Ilan shared with us his correspondence with Rabbi Twerski
(where Rabbi Twerski mentions our website)
I am a twenty five year old observant orthodox Jew. I don’t fit into any ideological or Hashkafik boxes. I am not Mizrachi or chareidi or chassidish. I am single and have completed a law degree and am currently studying towards my Masters degree.
I don’t really know who I should turn to, or if I should turn to anyone at all. I don’t even know if my issue is specific and natural or addictive and dangerous. One thing I can say is that it feels addictive and it hurts terribly. A few years ago, unfortunately I was messing around on the computer and I “intentionally stumbled” on a porn site and quite a bad one. I remember the guilty feelings I had that night, the feelings of self loathing and feelings of sexual arousal that I hadn’t felt before. I may have slept for about an hour on that fateful night. The feeling was horrible, it was impure and the antithesis of kedusha. How could a nice guy like me look do such terrible deed? What if somebody were to ever find out? I know that I am a wonderful guy and I want just what anyone else wants, which is a wife, kids and a normal family life governed by Torah principles. I understood that if I gave in to my inclinations too easily, my dream would be destroyed. I took a “vow” that I would never do such a thing again. That year I looked at that site no more than 3 times (3 times too many). For about a three year period, I managed to restrain that temptation through much hardship. I have never had sex before and I do not have a girl friend, and feelings of sexual desire, both good and bad, are a common struggle for me in my life. Little did I know that vows and oaths regarding abstinence from sexual desires are for the most part quite meaningless. The temptation to sin far outweighs the fear of transgressing the vow or oath. I didn’t know how I would keep myself from committing these terrible aveirot. Internet porn is so easy, all one needs to do is connect and one has access to cyber slum. One does not even need to drive to the slummy parts of town. It is five seconds away! The bad thoughts in one’s imaginations are actualized before one’s very eyes. It is sexually stimulating but not in a nice way, it’s actually emotionally painful. As you can gather from my sending this letter to you, I have “intentionally stumbled” on these sites again and this year I have been doing it more frequently. I want to say that I will never do it again but that just seems a fiction. It feels addictive. My grandfather was an alcoholic and my father is addicted to anti-depressants and other “toxic” substances. These substances have destroyed my father’s life. He is a good man but a very lonely man. My mom and dad are getting divorced (I currently reside with my mom). Rabbi, I need to stop and I will stop, but it is difficult to believe that I actually will not look at a site like this ever again. Last night, I was by myself in the computer room (BIG MISTAKE). I was fooling around on youtube and instead of just seeing pictures, I saw my awful fantasies in live motion. They shocked my senses of morality and today I felt like I was walking around in a stupor of self-disgust (quite literally my eyes were heavy and my concentration felt somewhat unintuitive) and unpleasant sexual arousal. (What if someone found out or they traced the internet searches to my house?) As I am writing this letter to you, my legs are stiff, the feeling to connect again is so intensely felt, which compelled me to reach out for someone far away who does not know me and who will not judge me. Please help me Rabbi!!! Please can you recommend me books and articles to read to guide me towards a life that is totally free of internet porn. Once a month is too much, or even once a year for that matter.
I have spoken to my dear Rabbi about this issue. He has advised me very wisely. He is a wonderful man! I don’t know what I would do without him. He has advised me not to be alone with a computer unless I am at work. Yichud with a computer is like yichud with a woman except that Yichud with a computer is worse! I don’t have these intense feelings at work because I know the foreseeable consequences of stumbling and giving in to my terrible fantasies. Netnanny is quite expensive and I can’t really afford it yet and I will know the codes because nobody is supposed to know about my issue. I have felt these fantasies ever since I was a young child. But Rabbi, let me reiterate that I believe that I am a nice guy and that this is a struggle that G-d has given me and I am sure many other upstanding members of the community who live righteous lives and others who merit to have “ISH YASAHAR BE”EINAV” written on their tombstone also have had similar struggles. Is a shochet a bad man because he may have a desire for murder? Are civilized army generals bad people because they have such a temptation? Is a man who desires to steal a bad man? He may never steal but surely the temptation doesn’t make him evil in man’s eyes or in G-d’s eyes?
I am sure that my friends (very good people) have also “stumbled intentionally” on these sites. I am sure that they too have sexual desires that are impure and immoral. Even if any of my friends would tell me what thaey had done in the past, I would not judge them, because looking at these sites doesn’t make one bad.
Please just hit reply, attach an article that will help me or refer me to a book that can guide me or write me a letter. I can’t talk to anyone here because it’s so embarrassing. I am not even telling you the whole story of the inner movies playing around in my mind because you may judge me unfavorably. Even if I stumble five times a year, it is five times too much!! Also, is five times a year considered an addiction?
Rabbi Twerski Responds:
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.
Have you seen the website www.guardureyes.com? I believe it is of value, not only because you realize that you are hardly the only frum person with the problem, but also because there are helpful suggestions from people who overcame the problem.
I hope to contribute to that website when time allows.