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Ilan shared with us some more correspondence of his with Rabbi Twerski

Hi Rabbi

I am not ready to tell you my real name. I trust that you will keep it confidential. I wrote to you some months ago about my possible cyber addiction to Internet pornography. Just to put myself in context, I am studying towards a masters in law. I am a virgin (i.e. I have never had sex before) and am an observant orthodox Jew who does not belong and does not wish to belong to any orthodox denomination.

I fear that my "addiction" may be getting out of control. Whenever I connect to the Internet at home I have this very intense desire to look at pornography. I feel terrible whenever I do it and feel sick afterwards but I still do it and I fear it is getting out of control. I feel intense feelings of guilt and self loathing when I do it but that does not seem to be a deterrent anymore. Although I feel this intense guilt and loathing about myself, I "enjoy" looking at these terrible pictures and at the same time I want to never look at them again. Short of great embarrassment, I am not sure what will stop me from doing this. I am fearful that if I continue to look then I can kiss a married life goodbye and it is something that I want more than anything else. Its also hard to reconcile my belief that I am a good person with the fact that I enjoy looking at such images. Rabbi I need to stop and I feel that if I don't then it will develop into a shocking habit and virtually destroy all that I have worked for. I lose my appetite when I do it, and am impatient towards other people and my stress levels fly through the roof whenever I do it.

This is how it goes. I go to the computer then connect. I then look at and then gmail and look for some academic stuff. After a while, I succumb to the temptation either on Youtube and sometimes on worse sights. Then I start to feel sexual sensations and see pictures that ignite that sensation. Then I save them on my computer, thinking that if I have them then I won't have this desire to connect. I go back to my room and stare at them for a while and delete them from my computer. Then I go back to the internet and the cycle starts again. Currently I have no porn on my computer.

Over Yom Kippur I was reading one of your books on alcoholism and I felt it spoke to me is some sense about any type of addiction. Please can you recommend me a book to read that either you have written on this type of subject or that someone else has written. I feel that religious books are generally not that well written and are un-academic. These books are written by lay people thinking they are experts and they tend to not directly relate to non-denominational orthodox people like myself. If the author is a lubavitcher he talks about the Rebbe and his ascendants as if no one else exists. If he is haredi, well he would be too fearful to write what needs to be written. I get turned off straight away. Your book was different, it spoke to everyone. If you have written such a book or know of a similar book or article that you can attach then please tell me.

Do I need help? I feel I do, but I don't know the number. Your email address is the only "number" I have. If I go to counseling my mom would know about my possible problem.

Thanks Rabbi



Rabbi Twerski Responds:

Dear Ilan,

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 am away from home today. Tomorrow I'll e-mail you his number. You can call him and you will remain anonymous.


To another struggler who contacted Rabbi Twerski he responded:

Dear Yakov,

I respect your sincerity and desire to overcome this problem.
Before Rebbe Yohanan ben Zakai died, his talmidim asked him for a beracha. 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.
Work on improving yiras shamayim. Read the appropriate sifre mussar on developing yiras shamayim and pray for it intensely.
I have something else that may be of help, but it is not on the computer so I cannot e-mail it. I can fax it or mail it to you.
Today's yetzer hara is greater than ever before in history, and among others, you are facing a difficult struggle. But you must try hard, and Hashem will help you.