Dear Rabbi Twerski,
Jack wrote me again today about the "void" he feels since stopping the addiction (see please below). I told him again what the Rav explained before, that true happiness is achieved when we fulfill what we were created for, and I even sent him this article that the Rav once wrote in Hamodia. But maybe the Rav can offer some more insight into his question. Thanks so much.
Here are Jack's words:
"Sensual pleasures fill a void. But torah, which is spiritual in nature, cannot possibly fill a missing emotional hole. How do we use torah to fill in a hole that was caused by something emotional, in my case parents who really did a lot of damage to me emotionally? Also, the mitzvos were specifically NOT given not the purposes of deriving benefit - lav leihonus nitnu. Since the they are spiritual, the ONLY possible reward we can have from them is in olam haba - there is no schar for mitzvos in this world because there CAN'T be.
If you can help me fill the void in this matter, then maybe it will help me with overeating also. You see, i eat (sometimes) till I'm sick and cant do anything productive - all i want to do is sleep. If i can fill the void, i can also stop eating to the point of sickness, and start to progress in areas that i really want to progress in. i could have been a big talmid chacham if i wasn't sleepy all the time from over-eating. you see, my parents did a 'wonderful' job with me".
In order to have both physical and emotional health, we require proper nutrition. If we lack certain essential vitamins and/or minerals, we develop "deficiency syndromes". Lack of iron and B vitamins may cause depression.
If a child was raised by abusive parents, who, in addition to being unkind to the child, deprived him of proper nutrition, he may be very depressed as an adult. A physician who examines the person may diagnose the nutritional deficiencies and prescribe the missing vitamins and minerals. The person may say, “How are those going to remove the pain of the abuse?” The answer is that the vitamins and minerals will remedy the deficiencies, and he will have to get therapy to deal with the consequences of the abuse.
Human beings are more than just intelligent animals. Indeed, we come into the world essentially as animals and we are to develop ourselves into the spiritual beings we were meant to be. If we lack spirituality, that creates a void. If we lack spirituality and also had abusive parents, we must fulfill ourselves spiritually and get therapy for the consequences of abuse. A lack of either will not solve our emotional problems. Of course, if a person numbs oneself with chemicals, one will not be aware of any void, because one will have no feeling at all.
Yes, we come into the world as animals, and we are to rise above the animal level. Animals are motivated only by their desires. No sense of duty, no sense of responsibility, no sense trying to improve oneself. Many people never rise above an animal level, and are nothing more that intelligent animals who use their intellect to gain gratification.
It is terribly unfortunate that some people descend to below animal levels. Animals have a sex drive and they gratify it, but they do not make an industry out of sex. They do not have perversions. They do not ruin children with pedophilic molestation. They do not exploit others’ drives for their own profit.
If we fail to become that which we were meant to be, i.e., spiritual beings, we will feel a void. We would feel that void even if we had the most loving and caring parents in the world. If we fill that spiritual void, we may nevertheless suffer from emotional trauma or deprivation in childhood. The two are separate and should not be confused.
Think seriously about who you are and what you can make of yourself. Sexual gratification may give you momentary pleasure, but does nothing to make you into a better person.
If we are unhappy, we may blame our parents, but blaming someone for our misery is just an excuse so that we don’t feel we must do anything to make changes in ourselves. It is true that we may be what our parents made of us, but if we stay that way, it is our own decision to do so.
Jack responds to us:There is no way for me to express how grateful I am to you. When I heard rabbi Twerski speak a few years ago, i was going to contact him myself, but i never had the nerve. Now, that wish is being realized through you. You are a true ohaiv yisroel.The following two sentences hold the answer:"Think seriously about who you are and what you can make of yourself. Sexual gratification may give you momentary pleasure, but does nothing to make you into a better person."This is the answer I was looking for.
Of course it's going to be hard. 38 years, a couple of times a day, hundreds and hundreds of movies, thousands upon thousands of dollars spent, looking at every thing that passes by, etc, etc..."Hard" is not even the word. But if you are there to catch me, I don't mind falling. And you have all been there, from day one.
Did I ever tell you that I do not take shots to get cavities filled? I'd rather live with the pain than the numbness. I got this from my father. He was walking around with a tumor filling his entire left lung for 2 years. He had stage 4 cancer for 4 years. He wouldn't give up - the doctors were amazed. His feet were swollen like balloons and he was sweeping the kitchen floor, with a cane in one hand and a broom in the other!
This attitude is what keeps the Jewish people going. Like it says, "Ka'asher Ya'anu Oso, Kein Yirbe" - proportionate to the amount the Egyptians battered us, that is how much we excelled - a stubborn people!! We won't die, will we? No matter what you throw at us, we are still here. In every generation - they try to kill us, gas us, annihilate us, pogrom us, anything and everything, but we are still here. Hitler didn't win, did he? So what's a little abstention from Tumah compared to all that?