who is in the grip of the Yetzer Hara still tries to fight. This is the ultimate Shechinah Betachtonim (the divine presence in the lowest places) which is the purpose of all creation!

m) Hashem does not expect you to do it alone! In fact, isolation breeds lust as it says in Mishlei: "Lataavah Yivakesh nifrad - lust seeks isolation". That's why Hashem gave us this Holy Holy GuardYourEyes network!
 

We will bring "n - Z" tomorrow, be"h.

 

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"Quotable" of the Day

By "Pilpher"


Learning From an SS Commandant

I was speaking to an 87 year old Warsaw ghetto and Auschwitz survivor before Mincha on Shabbos. He mentioned that seeing his entire family wiped out only strengthened him to keep up the energy to remain alive until the war finished - and then to rebuild his family, contrary to Hitler's wish to destroy it. He is now a proud great-grandfather. (And I thought my battles were difficult!)

Just to pound the point home, he mentioned that after the war he found a former ghetto member learning in yeshiva - he was previously irreligious. According to this ba'al teshuva, he owed his change in direction to an SS commandant: When being taken on a forced death march as the war was finishing, he was being marched in the freezing cold with no food for days - and anyone who fell was shot on the spot. Eventually, he did fall, and whilst waiting for the relief of a bullet, the commandant who was about to finish him off, instead bent down and told him to get up. He refused - he had no strength left. To which the commandant replied - "there is no such thing as I can't - only I don't want."

This man got up somehow and went on to survive the war.


To all those who had a recent fall, let us take this lesson to heart. There is no such thing as "I can't get back up". If we aren't getting back up, it is only because we don't WANT TO.

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Saying of the Day
By "7Up"

"One minute plus one minute plus one minute = forever!"

 

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Testimonial of the day

By "Rashkebehag"

I just want to relate that recently I had the urge to take a second look at a prutzah that went by and I remembered the Chizuk e-mail about making a million dollars and it really helped. (Shmiras Ainayim Chizuk e-mail #160)

522.


Yesodos A to Z by "Battleworn"
Part 2 (yesterday we brought "A-M", now we bring "N-Z")

Excerpts of Battleworns's "Torah Approach" on our Forum Here.

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In this struggle, we must internalize the following truths:

n) Every effort and every good ratzon (desire) adds up, and at the end Hashem brings the salvation in the merit of everything together!

o) The effort that we invest in this area has unparalleled significance and power (for example, we see in Chazal that Klal Yisrael merited the splitting of the sea just in the zechus of Yosef Hatzadik having gone against his nature). It is called Midas Hayesod and it's the very foundation upon which all other Avodas Hashem is built!

p) Every time we hold back from sinning is many many times more significant than the times that we chas veshalom stumble. It's on these successes that we can and must build, while being careful not to concentrate on the falls (except lito'eles). There's no place at all for the "All or nothing" attitude!

q) Hashem wants our hearts! We must realize how much lust distances us from Hashem and we must want to give it up completely. If we try to stop sinning but we continue lusting, it won't work. Giving Hashem our hearts is the very core of Torah life!

r) The lust we feel is only a "levush" (a disguise) that the Yetzer Hara puts on our longing for Hashem. At the source, these desires are really holy of Holies - a powerful all-encompassing yearning to be close to Hashem. By fulfilling this true inner desire and developing a closer and closer relationship with Hashem, the lust will disappear. It also follows, that by weakening this disguise, our longing for Hashem will be able to shine through much stronger. We therefore need to work on both aspects at the same time (developing a closer relationship with Hashem at the same time that we cut back on the lust).

s) We need to have "Bitachon" (faith) that Hashem will save us if we do our part. Bitachon means that we need to be calm and rely on Hashem, while at the same time putting in maximum effort. Feeling "stress" in this struggle is detrimental to our battle, besides being a contradiction to Bitachon. Effort is our only duty, but results are completely up to Hashem! It also follows that even if we didn't "succeed", if we tried our hardest, then it was indeed a total success!

[Important note: Hishtadlus (putting in effort) is not a contradiction to Bitachon. Hashem gives us the tests because our fighting is worth so much in his eyes. This fighting is a very integral part of the purpose of creation. The value of one second of fighting is more than the value of the whole material world in its entirety, and it has the terrific power of bringing us so close to Hashem and His Torah! It's the "stress" and the notion that "I am responsible for the results" that we have to get rid of.]

t) We are Holy! Even if we sinned thousands of times, inside we are purely good. The obvious proof to this, is that we are looking to break free. The Yetzer Hara's main objective in getting us to sin is to try and "prove" to us that we are lowlifes. That way, he can weaken our entire avodas Hashem. We need to expose the fallacy and keep reminding ourselves how holy we are!

u) We were chosen by Hashem for this sensitive mission (of revealing the Shechinah in the darkest places). We are Hashem's "special force" soldiers and we should be extremely proud of it! We need to embrace this mission with great Simcha Shel Mitzvah and remember that we are emissaries of Hashem Himself! 

v) When one sins, he is not "annoying" Hashem, rather he is hurting himself and distancing himself from the source of all good. It's not "me and the lust" with Hashem on the outside, rather it's "me and Hashem", and the lust is the outsider who gets between us and disturbs the greatest love imaginable.

w) When faced with a test, we must always think "What does Hashem want from me at this moment?". The past and the future are not relevant. When we realize that every moment is given to us by Hashem for the purpose of doing His will in that moment - without any dependence on the past and future, there's no room at all for "yi'ush" (despair).

x) If we find ourselves in the midst of a fall and we stop right in the middle, the accomplishment is even greater!

y) If we were doing well and we chas veshalom had a fall, the past gains were not lost. All we have to do is learn from the fall, bounce back up and continue going even higher!

z) If you searched hard and long and davened your heart out so many times and still don't see the light at the end of the tunnel, this should not surprise you. Hashem in His infinite wisdom knew that for our own good there needs to be a tremendous all-encompassing darkness before Moshiach comes. By continuing to do what we can and not giving up even in such a situation, we are accomplishing the greatest "tikkun" in history, and THAT is what will bring Moshiach!
 

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"12 Step" Tip of the Day

By "Duvid Chaim":
Moderator of the daily 12-Step phone conference

 

A good week to everyone! I hope your Shabbos was filled with tranquility and connectedness to your spouse, your kids, your friends and most of all - to HaKadosh Baruch Hu. I know mine certainly was - in spite of the fact that my wife and my kids were out of town this Shabbos. This connectedness during a Shabbos when I was "all alone" is a relatively recent experience. Before the 12 Step Program, I couldn't bear Shabbos without my family near me. I hated being alone and all unto myself. The worst thoughts and urges would appear, and I didn't know what to do with myself.

 

Baruch Hashem, not anymore.

 

If anyone wants to really "prove" to themselves that their addiction lives deep inside their heads, all you have to do is see how you handle being alone OR how you handle the Lazy - Unplanned - usually Disorganized day of the week known as Sunday. 

 

"Why should this matter to my addiction??" you might ask.

 

Bill's story (and others) in The Big Book, share with us the impact that "isolation" has on our propensity to act out.

 

We may think that we have some semblance of control during the work week. After all, we're so busy - focusing on our careers, our family needs, providing for and supporting our family, our employees, our civic responsibilities. Who has time to think??!!  Much less have time to act out? 

 

In addition, we may be attending a 12 Step Meeting or a Shiur or keeping in touch with our Sponsor of Fellows in the Program. Yes, I feel in charge and "in control" through all these efforts. (AND certainly, you shouldn't stop any of this). But the truth is that all of this busy activity is just a cover up.

 

Just look what happens on SUNDAY, when the day is quiet and unplanned or lazy? Do you hear it? Inside your head? Yep, it's there! That little annoying voice telling you that you're bored and need something to focus on. You can't just sit around all day, that wouldn't be right.

 

That little voice that lives deep inside our head is the best proof of our powerlessness over our addiction - our "disease". Just think about that word - "disease".  It means DIS - EASE or "LACK OF EASE". This is a good description of what it means to us to be "twisted-up" or unhappy "in our skin."  

 

It's this state of dis-ease that tells us to "take back control" - to turn to a behavior that comforts us - to soothe ourselves.  And those "blessed" with sexaholism know that our drug of choice is "acting out" - through internet porn or chat rooms, or masturbation or cruising the scene.

 

Why?? BECAUSE WE JUST CAN'T FEEL HAPPY IN OUR SKIN!

 

That is, until we take the Steps - The 12 Steps - especially the 1st STEP: admitting powerlessness.

 

And that's why I invite you to continue this week on our Journey, as we Cruise through the Big Book; picking up on page 2 in Bill's Story.

 

You will soon see for yourself - in time - as you make it through recovery by working the Steps, that you can look forward to Sunday - or any day that you are "alone" - confident that what lives deep inside your head will be a different voice, not the one that urges you into the addiction - but instead a voice that calls you to Teshuvah and to stay connected to the real Truth, to HIM.

 

So keep coming back, because it works if you work it - and your worth it!

 

Until then, I am yours truly,

Duvid Chaim

 

P.S. As a reminder - The Big Book Study Group Lunch & Learn meets Monday through Thursday at noon EST. Call into our conference call at (712) 432 0080 - then enter 121318#. Don't worry if you haven't joined us so far, now's a great time to start!

 

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Saying of the Day
Posted by "London"

"Serenity is not peace from the storm but peace amid the storm"

 

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Testimonial of the day

By "Noorah B'Amram"

Welcome aboard this holy site, my name is Noorah B'Amram and I wish to tell you that Guard's Handbooks are everything he says - and then some!! (I've gone thru them more then once). I'm on the 90 day wall of Honor and the forum to post my progress, fears, hopes and prayers. To me this a great motivator and you may want to consider it too.

523.


Fire in the House of Amram!

A great big MAZAL TOV to our member "Nura B'Amram" who has reached a full 90 days today and joined our Wall of Hashem's Honor on the Yartzeit of the Holy Ohr Hachayim Hakadosh.

May the light of this holy "Nura" (fire) continue to be an "Ohr Hachayim - a Light of Life" to all of us on the forum for years to come!

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In honor of Nura's Simcha we ask everyone to download this Niggun and rejoice together with him. It is called the "Bardichever Niggun" and I chose it because Nura considers another member on our forum who calls himself "Bardichev" to be his virtual "Rebbe" :-) This niggun is a mixture of simcha and yearning, a tune of deep longing for Hashem; perfect for this celebration!

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Why does he call himself "Nura Be'amram"?

The Gemara in Kidushin 81a brings the following story of Rav Amram Raban Shel Chassidim:

Some women who had been taken captive were redeemed and brought to Nehardai. They were kept in the attic of Rav Amram the Chasid and the ladder was removed. At night, a beam of light reflected off one of the women, revealing her beauty. Rav Amram was seized with lust and he moved the ladder (which normally needed 10 people to move it) and began to ascend. As he was halfway up, he screamed "Nura Bei Amram - There is a fire in Rav Amram's house!" and the Rabanan flocked to his house. After they saw that there was no fire they said to him "You embarrassed us (with your behavior)!". Answered Rav Amram: "It is better to suffer embarrassment in this world than in the next".

Please see tool #9 of the GuardYourEyes handbook where we use this story as one of the strongest demonstrations in Chazal of the power of "human accountability", and how we should not to rely on "Fear of Heaven" alone when dealing with lust. After all, even the biggest Tzadik and Chasid like Rav Amram, was forced to use human accountability when faced head-on with lust. (And a lust addict is faced head-on with lust many times a day!)l

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Nura's Ramble


I ask the genteel reader to forgive me in advance if my literary attempt may not adhere to the rules of grammar and diction, and this "rant" may even come up lacking in style and prose, for its not literary awards that I seek, nor is fame and glory my goal, rather this is a very humble attempt to present a few snapshots of my life and my tremendous Debt of Gratitude to der Heilega Guard and all the holy chevra of the GYE network.

It is my deepest wish, that the following "ramble" give others who read it succor, comfort and maybe even a little strength to continue our mutual upward climb on the proverbial "ladder" leading to the "House of Hashem"!

My Nature 


By nature I'm an introverted and intensely private person who likes the pleasure of his own company (pun unintended). This is a precursor to lonesomeness, which in turn is lethal when it comes to p**n addiction! 

I also struggled all the years with what today I recognize as a mixture of low self esteem coupled with very high aspirations; a toxic and deadly mix. My work also doesn't allow me to tap into the wellsprings of strengths that can be found in camaraderie!


My struggle with mast**n began in earnest when I was about 15 years old - maybe even earlier, (yes, those ubiquitous infamous Sears catalogs are what I owe my chinuch to; all you parents out there BEWARE, I beg you to get rid of the catalogues from your house!!!! You know which ones I mean!)
 
I remember as a young man going to Manhattan in middle of the night to buy p**n magazines - I probably even wore my white shirt but made sure to take off my yarmuka! (as if it didn't say across my forehead in bold letters "ORTHODOX JEW" hiding from no one other than myself). In my excitement/nervousness I locked the keys inside the car. I didn't think I could've called Chaveirim (A HUGE network of chesed in The NY Metro area), I doubt they respond to Times square/42nd street area in middle of the night. But the Ribono shel Olam was with me even in Times Square, as the Pasuk says "I am Hashem who dwells with them within their impurities" - literally!

I come from a family of Talmidei Chachamim and Tzadikim, some of my ancestors are actually household names (talk about GUILT). Some people consider me a learned person or maybe even a bit of a Talmid Chacham, some may even consider me a tzadik, who knows? (It's now ringing loudly in my ears the oath that I took before they let me loose upon this world: "swear that you will be a tzadik and you won't be a rasha, and even if the whole world tells you that you are a tzadik, in thine own eyes know who you really are!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). But all my lineage, knowledge and erudition; all my alleged piety, was - and is - no protection from a very real p**n addiction. On the contrary, it only made the addiction worse. No need to belabor that point!!!

My last fall and The GYE Network


Having been clean for about a year, I had just completed a huge project at work and was drained both emotionally and physically. At this point I can't even remember what actually triggered the fall, and it's not very important. But what a spectacular and magnificent crash it was!!! The only thing I know was that I was in such a slump, that it seemed nothing could pull me out, not Purim, not the upcoming Pesach holiday, nothing. I was as frigid and indifferent as could be, so cold and indifferent that I actually was frightened for my own sanity. I was coasting and getting by at work, and in my family life it was all just going through the motions for the sake of my wife and children, and just barely that! It was as if the life was sucked out of me, time had stopped... hours on end, clickin 'n surfin you know where... (maybe it's better you don't know where).

All the kings horses and all the kings men couldn't put Nurah back together again until...

Enter the GYE network and the holy Chevra!


How did I find the GYE network, you ask?

Good old Google!!! I don't remember what I was Googling but I definitely remember that it was Google that brought me here. As the saying goes: "From the wound itself came the healing". The very same Google that took me into sh'eol tachtis, that very same Google brought me my life preserver..... all of you on the GYE network :-)

(Admin: See below for a D'var Torah from the Ohr Hachayim Hakadosh in honor of his Yartzeit - on this very idea!)

One of the stated goals of the GYE network is the concept of "Hitting bottom while still (relatively) on top" (Admin: see Chizuk e-mail #441 on this page). GYE was to me exactly that; a giant baseball bat right between the eyes letting me know in the clearest of terms: Buddy, shape up before you loose it all!
 
GYE lifted me up by the scruff of my neck and shook me till my teeth rattled!!

GYE shouted at me LOUD and CLEAR in the strongest language possible "Hey Nurah , if  you want  to avoid the indescribable pain that some of the chevrah write about, you  better take yourself in hand and admit that you are an addict" 

Filter


Because I thought I was immune to the wiles of the Yetzer Hara I had been lax in installing a no-nonsense filter. I must thank the Guard and the GYE filter page, and some of the  posters who stressed over and over the monumental importance of having the strongest filter possible and giving the password to someone else - as I have since done. (Admin: See here for instructions on how to do this best).

Ninety days


Kudos to the brilliantly conceived 90 Day Wall Of Honor, a fabulous motivator.

Yet, I "celebrate" 90 days today with the  greatest of caution. For me, Nurah, the 90 day mark must remain a mere "mile marker" on the journey of the "rest of my life", that is all. I pray that I will not succumb to any feeling of having "arrived" anywhere, because it's this very feeling of "arrival" that leads to the complacency - which gets me into trouble every time!!!

In conclusion
Do I hear a collective sigh of relief? :-)


I learned from all my masters on the forum (yes, I consider all the holy chevrah on the forum my rebbe'im and masters - each and every one of you - more then you will ever know):

Arrogance preceded and precipitated my fall, and only genuine anava (humility) will lift me up and sustain my recovery!
 
Reb Dov and others have so eloquently posted on the forum that SOBRIETY is a gift from the Almighty. And it is my deepest prayer that we all continue to be worthy of this great gift from Hashem, the GIFT OF SOBRIETY...... THE GIFT OF LIFE!!!! 

L'CHAIM L'CHAIM--- TO ONE AND ALL, L'CHAIM!!!!

 

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Saying of the Day
By "Efshar Lisaken"

"You cant win if you don't play"

 

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"Torah" Thought of the Day

In Honor of the Yartzeit of the Ohr Hachayim Hakadosh


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 ("le'hotzi boi'lo mi'piv").

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! (See Nura's story above, how he describes finding our network using Google: the very tool that had brought him previously to the depths).

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"Q & A" of the Day
In Honor of the Yartzeit of the Ohr Hachayim Hakadosh

Question: MosheF asks:

I am part of a non-Jewish 12-Step SA fellowship. I wish there was a solution to the disease of addiction in yiddishkeit, but to the best of my knowledge there is none. There is hardly mention of the concept of addiction or a solution in chazal or mussar seforim. This begs for an explanation that I don't have.

Rabbi/Dr.Twersky responded to one such question here and he writes as follows: "Whereas forbidden sexual activity certainly occurred, I doubt that the phenomenon of sexual addiction was ever brought to the attention of the authors of sifrei mussar."

I have a hard time accepting this answer because Chazal understood the human psychology and Yetzer Hara extremely well, and they didn't have to be told about a phenomenon to write about it!

 

Answer:

Dear MosheF,


Please read the Ohr Hachayim Hakadosh on this page (for English translations of this important piece, please see Chizuk e-mails #379, #381, #385 on this page). It sure sounds to me like he's talking about lust addiction! He directly addresses the complete powerlessness that a person who is caught up in lust will experience. He suggests that the only way to succeed in this area is by completely avoiding visual and mental stimulation. (If the Ohr Hachayim had lived today where this solution is close to impossible - and where the entire world's sewage is available with the click of a mouse, who knows - he may have come up with a 12-Step program! :-).

But listen to this: The Ohr Hachayim also touches upon the core of the 12-Steps in this very piece. He writes that for those who are already caught up in lust (read: addicts) they cannot do it on their own, and that ONLY Hashem can ultimately save them from this powerful Yetzer Hara.

This Ohr Hachayim is very inspiring. Definitely worth a read - especially on his yartzeit today!

524.


Lust Seeks Isolation

Four Different Phone Group Options on GuardYourEyes

The saying goes "Lust glows in the dark". If we can succeed to bring the lust into the light it will quickly fade away. As Duvid Chaim always says: "Get out of your head!". Tell a friend, call a sponsor or discuss your struggles with your group. The huge bubble of lust quickly pops when brought out into the open air.

Ask any SA sponsor or addiction therapist and they'll tell you that the number one trick to finding freedom from lust addiction is to "GET OUT OF ISOLATION". The Pasuk in Mishlai (18:1) says: "Le'taava yevakesh nifrad - Desire seeks isolation". Being isolated causes us to go after our Taavah - our lust. The addiction wants us to withdraw into ourselves and disconnect from life, because that's where the disease festers and breeds.

For the first time in history, GuardYourEyes is proud to present four different phone groups to help religious Jews connect with other addicts anonymously and work together to break free from the grasp of this insidious addiction. Besides for the immense power of group support that these phone conferences provide, they also teach us the tools of how to find freedom from this addiction, mainly through the world's most proven and powerful method of all time: the 12-Steps.

GuardYourEyes is proud to present these four phone group options in a clear and organized manner for the first time today, so that you can find the group that works best for you.

If you haven't joined a group yet, now is a great time to start! (Today on Wednesday, you can still catch Boruch's group at 9 PM - see below).

You owe it to yourself!

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Here are the four groups:
Click the links to learn more!


Group 1: Duvid Chaim's Group: Monday through Thursday 12 PM EST. An in-depth 12-Step Big-Book Study Lunch & Learn. An SA style group for men who are willing to make a serious commitment to finally find the freedom from their addiction; as literally promised by the Program.

Group 2: Boruch's Group: Wednesday Evenings 9 PM EST. "Back to Basics" - 12-Steps in 4 Weeks; an anonymous SA phone conference. A proven program with high success rates.

Group 3: Elya's Group: Thursday Evenings 9 PM EST. An anonymous 12-Step phone conference that follows the rules and traditions of the SLAA (Sex and Love Addiction Anon) fellowship.

Group 4: Zeva's Group: Tuesday Evenings 9 PM EST. A weekly anonymous phone group, offering professional clinical therapy, 12-step work, DBT Skills (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy), Pat Carnes work... and more!

 

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"Pilpher" posted about Duvid Chaim's group:

So far 4 full days of cleanliness, not even a slip B"H. Also coincidentally 4 days of participation in Duvid Chaim's telephone conference. Probably unrelated coincidence. Can't imagine that there is a link :-)

Another first - I doubt that any of the clean times that I have previously had were ever as clean as this one. It is a different experience. I feel a bit like I have been on a water diet after sampling the rich foods of temptation. Very cleansed and very happy. And this is just after 4 days.

"Momo" posted about Duvid Chaim's group:

I thought I'd update everyone that thank HaShem I have 10 clean days so far. I haven't had that many days for a few weeks. I thank HaShem and Duvid Chaim's call group which offers hope and a way to fight the addiction with yesodot from the ground up.

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"Postal" posted about Boruch's group:

I've been working the 12 Steps the past weeks with the Back to Basics group... I'm very glad I was able to get over my initial doubts about the 12 Steps. They really have a potential to work!

The 12 Steps seem like a step-by-step TESHUVAH SHLEIMA Program!

"todahlakayl" posted about Boruch's group:

I just want to say I went on the phone meeting last night and it was fantastic!!! This Back to Basics is truly amazing!! Simple, straight and to the point. Something simple is the recipe all of us Sexaholics need to start us on the road to recovery!! I bless everyone with sobriety just for today!!! Take care !!! Be well !!!

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Elya posted after the first two months running his phone group (about a year ago):

Our phone group has only been on for 2 months and 90% of the guys have 5-8 weeks of sobriety. These are people that have been acting out for over 20-30 YEARS. You have to willing to take the first step and begin. You won't make a fool of yourself because no one judges you or gives you advice. You just talk it out, then the next person talks it out. Problems are solved later privately. Just speaking it out and listening to others is very powerful. I hope to "see" you on the calls!

Elya wrote just recently about his phone group:

Members who attend regularly now, have months of sobriety under their belts. They describe in meetings how their lives have changed dramatically at home, at work and in social situations, even in their relationship with Hashem. They have begun to explore the root causes of this disease and are learning how to live a life of spiritual connection instead of fantasy.

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"Jack" posted yesterday about the power of group support:

When I first went to a p-n movie, I put on a ski mask so no one would see me. Of course I wasn't afraid if G-d saw me....

When I was older and married, they were up to $8 a movie. Then $11. When they were up to $15, I said - this is great - finally an incentive for me to stop going - right? WRONG!! I still went.

Of course this is, we now know, what an addiction is. An alcoholic will say "if I don't have another drink I will die!" Of course, just the opposite is true - one more drink and his liver will bust open - but this is STILL not enough to stop an addict. Rabbi/Dr Twerski says the addict must hit bottom - as if that's not bottom. But addictions kill, and worse. Yes, people die from throwing up their food, and from cirrhosis of the liver, and get shot in the brothel when the bad guys come in - just read the papers. And still they don't stop. Nothing is enough when it comes to addictions. What to do? As we now know, group support is the answer. My father was not happy until he joined the holocaust survivors in his area - a group of people who went through just what he did - the only people in the entire world who could understand what he went through. The power of the group - and the genius of the people who started it and run it - is what saves us addicts from going down!!


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Saying of the Day
Posted by "London"

"ISOLATION: the dark room where I develop my negatives"

 

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Parable of the Day

In Honor of "Momo" and "Hoping" who never give up!


Download this Powerpoint presentation (right click and press "Save As") and internalize the beautiful lesson it contains!

The Daffodil Principle:
One day at a time, one baby step at a time. We can learn to use the accumulation of time to create something beautiful and magnificent with our lives. We may not see it now, but when we come up to shamayim after 120, we will see the thousands - maybe millions - of beautiful daffodils that we planted with every little step we took in the right direction.

525.


"Vatibuka Ha'ir
" - A Breach in Our Walls

After a stumble with Facebook, "Momo" posted on the forum:


I need to learn from my fall, and this past fall has taught me that I have to cancel my Facebook account. It's really a waste of time anyway. The only reason I've been keeping the account is to see what's new in my friend's lives, see new photos of their kids, and have all of their email addresses in one spot. So I'll be "out of the loop". I'll miss someone's birthday. I'll miss a cute photo of a kid smiling. It's NOT worth it if it's going to trigger me to fall. I'm too sick to be on Facebook.
 

The next day "Momo" wrote:

 
Yesterday I said that I'd deactivate my Facebook account, and I did. Right before I did that, I said a prayer that with the z'chut of this action, HaShem should help everyone who's on this forum. Then, while I was doing the deactivation, the Y"H started voicing his objections "come on...". I countered by singing (in my head) a niggun really loudly. I felt very proud of myself after I did it, until I received a notice from Facebook that I can always activate my account again simply by signing in.

After searching the net, I found that you CAN request to have your account permanently deleted, and I did this too. Here's the link.

Dear Momo,

Now that we don't have the Beis Hamikdash, Hashem looks for the Korbon Tamid every day in different places... In Shamayim it was announced: "Today Momo brought a Korbon for Hashem by sacrificing FaceBook on the Mizbe'ach of his heart!"

Everyone, learn from this Tzadik! In honor of Shiva Asar Bi'Tamuz, let's delete access to Facebook, Youtube, GoogleVideo, etc..  anything that is a stumbling block for us now, or has been in the past: don't let there be breaches in our walls!

"VA'TITAV LAHASHEM MISHOR POR -
and it shall be sweeter to Hashem than oxen and cattle!"

 

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Testimonial of the Day
Sent to us by "M. Y."

Hi. I just wanted to drop you a nachas note. Almost 3 months ago I had a baby. In the past, when I had a baby and my wife was assur to me, it was no problem, I just did the wrong thing. This time I was determined to see how strong I really am. It was a long haul. A couple of times my wife counted six days and on the 7th she started bleeding all over again. But instead of saying "oh now for sure I have an excuse to act out" I said "Hashem is forcing the 90 days on me and he knows how many days I need in order to really fix myself", and so I held out. Over the weeks it got a lot easier, until it came to a point where I was looking forward for my wife to become tahor  - not because of relations we would have, but because I truly missed her. I began to see her in a different light, as a human being, someone Hashem gave to be close to and enjoy each others company. Well after 10 weeks and finally the day came. It was a beautiful experience and guilt free. I'm so proud of myself. Thank you!


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Saying of the Day
Posted by "trYiNg"

"There is no comparison between that which is lost by not succeeding and that which is lost by NOT TRYING"

 

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Anecdote of the Day

Posted by "Pintale Yid"


There was a Gerrer Chasid who lost all of his family in the Holocaust. Although he had a beard, payos and yarmulka before the war, the Nazis - Yimach Shemem Vizichrom (may their memory be obliterated) - took them away from him and he didn't reclaim them after the war. He moved to Tel Aviv and after some time, he missed his Rebbi, the Imrei Emes. He decided to visit him, and when the Imrei Emmes saw him, he recognized him and invited him into his study and asked him to tell his story. (As a side note, the Imrei Emes lost half his family and 250 thousand (!) chassidim in the Holocaust.)  

After the yid told his story, both he and the Imrei Emes put down their heads and wept for a very long time. At some point, the Imrei Emes picked up his head and stopped weeping and asked the yid a question. Moshe Rabbeinu tells the Yidden in Parshas Ekev (9:17), "Va'ashabreim Li'aynachem - I broken them (the Luschos) in front of your eyes". It seems that "Li'aynaychem" is extra since he was talking to klal yisroel? He answered that it is because the Luchos were only broken in front of Klal Yisroel's eyes. In truth, there is a place where the Luchos were never broken. And he applied it to the Holocaust and all the other massacres that the Jewish people have endured over the years. He said that "although your family and much of my family and much of my Chasidim were killed - they were killed only in a bechina of "Li'aynachem". But there is a place where every heiliga yid still lives unbroken and totally whole."

My beloved brothers. I wish to apply this to our situation. Although we "break" our neshamos from time to time, (sometimes more often than we like and in ways even we can't believe we do), we should remember that this is only L'aynainu. But in the sefira of Kesser, in the bechina of "kol Yisroel", our Neshamos are totally clean and whole.

So next time the Y"H wants to tell you how bad you are, send him to the Nazis. No matter what your stage, remember "Veshuchanty b'soch Tumasum - and I dwell within their impurities". You might not know where that place in you is, but the Pintele Yid in you knows and is living in harmony with Hakodosh Baruch Hu, as it says in the Zohar (and bought in the Tanya) on the posuk in Berashis "Vayepach Bapov Nishmas Chaim, Man D'nofach M'Toicoi Nafach". This means that Hashem breathed from his essence into man. We all have a piece of Hashem inside us!

526.


Chizuk
of the Day

"Vatibuka Ha'ir" - A Breach in Our Walls
(Part 2)

Once the walls of Yerushalayim were breached on the 17th of Tammuz, it wasn't long before the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed, only 3 weeks later. There is no better time then "Bein Ha'metzarim" for us to strengthen our own personal "walls" against the enemy.

In response to yesterday's post where "Momo" described giving up "FaceBook", we received a number of responses:

One great Ba'al Teshuvah - who has been clean now for well over a year, wrote us as follows:

The Yetzer Hara in his slimy and cunning ways, convinces so many people that Facebook is so innocent! Believe me, it is one of the worst places on the web, probably because it seems so innocent!
 
I personally have transgressed some of the worst Aveiros, thanks to Facebook! May Hashem have mercy on me and forgive me. May Hashem have mercy on everyone out there with a Facebook account, and give them the strength to get rid of it forever.
 
Same goes for mySpace and all "social" sites. The Torah forbids social mingling of the sexes. This applies 10000000% to mingling on Facebook too, and perhaps applies even more due to the anonymity involved that allows  people to sink lower and lower, rachmana li'tzlan.
 
Please keep harping on this, until people get the message.

Another guy wrote in response to yesterday's Chizuk e-mail:

Good for you Momo! I am also happy to let you know that I gave up my Facebook a few weeks ago. It's good to see I am not alone here. I became addicted to it, checking friends' profiles and pictures.
 
Now when I'm home with time to spare, I'm more likely to pick up a sefer and learn instead of wasting time on the computer on these social networking sites. 

Also, I went through my iTunes and iPod and deleted a lot of my goyishe music, including lady singers. This is something of a financial loss, since this music cost money, but I am more than confident that 'loss' is far outweighed by the eternal spiritual gains this will bring me.

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12-Step Tip of the Day

Exercises from Duvid Chaim's "Take out Menu"

On the Big-Book Lunch & Learn Cruise

 
I want to congratulate our Group on the completion of the first two weeks of our "cruise". I can see how the members are being more open in their sharing, and I can tell already that we're building a very special and "safe" container for us to come to regularly. I feel like we are creating a sort of "Vaad" to deal with one of the biggest taivos we are faced with.
 
As of today, we have completed the reading in the Big Book up to the second to last paragraph on page 12. If you would like to join our group in this coming week or if you have missed any of the calls, please be sure to catch up.

At this point in Bill's Story, we see that he is turning the corner from the rock bottom of his addiction. We see how Bill is reacting to meeting his Sponsor - a man of recovery.
 
Like all addicts, we are the first to throw doubt at a Program of Change. We are still living the delusion that we can wrestle happiness out of life, and that by exerting our will power that we can "fix" whatever is wrong with us.

WRONG!!
 
As we have been discussing, it is only through "surrender" that we can find victory. For the first time, we are faced with the ugly truth that WE are getting in the WAY of our own Success.
 
Yes, we need to climb out of G-d's Throne. We need to take off His Robes. We are NOT in control; He is. Only then can we begin to see the miracles and awesomeness of Hashem's creation.
 
I wanted to remind everyone about the "Take-Out Exercises" for the next few days:

  • First - be sure to stay on the alert to find an A&W Moment ("Awe & Wonder" - a moment where you feel Hashem in your life). With practice over time, you will see how easy this becomes, and you will see how it increases your d'eivakus with Ribono Shel Olam.
  • Second - and new to the Group - is to be aware of how often you exert control in your daily affairs. Pay attention to your behavior. Be aware of how your run and brush aside someone in Shul to grab a Siddur, or how you insist that you get the first serving of brisket at the table, or how you use your sharp witted mind to argue your point - regardless of how it affects your wife, your friend or co-worker. And the list goes on. Why do we do this? Because we're just like "babies with their grabby little hands" always reaching out for more and crying if someone else has the toys we want. So, try this exercise and count how many times a day you put yourself FIRST. I think you'll be amazed.

I look forward to picking up where we left off next week.

Newcomers: we look forward to meeting you next week!
 
Until then, I am yours truly,
Duvid Chaim
 

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Anecdote of the Day
Posted by "7Up"


My son went to the beach in Bat Yam yesterday on a class trip. He had a wonderful time BH, except for one minor setback. Towards the end of the day, a larger than normal wave came crashing in. As he fought to retain his balance, he noticed a huge, opaque jelly fish wash towards him. Because he was still trying to stay afloat, he was unable to avoid it. It attached itself to his leg and stomach, stinging him. Finally pulling free, he waded back to shore and went for help. The lifeguard poured vinegar over the burns. The 'refuah' was even more painful than the sting, he told me, but after a few minutes, it began soothing the pain and he felt much better. (He showed me the burn when he got home - the body must have been the size of a large dinner plate, besides the tentacles.)

It got me thinking about how similar our battle is. 

We get overwhelmed by the huge waves of stress, anxiety and restlessness that crash over us; throwing us off balance and making it so hard to simply stand securely in one place, never mind actually move forward.

Then the Yetzer Hara attacks out of the blue, blending in to the surroundings so well that we barely even see it before we are overpowered.

Once the stinging attack is over, our pain is terrible, causing us to cry out for help, but the damage is already done. The poison has already seeped in to our bodies.

In comes our (life)Guard! Sure, the refuah seems more painful than the sting in the beginning, but very quickly, we see healing and comfort.

Yet even once we feel better, the scar remains; a clear reminder of the past, and a warning for the future!

One step further: My son's friend fished the jelly fish out of the water (with a stick, not his hand!) and laid it out on the sand in the light of day. Within minutes, it began evaporating, drying out as if nothing more than air!

Just like that Yetzer Hara! Expose him to the light, and we can see him for what he really is - nothing more that mere slime, destined to fade away if we can just get him out into the sunlight!

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Testimonial of the Day

Posted by "Ano-nymous"

This Wednesday was 30 weeks clean. I have just about no urge to do anything which I should not. On the other hand, the further I get from my starting point, the more I can "feel" spiritually and emotionally. People tell me that I look happier and I act nicer. I certainly don't look at women the way I did before. I can talk to them when I need to, without feeling disgusting and having disgusting ideas and images going through my head.

I do realize that for many people here, the damage is deeper and cannot be fully undone. But realize, this has nothing to do with your strength. If you were addicted for a much longer period of time, you may never be able to see a pretty woman without being overwhelmed by lust. Again, this has nothing to do with willpower. Hashem was kind to me and let me get out of this early, and for that I'm very thankful. But each person here must do what can be done to avoid things which are triggering to them. If that means never speaking with women, that is what must be done, and I have much more respect and admiration for those people who fell to that level and have still broken the addiction, than I do for myself and others like me.

By the way... I'm spending so much time on this forum because I feel like reading every single new post. But I am watching as the forum continues to grow in leaps and bounds, and I don't know how I'm going to keep up. I hope to see this "problem" keep getting worse! :-)

 

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New Post of the Day

"Q & A" : How can I make recovery the focus of my life? I'm too busy!

527.


Announcement

Check out the new "Speed-Dial" board on our forum for exchanging phone numbers with other strugglers. Build a network of support for when times get tough. Post your info and make yourself useful to others as well! As we all know, the best insurance to long-term sobriety is HELPING OTHERS! And when times get tough, the best known "first aid" is: MAKE A CALL. "Lust glows in the dark". Bring it out into the light, and it quickly fades away...

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Chizuk
of the Day

One of the main causes of addiction is stress and anxiety. We tend to use the addiction as an escape to make ourselves feel good when our lives feel "difficult to control". But stress and anxiety are really a result of a mistaken perception of "control"; we think that it is we control our lives, but we don't. (See Duvid Chaim's second exercise in Chizuk e-mail #526). The moment we realize that we are nothing but mere "actors" in Hashem's show, the stress and anxiety dissipates. And when we live "stress free", we find that we no longer need to reach for our "drug" of escape and self-soothing.

"Nura" posted once on the forum:

The chapter called "How It Works" in the Big Book discusses how we run our lives on "self propulsion", meaning "everything is about ME". I, I, I... I will do this and I will do that. We want to be the "producers" in the drama we call life, when all we really are in fact, are "actors" in the Almight-y's drama. He - and only He - is The Producer, and He is in charge of everything in this show, from the scenery to the lighting, to deciding which actor gets what part, be it easy or difficult. All He expects from us is to follow the "Script"ure that He handed us.
 
As the Big Book says (PG 60-61):

"The first requirement is that we be convinced that any life run on self-will can hardly be a success. On that basis we are almost always in collision with something or somebody, even though our motives are good. Most people try to live by self-propulsion. Each person is like an actor who wants to run the whole show; is forever trying to arrange the lights, the story, the scenery and the rest of the players in his own way. If his arrangements would only stay put, if only people would do as he wished, the show would be great."
 
The idea that are we are just actors in the Almighty's "show" helps me so much, because one of the greatest triggers for me was always the overwhelming stress of having to meet the payrolls on the 15th and 30th of each month. The constant stress and pressure of worrying about the "bank balance" drove me to escape in the nether nether worlds of internet p**n. It was there that I found refuge (albeit only a temporary refuge) from the overwhelming pressure of my day to day existence.

If I can only internalize this idea that I don't run the show, only He does!!! I am nothing but an actor. My "part" is just to follow the script and do the best I can!!

... How difficult yet how SIMPLE!
 

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Saying of the Day
Posted by "Esnachtoh" (From an Energy Drink Advertisement)

 

"Don't just break a bad habit; replace it with a good one!"

 

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Torah Thought of the Day
Posted by "Bardichev"


Pinchas was a zealot and therefore he was the one person who was rightfully able to kill Zimri (as per the Halacha of Habo'el aramis kanaim pogiin bo).

But here is the bombshell: The Torah calls Pinchas a man of peace!!

"A zealot?" you ask, "does that not conjure up an image which is opposite of the man of peace - a man who was blessed with the covenant of peace and who will ultimately bring the geulah - the real peace?"

The answer is, PEACE is not only the end of a war - nor is it hairy hippies singing kumbaya (whatever that means). It is a state of harmony when all the pieces of the puzzle come together, when the symphony plays in unison. That is peace.

Peace is Totality = SHLEIMUS (same root as SHALOM); a whole.

With Zimri's blatant act of sin, he threw the Jewish nation into limbo. The only way to regain balance was to KILL HIM!!!

YES MY DEAR FRIENDS, THAT WAS AN ACT OF PEACE!!!

The HEILIGER KOBRINER is quoted in the NESIVOS SHALOM (path of peace) as saying that in our MILCHEMES HAYETZER, the worst thing we can do is to " MAKE PEACE"

That he says, is called "complacency" (I call it rolling over and playing "DEAD")

So if you are looking for real PEACE my brothers, then FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT!!!!!

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Testimonial of the Day

E-mail by "Shoshana"

Greetings,

I joined your mailing list a couple of weeks ago. I am very happy that I visited and signed up.

I have been in a 12 step, AA for many years and was "familiar" with SA. I can't tell you how much this site has helped me. I too have been on Facebook and there is a lot of inappropriate behavior there.

I am not Orthodox yet but live in a Reform Jewish household. I have been slowly becoming more observant though Chabad, and this site has helped me a great deal. You just have no idea!!!!

There are many times through the day when I will say, "Guard ur Eyes"

I thank you and Hashem thanks you... and you are saving families!

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Shoshana's first post on the forum:


I am new here. I have 9 years of continuous sobriety in AA. I am almost 50 and separated now. I was married to a non-Jew for 18 years.

If I didn't have my AA recovery, I wouldn't be here trudging this road. My recovery has given me the courage to want and demand more out of myself. That is why I am separated and will get a divorce. I want to become observant and eventually have a observant, clean partner.

I do know that Hashem wants only what is best for all of us in everything: our food, our thoughts, our actions. I am like so many others that want the "love" from another person, and we easily get confused from what others will throw our way.

So many times we are too ill with our disease to receive any blessings, or to see them.  


I know that today I am responsible, and I have the ability to change what is going on. I know that I have the "choice" to act out or not, to use or not to use. It is really up to me. This forum is a wonderful opportunity for me to truly and finally feel good about myself. Facebook and the other so called social networks are breeding grounds for the disease.

I know that I have "today".... One day at a time.
 
Praise be Hashem for this site. Thank you!

 

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New Post of the Day

 

"Q & A": I have less energy to learn because of this never ending struggle

528.


Chizuk
of the Day

Gathering the Wood for the Mizbe'ach

Yesterday and today were some of the most difficult days that I remember on our forum in a long time. So many of people seemed to be struggling valiantly against a seemingly invincible enemy. Many of our greatest warriors experienced falls, and others were posting how they've never felt so close the edge of the abyss. I received a lot of e-mails with calls for help, people were claiming they felt as if their very "Bechira" was being removed from them.

Rabboisai, I think I have a theory for why this may be happening now. Let me share with you my thoughts, because I believe it can shed some "light" on this period of the year and on our struggle with the forces of "darkness" in general. But to understand what I am going to say, I will need to give a first a Hakdama (introduction).

The Zohar (in Chelek Beis, pg 78b) writes that Yakov Avinu took the months of Nissan and Iyar for himself (hence Yetziyas Mitzrayim, Kabbalas Hatorah), and Eisav took the months of Tamuz and Av for himself (and hence, the 17th of Tamuz and Tisha Be'av), but only the first 9 days of Av belong to him.

It says in the Mishna that they stopped gathering wood for the Mizbe'ach from the 15th of Av and on, because the strength of the sun finally breaks at that point, and the wood for the Mizbe'ach must be gathered only while the sun is at its strongest. Once the sun is no longer as strong, the wood can be slightly damp inside and it won't burn as well.

The Jewish people are compared to the moon, which renews itself each month. When Moshiach comes, the moon will be as bright as the sun. Esav chose this world over the next world, and the ruler of the heavens in this world is the sun. When the sun is the strongest, the koach of Esav is the strongest. But only until Moshiach comes...

The Beis Ahron of Karlin at the end of Parshas Pinchas brings a Medrash that says that the months of Tamuz, Av and Elul have no Regalim in them. That is why Hashem gave us three Regalim in the month of Tishrei, as if to "pay us back". The Beis Ahron writes that the 3 weeks are a very high time. These 3 weeks symbolize the 3 upper worlds (Ga"r or Gimmle Rishonos; Keser, chachma and Bina), and according to Kabbala, these three worlds are above time and space. That is why, says the Beis Ahron, the 3 weeks are a time when Hashem is so "hidden". Not because it is a "dark" time, but rather because the world cannot be "Sovel" (tolerate) the great light of this period of the year. But when Moshiach comes, he writes, these three weeks will be revealed and they will become great Yomim Tovim. And the Beis Ahron ends by saying that that is why we usually read Parshas Pinchas during the 3 weeks, because Pinchas has in it all the Regalim...

Now that we have the "Hakdama", I want to explain my theory as to why the struggle is so hard davka now. The Koach of Esav is at its height during the three weeks. From Rosh Chodesh Tamuz until the 9th of Av is approx 40 days. We are now smack in middle of those 40 days. At the end of these 40 days, the sun's strength starts to wane. That means that in middle of the 40 days, the sun is at its peak. Now is the most hidden time. The world cannot be "sovel" the great light, and when the keilim are not able to hold the light, they break. That is why the walls of Yerushalayim were breached and the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed. The "Keilim" of the yidden were not worthy of maintaining the great light, so when the light became the strongest, it broke the vessels. And that is perhaps why so many of us are struggling now more than any other time of the year.

The Yartzeit of Rav Shlomo Karliner is tonight, on the 22cd Tamuz. He was killed al Kiddush Hashem by a Russian Cossack, and Tzadikim said he was the bechina of Moshiach Ben Yosef. Yosef was born and died on Rosh Chodesh Tamuz. This is because the Koach of yosef will one day over power Esav as the Pasuk says "and the house of Yosef will be a flame and the house of Eisav will be like straw". Yosef's flame of Kedusha will devour and eradicate the power of Eisav from the world. But before Moshiach comes, Esav's Koach seems to overpower Yosef in the middle of the three weeks, and Yosef needs to "die" (be mistalek) in order to combat Esav. We all know that the death of Moshiach Ben Yosef is an integral part of the Ge'ulah. Only after Moshiach ben Yosef dies can Moshiach Ben David reveal himself. 

The Guardureyes.com website was launched on the 22cd of Tamuz - exactly two years ago. Our community is part of the light of Yosef that shines forth after the holy bechina of Yosef seems to have been "killed" - kaviyachol - by Esav and all his impurities. Our network is perhaps a harbringer of the Ge'ulah, the fulfillment of what the holy Ohr Hachayim Hakadosh writes (Shemos 3:8), that before Moshiach comes the Yidden will be subjected to the 50th level of impurity (i.e. the death of Yosef - Kaviyachol), yet they will find the strength to enter into the mouth of the Satan and remove that which he had swallowed from his very mouth. ("Le'hotzi Bo'loi Mi'piv", i.e. using the power of the internet, the Satan's very tool, to bring out the sparks of Kedusha that had fallen prey to the 50th level of Tumah).

Rabboisai. The wood for the Holy Mizbe'ach can only be gathered NOW when the sun is at its PEAK. The greatest sacrifices for Hashem are done in the most hidden times. So many people fell now, so many great warriors are struggling, but davka now - after the bechina of Yosef seems to have been trampled and "killed", the light of the Ge'ulah begins to shine forth.

Tonight is the Yartzeit of Rav Shlomo Karliner and it is also the day that the Guardureyes network was launched. Tzadikim say, that although the 3 weeks is generally a bad time to start anything new, the day of Rav Shlomo's Yartzeit is a day when it is davka Mesugal to start something new, and to make a personal RENEWAL. And just like this network was launched on this day, I ask all of you in our community of Hashem's "front-line soldiers", to take this power of renewal, and to renew the light of Yosef by gathering the wood for the Mizbe'ach of our hearts, davka now when Hashem is Hidden from us the most.

We have it in our hands to bring the Ge'ulah! Through our personal sacrifices - by offering the desires of our hearts to Hashem, we will be the ones Be"h to reveal the blinding light of Hashem that is hidden in these three weeks.

 

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Testimonial of the Day
Posted by "Chaim"

Today is 28. Wow! What clarity after 4 weeks of total staying away from lusting, and playing around the perimeter of lust.
 
I know I have to be careful to curb my curiosity, and stay away from pitfalls.

I am channeling my urges into reading and posting on this forum.

For this whole period of time, I have kept clear of ANY purposeful looking at anything unseemly, and whenever confronted with a sight with sexual connotations for me (and I am overly sensitive to that) - I turn away my eyes and mind, trying to look at my Tziztis.

I know that I have gained much more presence of mind, and I have more attention to give to my wife and family.

I know that there are others who are struggling like me, and we are pulling and praying for each other.

I know I can't let you all down.

I'm not pressured, rather much less pressured than when I was living in the LIE of a double life.

I am thankful to HaShem for this site and the wonderful originators and maintainers.
I am thankful to HaShem for these weeks of cleanliness.
I am thankful to HaShem for finding sincere company on my journey.
I am thankful to HaShem for a calmer heart and mind.
I am thankful to HaShem for having more love in my heart for real people.
I am thankful to HaShem for this opportunity to serve him.

I pray every day for the "Guard your Eyes Guys".


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New Post of the Day

 

"Q & A": Feeling Suicidal

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Saying of the Day
Posted by "London"

"Change is a process, not an event"

529.


With thanks and gratitude to Hashem Yisborach we celebrate today the second birthday of the Guardureyes network, which was launched on 22 Tamuz 5767. (Oh, it was a DARK DAY for the Yetzer Hara!)

As we mentioned in yesterday's e-mail, although the 3 weeks is generally a bad time to start anything new, Tzadikim say that the day of Rav Shlomo Karliner's Yartzeit is a day when it is davka Mesugal to start something new and make a personal RENEWAL.

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Testimonial of the Day
Posted by "7up"

HAPPY BIRTHDAY GYE!!!


Rabbeinu Guard, we all owe you our neshomos, for you have saved us from ruchnius destruction over and over.

We have no way to repay you. May Hashem shower you and your family with all His brachos and may you always feel His chesed clearly. And may the Yetzer Hara (who must hate your guts by now!), never be allowed to test you or those you love!

Nu everyone, how do we intend celebrating? How about everyone making a donation to GYE, helping Guard make it to THREE years that much easier!

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Three Announcements

1) Today is the last chance to sign up for Zeva Citronenbaum's Phone group, which is starting tonight. This is your chance for real clinical recovery - almost for FREE. Click here for information on the group and for forms to download. Click here as well for more information.

2) Download an updated version of the GuardYourEyes Handbook, which now contains a list of our four phone-conference options, and a few other small additions as well (right-click the word 'Download' and press 'Save Link/Target As').

3) The book called "Windows of the Soul" was officially released by the Salant Foundation. It is a wonderful resource and very well done; a simple yet powerful 30 day program for learning how to guard our eyes. We divided it into about 60 parts and sent it every day in our daily Shmiras Ainayim Chizuk e-mails a few months ago. (Click here for examples). Today we have over 400 members on the daily Shmiras Ainayim e-mail list B"H (and about 600 members on this daily e-mail list). Click here to download the PDF version of the "Windows of the Soul" eBook (right-click and press 'Save Link/Target As'). And click here to join our Shmiras Ainayim Chizuk List.

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Chizuk
of the Day

In response to yesterday's Chizuk e-mail called "Gathering the Wood for the Mizbe'ach", which discussed why the struggle is perhaps the hardest at this time of the year from a spiritual standpoint, we received an outpouring of feedback. I would like to share with you today some of the replies we received, because they are both informative and inspiring!

"Determined" wrote:

Hi. I can't begin to tell you what a chizuk this email was today. I fell yesterday after a year or so of being clean, and I was beginning to feel that hutera haretzua (the rope was released), but this is a clear siman min hashomayim (sign from heaven) to get back on the horse and forget about yesterday.

Thank you so much.

"Chl" wrote:

Guard, thanks, this was absolutely meaningful! I too had one of the hardest weeks I could remember last week... Thanks for your beautiful words.

BTW. for more insight and chizuk during the 3 weeks, I recommend R' Tsvi Meir Zilberberg's sefer on parshas Dvarim. It's eye-opening. (See the Shiur from Shabbos Nachamu, Parshas Re'eh, 5759, page 137, for some major yesodos in this struggle).


Another anonymous writer writes:

WOW guard, this email was timed perfectly. After more than a half a year clean, I could feel myself slipping the last couple days. I didn't fall "all the way", but I got caught reading some erotic stuff, and I felt the same cycle of depression setting in. The only difference was, that somehow I was able to refrain from continuing on to the p**n and the mast**n. But knowing that it's not only me who is struggling in this period of time gives me a lot of strength to continue. Looking back, I am amazed at the fact that I didn't fall all the way down. You can be sure I will be back on the forum, if only to give myself the strength that I need during this tough time. Thanks for the great email!

"Pintale Yid" wrote:

Rav Wolfson, at this week's Shalosh Suedos drasha, talked about the idea of how Hashem sometimes makes Tzaddikim fall to be Mesaken others who did the same sin. He used an example of a Tzaddik who had to eat Treif for purposes of Refua.
 
I think the same is going on here. We have a group of Tzaddikim that are constantly fighting, and in this tough period of the year they don't always win. You can add me to this list of the fallen (although I am not in the category of a Tzaddik).

Last night for the first time in a very long time, I looked at someone with the intention of gazing at their beauty. I ended up asking Hashem for forgiveness several times today for it, but the missed opportunity to rectify the other times that I had gazed is gone. Boruch Hashem, the seforim I am learning from Rav Shalom Arush make me believe that Hashem caused me to sin yesterday, so I am not depressed about it - but I almost wish I have another opportunity, so I can do real T'shuva.
 
Hopefully my T'shuva, and the T'shuva of others on this site that are working our way back up the ladder, will be a tikun for klal yisroel in the area of Kedusha.
 
Ben, who is clean for over half a year, posted on the forum:

I was prompted to post because of today's chizuk email and the news that many were struggling in the past couple of days. I wonder at things like this, and the dynamics that lie beyond mere rational though and the input of the physical senses. Yesterday afternoon, I was faced with a temptation from a very unexpected quarter. I had to refocus myself a number of times through the course of the remaining day to keep the test out of my thoughts. Once again, the very basic advice to call out to Hashem and proclaim one's powerlessness in the face of the struggle has proven to be the best advice for me.

In yesterday's e-mail, we discussed how the wood for the Mizbe'ach is gathered davka now, when the sun's strength is at its peak. "Battleworn" posted a very inspiring addition to this theme:

Rabeinu Guard, I think you hit the nail right on the head!

I want to suggest that the wood of the Mizbe'ach symbolizes the weaknesses and failings that we have. There is a very big yesod from the Sfas Emes (and others) based on the words of Chazal on the posuk "Aish Tamid Tukad Al Hamizbe'ach- a constant fire shall burn on the Mizbe'ach". Chazal say that "a constant fire" is referring to the light of the Menorah, and the posuk is telling us that the light of the Menorah needs to be taken from the Mizbe'ach.

Says the Sfas Emes, the fire of the Menorah is the fire of light and warmth. It signifies the light of Torah and Mitzvos and closeness to Hashem. On the other hand, the fire of the Mizbe'ach is the fire of consumption that burns up the beheimos/behamius (animalistic nature), and of-course it signifies our struggle with the Yetzer Hara. CHAZAL ARE TELLING US, THAT THE SOURCE OF THE LIGHT OF CLOSENESS TO HASHEM NEEDS TO BE TAKEN FROM THE FIRE OF OUR STRUGGLE WITH THE YETZER HARA

Just as we know in the physical world, every light/warmth needs fuel to burn, so too in the spiritual world, we need fuel to burn. The fuel/wood for our "spiritual light" is our weaknesses and failings. And the more fuel to burn, the more light and energy we get. For every weakness that we have, we must thank Hashem for the wood that he so generously gave us. And when the sun is the strongest, the wood is the highest quality.

Yakov Shwartz wrote:

Reading today's chizuk email, my heart went out to all those who are struggling now. But thanks for your explanation on this difficult situation. I see that you encouraged everyone to renew themselves. I hope all the yidden get renewed strength and conviction and start over again as they learn to become like a new born baby. Rav Nachman writes the key to doing teshuvah and breaking the averiros that we are addicted to, is believing in change, rejuvenation and renewal. We must believe that the ME from yesterday does not have to be the ME of today. We can always renew ourselves.


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Parable of the Day
Posted by "Momo"

 

I think I have a parable for the last few principles of the GYE attitude handbook:

Our struggle is like a baseball team, it's us playing against the other team (the Yetzer Hara). Although we try to win every game, that's super rare. The key is for us to win a lot more than the amount of games we lose.

A winning streak puts us on fire (and the more days we remain clean, the more invigorated we feel). And sure, if we lose a game after a winning streak, we get upset - but we don't give up! We have to get up and try again the next game. Although breaking a winning streak can break the momentum we built up, it doesn't mean we lost the season. It's just a small setback.

However, after losing a string of games, we feel demoralized. But here's where the similarities end. You see, the difference is, that in sports there are a limited number of games that don't go on past one year, so if they lose too many games, they are really out of the playoffs and they end their season. However for us, even if we lose many battles, we have many more years ahead of us (until our deaths), and we are never out of the game until we die. 

As long as we're alive, it's never too late to stop losing and start winning!


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Saying of the Day
Posted by "London"

"Don't quit before the miracle happens"

530.


Story of the Day
"Where It All Leads"

The following story was taken from LazerBeams blog of Rav Lazer Brody. Let it be a warning for all of us to HIT BOTTOM while still ON TOP (see chizuk e-mail #441 on this page for more on this important idea).

Dear Rav Lazer,

I have no one else to turn to regarding my present situation. I am in a lot of trouble and am contemplating suicide as a way out. I write to you from a position of disgust with myself and potential humiliation for my lovely wife and three daughters.

I was a successful CPA until I lost my job last January and have not found a means to make a living other than trying to start a business which is having a dismal beginning.

Until I lost my job, I was earning almost $220k per year. You see, I have been addicted to the internet over the last 6 years. What I mean by addiction is that I was viewing p**rnography and obsessed with chatting with unknown people. I was also wasting seed due to my addiction and avoiding my marital duties to my wife as a result. I was doing this on a daily basis to the point that I was up all night and often wasting away days at work. Somehow, I carried on the appearance that everything was okay until I was arrested January 25th for chatting with what I thought were grown women and were really undercover police officers posing as minors. I was so addicted that I never paid any attention to details like age since in the fantasy world of the internet, everybody makes stuff up including myself. Since any facts were not believable, I never acknowledged any information other than what I needed to fulfill my selfish desires.

In February, things got complicated. After I was arrested, I was extradited to another state where the charges were filed against me. The irony is that the state I am facing charges in, I have never been to in my life, nor did I ever contemplate going there. I also never met up with any one I chatted with. I was purely living in a fantasy world that had overtaken my life - a trap that the Yetzer set for me.

Initially when I was arrested, I was being held in a city jail in the state where I live, waiting until I was picked up by the sheriff's department of the state I am facing charges in. I was transported after 15 days in county jail and then spent another 3 days in jail in the state where I am facing criminal prosecution. You can't imagine what suffering this is, for I was with junkies, robbers, rapists - you name it.

Please help me do Teshuva. Help me warn others not to fall into this trap. The internet is like a cancer and what happened when I was extradited is that another county in the same state issued a warrant for my arrest for the exact same charges as the county that extradited me had filed. I am currently facing over 24 felony counts in 2 counties of internet solicitation to a minor and obscenity charges due to the nature of sexual language I was using. I was released on $80,000 bail with a GPS monitor on my ankle. I'm now jobless, penniless, and we're soon expecting child #4.

To add insult to injury, I have never been arrested in my life nor do I have any criminal record. I was a good clean-cut guy with an MBA from the USA's best-known colleges of business. I passed my CPA on the first try. I had my choice of great jobs. It's now blown away. I can't explain what has happened as it all seems like a blur, but I was living two lives.

Since I have not been making any income, the community has come to our aid and has supported us along with paying for my legal expenses thus far totalling over 50k. I have 2 lawyers working on my case to handle my criminal matters and potential exposure to my CPA license. My attorney has been trying to work out a plea deal but thus far has not been successful. My attorney explained to me this morning that if a plea deal is not achieved then he needs to know my position as to whether he should pursue going to trial. If I go to trial I will be going to trial in two jurisdicitions with potential jail time of many years compounded by the number of felonies I am not able to beat.

Believe it or not, the worst part for me is that I would also be required to register as a sex offender in 2 different states. You have to know that I have never been interested in minors nor have I have ever considered harming a minor. I am reeling from the shock of how what I thought was a secret life has now become an open book.

Please intercede in my behalf. I'm sure that your prayers will help my case upstairs, I am now beginning to do everything I read about in your different articles - mikva, Tikkun Klali, guarding my eyes, and doing teshuva during an hour of personal prayer a day. Even so, my marriage has been barely holding together. Please stick with me Rabbi Lazer, because I need further guidance. As I said before, I have no income, I currently have no future and my wife is in tears daily. We are desperate and I contemplate suicide as a way to save my family, my children's future and the ability for my wife to remarry a person that is good and can make a living. I could go on for another 10 thousand words, but I haven given you the gist of my present life story.

Please, Rabbi, tell the world about what happened to me. If I can save at least one person from a similar fate, maybe G-d will have mercy on me.

Most sincerely, Ralph in the USA


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Testimonial of the Day
Posted by "Mevakesh" in honor of GYE's 2cd Birthday (over here)

Mazel Tov! Two beautiful years!


Mazel Tov! Mazel Tov! Although it's the three weeks, I would venture to say that for this occasion, it is permissible to say "SheHechiyanu V'Kimanu, V'Higiyanu L'Zman Hazeh!"

The reason I say this is because, it is otherwise forbidden to say that Bracha of Simcha in this period as we lost our Bais HaMikdash. However, The Guard Your Eyes website, by its very launch, was the first step in the Bais HaMikdash's rebuilding; the first step in Klal Yisroel's rebirth.

I don't say this jokingly; I mean it!

(Note from admin: Actually, as "Battleworn" pointed out on the forum, the Beis Aharon of Karlin and his father R' Asher of Stolin had a Minhag to make a Shehecheyonu on the 22 Tamuz because of the Yartzeit of Rav Shlomo Karliner! And other Tzadikim also continued this custom...)

Too many members of our holy nation have stooped into the 50th level of Tumah, rachmana L'Tzlan, and thus have held Mashiach back from  arriving.

The GYE revolution, which is being fought by each and every individual on the site, led by the chief tzaddik, R' Guard, is what will usher in Moshiach sooner than you can imagine!

On a personal level, Chazal tell us that Hashem always prepares the cure before the sickness arrives. About a year and a half ago, Baruch Hashem, I was given a second chance by Hashem. 

I was steeped in a life of sin and decadence and firmly in the camp of our arch enemy, the Yetzer Hara.

Hashem  orchestrated a series of events which led me to choose life, to throw away the yetzer Hara and embrace the beauty of Hashem and His holy Torah.

I had many struggles to overcome, many battles to win, many changes to implement, many ideals to embrace  and many people to distance myself from.

It was hard. It was beyond hard. It was virtually impossible.

Yet, with Hashem's help, I began my journey to become a new and better person.

The very week that  I began my return, I "happened" to see an ad for GYE on the Yeshiva world website (which is why all donations are important to help the ads be out there for others in need)

I can honestly say that had I not found the site, i would not have had the strength to hold on and to maintain my status as a Ba'al Teshuva.

I know myself. I know my strengths and my weakneses. I say this with complete confidence; Having the great people on the site as support and building a friendship with the great Tzaddik R' Guard, is the thing that kept me grounded and allowed me the resolve to do many of the things I was able to do in the past year and a half.

Every person is obligated to say "B'shvili Nivra H'Olam- the world was created for me!" (This is a responsibility, not a decleration of haughtiness. It means that every person makes a difference and that every little sin, can destroy the entire world! See Ben Yehoyada to Talmud Nidah 31b for more about this)

Well, I stand here today and say "B'Shvili Nivra H'Guard Your Eyes website". 

And each and every yid that was helped, even in a small way, by the site, should get up and say it too!

Say it loud!

Say it proud!

Say it with resolve!

Say it without shame!

" I am a Guard Your Eyes Success Story!"

"B'Shvili Nivra H'Guard Your Eyes website"

My dear friends, Mashiach can be here before this Tisha B'Av!

Let's make it happen!

Let's throw away everything that the Yetzer Hara wants us to hold on to!

Let's show the lousy Yetzer Hara that his reign is O-V-E-R!!!!!

Chazak V'Ematz!!!

Your dear friend and brother,

Mevakesh Hashem

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Torah Thought of the Day
Posted by "Bardichev"

From HaGaon Reb Leizer Geltdzeler ZT"L:


In the Parsha of TZITZIS, the Torah Teaches us: "VE'LO SASURU ACHAREI LIVAVCHEM VIACHAREI EINICHEM - And you shall not stray after your heart and after your eyes".

Said Reb Lazer, VE'LO SASURU - you should not stray from the path of Hashem, ACHAREI LEVAVCHEM, V'ACHAREI AINEICHEM. The Torah is telling us, that even AFTER you already sinned, even AFTER you already started to go after your heart or eyes, DON'T CONTINUE the downward slide that the Yetzer Hara is trying to get you into even more than the sin itself!

So if you sinned, shake it off and continue on!!


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Quote of the Day
Posted by "Nurah B'Amram"

Chevrah, the beginning of the week was difficult, a lot of stress... But I feel a little better since I got an "email" from the Almighty saying:

"Hey Nura, get off My 'Throne', and that No, He absolutely does not need my help in running His show".

531.


Some Choice Quotes from the Forum


Chaim Wrote:

Rav Kook writes that midas HaYesod can bring a person to a lower level than he really is at, and the opposite is true as well, it can boost a person to a higher level than he really is, as the Pasuk says "Tzaddik bechol hadoros" (meaning that a Tzadik, i.e. one who guards the bris, is considered a Tzadik in all generations, not just in his).

"Hoping" Wrote:

I have really begun to feel and see the Yad Hashem more and more as I learn to let go of control. Strangely, the idea that I am not in control has led me to increased responsibility for my actions, because they are the sole thing for which I am responsible (Hashem is 100% in charge of the results). This lesson is important for everyone; it just took an addiction for me to figure it out.

Some Gems from Shoshana (an old time 12-Stepper):

  • The miracle is in process at this very moment!
  • It is more useful for me to be aware of one short coming in myself, than realizing a thousand in someone else.
  • Happiness is not ready made, it is built through our actions. I know that true happiness comes from Hashem - and it comes from within. It is achieved by taming the mind, for without taming the mind there is no way to be happy. It is like "self-will" run riot!!! 
  • When I start to think that I don't need a meeting or I can let my guard down, I know that it is my disease talking to me. Cunning, baffling and powerful.
  • When I walk outside and see a butterfly on a gorgeous sunflower, I know who really runs the show! Praise be HaShem!
  • HaShem nudges us to perform Mitzvah's. When we ignore this, we ignore Him. 
  • I have a large flower garden here. Every time I walk out there, I thank Hashem many times in succession! We must celebrate!! It is a great day to be here on the planet! 
  • "Once is too much, a thousand times is never enough". I praise HaShem in helping me to stay humble today and with my head down when need be. For I know that I am worthy of all the best He has for me. When the difficult moment passes, I hold up my head in love.

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  Link of the Day

 

Download Rabbi Miller's "eye-opening" Shmiras Einayim Shiur. (Right click the word "Download" and choose "Save Link/Target As"). Rav Miller is the author of the book called "Windows of the Soul", which was officially released by the Salant Foundation only recently. Click here to download a PDF of the book.

 

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Attitude Tip of the Day
Posted by "Pintale Yid" from the Sefer
"B'gan Hachachma" by Rav Shalom Arush

 

Rav Arush discusses how people get depressed because even though they try their best to succeed, they fail and continue to fall. He writes that if someone gets depressed, he should realize that he doesn't have enough Emunah, because he thinks that he could accomplish something that Hashem didn't want him to accomplish. The biggest proof that Hashem didn't want him to accomplish it, is that he continues to fail!

Even though a person tries his best, often Hashem doesn't let him succeed because he hasn't yet built up the "vessels" to be able to correctly react to success (as Hashem's doing). Succeeding under such circumstances would lead a person to haughtiness, and this is worse then any sin since it severs a person's relationship with Hashem.

If a person keeps on doing T'shuva and Davening for divine assistance, eventually he will build strong enough vessels for him to succeed at what he is trying to accomplish, and when he does finally succeed, he won't attribute his success to himself but only to Hashem.

Therefore, the only Bechira (free-choice) we really have is whether to be happy or not, irrespective of our success or failure. 

Success doesn't breed happiness, but happiness breeds success. Even if we keep on losing our long drawn out battles, as long as we recognize that Hashem is the one pulling the strings, we can be happy since Hashem ultimately knows what is best for our Tikkun.


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Testimonial of the Day
Posted by "Efshar Lisaken" in honor of GYE's 2cd Birthday (over here)

Mazal Tov! Mazel Tov!


I very much feel that this day is & should be a celebrated as a Yom Tov by all GYE members & in general by all of Klal Yisroel! (Reb Guard, I mean NO Tachnun :-) even though it is in the 3 weeks.

I'm sure that the day that GYE was born & shined its light on the world was a day that a huge Ohr (light) came upon this world.

As strong and as powerful the light was & is, that's is how Dark it became in the Y"H's world of Tumah.

No praise that I can give will justify the Greatness of the GYE Website and Y"H Bomber, as well as all the Tzadikim on this site.

Yes! It is the beginning of the Geulah in every sense of the word.

"Geulah!" What is Geulah?!

Geulah is Freedom! Freedom from what?

Freedom from our Holy souls being stuck in our animalistic bodies! Freedom from being tied with the chains of the Y"H! Finally being able to be close to Hashem without any disturbance. La'asos Retzoncha B'Leivov Sholeim!

What will we have from Moshiach if not Kirvas Eloikim?! For those who think that the Geulah will be that they will have an easy time getting earthly desires, I feel pity for them because the Geulah might be a let-down. Ein Ben Chorin Elo Mi She'oseik Betorah! (Only He who Learns Torah Is A Free Man)

That's what GYE helps us accomplish. The beginning of our Geulah (Hischalto D'Geulah) is already in the making so that we will be able to go towards Moshiach with our heads held high knowing that we did what we were able to do. We Fought with every weapon we had against the Y"H. We need not to prove this to anyone, for Hashem knows what we did so that he can show the world & be proud of His Chosen Nation! Hashem will say: "Look at my Children! Look what they had to put up with! And they never gave up!"

No other nation in history has gone through what we have since the beginning of time, and yet we survived and came out shining brighter then ever! This is the biggest proof by far - if you need any - that we are all Bnei Melochim (Children Of Hashem).

Raboisai,

This is the Final fight in Ruchnius, and the hardest by far. Hashem listened to our prayers and sent us GuardYourEyes as a very powerful weapon for those who choose to fight to the end. - USE IT! or LOSE IT!

P.S. Whoever has anything to offer that would make this GYE Weapon stronger & more Powerful against the Y"H, now is the time to be part of it! From financial support to web development, to posting words of Chizuk to others, giving a Shiur in the Beis Medrash, Helping advertise and spread the word to those who need help or those who CAN help & and anything else you have that can make it a better place, just do it! ... I'm sure this will be the best Birthday present we can give to Reb Guard.


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Today's e-mail was sponsored Le'ilui Nishmas
Rav Yaakov Yosef Ben R' Dov ZT"ZL
whose Yartzeit is today

532.


Matos: Atonement for the Soldiers

God commanded Moses to attack Midian in revenge for their devastating scheme against the Israelites. The Midianites had used their daughters to lure the Israelite men into worshipping the licentious idolatry of Peor, resulting in Divine anger and a terrible plague.

The war against Midian was a remarkable success - not a single soldier fell. After the battle, the generals and captains approached Moses:

"We wish to bring an offering to God. Every man who found a gold article - an anklet, bracelet, ring, earring, body ornament - to atone for our souls before God." [Num. 31:50 - see the Pasuk below]

The officers had followed God's command, waging war against Midian. Why did they feel a need for atonement?

The Sin of the Soldiers

The Sages explained that while the soldiers committed no actual transgressions, they were not free of improper thoughts. Rabbi Ishmael expressed this idea with an intriguing phrase, saying that "their eyes feasted on the immodest sights" [Shabbat 64a-b].

When the soul's inner sense of holiness is healthy and robust, it will not absorb decadent and degrading sights. Such visual stimuli are inconsistent with the overall makeup of the soul and will be promptly rejected.

If, on the other hand, the soul has failed to retain its pristine purity, then it will lack an orderly defense against defiling images. Improper sights will have a negative impact on one's emotional and imaginative faculties, and will generate turmoil within the soul.

Rabbi Ishmael described this phenomenon as a 'feast' of the eyes. To feast or derive nourishment indicates that there exists a natural connection between the food and the living organism eating that food. The soldiers were not immune to the sights of Midian. The images of the Midianite women and their flashy ornaments found a place in their souls, and "their eyes feasted on the immodest sights." 

True, the soldiers did not act upon these stimuli; but the very fact that they were drawn to them indicated that they were in need of atonement and spiritual cleansing.

Superficial Attraction

The gold ornaments were an apt metaphor for the corrupting deception that confronted the soldiers in Midian. The Sages wrote that the body ornaments were formed into lewd shapes. The golden pieces of jewelry lured the eye with their dazzling exterior of glittering beauty. Their influence was a function of the magnetism of their superficial attraction. On the inside, however, their true essence remained, crude and repulsive.

Sent to us by an anonymous sender from RavKookTorah.org
[adapted from Ein Eyah vol. IV, pp. 114-116]


 

It seems however that the Targum Yonasan argues with Rabbi Ishmael (in Shabbat 64a-b) who writes that "their eyes feasted on the immodest sights".

The Targum Yonasan translates the Pasuk above (Num. 31:50) as follows:

"We wish to bring an offering for the name of G-d since he gave the Midianites into our hands and we captured their land and their country, and we went into their palaces and we saw their beautiful sinful and promiscuous daughters, and any man that saw gold on them would remove their crowns off their heads, earrings from their ears, necklaces from their necks, bracelets from their arms, brassieres from their breasts, and even so, we were careful not to gaze upon them and not to look at even one of them, so as not to sin through even one of them and not to die the death that the wicked ones die in the World to Come, and this should be remembered in our merit on the great day of judgement to atone for our souls before the Lord".

Anyway, regardless of whether the soldiers did gaze - like Rav Yishmael holds, or whether they did not gaze - as the Targum Yonasan holds, we still see that if a person "feasts their eyes" on immodest sights (and does not do Teshuvah), they are destined to die the death of the wicked in the World to Come.

And now on a more positive note: the Yalkut Shemoni (above) brings Chazal's words on this Pasuk as follows:

"Who ever turns himself away from aveira (sin), then even if he is a Israelite, he is worthy of bringing a sacrifice on the alter like the Kohen Gadol"... "And who ever makes himself lazy from sin and doesn't sin, merits to enjoy the shine of the Shechina like the ministering angels".


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Saying of the Day

(Likutey Moharan II, 108)

"For the sake of one small pleasure lasting a mere quarter of an hour, a person can lose the whole of this world together with the world to come!"

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Testimonial of the Day
By "Hoping" on his thread


At 5 weeks clean "Hoping" posted:

I am happy to report that I had a wonderful weekend. In the beginning when I got to the country, I was triggered to fall back into the same bad patterns as previous years. It took quite a bit of energy to resist, but after that B"H, I was not put into any compromising situations. Now I have to focus on creating a schedule during the week while my family is away that will keep me around people so that the loneliness factor won't overwhelm me. I must say that it was refreshing that I was not thinking about the garbage that I could do when I came home. I was actually anxious to come back so that I could update my thread on the forum. What a difference!

The next day he writes:

Yesterday was my first day while my family was away. What an eye-opener when I was faced with all those hours that I have wasted in the past years in the pursuit of garbage. I worked on creating a daily regimen (especially for the nights) that will take me till the minute I go to sleep. Meanwhile, I have privately started my own one-day-at-a-time count for the days that I am alone. I will need special Siyata Dishmaya during this time.

A few days later our hero writes:

My family being away causes a deep hole in my life, and for the first time since I joined this forum I felt like I was fighting without any real Ratzon. The ONLY ONLY ONLY reason that I did not give in was this forum - and I owe you my life!! I was reading through the threads and I started crying to Hashem to please help me and the tears were flowing and I was not in a completely private place and people must have seen but I don't care because this is my life I am talking about! I hope that Hashem will give me the strength to make the adjustments I need to get through this very difficult part of my journey. I know that Hashem would not put me in this situation if I could not handle it.

The next day he writes:

I can't believe it! This is the first week in my life that I can go back to my wife in the country without feeling guilty about how I spent the week. I will be going this afternoon and will try not to go on the computer at all till I come back Sunday. I thank everyone again on this site. You saved me this week.


A few days later (close to 50 days clean!) he writes:

I feel that I am finally touching the very tip of the iceberg of how to relate to Hashem, and I cannot believe the internal change I feel. It is truly an amazing and very humbling feeling to realize that Hashem is with me every moment of the day and night, waiting for me to call out to Him and holding my hand. It is the sweetest feeling in the world, and I hope to continue to learn how to further deepen my relationship with Hashem and do His will.

533.


Announcement: The New Automated 90 Day Chart

Scientific studies show it takes 90 days to break an addictive pattern in the mind. Today is exactly 90 days until Shabbos Bereishis. If you haven't yet begun your 90 day journey, start TODAY with our new "Automated" 90-day chart (still under construction but already functional).

Click here to see the new automated chart.

Click here to sign up.

From now on, updates are done by each user manually. The chart automatically keeps track of how many days you are clean and what Level you are on, each time you update.

Here are the RULES for the new chart:

- Each chart member must update themselves at least once a week.

- If they do not update yourself for over a week, their name becomes RED.

- If they do not update for two weeks, their name falls off the chart.

(Even if someone falls off the chart, their name remains in our database, so they can choose to go back on the chart by logging in with their username and password and pressing "edit profile" and then selecting "Put me on the chart").

After signing up, you can click here to Login, and type in the username and password that you chose.

To update the chart, choose "Still Clean" and then press "Update Chart".

If you had a fall c"v, click "I had a fall" and choose the date of the fall and the new starting date.

We hope you enjoy this new feature. It will have more useful functions hopefully in the coming weeks. And it is one of many new features that we are working on for our new website.

Please send us any remarks about the new system, or if you think something should be different or if you think we should add/change anything.


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Chizuk of the Day

"Let Go and Let G-d"
Emunah Peshuta

As any 12-Stepper will tell you, learning true faith and reliance on Hashem is the corner stone of sobriety.


"Me" posted:


I saw in the sefer Shomer Emunim that we can't even begin to fathom the Emunah (faith) that our forefathers had. The revelation that they had of Hashem is way beyond our grasp... BUT, Emunah P'shuta (simple faith) is our yerusha (inheritance) too, and we still have it and we will never lose it!

Emunah P'shuta means - I don't understand anything; everything is hidden before me, BUT... Hashem is in control. Period!!!

I don't need to see how Hashem is in control because.... I "know" it.

I don't need to feel that Hashem is in control because... I "know" it to be true.

Emunah P'shuta means "knowing" that Hashem is running EVERYTHING in spite of my lack of seeing it, feeling it, hearing it!!

No wisdom or philosophy is needed for this type of Emunah. It works even in the deepest depths of every kind of golus and even during the darkest times!

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Dov (who is sober for over 11 years in SA from an all-consuming lust addiction) responds to "Me's" post:

What "Me" just said... there really is nothing more to say. (In the 12-Step groups they talk about "Half-measures" and "full measures"). For me, this Yesod is the only "full measure".

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" Trying" posted:

This Shabbos, when the Y"H was trying to get me, I davened to Hashem and told him that he (the YH) is stronger then me and that I realized many times that I can't win over him, so He should please remove him from me so that I can stay pure. It was wonderful. Hashem listened to my prayers every time! And it wasn't even hard, cuz it wasn't ME struggling. I guess this is what it means to "let go and let g-d". I didn't come out all battered and bruised from battle, since I didn't fight. It was a wonderful feeling.

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"Nura" Posted:

I had a moment of "LET GO AND LET G-D" clarity yesterday that I want to share. It's one of those moments when the whole blackness of the night gets lit up for a few seconds - as if by lightning. 

Most times I feel that all the knowledge and understanding that I have regarding bitachon (reliance on G-d) and emunah (faith) is just that; knowledge - but without really "feeling" it in my heart. Can I "talk the talk"? Sure, like the biggest of Tzadikim! But when it comes time to actually "walking the walk".....

Well, yesterday I was feeling the weight of the whole entire world on my shoulders when all of a sudden I felt like lightning flashed before me and I hit my forehead with my hand and said to myself: "Wait a minute here Nurah - you little shnook! Your body, with all its zillions of details is working just fine all these years - may the Almighty continue to watch over all of us  - and that is without too much input from you. So why do you think that the Almighty needs your help now to BALANCE THE CHECKBOOK?!!"

Yes, He Who gives life - gives Sustenance!

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Along the lines of what "Nura" just wrote, I once heard a beautiful vort. The Pasuk says: "Asapra el chok, Hashem amar elai, b'ni ata, ani hayom yeliditicha". We can translate the Pasuk as follows: "Asapra el chok - when I talk about Parnasa" (chok is a lashon of parnasa) and I wonder what will be, "Hashem amar elai - Hashem says to me", "B'ni ata - you are my son", "ani hayom yeliditicha? - did I just give birth to you today??"

In other words, "how did you manage until today? Well, in the very same way I will care for you now as well!"

 

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"7up" (a woman) posted:

Thursday morning I went with an 'adopted' daughter who was in labor, figuring I'd be home by afternoon. Trust me, I never figured I'd be there 3 days straight!!

Anyway, BH all is fine now; Am Yisrael was zoche to another little boy.
 
This concept of "Letting Go and Letting G-d" is still a new concept to me, at least in the realm of addiction - but oh; what a freeing one! I spent the last 3 days sharing this yesod. There is nothing like a "birthing experience" to really send home the message that Hashem is VERY CLEARLY running the show, second by second!


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Testimonial of the Day
By "mgsbms"

 

Yesterday was 12 weeks, which brings me today to 85 days. I read the daily emails and hear and feel the emotion of the people posting here how thankful they are to R' Guard and this site for literally saving their lives. I feel the same way, and if I would have time I would post a special thanks every day to R' Guard for saving me in a very hard time when I felt that there was no hope, and every commitment I made was broken. I just couldn't get my hands around this thing and I was sinking lower and lower and getting more and more depressed, I remember being ashamed of myself every Erev Shabbos and not being able to pick up my head to the Ribono Shel Olam.

 

But one day I came across this site (through an ad on Yeshivah World) and everything changed. The daily emails are really a great chizuk, the tragic story you posted recently really is a wake up call.

 

Just keep up this holy work, you are literally being machzir betshuvah hundreds of people daily. I REALLY HOPE THAT YOU ARE NOT UNDERESTIMATING THE SERVICE YOU ARE DOING WITH THIS. PLEASE PLEASE FORGE AHEAD, DON'T GIVE UP. I am sure, as in every organization, there are hardships etc. but please accept my words of chizuk and take it at face value that you saved a yid from the edge of the abyss.

 

Thanks for listening to me and letting me rant my emotions.

 

Until next time, yours truly,

mgsbms

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Pic of the Day
"Sobering"



Translation: "In the place where you are, I was. And in the place where I am, you will be."

534.


"What Can I Do For You?"

Yesterday we discussed how one of the foundations of the 12-Steps is learning how to "Let Go and Let G-d". Well, another major foundation of the steps that helps us find freedom from the addiction, is learning how to live for OTHERS and not be "self-centered". As one guy wrote today on the forum:

 

Some of you know that I've been attending Duvid Chaim's 12 step phone conference (admin: click here for info on how to join!). I can honestly say that after 3 weeks of Duvid Chaim's call, I am reminded during the day to perform a couple of selfless acts and to think more about others. Although I don't see yet exactly how this helps the addiction, the calls are worth it just for that!


Also, someone asked a question on the forum about the addiction "vis-à-vis his wife" and Dov responded with something so beautiful that I must share it with you all today.
(Dov is sober in SA for 11 years, click here to read his story). Please take the time to read it slowly and try to internalize what he is saying because it is truly profound.

Dov writes:

The big issue in my case (which at least partially covers your marriage concern as well) is that I try to always ask myself: "what 'mode' am I in now, Giving or Getting?"

Without even getting into the issue of what is "good" or "bad", or even what is "nice" or "better" - just for us to know the real truth about ourselves, it really works wonders to be aware of it.

Rav Dessler brings the following idea in Kuntres Hachesed, but I write it here be"H from a (12-Step) program perspective. Please tell me if the following makes sense to you...

If I am truly and primarily concerned about what I am giving to all the people in the world, to the people on the street (that I'm walking down), to the folks in my workplace, to my family, to my wife... well, then a lot of things are gonna be OK. Like how people look (beautiful or otherwise), what they are giving me, and how they make me feel.

For example - if I find myself gazing, I quickly ask myself, "Hey! What good am I doing for that person in the street I am staring at? I'd better daven for them instead, Hashem certainly has some kind of purpose and/or plan for them - even if they are a goy, no? I'm sure they need something! (and it's surely not: my ogling at them!)"...

Are my kids making me feel proud and secure as a parent with their behavior or are they 'driving me nuts'? "Hey! What does how they make me feel have to do with what I can give to them? Better I should look at how I can be useful to them, especially given my proclivities to anger or insecurity.

Now I am getting somewhere...

Is my relationship with my wife fulfilling - or not so much... "Hey now, is that why she married me? And is that the only reason I married her? If she'd give me all the fancy stuff I desired (including the lust), would it satisfy me? And what would really happen then?

I am not speaking out against satisfaction in every aspect of marriage, but I need to face this truth: Am I really looking for physical satisfaction, or do I really want for something else in her - like being truly deeply, fully and trustingly connected to another person in this short life - with no price tag either way - just because we are one? Yup, for me that is definitely it.

And the only way to "get" that, is by giving it all away for free to her, no?" After all, do we really expect anything less from our wives?

You may be able to apply this idea in your marriage and think about how whatever you do or choose to communicate etc. with your wife, gives to/affects her. If you try it, let us know what happens, OK?

If this was helpful to you, fantastic!! If not, nu... At least it reminded me of how precious my relationships really are to me, and maybe I'll smile just a bit more when I walk in the door tonight!

Love, 
Dov


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Testimonial of the Day
By "Yesodos"

 

I've printed out the GYE handbook and Attitude handbook, and I've been working my way through them. I have to say that they are utterly brilliant. My favorite thing about them is that they provide me with so many different TOOLS to fighting the addiction. I really used to feel ILL-EQUIPPED in dealing with the dreaded urge, and all I'd be able to tell myself was things like 'come on, just fight it' or 'try harder', without really having any idea of HOW to effectively and creatively work around the problem. Kol Hakavod for providing this service!

 

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Quotes of the Day


Battleworn wrote to someone who kept experiencing falls and felt that he was "unworthy" to continue posting on the forum:

I'm sorry if you weren't warned, but the fact is - this forum is a one way street; there is no leaving! This is a club of fighters, not winners. In truth, we are winners, because not giving up IS winning.

When the angels claimed that the Torah should be given to them and not us, Hashem answered "Do you have a Yetzer Hara?" R' Tvi Meir says that we learn from this, that the bigger your y"h is, the more you have a right to Hashems holy Torah! It's a very big zechus for us to be associated with you. And anyone who doesn't let a fall get him down is guaranteed to succeed!

 

Bardichev brought a great quote from Theodore Roosevelt:

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. 

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

 

Rabbi Nachman of Breslav writes (Sefer Ohr Letziyon):

 

Everyone must say the world was created for me (Sanhedrin 37). This shows that humility isn't that one should feel lowly and worthless, rather humility is knowing that all your attributes and accomplishments are a gift from Hashem.

There's a contradiction, it says, "and he was haughty in the way of Hashem" and another posuk says, "Hashem despises everyone who is haughty". One answer is, that one has to be humble regarding his past deeds, and regarding the future one has to be arrogant thinking that he can accomplish much - and use his strengths to serve Hashem. Unfortunately many people do the opposite, and they are arrogant regarding their past and humble about their future.

535.


Chizuk of the Day

Someone who has been on our forum for a long time and put in a lot of effort to break this addiction and yet still continued to have occasional falls, wrote on the forum:

I think many of us have given it our all. We've made drastic changes in our lives, created many fences, worked so hard in our spiritual lives... and yet, we have this "moment of insanity" where we are possessed by the Yetzer Hara and do all that we know is wrong. If the Yetzer Hara is infinitely stronger than us, how are we supposed to defend ourselves when the Yetzer Hara goes on an all-out attack? It seems that only Hashem can help us in such times. So how much can we really affect this battle? What can we really contribute? What is really up to us? After we've done all we can (fences, etc), what is Hashem looking for us to do?

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Dear Yid,

The fight is 100% up to us, and yet the fight is 100% in Hashem's hands and not in ours. "Excuse me?" Yes, you heard right. We can't understand this, but the Torah tells us that both are true. "Hanistaros La'Hashem elokeinu, Ve'haniglos Lanu Ulivaneinu - The hidden is for Hashem our G-d, and the revealed is for us and our children"... Since we can't understand it, we'll just have to accept it and leave it to Hashem to worry about exactly how it works :-)

The Yetzer Hara is indeed stronger than us, WAY STRONGER. After all, we are just human and he is a Malach! That is why the only way to find freedom from the addiction is to avoid fighting him (i.e. the lust) head-on at all costs. This can be done in two ways:

1) Fences, better fences and even better fences. Each time we fall in a new way, we put up a new fence. This can go on for quite a while, but eventually we will get enough fences up to keep safe - if we are honest and true to ourselves. Read tool #3 of the GYE handbook for many great ideas.

2) We need to learn how to give over the fight to Hashem. Yes, He is the only one who can fight the Yetzer Hara, not us. And once He is in the equation, what does it matter if the Yetzer hara is 100 X stronger than us? Like the meraglim said, "We cannot go up, for they are stronger than us", and they were right. But Kalev and Yehoshua knew that Hashem will fight for us, and therefore if makes no difference how strong they were!!

So do you want to learn the secret of how to give over the struggle to Hashem? Join the new 12-Step phone groups that we recently began, and learn how even the most hopeless non-Jews were able to beat this (after all, you are surely no worse off than them!).

 

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I would like to bring two more great answers that were posted to this Yid on the forum, since there is so much we can learn from them both.


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"London" responds:

Dear Jew,

If anyone can say they relate to you, I can. Eight months ago I lost my sobriety after 3 years sober! But I have not given up, and no one can take away from me the clean time I had. It is an achievement that proves to me that I can do it again, one day at a time. Sitting around being miserable about it is only going to keep me in the sickness.

Never ever underestimate the power of addiction, it is far stronger than we ever will be. Addiction is an insanity that only gets progressively worse. How many of us started off by being addicted to masturbation, then onto soft porn.... each time swearing by everything holy that we will never get worse, and before we realize it we crossed that line too.

Before I came into recovery, I went to see a renowned Dayan in London as I was going through a really bad phase of misfortune and I attributed it to Hashem's wrath. And the Dayan asked me if I had crossed a certain line and I got really upset and said "No way! I only have a problem with the internet. I would never do THAT!". Well guess what? Within a year, I did just THAT; something that I thought I would never in my life do.

Another part of this insanity is, that every time I act out my disease tells me that I will get a different result. But in truth, I am beating my head against a brick wall and expecting a different result each time.
How insane is that?  


You wrote that "many of us have given it our all"... I do not want to be harsh on you and neither am I judging you, but I know from my experience that very often I will "appear" to take the right actions, but when I do an in depth soul-searching I will have to admit that there are further lengths I could have gone to.

Hashem is not going to "fix" me for free, He wants me to put in the effort. When I daven to Hashem to relieve me of the addiction, I have to mean it. I cannot give up my addiction to Hashem with one hand, and hold onto it with the other hand.

The AA program talk about "rigorous honesty" which is very difficult for me as an addict, because I am so used to justifying the unjustifiable. When I have slipped in the past, I had to do an in depth Chesbon Hanefesh and see where my program was lacking, and where could I have taken a different action than I did. 

You also talk about the "moment of insanity". For me, the 12 steps have been crucial in this respect. The program gives me a choice before I act out, to either take an action - like call someone, or act out. This choice is only there for a split second, but when I was in active addiction I never had a choice. As soon as the compulsion struck, I was like a robotic slave and I went and acted out. Now in recovery, I have a choice and it's up to me. 

Just last week I was sitting in my office dealing with some very difficult financial issues, and a major craving to act-out hit me. I made some phone calls to members but did not get through, and that's when the choice came, either I can continue to try and get hold of someone and/or leave my office, or I could act out. Thank G-d I was able to make the right choice. I also know that the longer I am sober, the less the compulsions are likely to strike.


In summary, all I have written here are steps 1 to 3 of the 12-Step program. Step one: I am powerless over my acting out - and when I act out my entire life becomes completely ruined. Step 2: I cannot cure myself by myself, but Hashem can restore me to sanity if I use Step 3, which is to fully trust in Him to restore my sanity if I take the right actions.


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Dov Responds:

Ditto; Guard and London both said it better than I could. One Question though:

Are you alone in this "fight"? Meaning, are we "forum people" the only other people with you?

I ask because I'd never have gotten any sobriety had I been alone in any way. I needed fellow addicts - fellow "losers-against-lust", to see and talk to daily. I would never have worked the steps alone.

The tendency of most guys I meet (including myself) is (1) to deny that they are actually out of control in their behavior, and (2) almost as soon as they have a period of sobriety, they start to doubt inside (where it counts), that they are still unable to struggle and win against lust. They thus renew their "lust license" and feel they can safely lust "a little", and the result is that they "fall".

I have come to see that I have never had a problem with lust - and likely never will again, without first subconsciously renewing my "lust license". If I want to stay sober I must always remember that I simply cannot struggle with lust at all. That means I have no business looking at - or even thinking about - things that will begin the struggle. Among them are: "hey, what would have happened if..." and "I wonder if she...", and other greatest hits like; "I know I could've beaten it last time if I would've just stopped after...".

If I was doing this without meetings, a sponsor, and daily contact with other addicts, forget it. I'd have gotten permanently lost in the gaava of "I can beat this! (with Hashem's help of-course, whatever that means)", or "I'm better now", or "if I can't understand the Steps, I won't try them", you know, stuff like that. I would still be trying to do it my way, and I'd certainly be dead by now. Really.

So consider reading the first couple of chapters of the AA Big Book and see if your story is similar to Bill's (or read SA member stories in "Recovery Continues"). It was only possible for me to finally get better once I accepted that I was not just another guy with a real bad Yetzer Hara, but actually an addict, just like the drug addicts on the news.

This may be hard to accept, but I consider it just another madreiga of "Lev Nishbar veNidkeh Elokim Lo Sivzeh - G-d does not forsake a broken and subjugated heart". The heart needs to be broken when will-power is not enough.
 
Love, 
Dov

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Saying of the Day
I just want to repeat that PROFOUND line from Dov above:

 

"The heart needs to be broken when will-power is not enough".

 

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Testimonial of the Day
By "7Up"

 

To me, GYE (generally) no longer has anything to with addiction! To me, GYE is special family. I don't see 'addicts' when I come to visit. I see nothing more and nothing less, than suffering neshamos. I see tremendous pain, bleeding wounds, and scars in all sizes and shapes. I see men and women with tear stains on their faces and in their hearts, begging for release. I see individuals battling illness, davening for refuas hanefesh v'guf - healing spiritually and physically. I see warriors falling and getting up again and again, and I see determination and perseverance. I see anger and even fury aimed at the menuval, and I see unconditional love for one another.

I for one, am really proud to part of this family!
536.


The Light in the Darkness

Hashem gives us these struggles so that we can make beautiful jewels for His crown through them. Rabbosai, share with us your thoughts from the times you have struggles and overcome them! By sharing and inspiring many other people as well, you will be uplifting your struggles to the highest level of Hashem's honor!

Someone wrote me recently:

 
I was lying in bed the other night feeling depressed and needy, craving and wishing that I could have "Miss Universe" right now. And suddenly a thought came to me and I said to myself;

"You know, I could have - right now - something even BETTER than that! What could possibly be better? Well, Hashem is here right now, with me, next to me and inside me. He created the world's most beautiful woman. He created all the beautiful women in the world. And He completely and selflessly wants the very best possible for me in this very moment. The fact that I am not presently with the world's most beautiful woman means that what I have right now is even better for my good. Hashem knows what I need at this very moment for His divine plan to unfold, so that he can one day give me the ultimate pleasure possible!

And besides all that, He is right here with me now. He is the source of all desire, all good and all pleasure. And I can have the most intimate connection with Him - right now - if I just let Him into my heart and love Him back as much as He is loving me".
 
And with those thoughts, I drifted off into a pleasant sleep...

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Another person wrote me recently:

I just wanted to share with you how your site helped me today... It's the three weeks and I've been feeling down, my wife wasn't available lately and I found myself alone at home, just aching to act out. But I so didn't want to fall into that pit again so I went to the "Practical Tips" section of the website and found the LAST RESORT tip at the bottom of the page. And as I gazed at the pictures there, I felt the lust just disappear, as I saw what flesh and blood really is and where I will be one day. And my eyes filled with tears and I began to recite the Pesukim from the Mizmor "Halleli Nafshi Es Hashem" (translated):
 
My nefesh praises Hashem, I shall praise Hashem in my life, I shall sing to Him while I am still here... The soul leaves him, he returns to his earth, on that day all his desires are lost. Happy is the one whose help is the G-d of Yakov, whose hope is in Hashem his G-d, who made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in it... Hashem releases the bound, opens the eyes of the blind, straightens the bent; Hashem loves Tzadikim!  

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The Hidden Light of Moshiach


It occurred to me recently, that the over-powering lust that Yehudah felt for Tamar that pushed him to sin, and the lust that Dovid Hamelech felt for Bat Sheva when he took her for a wife; both of these "lustings" ended up becoming the harbingers of Moshiach through Hashem's wondrous divine plan! (From Tamar came Peretz, and from Bat Sheva came Shlomo Hamelech).

Let us examine this a bit closer. After David took Bat Sheva, Hashem punished David with many punishments because of this. As it says: "Sword will never leave your home for ever" and "I shall bring up evil from your own house (Avshalom)", and "the son that (Bat Sheva) bore you shall die". And all these curses truly did befall David, and David did a tremendous Teshuvah on it. But the next son that Bat Sheva bore him was called Shlomo, and the Pasuk says that Hashem loved him and called his name "Yedidyah - the loved one of Hashem"... And he was the one to build the Beis Hamikdash - and from him the Moshiach will come!
 
From this we can get a glimpse of the wondrous ways that Hashem runs the world. We lust, we fall, and we are punished too! But at the end of the day, it is this very lusting, these very sins, the punishments we received and the subsequent Teshuvah that we did, that ultimately bring forth the greatest light!
 
How appropriate this message is for us now during the nine days, and especially on Rosh Chodesh Av! (see the Torah thought below on this idea as well). We are in a period where we mourn the great tragedies that befell the Jewish people as a result of our sins. But it is this very darkness that will one day be the cause for the greatest light. We sinned, we were punished, Yerushalayim and the Beis Hamikdash lay in ruins, and all looks lost! Yet from within these very ruins, the great light begins to shine forth...
 
Our "deeds" are like our children, as Chazal say "Ma'aseihem shel Tzadikim Toldoseihem - the deeds of the righteous are their children"... After our first "son" (born in sin) dies, the next "son" who is born to us - after our Teshuvah - is more beloved to Hashem than any other child in the world! As the Zohar says (see Chizuk e-mail #351 on this page), there can be no light that doesn't come first through darkness.

And as we saw from those two people who we quoted above; the greatest darkness has the potential to bring out the greatest light!
 
So when feeling down, depressed, needy and vulnerable (moods which are especially prevalent during this time of year), know that the great darkness of the nine days is a precursor to the greatest light of all. And the darkness we feel inside us, is really the harbinger of the great light in our souls - just waiting for the moment when it can finally burst forth!

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Torah Thought of the Day

In honor of Rosh Chodesh Av - and in direct continuation of the ideas above.

By "Kutan"

(The following idea I heard from R' A. Miller and lahvdil B'CH"L"CH from R' Wolfson and also R' Akiva Tatz)

 

In this past Sedra, Rashi mentions by the Rosh Chodesh korbon on the words "Chatas l'shem", that - kaviyochel - Hashem is asking us to bring a korbon for Him that he made the moon smaller.

There obviously must be a lesson here... Hashem does not need our kapara!

The making of the moon smaller represents the downtrodden status of klal yisroel and holiness in the world (the moon = klal yisroel). 

A glance at our history shows that it is full of failures... from Adam in Gan Eden, to Noach coming out of the teiva and getting drunk, to the shevatim with Yosef to the chet eigel and meraglim, to Shlomo building the Beis Hamikdash and oversleeping, to Chezkiyahu not singing shira, etc...

It seems that we can't ever do it right!

But the depth here is that it was all preordained to be this way... Hashem wanted all these falls because he treasures the light that (will ultimately) comes from darkness. It is much sweeter, like the Zohar says [quoted above]... that the brightest light is the one that shines out of the pitch dark.

So on Rosh Chodesh, when the moon starts coming back from one of the "yeridos", we bring a chatas korbon, meaning we start the process of coming close to Hashem again, and whose fault is it? Chatas l'HaShem, it is - kav'yochel - Hashem's fault, so to speak. He made it be this way! He wanted us to take the long route rather than the easy way up.

But the lesson for us is that this is the way it is meant to be. And we have this Korbon as a monthly reminder so that we not get discouraged but keep climbing higher (and starting all over again if we slipped).

Hashem is telling us, "don't worry, everything will come to a tikkun, even mistakes that we don't know about... Just like the moon"... Don't worry about the morbid state of the world (or ourselves), Hashem says, "I did it, so you can be sure that I'll help you out of it".

We so often feel sick with ourselves... why do we have to have all this garbage inside?

The moon is teaching us that our mission in this world is constant renewal. Not just a "once and for all - be over with it" type of avodah, but constant ups (and yes downs). We are living in sync with history and with the ultimate purpose of the world. And every "up" is infinitely brighter because of it.

Yes, its hard and frustrating, so Hashem says, "bring a Korbon"; to remind us that it's His doing. He wanted it to be this way.

537.


The 42 Travels

A Beautiful Letter from "Yechidah" to everyone on our network


Dear brothers and sisters,

The Bal Shem Tov says that the 42 locations that Klal Yisroel went through in the desert correspond to 42 stages that a Yid must go through in life.

Every location we have to be in is with Hashgacha Pratis. It has to be that way. To emphasize this, Moishe Rabbeinu wrote all the travels and locations down. Moshe, the Anov, taught us that we too have to be Anavim, realizing that every place is Hashem's Place. And it was Hashem who wanted us to be there at that particular time.

"Why", a Yid asks, "was I at times, not even through my own doing, made to go into places of darkness; Harsh places, places where kind words are rare, where it is very difficult to find Yiraas Shomaim?" And then I leave the 4 walls of the Bais Midrash when I know that's what Hashem wants, but it's hard. It's hard because I end up in a Manhattan bound train, which - especially in July & August - is Hell on Earth; Cabins filled with men that are spiritually empty and women who look and act like prostitutes. I get encouraged by an old Yid learning in the corner, so I too stick my head in a sefer, fighting and fighting - sometimes a "losing battle" - to stay clean and good, to keep my mind and heart pure. I finally get to work at 9 AM, very often after having been subjected to nastiness and having heard many 4 letter words that are not G-O-O-D??

Why is my neshomah full of struggles; a virtual roller coaster that is no fun at all; a nightmare while awake - to the point that this Yid's eyes fill up with tears because he has to go to work again the next day. He is not lazy. He likes the work. But the viciousness, the coldness, the emptiness, the politics, the hatred, the resentment, the complex maze of tests that this Yid has to go through, is very difficult for him to handle.

But the Bal Shem Tov teaches us that everything is with Hashgacha Pratis. The train, the work, or wherever you are and wherever you need to be - are all part of the 42 "Masaos" of life. Not always pleasant, but Hashem gives us pleasant places as well. The GuardYourEyes forum is one of those pleasant places. A place where one Yid gives chizuk to another Yid, who in turn gives chizuk to yet another Yid. A fallen Yid is picked up, and instead of going home to take a shower and rest, he tries to pick up another Yid that needs help. This place, my friends, is a Place of Refuge, of Ahavas Yisroel, of fighting the Yetzer Harah together.

And so when "Bardichev" or "Dov" or "Nurah" or "Battleworn" or anyone here on the forum is on one of their 42 Masaos in life, we are all rooting for them. Strange, it seems, not knowing who anyone is, and yet at the same time knowing them very very well, even more than people who see you and think they know you.

And we are always davening that all you "unknown" people - with very known and special neshomos - are doing OK and more than OK.

The Heart of Klall Yisroel is One. When we realize this - and feel this way for real - Moshiach will be here. It's as simple as that.

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"Bardichev" Responds:

YECHIDA, ONLY HASHEM SEES THE TEAR DROPS ON MY FACE, DESK AND KEY BOARD.

YOU WENT TO GEHHENOM AND BACK - TO BE MECHAZIK A POSHUTER YID LIKE ME.

THANK YOU!

GEVALD, TATTE IN HIMMEL, BRING MOSHIACH!!

LOOK AT THE TZADDIKIM HERE, WHO CONSIDER THEMSELVES OVREI RITZONO!!!!

TATTE, WHERE DO YOU FIND SUCH HELIGER YIDDEN??

HELIGER BARDICHEVER RUV ZTZ'L, SHOW THIS POST TO THE BOREI KOL OLAMIM!!!!

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"Yechidah" Continues:

Dear brothers and sisters,

With Hashem's help, with the tefilos we say for each other, and with the tools that Reb Guard prepared for us here, all of us will be able to pull out from darkness to great light.

For some it will take weeks or months, and for most of us it will be years, but all of us will - Bezras Hashem - recover. We will always be at greater risk of sliding back than most people, and for us it takes much more effort than normal to stay healthy, but we will recover.

And after pulling into recovery and looking back, this is the way Hashem wants us to see it. Hashem says:

"This Dark Place, my son, you needed to be there, but you won't go back there - EVER. But take with you the lessons, the whole painful experience, and have compassion for your brothers and sisters that are still there, suffering terribly". (Yes, being addicted or being haunted by destructive thoughts and emotions, is a very severe suffering, a very intense pain).

And Hashem says: "I want you to send to your hurt brothers and sisters a one-way ticket out of there. Only you can do this, because you were there yourself and you know what it was like. And you learned the route out. The pain of it is still in your heart, it will always be there. Why? Because I never ever ever want you to forget your brothers and sisters that are still in that Dark Place".

They will come out soon, via the one-way ticket you send them with true love. They will come out worn and battered, bruised and hurt, still haunted, still weak and emotionally spent. So you will help heal them, give them a place to rest their tired neshomah that just came out of a war zone, you cover them with a warm cozy blanket, feed them warm and healing words of encouragement that come from the depths of you heart, holding their hand and telling them: "don't worry, dear brother/sister, it's over, you'll never need to go back there again because I won't let that stuff ever hurt you again. We will all help you".

And this, my dear brothers and sisters, is what Hashem wants us - and needs us - to do.


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Feeling Hashem

 

"Momo" posts his thoughts on the daily 12-Step phone conference group with Duvid Chaim (click here for info on how to join):


We learned yesterday in the call that the "spiritual experience" that we are all seeking (d'veikut) happens slowly, as we work the 12 steps, and not all at once. That's why we have to be patient and not say, as I was saying last week: "How come I'm in the program for 3 weeks and I still don't feel any differently?" It takes a lot of time. As Duvid Chaim and Reb Guard said, it took us time to get addicted and we spent many years in the addiction, so it will take us time to get free. 

Two days ago I definitely had an epiphany from HaShem in understanding one method of how to "see" HaShem all around us in our daily life, and I posted it yesterday (guard: see reply #192 on this page - highly suggested!). I know that this was a gift from HaShem because He understood that I really needed it. I was depressed and on the brink of giving up. However getting an epiphany is not the "norm" for people working the program. HaShem simply gave me a "gift" to give me a glimpse of how my life can feel like at the end of the program. 

I will describe how I felt yesterday to remind me, in case I lose that feeling for a while (it's already fading). I also think it's important for everyone who hasn't experienced it to see what the "light at the end of the tunnel" feels like. Everyone on this forum has the potential to reach this state of mind! I think we'll get there with HaShem's help, with working the steps and with prayers. I pray daily that HaShem will let me hold on to this amazing feeling for just one more day, even if not at the same intensity as the first day I felt it.

It was like living in a different dimension (as Duvid Chaim speaks about). I felt really good all day, simply content. I didn't feel any lustful feelings. Nothing to fight. They weren't even in my mind. It's funny because no parameters in my life had changed, I had the same job, the same stress, but my attitude was totally different. I felt different. I saw the world differently. My usual feelings of lust and battling the lust were replaced with a feeling of closeness to HaShem. I felt a spiritual power (inner strength) that enabled me (gave me the confidence) to do things (mitzvot) that I would have normally been too shy to do. I felt as if I finally lived one of my days to it's fullest potential.

I think the key is, that we have to open our eyes and see HaShem in every object that surrounds us, and then we'll feel HaShem. For example: For me, the shape of a tree reminds me of a human, whose branches are like arms and the trunk are like legs ("ki ha'adam eitz ha-sadeh"). If you can look at a tree and see it as a creation of HaShem, then driving down a road lined with trees on both sides can make you feel like your being hugged by HaShem.

Yesterday's call ended with the fact that the program will work only if we are truly honest with ourselves, are open-minded to new ideas, and are willing to change and work the steps. We cannot be intolerant of others, of making amends or of new concepts, and we cannot be in a state of denial about how we are acting and how we currently live our lives. 
 
I would like to end with an important point. My notes on the call in no way replace the calls, but perhaps add to them. I encourage everyone to join the calls themselves!

Thank you for listening. 

HaShem, please grant us the ability to open our eyes and see You all around us, thereby feeling your presence with us at all times.

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Saying of the Day
Harvey H.

"Don't count the days. Make the days count".


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Testimonial of the Day
By "Jack"

I just saw an ad for GYE on YeshivaWorld.com. It reminded me of the ad I saw last August that changed my life. Wow - it's almost a year that I'm clean of the bad stuff!! (See Jack's 90 day timeline here). But, I know I could fall in a second - so I'd better not be too haughty. A person can fall from the highest heights to the deepest depths. Don't we learn that from the Egel haZahav (right after Matan Torah)? Isn't that the lesson the Holy Torah is telling us? I mean, why else write that?

Rabbi Yakov Weinberg says that the Torah spells out for us in all the gory detail how our ancestors had failure after failure. Why write this if not to teach us a lesson? If someone wants to come to Judaism they will ask, "let me read about your heroes". So we read about the Egel, Korach, the Meraglim, the Misonenim, we read that Moshe sinned, that Shlomo Hamelech was almost denied Olam Haba (see Sanhedrin daf 104b), etc, etc... Why would the Torah write all these negative things? Don't we want to attract people to Judaism? Won't they be turned off? "Look at Christianity - Yoshka was perfect! Now, that's the religion I want!!" - won't people say that? Rabbi Weinberg says, that the Torah tells the truth about life. If you want the truth, you'll take it. And if you don't want the truth - but fabrications, then you'll take something else.

(You know, maybe I should have been a Rabbi instead of a computer programmer! Is it still too late?)

538.


The "Right" Hishtadlus (efforts)


A Ben-Torah on our forum who is struggling to stay clean but keeps experiencing falls, recently wrote that the times he has the most difficulty are when he is lonely. He expressed the hope that through "more Hishtadlus" he will ultimately succeed.

Dov (who sober for 11 years in SA, story here) writes to him as follows:

My dear fellow,

You are certainly not alone in the inability to bear loneliness! (Actually, that's kind of ironic, no?)

Anyway, as your insight into yourself grows, you certainly will add weapons to your arsenal, but relying on weapons - no matter how powerful - is not always a recipe for success. If you are truly an addict, the testimony of many addicts is that "weapons" are never a recipe for success. It's like learning 'a great new tripping move' to use on Mohammed Ali. Ouch!

Kind of like that friend of a Rebbe of mine who went to the Lubavitcher Rebbe ZT"L before his NYS Regents exams for a brocha, which he got. As he was walking out of the room, the Rebbe said to him: "Wait - don't forget: my brochos only work if you study!"

We need to do the work. The only question is: "what is the work?"

The AA Big Book says (Chapter 5):

"Remember that we deal with Alcohol (lust, for me) - cunning, baffling, powerful. Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power - that One is G-d. May you find Him now! Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked for His protection and care with complete abandon.

Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program for recovery..." 


I - and others I know, needed (and still need) to take some occasionally uncomfortable (but simple) steps. We needed to take them along with others who were as serious about them as we were. And we needed to learn how to keep our 'eyes on the ball' all the time. We found that asking for help from Hashem and bringing our crazy ideas out to (safe) people as soon as possible, was the first way to start making that a reality.

You are a very, very good man and certainly always sincerely desired to do only good. Like all of us. But much more than sincere desire is needed (for an addict).

May Hashem send you more and more help to do whatever you must, with open nissim every day!

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How Lucky Can a Man Be?


"Battleworn" posted a beautiful series of posts called "The Torah Approach" to breaking free of addiction, and he asked "Dov" the following question: "If he (Dov) had known the Yesodos of the "Torah Approach" before he joined SA, would he have still needed the 12-Step program in SA to find freedom from his addiction?"


Dov Answers as follows:

The answer of my heart to your question is "no", I did not know these things. Furthermore, I believe that had I known them, I would never have needed SA.

But let's get honest here and define "knowing these things". The emphasis is on the quality of the knowledge. Yes, I was aware of them, and yes, if you'd have asked me back then, I'd have answered that I believe they are all true. But guess what? I would have been lying.

Why? Wasn't I supposed to believe they are true? A person is not supposed to believe kefirah - and it's even worse to say it, no?

Did I put on tallis and tefilin? Of course. But I also masturbated, went to establishments on ill-repute and trashed the life of my wife and my kids by putting them in the back-seat to lust. I was clearly worshipping lust over Hashem.

The Chofetz Chayim writes, that a person doing an aveira is also guilty of some kefira (in Hashem, the Torah, whatever) along with it, because how could he do a thing Hashem doesn't want him to do? He must lack something in the Emunah...no?
 
So although I was "aware" of these things, my Emunah was obviously defective. How do I know this? The answer is, that through working the steps I have come to a certain amount of (growing) in true Emuna.

How do I know I have this Emuna? Because I see that I do not need to act out because I feel Hashem answering me, caring for me and living with me; all as a result of the steps.

Do you think I am just being gullible?

So you ask me if I "knew" these things, but I think you really must mean: "were you 'aware' of these concepts?" The reason I say that is; do you think that these concepts - any of them - are things that you or I could have been told about to have any real effect on our lives? For example, "Oh, I never knew Hashem was on my side, thanks for the information!"

I believe that perhaps most yidden around me may just be "aware" of these ideas, and that is enough for them. But that is not how it worked for me at all. I had to learn that each of these things are a reality, not just be aware of them.

As Chuck C. said: "A belief in G-d is good, but it is not enough for alcoholics. An Alkie needs to live in the constant awareness of the living presence of the Creator." Sounds suspiciously like d'veikus, but what do I know about such things really?

I couldn't get it through the normal channels. Yiddishkeit's values apparently had to be presented to me as I stared down the barrel of the gun of lust!

Now let me ask you: How lucky can a man be?!

 

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After all we are learning about the power of the 12-Step program, we're sure you want to join such a group!

GuardYourEyes.org now offers free & anonymous 12-Step phone conferences throughout the week!

Join Duvid Chaim's 12-Step "Lunch & Learn", Monday-Thursday, 12 PM EST (click here for more info), or join Boruch's "Back to Basics" 12-Step phone conference on Sundays and Thursdays (click here for more info).

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Saying of the Day
Posted by "London"

Now in recovery, I can wake up and say "Good morning G-d" instead of "Good G-d, its morning!!".


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Anecdote of the Day
Sent to us this morning by Rabbi Avraham Twerski

A man told me that he was at the airport, and he had his tallis and tefillin in his carry on. "I had to go to the men's room, so I left my carry on outside the men's room, because I didn't want to take my kedusha items in there. Then it occurred to me, that my neshama is kedusha, and if I don't take my tallis and tefillin into the bathroom, how can I take my holy neshama into an indecent place? Sure, I take my neshama into the bathroom because that's how G-d created me, so He wants me to do it. But he doesn't want me to take the holy neshama into the cesspool of the internet. Because the neshama is part of G-d Himself, it's the worst insult to G-d to take it into immoral places."

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Milsa Di'bdichusah

 

HOW TO START EACH DAY RIGHT

1. Open a new file in your computer.
2. Name it 'Lust'.
3. Send it to the Recycle Bin.
4. Empty the Recycle Bin.
5. Your PC will ask you: 'Do you really want to get rid of Lust?
6. Firmly Click 'Yes'
 

Have a Great Shabbos!

539.


Testimonial of the Day

 

Mazal Tov to Aaron on ONE YEAR CLEAN today!
(See Aaron's story on this page)
Here is the e-mail we got from Aaron now:


B"H doing well. Still going strong, although the summer is tough. I'm one year clean this Sunday, you can  update my chart on the "Wall of Honor". That doesn't mean I'm "in control" or "recovered" though, not only are those conclusions dangerous, they're not true! I find that my madregah is proportionate to my connection to Ruchniyus. If I learn every day and occupy my mind with Torah and Hashkafah, I'm in good shape. If I let even brief thoughts of lust slip in, I feel myself sliding - it's so powerful. Lust and Ruchniyus are mutually exclusive! One will not coexist with the other and lust will crowd out any competition. Despite knowing this, I face daily challenges. I know that the "do not cross" line is still not very clear for me. Once I slide, it's a very short road to acting out, despite being clean and despite all I've achieved. This terrifies me and keeps me in check.

I'd like to stay in touch more often, but I get the feeling that you're swamped now with the site's continued success. B"H it's taking root! Of course it would be better if fewer people needed it, but the site is the cure, not the cause.

I read every e-mail on both Chizuk lists and get a tremendous amount of insight and Chizuk. Your efforts are much appreciated. 

Keep up the good work!

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Chizuk of the Day

Today's Chizuk is in Honor of Aaron who wrote above: "I find that my madregah is proportionate to my connection to Ruchniyus. If I learn every day and occupy my mind with Torah and Hashkafah, I'm in good shape."


Torah Treatment
By "Ben-Moshe" (who is sober for approx. 3 years)


At first it will seem next to impossible. You will feel antsy and be unable to focus. You will barely be able to stifle your yawns. You won't be able to wrap your mind around a simple piece of shaklah ve'taryah. But rejoice. That is the perfect raw material to work with. The tumah toxins inside you are screaming against the powerful chemo treatment of the "samah de'chaya" - the elixir of life. Focus, focus, focus. Drag yourself through the Gemara, then Rashi, then Tosefos, then Maharsha. One hour. Two hours. Be brutal with yourself. No quick fixes of "acharonishe torahs". Memorize the shakla vetaryah. Think through it backwards, then forwards. Try to find flaws in the breathtakingly beautiful logic. 

Do not learn the way you learnt way back when, in yeshiva or kollel, lackadaisically looking for the quick chidush fix. Learn with total and absolute focus, as if you are trying to decode the secret key to a million dollars. Let the sweat gather under your armpits and let a tingling feeling run down your spine, as you slowly, ponderously, with great effort, unlock the strands of Divine DNA within you and within the Gemara. Do this night after night and early morning after early morning. Write down you questions. Take them to your local Rosh Yeshiva.

Consider the "drip-drip" of this daily regimen to be a vital part of your treatment. Know that it is building up your antibodies in small but steady increments and restoring your health. After a while, compare before and after photos of yourself. Before: dead eyes, forced smile, deep sadness. After: twinkling eyes, warmth, attractiveness. Rejoice.

Your yetzer horah will still attack you, and he is guaranteed to continue to do so till your very last breath, but almost immediately you will begin to notice the following:

1. Extremes that at one time glittered, now seem repulsive. They no longer interest you. You cannot imagine how you once embraced certain sewage up to your eyeballs.

2. The frequency that you fall will diminish. You will finally get a life outside your two-dimensional self-made gehinnom. You will feel and exhibit genuine warmth for your family and community.

Hashem has sent us an extraordinary blessing, the mp3 player. Switch off, for good, that radio in your car and in your home. Wash your ears and starving mind with the beautiful sound of shiurim, downloaded to your mp3 player. Many times, especially when you are driving, you will not be able to focus on a shiur, but background noise is also fine because you will still be living in the Beis Hamedrash. You will be steadily rising, not sinking. Find a maggid shiur who speaks to your heart, who resonates emotionally, whose neshama resides in a holy place. Mix upbeat and non-threatening halacha shiurium with uplifting hashkafa and mussar.

And here is a very important tip: Say c"v your yetzer horah gets the better of you; you fall and go somewhere you shouldn't. There is no reason to sin on the way there and back. What a bitul zman! Listen to a Torah tape. Farkert! Show the yetzer horah that bit by bit you are taking over. You are on your way to winning, and winning big.

Chazak VeYe'ematz!

 

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Saying of the Day
Posted by "London"

"Growing old is mandatory - Growing up is optional".


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Anecdote of the Day

"May Your Will, not mine, be done"
By "London"


I would like to share with you an amazing experience I just had. My seven year old daughter is going through a difficult time at school at the moment, both socially and academically. This morning, she had a massive tantrum that she is not going to school, refusing to eat breakfast and throwing her bag around. In the car on the way to school, she told me how sad she is that she does not have friends, etc. I was able to sympathize with her and I told her that I will speak to her teachers.

After she left the car, a huge craving to act out swept through me. My daughter is suffering, which is in turn causing me great emotional pain as a father. I am also an addict, which means I am pre-programmed to "medicate myself" with acting out or food, whenever I face difficult situations. However, what my program has taught me, is that difficult feelings won't kill me. I was able to sit through the craving until it passed, and then I experienced the sadness for my daughter and I cried for the first time in many many months. I also phoned my sponsor and shared with him what had happened, not to get advice, but just to share with another person who understands the way I work. He encouraged me to pray for my daughter and told me, as they say in AA, "this too shall pass".

I am so grateful today for my program that is giving me another choice, to be able to experience difficult situations without acting out. There is no way I can do this on my own, I need other people to constantly to fall on to give me strength and encouragement. Through this, I can accept my situation and daven to Hashem that "His will, not mine, be done today".

540.


Chizuk of the Day

By "Battleworn"


Uri (clean for 11 days) wrote on the forum:

I'm still clean, but barely holding on. I'm in a terrible mood and I'm having trouble getting hold of myself. I was so good this week, I feel like crying. When I drove home tonight I passed town and I felt such mixed feelings. I saw teens just feeding off lust with no inhibitions. I felt angry that they could fill their needs while I sit and struggle to keep myself in check. They look so happy, while I feel so discontent.

One piece of advice I read somewhere on this site helped me have a much better shabbos. And that is, that Hashem has tremendous nachas ruach for whatever we're able to give, just give it. Cry to Hashem whenever. Plead for mercy. Spill your heart out always. Hashem desires the heart.


Battleworn replies:

Dear Uri, it's obvious from your posts that you have a very special Neshamoh and that you're on your way to real Gadlus. The Yetzer Hara will not let you get there without putting up a good fight, but you have to stick it out. Within a short time you'll be a totally new person. Although it seems now that the whole world has it good and you don't, the opposite is true. Those who give in to lust are happy for a short while, and then left disillusioned and empty inside. On the other hand, those who fulfill their purpose on this world and do Hashem's will, they may have it hard for a short time in the beginning, but they achieve TRUE happiness and fulfillment for all eternity! Soon you will be SO MUCH HAPPIER, and the ONLY feeling that you'll feel for those "street kids" is very sincere pity.

One of the main tricks of the Yetzer Hara, is to spotlight things that cause stress. He makes a whole lot of noise, like it says in the Pasuk "and the evil ones, like the sea they churn, for being silent they cannot". He makes us feel all desperate. And that's what the Meraglim did. Thay got all dramatic and made everyone feel extremely desperate ("Guys we're dead meat, etc."). It works really well - they managed to get everyone to cry the whole night on the ninth of Av. And that's the source of the churban that we are now mourning over now, as Chazal say (that Hashem said): "you cried for nothing (in the desert), now I shall instigate a crying for generations".

We have to try to use Kalev's tactic, as the Pasuk says: "and Kalev hushed the nation"... Kalev came and said: "SHHHH, calm down, let's be rational, if Hashem got us until here, He'll also get us in to Eretz Yisrael". But they were so busy crying and screaming that they couldn't even listen to Kalev.

Let's learn the lesson and try not to let this trick work on us. Take a deep breath and then another one and a bunch more. Calm yourself down as much as you can, and firmly tell the Yetzer Hara: "I'll be just fine. Hashem runs my life and takes very good care of me. I most definitely don't HAVE TO act out". In fact, acting out will only make things worse.

And if I'm feeling stressed now, then ADERABA, this is my opportunity - given to me as a gift from Hashem Himself - to show my true loyalty to Him, to fulfill the purpose of creation in the truest sense and to merit unfathomable pleasure for each and every second of holding out!"

This is not always easy to do, but it's well worth working on it. With time and effort, it will get easier and easier.

It's so important to realize that we are made up of two parts. Our Neshamah, which is really our essence, is totally good; "Tehorah Hi". Our body (including the "animal soul") is really only a "levush - garment" (something like what a car is to its driver), and it includes in it all the traits of all the nations and all the animals. R' Elchonon Wasserman said that each of us has a whole zoo in him. And R' Tvi Meir adds that we also have the whole U.N too! (I don't know which one is more dangerous). 

If you are fortunate enough to realize that you have these traits, and you are fortunate enough that it bothers you, then you are in very very good shape. 

Every time you fight one of these traits, you are bringing a sacrifice to Hashem that is far more precious in His eyes than any physical sacrifice that was ever offered. This is spelled out very clearly in a quite a few places in Tanach. So when you see in yourself a good fat "Bi'heima", you should rejoice over the opportunity offer such a "korbon mehudar" (top notch sacrifice) to Hashem! 

CHAZAK VE'EMATZ!!!

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Attitude Tip of the Day
Sent in by an Anonymous writer


Here's what helped me after a 15 year addiction. . . A rabbi was saying that if you would rather DIE than eat a bug, that Hashem won't have it happen that you will ever eat a bug. I had heard this before as a Chasidic story, but the Rabbi said it in such a way, he said that if there is any sin which you would rather DIE than do it, than Hashem won't let it happen that you will sin. That teaching hit me like a ton of bricks. That was about 5 years ago, and I haven't committed an act of shefichat zera levatala since. I basically picture myself dying a gruesome, horrible, torturous death every time an urge hits. This took a few minutes sometimes, which was the time it took for me to come back to my senses. In the beginning, I would say I had to do this sometimes 15-20 times a day for the first year or two. Nowadays, I only have to do this a couple of times a week. I always need to come up with new, gruesome, horrible ways to be tortured and die, new ways that strike a chill up my spine and snap me out of the grasp of the other side. Some might say I'm a sick for having such gothic thoughts, but I would truly rather die than go back to that avierah, and this visualization really really helps. Also, after each Visualization I SMILE and say THANK YOU HASHEM!

This tip is similar to 'The Revalation" that we posted in Chizuk e-mail #420 on this page.

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Anecdote of the Day

 

Return to Walmart
By "Ben-Moshe" (sober for approx. 3 years)


Your phone rings. It's your wife. "Can you stop off at Walmart to pick up some groceries?" "Sure." You take down the details, then draw a deep breath. Your delightfully clueless wife is sending you into the Gaza Strip, into Afghanistan, because Walmart on a hot and humid summer afternoon, will be full with unwanted stimuli and slippery distraction, not ben-Torah friendly, certainly not recovering ben-Torah friendly. However, you don't panic. You remind yourself that you know the drill, you have learned neat tricks, and have even learned to turn the tables to your advantage...

You are fortunately blessed with near-sightedness so, before you leave your car, you deliberately remove your glasses, then leave them in your car. You think back fondly to the first time you tried this. You remember the thrill you felt, as you trod those aisles, ten-feet tall, empowered by an enveloping haze which acted like a spiritual buffer. You had felt insulated and protected. You had felt holy, racking up points like a rapidly clacking Geiger counter. "Good work," you had said to yourself when you had completed your mission. You had given yourself a pat on your back.

This time you are even better prepared. You enter the store with your mp3-player nestled in your shirt pocket, earpieces comfortably in your ears. You head over to the canned vegetable aisle. Rabbi Reisman is giving a blatt shiur. A fascinating Ketzos. Is shavya naphsha a din in ne'emonus, or is it mita'am neder? You peer (shortsightedly) at the canned corn. Sixty-eight cents a can? A metzia. You take a half dozen cans. Kesubos is too heavy to focus on the moment, despite your insulating fog, so you switch to something a little lighter. You switch to Rabbi Yisroel Brog analyzing the Steipler's letters on how to guide people with OCD affecting their performance of Halacha. Geshmak! You drool over the hortatory smorgasbord at your fingertips. You give your player a surreptitious kiss, then return it to your pocket. You are now in the cereal aisle, but notice that Krispies have just been reformulated with an OUD. Chalav Stam? You can't have that. That's metamtem es halev! Then you laugh at yourself: the foolish hypocrite that you are! Is there any part of your lev that is not metumtem? But you are thoroughly enjoying yourself. By the time you reach the checkout lane you have downed a Reb Simcha Bunim Cohen's Thursday night Chovas Halevovos shiur, and just begun a Kehilas HaGra shiur on copyright laws as applied to ripping CDs...

The magazines at checkout inform and inspire. The cover of one magazine tells you that Britney's ex says that Britney is cheating during rehab. You remove your ear-pieces. You now hear the store's music system. Synthesized Britney is belting out an important message. Britney says that she loves you. Just Britney and you. You feel romance in the air. Then, you think back to your forebears. Volozhin. Slabodka. In those days people had "manly" Yetzer Horas; Haskala. Socialism. Secular Zionism. You remember once reading how the Alter of Slabodka asked Reb Yaakov Kaminetsky to keep an eye on mail arriving for the young Reb Aaaron Kotler (zecher tzaddikim ukedoshim livracha). The Alter wanted to make sure that Reb Aaron's relatives would not prevail upon him with their alien ideas. You giggled as you tried to imagine the Alter keeping tabs on what Reb Aaron was downloading to his cell phone. Oy! What yeridas hadoros!

You arrive home. 

"Successful?" your wife asks. 

"Yes."

She appears to be excited. 

"Guess what," she says, "I have a new chicken recipe."

Bless her. The lovable, delightful, clueless fuzzball. She is blissfully unaware of the battles you have fought and the monsters you have slain. She proceeds to give you blow by blow details of her new idea for chicken and you smile at here warmly. But your mind is far away. There is something bothering you: How can shavya nafsha be a din in ne'emanus if ein odom mesim atzmo rosho?!

 

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Saying of the Day
Posted by "London"

"Before you say I can't ... say I'll try"

541.


Indian War Cry

By "Uri"

 

Yasher Koach to those who responded so brilliantly and encouragingly on the forum. I'm going through a very trying time here, even though I'm only at 11 days; not 90, not 200, just ELEVEN. What will day 90 be like?? But I know what everyone will say: "one day at a time". On the other hand, as someone so nicely pointed out: There are around 900,000 seconds already that I said "No" to the yetzer hara. 900,000!! If those were dollars I could retire! And we all know that dollars fall very short in comparison to the nachas ruach of our Creator. People die for much smaller, much more insignificant reasons. Let us live for the ultimate of reasons!!

So my advice to all is: Think of all the battles we won. We are warriors! Paint your faces and go out into the street and shout Indian war cries. Explain to your mother/wife that you have not lost your mind, well at least not yet, officially. Throw yourself an imaginary party and award ceremony. I know that I will, as soon as this war is over. When will that be? After 120. And then I'm going to take a vacation; a long vacation, an eternal vacation - to paradise. All expenses paid by G-d.

People die for much smaller, much more insignificant reasons. Let us LIVE for the ultimate of reasons. Please join me my beloved friends.

-Uri

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"Kutan" Replies to Uri:

Here I am in the middle of the NYC summer, and my family is over 100 miles away. I go into the street, which is lower than the beaches were 50 years ago. What is helping me keep my cool? It's you, Uri! You are fighting your Yetzer Hara for 11 days already with so much garbage trying to pull you down. And yet you don't let yourself fall, you keep bobbing and popping up and fighting again! So should I should look at a warped lady - who in more normal times would be arrested for walking like that? You make my fight easier!

And Uri, one more note. I learned from R' Guard, and perhaps this is the number one thing that I learned from his handbooks and from this site, that the key to winning this is not self control (hey, it doesn't hurt, but it is not going to be enough for the long term). The secret is turning off the lust.

I used to think that 'lusting', as R' Guard calls it, is natural and unavoidable. I just need to keep working on "self control". But that is a recipe for weariness and inner friction.

The most wonderful thing that this site has taught me, and for which I'll be forever grateful to R' Guard and Dov and "London" and all the rest, is that I do not "have" to lust. I can dodge the lust, rather than fighting the action.

This takes humbleness and honesty and a reliance on Hashem. And it takes a real desire not to lust. But it really happens. And when it does, the power, beauty and simplicity is truly amazing.

Uri, my shoes are different than yours, but our neshamos are the same. I can very much relate to how you are feeling. Keep davening your eyes out. Hashem loves us and wants nothing more in this universe than our genuine tears. The Kotzker, who called a spade a spade, would say, "there is nothing more whole in the world than a broken heart". Please keep working at it, and keep reviewing the handbooks, especially the 'attitude' handbook. When we succeed in internalizing the attitudes, we will be very happy men!

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Notes From Duvid Chaim's Group
By "Momo"


Click here for info on how to join Duvid Chaim's Free 12-Step phone Conference 4 X a week, 12 PM EST.


Yesterday Duvid Chaim helped us understand Step 1 of the 12 steps with the Big Book: "We admitted we were powerless over lusting and that our lives had become unmanageable".


I love the saying we've been using in the calls: "I was once a cucumber, now I'm a pickle, and I'll never be a cucumber again." When I was very young I could lust normally, but now I'm an addict and I'll never be able to lust normally again. We addicts are different than other "regular" people. We will never be able to lust like them. We can't even lust a little bit, because once we get started we don't know how to stop. We can't control our feelings of lust.

We tried many methods, but they didn't work long term; Vows, dipping in the mikveh, saying the tikkun Klalli, filters, etc. But in the end, we always fell again.

Dangerously, after having some "clean" days, we often felt as if we were in control over the addiction, and that we were becoming immune to it and could beat this thing ourselves, but that's not true. We would eventually act out again. We have to face the facts; we can't control our addiction to lust!

We can't use our willpower to beat the addiction. Our "minds" got us into this addiction, so how can we expect our "minds" to get us out of it? 

We shouldn't get depressed over the fact that we are powerless on our own. This just leads in to steps 2 and 3, which are; that we believe in HaShem and His ability to help us. We have to turn to HaShem for help and "surrender" ourselves to Him. We can start doing this by building a relationship with Him ("feeling dveikut"), by talking to Him, opening up our eyes and seeing Him around us, and feeling His hashgaha pratis.

An analogy: We are playing tug-of-war with our addiction. He's always pulling. When we fight it, he pulls back. When we have clean days, that means we've pulled stronger than the addiction. However, in a game of tug-of-war, what happens when you start to win a little bit? Usually, the other guy starts to pull back very hard. If he pulls very hard, you will slip. Once he sees that he's got you slipping, he'll pull even harder, and then you might even fall.

Playing tug-of-war gets tiring after a while. Imagine how tiring it can be after "playing" it for weeks, or even months!

I think it's time to stop fighting the addiction. Let's "surrender" ourselves to HaShem by letting go of the rope! When you let go of your end of the rope, the addiction on the other side GOES FLYING!

Instead of fighting the addiction, let's focus today on opening our eyes to see HaShem everywhere, in every physical object we see. Let's try to feel HaShem. Let's talk to Him. Let's serve Him today, just for today, instead of serving ourselves.

And instead of preparing for huge battles, let's ask ourselves each day when we wake up in the morning:

  • Today, will I walk with HaShem, or will I walk alone?
  • Today, will I see HaShem who hides behind every physical object, or will I only see the physical objects?
  • Today will I serve HaShem, or will I serve myself?

Just food for thought.

Your friend,
Momo

 

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Saying of the Day
Posted by "London"

"The 12 step program won't keep you from going to hell... nor is it a ticket to heaven... but it will keep you sober long enough for you to make up your mind which way you want to go!"


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Quote of the Day
By Dov

Instead of counting the days, let's make the days count! Life without acting out is certainly a wonderful thing and it should last us another ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty...whatever years, right?

I cannot eat or go to the restroom for tomorrow or for yesterday, right? There is nothing more that I can do today to make it to tomorrow than just eating today.

Same with sobriety: The best and only insurance we have - as addicts - to make it to tomorrow, and for life to be better tomorrow, is simply and only: to live sober today (and love it!!)

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Anecdote of the Day
By Uri


There was a rich man who unfortunately had his business take a turn for the worse and soon found himself barely feeding his family. He noticed his son one day looking exceptionally sad. When asked why, the son explained as follows, "father, when we had money, we had all the best food - and lots of it. Now all we have is bread. But at least give us a decent amount!"

This is us. We don't have much left to give Hashem, the Beis Hamikdash is no longer here. No korbanos, nothing. All we have left is our tears. Let us not be stingy with them.

"The gates of prayer are locked, but the gates of tears will never be"
- Gemara Brachos

"She cries and cries in the night,with a tear always on her cheek"
- Megillas Eicha


I've been visiting the Kosel a lot in the past week or so, and every time I've been there I have broken down crying. I think I cry because I don't know what to say to Hashem or how to say it. I'm like a child who just wants his Abba to hold him, so he cries.

My friends, do not be afraid to cry. On this forum you have 200+ shoulders to cry on.

542.


"Bocho Sichbe Ba'laylah
- Cry, Cry Into the Night"

By Uri

 

I picked up tonight and headed out to the Kosel, the last remnant of our Holy Temple, as I have been doing a lot lately. I took my younger brother with me. I walked up to the wall and touched the familiar stones which I have visited so often in my recent quest for G-d. The stones smiled a sad smile at me: "Back again? You've been around a lot lately. We don't mind though, we've been lonely for so long". My friends, do you know what loneliness is? The Kosel does.

I'm really not a crier, but I cried. I cried for myself. I cried for Klal Yisrael; for all the lost Neshamos. And I cried for the Kosel. "Ad Mosai? - until When?" How much more pain must there be Hashem!? Our people know pain all too well, so much so that it doesn't even faze us anymore. My brother walked up to me and looked questioningly at my face. I told him, "David, go daven that the Beis Hamikdash should be rebuilt", and I told him the following vort that I thought of this morning while learning the Sedra:

Rashi says on the word "Va'eschanan" that Moshe used a Lashon of Chanun because it implies a "matnas chinam - a free gift". Moshe said, "Hashem, I want to enter Eretz Yisrael, but don't let it detract from my reward; let it be free". And Rashi goes on to say that all Tzaddikim daven in this fashion, even though they have many merits.

My question was simple and unoriginal: "If Moshe wanted to enter the land so badly, why not throw in some of his reward on the deal? Why did he want davka a free present? Wouldn't he have been more likely to get it otherwise?"

I had an insight, chevra. It's not that these Tzaddikim ask for "freebies" even though they have a lot of merit. It's that they are tzaddikim because they ask for presents. Meaning: some people deal with Hashem on a business-like level: "Listen G-d, you know the deal. I daven 3 times a day, learn a shtickle, give some charity, etc... and you provide me with money and health. Deal?"

But Tzaddikim know that Hashem is their Father. He doesn't want deals. He just wants to give. He's the ultimate giver. Anyone who asks to be closer to Him, gets it. He is waiting to shower us with blessings. We have the key to His treasury, we only have to open it. As the Pasuk says: "God is close to all those who seek Him in Truth".

And my friends, this principle works the other way around as well. Don't ever say to yourselves: "why should Hashem help me? I haven't done anything good for Him lately". He is your Daddy. His greatest pleasure is to give you everything and see that you're happy. Don't be afraid to ask. Just cry your heart out to Him. He is right there beside you, even in the darkness of the night.

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Anecdote of the Day

Sifting Through the Ruins
By "Chl"

I recently read a story about Rav Nosson, the Talmid of Rebbe Nachman. He was walking together with his students after a raging fire ravaged the town of Breslav. They passed by completely burned down houses, and in one of the houses, R' Nosson saw the owner of the house sifting through the ruins, trying to find or rescue some of his belongings. The fact that everything was burnt down didn't stop the owner from looking. R' Nosson turned to his students and said: "This is how we have to pick ourselves up after a fall" (looking for any good points that are still left).

I was walking home, somehow thinking about this story, and I lifted my eyes to the night sky and I said: "G-d, I don't see any good in me, zero. Don't tell me I'm a holy Jew, etc... I'm not gonna buy it right now. I fail everything I try. I want to love you, yet I am so far from Mitzvos, Torah, Midos - you name it, I don't have it.

I looked again into the sky, and then one thing came into my mind: "Maybe I helped someone on this forum". And I said to G-d: "Thank you HaShem, that is true. Maybe I helped somebody. Maybe that is the essence of being a Jew. I actually might have done something good that justifies my existence and that justifies that You created me and keep me alive".

 

To all my brothers and sisters out there: The addiction sometimes makes us feel worthless and far from G-d, especially when we feel weak and vulnerable. But if we join together as a community and give each other strength; NOTHING - not even falls - can take away the precious chizuk that we offer one another. This is indeed something that will survive the raging fires of today's world.

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Attitude Tip of the Day

Is it Worth it?
By Aaron (clean for a full year)

I was on the street, walking back from getting lunch at a milchig restaurant in Manhattan because of course, it's the Nine Days so we don't eat meat. But the Yetzer Hara doesn't mind that one, it seems. He was much more intent on getting me to lust after women who felt that 90 degrees and humid justifies... fill in the blank. So I played out the following scenario:

Let's say I let him win and give in to lust. Of course, the fantasy alone will not satisfy the craving, it will only make it worse. So let's play it out and assume I can actualize the ultimate fantasy, whatever that is. What then? First I thought of the worst case scenario, which is quite plausible and something I have no control over. Here it is:

I get AIDS. Since I'm too embarrassed to tell my wife, I pass it along to her. Within a short time, we're both dying in the hospital. I've given up everything good, even in THIS world! My beautiful children will C"V be orphans. Even in the best of circumstances, they will grow up rightfully hating me, resenting their mother for leaving them behind, and struggle mightily to overcome this huge setback in their lives. I will have MURDERED by beautiful, deserving wife. She will be taken from me when I go to Gehenom. I haven't even mentioned the pain, shame and embarrassment of living the short time I'd have left under the cloud of ridicule, scorn and disapproval heaped upon me by the world. Rightly or not, my wife and children will suffer likewise. And the worst part (no, I haven't gotten to that yet): IT'S ALL MY FAULT! Yes, that's right. This is not something decreed by Hashem on Rosh Hashanah. It's not a test to prove myself. It's nothing more than the result of perfectly avoidable actions that I TOOK.

Then I said, wow, that's pretty bad. But what are the chances of that? Let's say I don't get AIDS and I live. I've "simply" fallen and need to get back up! No big deal, right? It happens all the time on the Forum. But I would still need to tell my accountability partner, therapist, Rav ... and my wife. The first 3 might "understand" and applaud my commitment to move on. But my wife is a different story. I will have damaged my standing with her. Maybe not irreparably (I hope), but certainly to some degree. And regardless of how committed I am to moving on, I will need to reevaluate my arsenal, perhaps join a live 12 step group, etc, all while feeling horrible.

And that's the best case scenario.

So it occurred to me that not falling was infinitely better (and MUCH EASIER) then getting back up!

So I got to my office and typed this out...

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Quote of the Day
Posted by "Hoping"


The purpose of this site is not the goal of sobriety in itself, rather it's the journey that is important; the ups, the downs, the falls, the slips, and the days you feel like you are going nowhere. It is all part of this wonderful journey. I have found that the most inspiring and successful stories on this site came from people who kept on going up and down but still kept traveling on the journey and didn't give up. Of course, it is extremely important to read the GYE handbook and learn the proper tools, but my point is, that in a way, a fall while on the journey is worth more than a clean day while you aren't trying. So please, please continue with us, and let's all travel on the way of Hashem together.

543.


Drowned in Water Rather than in Lust


Tisha Be'av is a day to remember the shiploads of young men and women that were shipped off to Rome after the Churban to be used in "human trafficking", but instead of allowing their bodies to be defiled, they gathered together and jumped into the sea, drowning Al Kiddush Hashem. Let us remember their sacrifice to stay pure, to completely give up their bodies to Hashem rather than let themselves be defiled. When we feel like lust is attempting to drown us, we should remember these martyrs who preferred to drown in water rather than become slaves to lust.

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Hashem's Wrath


In our "Practical Tips" section on our site (at the very bottom of the page), we present a tip called "The Last Resort" for someone who is about to stumble. We offer an alternative to viewing pictures of flesh that will turn one "on", namely by showing pictures of flesh that will turn one "off". One of those pages contain terrible pictures from the Holocaust. On Tisha Be'av it may be appropriate to remember this tip, and also to watch & listen to the horrifying interview with a former Treblinka SS Guard that can be found at the top of that page.
 
How can we desire sinful flesh ever again after seeing these pictures and hearing this interview? After we see how futile and fleeting life is? And most of all - after seeing the fury of Hashem's wrath up close.

Although our site and forum generally take a very positive and encouraging tone, and although Hashem loves us dearly and deals with us with so much patience, Tisha Be'av is a day to remember that when we do not do what is asked of us, when we do not ultimately take the steps necessary to fulfill Hashem's will and do Teshuvah, Hashem's wrath and punishment are not something to MESS WITH.

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The "SA approach" to Tisha B'Av
Comments From Duvid Chaim

Due to our observance of Tisha B'Av, the Big Book Study Group Lunch and Learn will be at 10pm Israel time and 3pm New York time. We will resume our normal times next Monday.
 
As we know, we are mourning the destruction of our Temple. And we also know that G-d expressed some level of mercy in destroying the Temple, which is a building and not destroying the Jewish People.
 
And that it is our mission in this generation, to re-build the Temple through our merits. That our merit is earned by bringing ourselves closer to Hashem and His ways. When we elevate our Neshamos, then we will merit the return of the Temple and the Shechina.
 
So too, with our SA addiction - We have destroyed our Temple - our BODIES. Our addiction gives power and a voice to our bodies.
 
Yet, even in our own wrecked bodies still lives a precious Neshama.
 
And that it is our mission and our struggle; to give our Neshamos a bigger Voice than our bodies.
 
THE 12 STEP Program helps us work on our EGOs, find humility and Deveikus with Hashem.
 
And when we "enlarge our Spiritual Life" and give Power to our G-dlly Neshamas, then we will truly bring back the Shechina.
 
Have a easy and meaningful fast,
Duvid Chaim

 
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There's a beautiful thread in the "Beis Medrash" on our forum over here with many inspiring Divrei Torah and perspectives on the lessons of Tisha Be'av and our struggle with addiction. We encourage everyone to read through the thread.

 

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For a good historical and Halachic overview of Tisha Be'av, see this page on Matzav.com.

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Announcement Regarding the
Back-to-Basic's 12-Step Phone Group


Due to Tisha B' Av, we will start this Thursday at 10:30 PM EDT.

We will be redoing the 1st session for those who missed it, and also so that those who cannot make it due to the fast do not miss out on the second session.

All are welcome to join today, whether you were with us last week or not.

You can begin the new cycle today!


If you have not already done so, please print out the following file or have it ready in electronic form for the class.

We should all merit to see nechomas tziyon,

Dov (aka boruch)

544.


Tips from the Warriors on Guarding the Eyes

 

Ahron Posted on the Forum:


I have gotten to the point where I can occasionally understand why "normal" people view p***n as repulsive (not all the time though). I'm happy about that. However seeing pretty women on the street, even with no further thought beyond the first glance, triggers lust in my heart. It's automatic. I try a number of things to combat this, including:

  • Thinking that they're people, not objects, and as people, I really don't know them and have no interest in them.
  • Asking Hashem to grant them all the best (and then I try to move on). 
  • Trying to work the steps... admitting that I am powerless over lust, Hashem can deal with it though, and I am ready for him to do so.
     

Sometimes these work, but as often as not, they only works in my head and not in my heart. Does anyone else have advice?

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Dov Responds:


I can't count on my fingers and toes (and I refuse to use anyone else's!) the times I have turned to look "just to see if there is anything there that I shouldn't be looking at", you know. Today though, I generally leave this "important" research for the meshuganes who are more qualified to test it than I am! Boruch Hashem I can care about myself! And as a yid, I am taught by the people on this site that by not looking I am also:

  • making a private kiddush Hashem
  • doing the mitzvah of lo sasuru, and others
  • getting more freedom from lust
  • getting more sanity
  • buying insurance (at a reasonable price) for my marriage, fatherhood and for staying alive
  • doing practically the only thing I can do today so that I may be sober tomorrow as well!
     

Not a bad deal. It doesn't even take a "yiddishe kop" to accept it!

A lot of folks, including me, have also found a lot of power in saying: "Tatty/Ribono shel olam/G-d/My Eternal Best Friend/Etc., Please! Whatever it is I that I am looking for in the image of that woman/man/whatever, let me find it in You". (It especially works if you really mean it!)

Another eitza I like, that helps me when davening for the true benefit of the person I am having trouble with, is to recognize that even though they are total strangers to me, I'd certainly rush to save them if they'd be stuck in a burning car or attacked by dogs, for example. If so, I can care about them. Once I recognize that I can sincerely ask Hashem to give them a true thirst for proper awareness of Him, closeness to Him, wisdom and clarity in what really matters in relationships (certainly not looks, fancy clothes and lust), Shalom bayis and good health.

Then get going with living! (as usual...what else is there?)

Be well!
Dov

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"London" Writes:


My Dear Brother Ahron,

Thanks for reminding me what I need to do. My problem is, that although I have been around the SA fellowships for a few years and have heard most of the answers, I need to come to this forum and hear other people share and be reminded on a daily basis what I need to do. To answer your question Ahron, I was told by non-frum yid when I first came into recovery, that just as when I wake up in the morning I wash negel vaser and say modeh ani, or when I eat I make a Brocho; I do these things without thinking, they are second nature. Well in recovery, I am like a Ger or Baal Teshuvah (which I am), so I have to practice these techniques and keep on practicing them. There will be times when I get frustrated or when my heart is not in it, but if I keep on doing them, they will become second nature and I will not have to think about it.

I have trained myself over the years to notice triggers. I have a finely attuned lust radar in my head. It is going to take a lot of hard work to switch it off. I find that if the trigger is really bad, I will need to pick up the phone to a member of SA. When I first joined SA, if I got triggered on the street my sponsor would tell me to pick up 10 pieces of garbage off the street, and I did it. We must be willing to go to any lengths. So if all else fails, start collecting garbage!

I find that I if I am significantly triggered by a woman / fantasy, I actually have to phone someone and tell him in detail what's going on in my head. "Lust glows in the dark but dies in the light of exposure".

Once again, thanks for reminding me of the tools I need to stay clean.

London

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Related to this subject, "Pintale Yid" once posted on the forum how he deals with the struggle of Shmiras Ainayim:


1. I say a short Tefila before I leave the house that Hashem should help me with Shmiras Aynayim.

2. I am lucky to need glasses so I remove them when I am walking in the street.

3. I try to keep my eyes down, and when I see a female approaching I close both eyes - or at least the eye that is closest to her - until she passes (provided that I am not in the gutter). I found that I have no problem waking several steps with my eyes closed.

4. I learned in a wonderful sefer called Bakodesh Chazisicha by Rav Shaul Vidger, that says that even if you are trying to guard your eyes, the Satan deliberately pulls your eyes to where they shouldn't be. I therefore laugh it off and tell myself, "he's doing it again!".

5. I give myself chizuk after every time I pass a women without looking at her.

6. While I am walking in the street I am quietly talking to Hashem (it is not noticeable to others). You can understand how it is much harder to sin against Hashem if you are in the middle of talking to him. If you have problems talking to Hashem, I recommend that you learn the sefer Bi'sdai Hayar by Rav Sholom Arush on Tefila and Hisbodidus. (He also has an awesome sefer called B'Gan Hasholom on Shalom Bayis which I recommend to everyone).

7. The last thing is, that even if I fall I never get depressed since I know that this is a constant battle against the Yetzer Hara, and it is one of the reasons for my existence on this world. I once learned in the Tanya, that one who gets depressed because he can never eradicate his taivos is a Baal Gaiveh (haughty) because he thinks he is on the level of a Tzaddik. I also remember that my overall batting average is pretty good -- at least much better than it used to be.

Hashem should help you and all of us in this battle! Hashem gave us this web site as a Rocket Propelled Grenade to help us blow away the Samach Mem :-)


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Link of the Day

Listen to this 7 minute talk from the Lubavitcher Rebbe where he describes how a Jew, even in the midst of sin, is still connected with Hashem, and that no matter how low a Jew may fall, it only affects their outward appearance, but inside, every Jew is holy [at 5:10 it sounds as if the Lubavitcher Rebbe is crying, but I may be wrong].

545.


Mazal Tov Miri on Reaching 90 Days!
She is now on the "Wall of Hashem's Honor"

 

I want to share what Miri posted today on the forum. Not only is it a great story and testimonial, but there is so much we can all learn from her:

 

WOW!!! I really appreciate everyone's congratulations on my reaching 90 clean days. It has been some journey. I started on this forum a little over 5 months ago and I have been working on abstinence ever since. I must say that firstly, this forum and this website were already a huge stepping stone for me. The inspiration that I was reading on the website, and knowing that I am not alone in this struggle has made a huge difference. I have found out that so many others like me want to be free of this Yetzer Harah, and they were successfully staying clean. I was able to share here and get guidance. I am forever grateful.

Reaching 90 days for me is just another step forward. I am climbing a never ending ladder, because I know that I am an addict. My disease is "working out" in the background, and I know that I need to be very aware of this. I cannot let my guard down and say that now that I have been abstinent for so long, I must be "cured"... I am not, I am just in remission.

It says in the Big Book that our disease is "cunning, baffling and powerful" and without help, it is too much for us.... Which one can help us? "that one is G-d, may you find him now!" I love this part, because it talks to me every time I read it. It reminds me that I need to daven for my abstinence every single day, whether I feel like I need to or not. It reminds me that the reason Hashem has lifted my addictions from me for today, is because I am doing my part. I used to want Hashem to just lift these obsessions from me without me doing anything for it. Now I know that Hashem will lift it from me if I work for it, and that work is:

  • the 12 steps,
  • my daily contact with my sponsor and my sponsees,
  • the meetings that I attend,
  • the service that I do at meetings,
  • phone calls that I make
  • and other tools that have been recommended to me by my sponsor.
     

It is time consuming, and sometimes I wish I did not have to do it all, but the alternative is being a zombie; being a slave to my addictions! I was truly not alive when I was in my addictions, and now I am! So in reality, I am saving myself plenty of time because of my abstinence. I am actually "there" for those who need me.
 
I also feel, that as long as I was drowning myself with my substance of choice (be it "food" or "lust"), my eyes were clouded. They could not see the blessings being showered on me on a daily basis. But it is different now. I can see blessings so much more. I can see Hashem's hand in my life all the time. And I know it is because I am no longer fogged up with my addictions.
 
When I first stumbled on the GuardYourEyes website, I was really hating myself and where my addiction was leading me to. I was very aware that I was addicted to lust, and it was even more plain to me at that time because I was already abstaining from sugar, wheat, flour and volume. I was working the 12-steps, but this addiction to lust was bothering me very much. It was another "escape method" for me.

I was not in a good place. I had no job, I had too much time on my hands to think and feel. And like most addicts, I do not like to feel, and since I was not able to bury my feelings with the food, I buried them with lust. I would sit for hours and hours wasting my time on the computer watching movies. At first it was family movies, "innocent" time wasters, and then it moved to more "adult" material, and then on to the absolutely worst filth. I will not get into too much detail because most of you know how it feels like being in the disease and in the clutches of the Yetzer Harah... In short, my mind was constantly on what I had watched and how I can get to see more. It was starting to feel like I am back in the food, just this time with lust! It was horrible.

And that is when I found this wonderful website, and since then I have been pulled from the mud and am a "free bird", so to speak. The best part of it all, is that I can live with myself without the horrible guilty feelings that always plagued me because I was not "there" for my family, or because I felt like an empty shell, and because I was not accomplishing what I could accomplish.

Isolation is something like poison for me, because I do all my addictions in secret, away from others. I learned that when I share with others like me, it is one of the best tools to keep my disease at bay.

I have heard from others in this program, that they never thought they would be grateful that they are addicts, but now they are grateful. I am also grateful that I am an addict (it is not easy for me to say this, because being in recovery is work!) but I know that for the tikkun of my neshama and to be closer to Hashem, I needed to be an addict and learn the "medicine" for it, in order to become a better person and get closer to Hashem.

So many wonderful things have happened to me since I started with GuardYourEyes. As you know, I am working the 12-Steps since I started at OA almost two years ago, but I seem to have profoundly changed since I started my lust abstinence, and I am sure that it is no coincidence. I feel like Hashem has put me in a different "container" or "category" so to speak, by showering my life with blessings. Here are a few recent blessings:

  • I found a great job which I love,
  • I found a fantastic friend from the OA rooms and we speak and give each other "program" chizuk every single day without fail. 
  • I have also found a parenting method that has changed my life. It is called "The Nurtured Heart Approach" by Howard Glasser... I am hooked, and it has made a big difference in my parenting.
     

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. I have had several other changes that have happened during this time that were all very positive. I feel like Hashem is showering me with love. Can it be from working my program and staying abstinent? I feel deep down that "yes".

I love this program, and I hope and pray that I will be zoche to be abstinent - one day at a time - for the rest of my life.

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Let us all follow in Miri's footsteps!

If anyone hasn't begun their 90 day journey yet (based on scientific studies that show it takes 90 days to break an addictive behavior in the mind), today's a great day to start! Click here to sign up for the 90 day chart.

And we also see from Miri's story how powerful the 12-Step program is. GuardYourEyes offers multiple anonymous 12-Step phone conferences, where you can learn how to work the 12-Steps into your life along with experienced frum sponsors. Go to www.guardyoureyes.org and on the title-bar at the top of the page click on "Tools > Phone Conferences" to learn more about the various options we offer throughout the week.

We also encourage everyone to read through Miri's 12-Page thread on the "Woman's forum". She is a very inspiring person, and there is so much we can all learn from her!

We bless Miri that Hashem should always continue to hold her hand, and she should feel it every moment for the rest of her life!

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Saying of the Day
Posted by "London"

 

First we stayed sober because we have to... then we stay sober because we are willing to... finally we stay sober because we want to...

546.


Our "Excuses" List

By "Momo"

In yesterday's conference call with Duvid Chaim (click here for info on how to join), we discussed the realization that we usually come up with some lame excuse as to why we should take our first "lust hit", and we rationalize why we can start act out. And once we start, we can't stop!

When I first read this in the Big Book (when I wasn't feeling lustful but rather with full mental capacity), I actually made a list of excuses that the little voice in my head says to me to justify why I should start acting out. I suggested on the call that everyone make for themselves their own list. After we make this list, we should review it once in a while, before we feel lustful. This way, if we ever hear one of those excuses, we'll recognize them and think "Oh yeh, that sounds familiar. Oh my G-d! That's on my list of excuses to act out! I'd better not listen, since I know what will happen if I follow this advice." 
 
I call this list my "Last Stop Before Falling" list. If I hear any of these excuses, I have the CHOICE to get off the train, or I can choose to ignore the warning signal and stay on the train, entering into my disaster zone of lusting, slipping, and acting out.

Here's my list. Perhaps some of these sound familiar? In order to make this more educational, I'll add what I think are the correct responses to answer the Y"H's excuses.

Excuse #1. (If I've been clean for a long time) "You've been good for so long, you deserve a break! You've earned it!"
Answer: "What you are suggesting is for me to kill my clean streak. Remember how I'll feel after having to start counting back on day 1, back at square 1. It felt really lousy last time!"

Excuse #2: "It's not so bad!"
Answer: "Funny how before we act out "it's not so bad", but immediately afterwards you'll tell me it's the greatest sin imaginable! You'll tell me I'm a bum and I might as well give up trying to be frum since I'm the lowest of the low! Well, it is pretty bad and you are a liar!"

Excuse #3: "I'll stop after the first picture (or after 5 minutes)."
Answer: "Hah! I know myself. I know I have no control, that I am powerless over the addiction. I can't stop after the first photo or after 5 minutes. Five minutes always turns into hours. After a spree I always wonder, "How could I have spent 3 hours wasting my day looking at p*rn?"

Excuse #4: "I'm feeling R.I.D (restless, irritable and discontent). I need some pleasure."
Answer: "The pleasure you are suggesting is counterfeit. It will make me feel good for a couple of minutes, then I'll feel horrible and let down afterwards. I'd rather give up your fake pleasure and take real joy instead."

Excuse #5: "I'm physically wound up. I need to release the physical and emotional pressure the best way I know how."
Answer: "That's the wrong way to deal with the pressure. Acting out, while giving me temporary release, will only make me feel low and guilty afterward. The correct response to release the physical pressure is to exercise, like taking a 5-10 minute walk. The correct response to emotional pressure is to breath deeply, think about HaShem, see HaShem around you, feel his presence and talk (or pray) to Him."

I'd be pleased of you could all share your lists on the forum, or some items on your lists, as well as your responses to the excuses. I am sure we can all learn a lot from each others rationalizations!


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Torah Thought of the Day

We read today (Monday) in this week's Parshas Ekev:

"If you should say in your heart that the nations (read: Yetzer Hara) are much greater and stronger than us", "EICHA UCHAL LEHORISHAM - how can we conquer them?".

Notice that the Pasuk uses the word "Eicha", like the first word of "Megillas Eicha". Perhaps this is a hint that when we ask this question and we don't believe in the power of Hashem to save us, we bring upon ourselves all the Churbonos! The Zohar says that the root of the churbon in Megillas Eicha comes from the original "Ayeka - where are you?" that Hashem asked Adam after he ate from the Eitz hada'as. ("Ayeka" is spelled the same as "Eicha")...

And what does Hashem answer in this week's Parsha? "Do not fear them, remember what Hashem your G-d did to Pharaoh and all of Mitzrayim.... that Hashem took you out with great wonders, etc... So Hashem will do to all the nations that you fear before them.... Do not fear them, for Hashem your G-d is within you, a great and awesome G-d!"

 

Yes, the Yetzer Hara is INDEED MUCH stronger than us, but he isn't stronger than HASHEM!! And Hashem is not asking us to conquer the Yetzer Hara. He knows that we can't do that alone. All he's asking is that we put our trust in HIM to conquer the Yetzer Hara for us. "Hashem your G-d is within you, a great and awesome G-d!"

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12 Step Tip of the Day
By "Boruch"

 

The Big Book with Charlie and Joe will change your life!

 
After 70 years, the book Alcoholics Anonymous (referred to as the Big Book) is still the best and only source for step by step instruction on the practical program of action that leads to recovery from addiction. The first 164 pages of the book (the pages that describe the program) which were collectively put together by the first 100 alcoholics who recovered have hardly been changed since it was first published because the collective wisdom of millions of recovered and recovering addicts is that those pages are as useful today as they were back in 1939.

Those who use this book regularly, not as a study guide, but as a guide to practical action get the best recoveries.

Over the years, especially in the 1970s, many groups and individuals in AA and other fellowships lost sight of the importance of the Big Book and even lost sight of the necessity to take Steps early and intensely. Two alcoholics, Charlie and Joe, were together entirely responsible for a renewal of interest in the Big Book through their Big Book Study retreats which added much meaning and background to using the Big Book.

Click here for the first 164 pages of the "Big Book", and click here for a transcript of an entire Charlie and Joe Study weekend study group (the first 3 pages are an Index, the actual sessions begin on page 4). You can also listen to Charlie and Joe - there are 35 mp3s available here from one weekend - available for download. These sessions are not just informative, they are entertaining too!

I cannot overstate the benefit that your recovery will get from going through the Big Book with Charlie and Joe. Read or listen to their sessions on a regular basis and it will change your life. That is a guarantee.

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Saying of the Day

 

"Call out in truth and you will be answered in truth".

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Testimonial of the Day
By Uri


Chevra, as I approach the end of day 14 Iy"h, I look back at the last 2 weeks and smile. Ok, now I am crying (slightly embarrassing, as my little sister is standing near me watching me). I am starting to breathe fresh air again. My emotions aren't all soiled. I'm starting to feel truly relaxed and content for the first time in what seems like forever. I know it sounds like I'm overdoing it, but I'm starting to feel the disease loosening its hold on me. Maybe I'm imagining this, but I feel that I'm starting to break the addiction, and I feel very free. I am now starting to imagine a life with no pressure for lust, a life in "the here and now", not in fantasy; a life without constant fear, a life without constant shame.

I'm like a blind person who can't see fully yet, but is introduced to the idea of sight for the first time. In only 2 weeks! Imagine 90 days! Imagine a year! Thank you Hashem for giving me the opportunity I never thought I would have and for making it so much more geshmak than I dreamt it would be. May You give me the strength to not just hold back from having a peek, but to have the full thing - the gift called LIFE. Tisha be'av was a time of reflection for me. The past 2 weeks of sobriety feel like the first 2 weeks of my life.

With a heart overflowing with love.
- Uri

547.


Not long ago, an amazing warrior joined our ranks. At first he called himself "Jerusalem addict", but as he got more comfortable in the amazing community on the forum, he started to call himself "Uri". Today everyone on the forum knows and LOVES Uri. He has been fighting a bitter battle against his addiction, but at the same time, he has been posting amazing Divrei Chizuk and Divrei Torah to inspire us all. There is a great soul in this Uri, and although he had a fall recently, he was honest about it and got right back up to continue the journey. And That is the sign of a true warrior.

I would like to share with you Uri's beautiful post/story that he wrote shortly after his recent fall. It brought tears to my eyes:


Uri's "Friend"


I grew up a pretty lonely kid. I lived in a neighborhood without many frum people, and my self esteem (thanks to daddy) wasn't the highest. I spent many a summer day sitting in the park alone, wishing some kid would come over and ask me to play with them. It didn't happen much.

When I was around 13, I was introduced to a new friend; "lust". This friend swore loyalty and constant companionship. And indeed he kept to his promise. I had company over the long summer nights, someone to chill with when I was bored, and someone to pick me up when I was down.

As I grew up and started to make more friends, I never forgot about my first "real" friend. That was partly because he had no intention of letting me forget him. But anyway, I had no thoughts of desertion.

I went through my different stages of school, and we got closer and closer, developing such an intimate relationship as none could even imagine. After a while, he began to become part of me. That interconnection only became stronger over the years. Friends were aware of the relationship, but not of the depth of intimacy of it. I even had several girlfriends over this period, only to return home later and spend intimate moments with my "friend".

To make a long story short, I became religious somehow in my late teenage years. I informed my girlfriends that the intimate moments would have to stop. My "friend" wasn't so happy, to say the least. He resisted often and I gave in a lot. But as ashamed as I was to admit it, I still needed and craved my friend's intimacy. It gave me a sense of security and comfort that I did not have without him.

A few short weeks ago, I discovered this website and finally came to the awakening realization that this intimacy and this whole "friendship" was slowly but surely destroying me. I knew what I had to do, and with a firm and decisive tone, I informed my lover that things would be ending permanently. He discouraged me, didn't take me seriously, and said things like "yea, like you haven't said that before". I told him that I was as serious as I could be, maybe more serious than I've ever been in my whole life.

As the realization dawned on him that I was stubbornly set in my decision, his pleasant and comforting demeanor suddenly fell away. I watched in horror as I began to see my "friend" for what he really was: evil. I was shocked and hurt, but this only made my decision firmer. I turned and walked away from him, and I started walking towards a new group of friends, a chevra of Tzaddikim who I had all-too-much in common with. They would be my new friends.

But my friend was not going to give in so easily. He had an iron strong hold on me, and he wasn't going let me get away without a fight. He grabbed my leg and started pulling me down into the abyss; his abyss. I looked down and saw only darkness and death. I struggled in any way possible. But he was all too strong. I felt myself being pulled down. I was worn out and exhausted from my struggle. "Please stop!" I begged him. I was crying tears that had been stored for years. If he didn't drown me, my tears certainly would.

This battle went on for days, one day after another, just trying to keep my head above water. My "friend" had this devils look on his face, determined to destroy me for abandoning him.

My fight became not about not drowning, but staying in my decision. I counted the days I did not let go; 1...2...3..4... 12...13...14. At that point I felt I was already drowning, but my fight had changed. 15... I could hear voices in the distance. I recognized the voices of some of my new friends, true friends whose insides I knew contained only gold, unlike this monster who was attempting to kill me. I tried responding, but I did not have enough strength. Some reached for my hand, but I did not even have enough strength to raise it. 16.... "Just keep counting", I told myself. But the fight was coming to a close. The water was at my neck. 17... Nothing else mattered but the number. My head was already underwater and I saw bubbles surface as I shouted with my head underwater "18!!". And as I fell, I finally understood:

18 = Chai - Life!

Death is only temporary, while LIFE is eternal.

 

"Yaser Yasrani Kah, vi'lamaves, lo nisanani
G-d has afflicted me, but to death he did not give me over"

"Lo Amus Ki Echyeh, Va'asaper Ma'aseh Kah
I shall not die - I shall live, and I shall tell of G-d's deeds!"


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Post your Chizuk to this amazing warrior on Uri's thread on the forum.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

12 Step Tip of the Day
Posted on the forum by "Dov"

Reading "divrei chizuk" (from R' Tzvi Meyer) on the topics of Tisha b'Av on Tisha b'Av afternoon is fantastic. (Almost any busywork is better for me - a touchy recovering addict - than focusing on feeling yucky!)
 
There are other people on this forum who have regular and deep ties to Reb Tzvi Meyer. I only visited him for a week, a few years ago, and whenever I am in Eretz Yisroel I try to get to his Erev Shabbos 1hr shmooz at 12 or 1pm, etc.
 
His "Divrei Chizzuk" functions kind of like the Bnei Yisoschar always has for me: he describes exactly what the avodah of the day/week/month or tekufah is about and suggests specific ideas to focus on that are essential to improving avodah in general. Beautiful. His Torah and Orah are life itself!
 
Nevertheless, I cannot say this enough, and have posted a lot about this in the past: These seforim, and all the good intentions and teachings of yiras shomayim in the world - and out of it, are not what I needed - and need - to stay sober today.
 
As an addict, I needed to work the 12-steps with help from another addict. Period.
 
The seforim and Torah give us a reason to live, and they define "being alive" bichlal. They also give me a reason to want to be sober.
 
But for me, the way to get sober and sane enough to stay alive, was by using these tools (the 12-Steps and a sponsor), and not by doing more of what I was doing before, nor even by doing it better.
 
I wish you the best, of course, and I love you, no matter what. You may not be an addict at all. But if you are, you may need to do these steps too, as I did.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Attitude Tip of the Day

A Paradigm Shift
By "Tomim"

 

If you're feeling down, vulnerable, weak or depressed, it's easy to begin to feel that this journey to sobriety is just "not worth it"... But perhaps a "paradigm shift" in attitude can change everything. 

What's a "paradigm shift"? Stephen Covey (author of the best-selling "7 Habits of highly effective people") describes this with an actual incident on a NY subway where a father, with a number of unruly children, entered the subway and began to make an enormous ruckus. Covey, in his belief that children should be controlled by their parents, turned to the man and admonished him for permitting his children to disturb Covey and the other passengers. The man replied sadly that the children were returning from their mother's funeral and he did not have the heart to discipline their behavior, knowing they were acting out their grief. Covey immediately felt empathic and supportive of this man. Covey calls this a shift in the paradigm of seeing the situation from a different perspective.

In every situation, it is not the mere "happenings" that revoke our reactions, rather it is our perspective of the happening. Our job is to find meaning and perspective in wherever and whatever we find ourselves, and with this we have the ability to always rise above it.

When G-d is revealed, there is no test. Imagine G-d woke us up in the morning to serve him. Would we delay even for a moment? But specifically when he is concealed, that is when we prove to seek after him in this dark world - for the sole purpose of revealing his glory. Our lows, as much as they are tests, are really opportunities! They are opportunities that we received (that many others have not yet), because Hashem knows we can prove strong enough to succeed. While we all appreciate the "highs", when we overcome the test of the "lows", G-d reveals Himself to us in a greater way than before!

For a wonderful book on understanding life's tests, I would recommend reading "Life is a Test" by Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis.

(See also the Attitude Handbook for many great perspectives that can help us achieve a "paradigm shift" in the way we view this struggle).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Saying of the Day
By Michael Jordan

 

"I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed."


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Testimonial of the Day
By "Kutan"


People who have special neshamos CONNECT to GuardYourEyes, almost like a magnet. It's like a breath of fresh air, of reality, of purpose. When I first found GYE, WOW was I on a high. For 2 months I could not stop smiling around the house. My wife was concerned I was on drugs or seeing a psychiatrist and not telling her. Really. It's just the total Ahavas Yisroel and idealism here, and to boot, a solution to my nagging clinging Yetzer Hara who I've never been able to shake off for too long.

548.


A BIG Mazal Tov to Yakov Schwartz
for reaching half a year clean!


"Ykv_schwartz" (not his real name on Earth, but probably the name he will be greeted with after 120!) started his journey to sobriety (with us) on Feb. 5, at the Levaya of Rav Noach Weinberg z"l. He reached 90 days and joined the "Wall of Hashem's Honor" during the Seffira on the day of "Yesod She'binetzach". Yesod represents Shmiras Habris, and Netzach means FOREVER!!

And what better and more appropriate day could there be for hitting half a year than on Tu Be'av, one of the greatest Yomim Tovim; a day that combines the concepts of Renewal, Joy, Teshuva and Forgiveness. On Tu Be'Av Chazal say that the women danced dressed in white - like on Yom Kippur - and they danced in a circle - be'Machol, which is a lashon of "forgiveness" (see the Beis Ahron on how this day is a bechina of Yom Kippur!).

The name "Ykv_schwartz" has become synonymous with GuardYourEyes. Who doesn't know and LOVE Yakov, this passionate, sensitive and spiritual soul? He's posted close to 300 posts on our forum in the past half a year, many of them long and elaborate, putting his whole soul into inspiring others and making them feel good.

And there is even more to Yakov than meets the eye. I've never mentioned this before, but today is a good day to let everyone know so we can show our deep Hakaras Hatov to him. The recent upgrade to the "90 Day Chart" with the new sign-up page, login page, profile page and the whole new automated system - was (and is) being programmed and developed by Yakov for GuardYourEyes, free of charge!! Thank you Yakov, your schar is unfathomable!

In honor of Tu Be'Av - a day that shares many inyanim of Yom Kippur - and in honor of Yakov's half a year and his selfless work on the 90 day chart, who ever has not yet begun the journey to 90 days, TODAY is a perfect day to sign up on Yakov's new sign up page!

Here are Yakov's two amazing posts in honor of this great day. They bring tears to the eyes!

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Yakov's Letter

To my dear and holy brothers and sisters,

Today I am celebrating six month of sobriety. It's the first time since the start of my journey that I am allowing myself to celebrate sobriety. I will explain to you why. 

For 15 years, I actively tried to stop myself from this addiction. I went through constant ups and downs. When I was down, I was really down. My addiction saw no boundaries. Even the fear of getting caught and losing my job never held me back. I visited some of the darkest places on this earth. I saw gehinnom with my own eyes. My self esteem dropped to the bottom.

The following letter (written in summer 2007) portrays my emotions at one of my moments of misery:

"Internally, I am a broken man. I am under constant Depression. I am really a failure to society. I fool the world. I represent spirituality to many people, but inside I am of the most corrupt of beings that walk this earth. I am shining on the outside and dirty on the inside. I am confused about my own self. I sometimes wonder if I have demons inside of me. I feel like Jekyll and Hyde. I am two people in one... I am a hidden man to my family. I am living a lie to my wife. I feel horrible with myself. I fill my wonderful head with junk. I am crying inside. I have contaminated the vessels that hold my spirituality. Every year I hope for a Yom Kippur where I will do a true vidui to Hashem for my PAST aveiros. But comes Yom Kippur, I am still holding on to them..."

And when I was up, I was way up. But I usually could not maintain my "up" for longer than a few weeks.  

However, last year (2008), for the first time in my life I was finally able to resist the temptations and break free. I learned a few very important lessons. I realized how much I hate this addiction and stopped my activity immediately. The temptations melted away. I was amazed at my progress. I thought a new era in my life has finally arrived.

But six months later, on Oct 28, 2008, I fell again. I was in disbelief at the time. I was devastated. I lost six months in one minute. For the next three months, I wallowed in misery as I continued in my addiction, digging myself deeper and deeper in. I became numb to life and to spirituality. I continued my life externally as usual. I tried to keep my spirits high; as I convinced myself that I would pull out. But it continued. I began to finally admit that I am addicted and powerless. But at the same time, I began to fear that there is no hope for me. If after six months I could not maintain myself, then I must have some internal incurable disease. I thought the only way would be with professional help. The future looked bleak... 

...Then came GuardYourEyes. At the beginning of February, I discovered GYE and I renewed my commitment to recovery. My life instantly changed. I realized there is hope. The social network of like-minded people with similar struggles brought me instant relief. I declared a new battle on my Yetzer Hara. I realized how small he really was all those years. And so, after 15+ years of battle, I started what I labeled the "final battle that will lead to victory". I was initially inspired by Rav Noach Weinberg's levaya, as I cried there throughout all of the hespedim.
 
But I could not allow myself too much joy until I brought myself back to where I was. I could not see any form of victory until I arrived at six months. And here I am, six months later. This is officially my longest streak from the day I was introduced to this filth, some 15+ years ago. Should I not celebrate? 

In honor of Tu B'Av and six months of sobriety, I am making a BBQ in my backyard. Please join in my Simcha. Everyone is welcome. (And "Bardichev", please bring the Woodford - or whatever that stuff is called). 

Whoever is reading this, please wish me a mazel tov on my thread. I still need all the chizuk I can get. As we all know, the battle is never over. After a person beats one Yetzer Hara, another one comes his way. So, please give me tons of chizuk and warm words.

I want to end by thanking the entire GYE family. Each one of you is special. I am amazed with the commitment that each of you fights with. No matter how many times you fall, you get back up. I try to read most of the posts, although I often do not have time to write back. I get tremendous chizuk from reading about your struggles and how you prevail.

With Love, Tears, a Broken Heart, and a Humble Spirit,
      
Lover of All Jews,
Yaakov 

 

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Tu B'Av and Six Months of Sobriety
A Ode by Yakov

As I look into the grave to see if I am dead and then notice that I am still alive, I look up to heavens with joy and yell, "there is life! There is Hope! There is a future!"

As I finish burying my addiction, I pause to thank Hashem for not allowing my dark past spoil my life. I thank him as well, for assisting me to finally bury my past, as I rid myself of this addiction.

As I dance at the chasunah of a Benjemanite man and a daughter from another tribe, I realize that the past is gone and we are embarking on a new era. The days of hate are behind us, and the days of love and togetherness are ahead of us. I then turn inwards and contemplate how the yetzer hara's powers are much weaker today, because when there is achdus, there is no yetzer hara.  

As I continue to divert my eyes from all immodest material and strengthen myself day by day in the areas of kedusha, I look at my wife, contemplate true spiritual beauty and sigh with relief; "Sheker hachein V'Hevel Hoyefei, etc..."   I turn inwards and realize that all peace in the world emanates from true and perfected shalom bayis. This is the secret to our ultimate victory.

As I walk through the streets with big heavy wooden ladders weighing me down, I tell the enemy (the yetzer hara) not to worry; "these ladders are situated on the ground (they are for gashmiyus)". I then laugh in my heart, because I tricked the yetzer hara, for he does not know, "these ladders can reach the heaven". These ladders are for my mizbayach.

As I finish collecting all my firewood, I bring it close to my heart and declare; "B'lvavi Mishkan Evne - in my heart I build a mishkan". 

As I sit lonely in my living room, waiting for my Beloved One to return, I suddenly hear a knock at the door and hear, "Kol Dodi Dofek" (it is my loved one knocking). Ellul is approaching.

As I stand trembling in awe, His holy messenger declares with a sign of great happiness, "Today we are building the Beis Hamikdash". The day of Happiness, is the day of the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash. My heart skips a beat. Am I dreaming?

I then turn to my Creator in a moment of true dedication and state:

 

"I am all yours. I hereby sacrifice my entire life to you." 

 

What greater joy can there be!

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Torah Thought of the Day
By Uri

I was studying this week's Parsha, searching for meaning in my life and struggles as I often do, when I came across a most unusual pasuk. Moshe is speaking to Klal Yisrael telling them not be afraid of entering the land and that their enemies will fall easily under their swords, until he says the following:

"And Hashem will banish the nations from before you gradually. You shall not destroy them speedily, lest the wild animals become too numerous for you."

Rashi asks the obvious question: "the hand of G-d is leading them through giants and powerful armies, and they should be scared of a couple lions? Surely there is nothing to be afraid of as long as they do Hashem's will?!" Rashi answers that it was revealed to Moshe that they would sin.

WOAH! One second! Moshe Rabbeinu? Our loving defender? He's just telling us, "yea, you guys wont make it??" Where's the faith? "Yea, you guys are gonna fall". This is not the picture I've had of him until now.

My friends, I remember the first time I went skiing with my friend. He said to me "Uri, I'm just warning you. You're gonna fall a heck of a lot". I remember looking at him a little hurt. He noticed and told me "it doesn't mean you aren't athletic or anything. Everyone falls in the beginning, no matter how athletic and talented they are. If you don't fall, that means you are not really skiing. Don't be afraid to fall or you'll never learn how to really ski".

I told my sister when she started biking; "honey, go slow, but even if you do, you're gonna fall. But dont worry. I'm here to make sure you dont get hurt and get up."

Moshe wasn't being cynical or a pessimist - Chas veshalom!! Moshe was just letting us know: "You guys are gonna fall. And you're gonna get up. And you're gonna conquer this land. And you're gonna learn from your falls. And Hashem and His messengers will always be there to help you back up. Have no fear, for fear will only prevent you from reaching your goal".

Falling is a necessary and important part of life.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Saying of the Day

 

"The successful man and his unsuccessful friend both fell the same amount of times; but the successful man got up just one time more than his friend."

549.


R' Avraham J. Twerski, MD, is the founder and medical director of Gateway Rehabilitation Center and is one of the world's leading experts on addictions today. He is also the author of over 50 books and a Gadol in Klal Yisrael. Rabbi Twerski offers GuardYourEyes vital guidance and often contributes articles to our network. (Click on the picture of Rabbi Twerski to view a page of various tips, articles and correspondence that we have had with Rabbi Twerski in the past).

Rabbi Twerski sent us the following article today:

 

Ulysses


Sixty-five years ago, in high-school, I learned a powerful mussar lesson, but I did not realize it at the time.
 
Ulysses was a hero and traveler in Greek mythology. He heard of the "music of the sirens." This was music that was heard at a particular harbor, and it was so enchanting, so attractive, that it drew sailors to the shore. However, there were sharp, ragged reefs in the harbor, and the ships would crash into them and were destroyed. Sailors knew this, and passing by the harbor, they would see the wreckages of the ships that had been destroyed, but once they heard the music of the sirens, they were helpless and headed into the harbor to their own destruction.
 
Ulysses wanted to hear the fabled music of the sirens, but knew that this would be fatal. He, therefore, stuffed his sailors' ears with wax so that they could not hear any sounds, and he told them that they were to sail by the harbor and pay no attention to anything he said. He then had himself tied securely to the ship's mast so that he could not move.
 
As the sailors approached the harbor, Ulysses began hearing the music of the sirens. He began shouting to the sailors to head for shore, but of course, they could not hear him. He began screaming at them, "I am your captain! You must obey my orders!" As he heard the music of the sirens, he struggled to free himself from the ropes. "Head for the shore!" he shouted. "I will have you hung for mutiny!" But the sailors rowed on.
 
After they had passed the harbor and the music was no longer heard, Ulysses fainted from exhaustion. The sailors then untied him, and he realized how helpless he had been, and had he not rendered the sailors unable to hear, they would have all been destroyed.
 
Much later I realized that the "music of the sirens" is the yetzer hara. It can enchant a person and render one almost helpless to resist its temptation. Seeing the wreckage of the ships did not prevent sailors from rowing to their destruction.
 
One cocaine addict worked in a mortuary, and buried people who were killed by cocaine, but that did not stop his use, and he died from cocaine at age 33. Cocaine, music of the sirens, lust, the yetzer hara - they are all the same.

There is no way we can "stuff our ears" to the "music of the sirens" that can be heard almost anywhere in our environment. The Talmud cites Hashem as saying, "I created the yetzer hara, and I created Torah as its antidote" (Kedushin 30b). It is our only defense. However, just holding on to Torah is not enough, just as Ulysses' holding on to the mast would not have been enough. We must tie ourselves so tightly to Torah that we can not break loose from it. This is why Moses repeatedly stressed, "But you who cling to Hashem-you are all alive today" (Devarim 4:4), "to Him you shall cleave," (ibid. 10:20) and "To love Hashem, to listen to His voice and to cleave to Him (ibid. 30:20). King David says, "I have clung to your testimonies (Tehilim 119:31). To cling and cleave means to be inseparably attached to Torah.
 
Learning Torah and doing mitzvos is of greatest importance, but does not yet result in the necessary fusion. The Talmud says that the single verse that the entire Torah depends on is "Know Hashem in all your ways" (Mishle 3:6, Berachos 63a). Cleaving and clinging is not accomplished by relating to Hashem just in Torah study and in performance of mitzvos, but in everything we do - eating, sleeping, transacting, socializing. The works of mussar tell us how we can accomplish this. It is this kind of observance of Torah that can save us from the destructive attractions of the yetzer hara.

When you pick up a fruit, think of what borei pri ha'etz means. Hashem designed a tree that would sprout from a tiny seed and produce succulent fruit, and feel gratitude to Hashem. When you say the beracha "poke'ach ivrim" think of the wondrous ability that Hashem instituted within protoplasm that it can have vision, and feel gratitude to Hashem. If we bring Hashem into all our activities, we are cleaving and clinging to Him, and when we tie ourselves securely to the mast, we can avoid the yetzer hara's "music of the sirens" that would pull us to our own destruction.

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Interestingly, after reading this article by Rabbi Twerski, I read a post by "Momo" on the forum, where he discusses Duvid Chaim's 12-Step phone conference and writes:

"Duvid Chaim often speaks about our need to be more spiritual and not just act religious".

And then "Momo" goes on to quote from an article in today's Jerusalem Post written by a contemporary religious writer, whose ideas - although critical - are surprisingly similar in nature to what Rabbi Twerski wrote above:


Orthodox Judaism has reached a moment of truth. Many people no longer believe that Jewish learning and observance make you a better person. They no longer believe there is any correlation between keeping Shabbat and keeping honest, between wearing tzitzit and avoiding adultery, or between lighting Shabbat candles and seeing the light of God's grace in every human being.

And we Orthodox have no one but ourselves to blame. We are often "religious" without being spiritual, prayerful without being humble and ritually precise without displaying the same punctiliousness in business.

I am a passionately Orthodox Jew; not even the threat of death will come between me and the God of Israel. But Orthodoxy without morality and basic humanity is a religion without God. It is cold, harsh, an abomination.

The notion that Orthodox Jews are no more moral than anyone else could prove to be the single most catastrophic event to ever befall religious observance. Simply put, if learning and honoring God's will doesn't make us better people, then most (in the coming generations) will choose to discard Judaism as an empty relic of a superstitious past...

We the Orthodox have it in our power to restore the true light and love of Judaism by demonstrating the power of our faith to shape outstanding ethics and inspire righteous action. Indeed, most Orthodox Jews live lives of exemplary honesty, hospitality and communal devotion. But now is the time for that truth to shine. Now is the time to demonstrate that resting on the Sabbath and studying Torah actually do make people less greedy and more noble.

Our children must be taught not only the rituals that will make them good Jews, but the underlying values that will make them good people. Children in yeshiva should learn not only the correct blessing before eating an apple, but that the purpose of all such blessings is to instill gratitude. When our sons don yarmulkes, let us remind them that it's not only a symbol of identity but a reminder of constant supervision. God is watching us at all times, even when other humans are not. When our daughters light Shabbat candles let us teach them that the purpose is not only to continue the tradition of Sarah but to illuminate the dark places of the spirit.

 

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Saying of the Day
"Momo" from Duvid Chaim's 12-Step Group

 

"If Hashem keeps giving you the same test and you don't like it, pass the test so you can graduate on to the next test!"

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And Now For Some Fun :-)

Some Quotable-Quotes from "Bardichev" on the forum:



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

IN THIS WEEKS PARSHA WE FIND THE MOST MOST MOST (THAT'S A LOT OF MOST) FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION IN THE TORAH:
"WHAT DOES G-D WANT FROM ME???"
V'ATAH YISROEL MAH HASHEM ELOKECHA SH-EL MEI-IMCHA??
I WILL STOP AT THE FIRST WORD:
"VE'ATA"
"VE'ATA" IS LASHON OF TESHUVAH 
"VE'ATA" MEANS "FROM NOW ON"
THE PAST IS GONE!!!
FROM NOW ON!!!!
ALL HASHEM WANTS IS: FROM NOW ON!!!

(OHR HACHAIM HAKADOSH)

By Mr. B

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  
Do not fall into the trap of the YH saying:
"That guy's wife is soooo un-tzanua".
We all know that yetzer hara, he is such a rotten sneak!
Yes, we live in a weak generation,
but try to judge that woman le'kaf zechus and just turn away.
And try this exercise as well:
If you hear someone else's cell phone ringing and you recognize that it has a different ring-tone than yours, do you pick up your phone ??
NO WAY!! Right?

Well, someone else's wife is SOMEONE ELSE'S RING TONE.
 
BOOM!!

Ringing to my own tone
humble and happy 
Mr. bardichev

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

LIFE IS NOT A BED OF ROSES!!
DON'T CRY UNFAIR; MAKE IT WORK!
TURN LEMONS INTO LEMONADE
AND TRIGGERS INTO TRIUMPHS


Old School Psychology,
Mr. B

550.


Q & A of the Day

Won't Marriage Solve my Problems?


I've been slipping a lot lately, doing things and going places I know shouldn't. It's so hard to fight this addiction. I feel a desperate need inside me for a loving and intimate relationship. I wanted to know what you think about marriage. It's been on my mind lately, I turned 20 recently, and I don't necessarily feel emotionally ready to get married, and my parents think that I'm still immature. But on the other hand, I've got this high hormonal drive and a desperate need for love. I don't know what to do.

Dear fellow addict,

We understand you well. You have a deep subconscious need for love, closeness, and for someone to fill the loneliness and the "hole" you feel in your heart. But it is important to understand that having a girlfriend or even a wife, doesn't fill this void. We all thought it would, but when we get married we see that it's not the way we thought it would be at all. Instead of "getting" all that we thought we needed, we end up having to "give" of ourselves and understand someone who doesn't think like us and has very different needs. And the lust that we thought would finally be fulfilled, is never ever satisfied. The "true love" that can come from marriage has to be worked for slowly, and as we grow in recovery and in "selflessness", the love grows along with us.

The pain you feel and the needs you have are very real. But they can only be filled when we bring Hashem into our hearts. Hashem is the ONLY ONE who can truly fill the void and neediness that we have. If you can find the time, I suggest reading through this recent thread, from top to bottom, and pressing on the links that I posted there (in reply #4). There you will learns some of the beautiful tactics on how to turn the love and longings of our hearts towards Hashem.

Also, I highly suggest reading the SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anon) pamphlet; you can download it here. These are people who felt - and feel - EXACTLY as you do, and they slowly learned the hard and painful way that they will NEVER find - and NEVER get - what their subconscious mind craves so much; not through love, nor through lust, and not even through marriage. ONLY Hashem can ultimately fill this void. May we truly find Him now.

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Dov Responded on the forum:

Dear friend,

You post openly and clearly about the hole in yourself, and you seem to believe you are an addict. Me too, so let's talk...

If you read some of my posts on the forum, they are never about fighting at all. They're about struggling to LIVE, yes, but not about beating - winning - or fighting against anything.

Lust was my buddy, my anchor and my guide in a painfully confusing world. Basically, it was my god. I served it privately and daily without fail, for many years. And right through the middle of all that, I discovered and hung onto yiddishkeit, sensing it had something I needed. Something real.

I'm not here to tell you anything new about yiddishkeit though. I don't believe you need to hear "just the right vort" at all. You posted once that you have already spoken to lots of Rabbanim etc, about this and related issues. I assume they mostly told you what you'd expect to hear, no? For me, predictability is now a sort of litmus test. I guess you know what I mean. Maybe I'm cynical.
 
So I'll tell you something that may not be predictable.

I got married too early (so did she) and I had a rotten time of the sexuality (so did she). I grew into a guy who acted out - or struggled with not acting out - full time (she didn't). The struggle unfortunately defined my avodas Hashem too, at the time.

I eventually got sober with Hashem's help using the 12 steps (my story is here).

Me and my wife were fighting often during most of the years before sobriety, and only after 1.5 years of hell in sobriety did our boat started to even out its keel. The next few years were full of natural growth, as individuals and as a couple. Oh, yeah - and also full of just plain "quiet" too, for a change. We are so intimate now, and still getting closer. We are really sharing a life. We understand each other in the physical parts of intimacy too now, and we are able to really enjoy this for the first time.

Now this is happening even though my wife has no connection to recovery, no association with any program, and is quite different than I am spiritually. For the first ten years of marriage I never expected to ever see what we have now. Frankly, I thought I had screwed up in marrying her at all; I even had two panic attacks over it. She didn't understand. But now I have the rest of myself and am at rest. I don't need to drool over her and she doesn't need to worship me. We are not fighting either, cuz we get plenty of each others attention without fighting. And all those years I was sure I'd eventually die an old and lonely man, filling a hole in the ground with my own bigger hole...

I'm telling you all this, if you are still reading this long megillah, because I know what a difference sanity resulting from simple sobriety means to having a happy marriage and a happy life. Simple sanity finally allows marriage and life to fill that hole we felt; that need for true connection and "togetherness" that sex and lust can never fill. As an addict, I could not get it without sobriety and the 12-steps.

Now, I do not condone acting out in any way (ha, not that I matter! and who am I to talk for G-d?) but perhaps the only thing that will truly convince an addict that his hole won't be filled with what he is lusting after, is trying it over and over until he gives up trying (if he's still alive). I've heard sober recovering alkies say, "it took each and every drink I took, to get me where I am today". That is the way it was for me. I hope you are better or "luckier" than I was, and can "hit bottom while still on top". I caused a lot of wreckage for myself and others, but I could have done a lot more. Finally, I gave up and got help. Now, Hashem, my Best and Eternal Friend, helps me out daily and - well, you know how it is...

My wife and I have two "sobriety babies" now (babies born after I got sober). One is six and the other three. Our first three kids had it rough - and they know it. But they see a completely different home now. Too bad we all had to wait for it so long.

Maybe a 20 year old like you can get the help to "even his keel" before adding another person to your boat.

Whatever your journey looks like, we hope you will let us be a part of it.

Love,
Dov

 

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Saying of the Day

 

The destruction and renewal that the month of AV represents is the 'Alef - Beis' of our journey on this world. Maybe that is why it is spelled 'Alef- Beis.'


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Testimonial of the Day

By "Yesodos"

 

I have recently joined this forum. Writing this brings tears to my eyes, because I have never been able to ask for help in this area before. This is the start of breaking an 11 year habit, something that makes me both proud and humble, as well as very, very ashamed. I've always been too embarrassed of my addiction to ever get any help face-to-face, and deep down I've lost the belief that I can make a lasting change in this area.

I saw the website for the first time on shiva asar betammuz, and I was amazed that there was so much help available to me to get out of my crushing addiction, as well as kindhearted people who are building this site and building the participants along with it. It has kindled the hope inside me that I can face down this challenge, overcome it, and eventually destroy it.

I guess, if I'm honest, my main motivation to break the habit is the fear of somebody finding out about it, especially my wife. I'm scared that it will cause me to lose my job, reputation, marriage and children. I'm even scared that she is somehow going to read this post, find out that it's me writing, and get the shock of her life that she is married to a porn addict. The fact that I would consider losing everything I hold dear for the sake of some stupid, cheap thrill, amazes me. I am amazed at my own stupidity. I guess this proves that I'm an addict - I never thought of myself that way until now. I've just been in denial.

Every single Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur has been filled with regret for my addiction, and yet still nothing has changed yet. I've improved in many different areas, but I actually feel that in this area I've sunk even lower in recent years. I would love this year to be different. - perhaps you guys can help me ensure that it will be?

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A few days later, Yesodos writes:

I want everyone to know that I'm fighting here, and I couldn't do it without you all. It's a funny sort of fight now, because I was craving to act out but whilst I'm posting here I feel myself slowly reentering reality, and the fantasy world of the menuvel slowly melts away. This is a very encouraging development. I also know that after counting day after day to get to 90 days, it would be devastating to be back on zero and break my clean streak. 

I love the handbooks. I realize now that I am not running away from the Yetzer, but am running towards the loving embrace of my Father in Heaven, who is looking on with pride as He removes the hold of the Yetzer from upon me.  

Chazal say, 'I'm poga bcho menuvel ze mochheihu lebais hamidrash - if the Yetzer Hara meets up with you, drag him to the Beis Medrash'. I wonder whether part of the idea behind that is not just that LEARNING is the key to overpowering the yetzer, but perhaps the idea of dragging the Yetzer Hara into the PUBLIC FORUM of a "Torahdik" atmosphere is what does the trick. I'm sure this observation has occurred to everyone else already, but I guess I'm new here so please excuse me! In which case, I have just successfully dragged the yetzer into the Beis Medrash, and chazal's words have been proven true once again. The Yetzer Hara loses another day! 

I LOVE GuardYourEyes!!!