Dear Rabbi Twerski, shlita,
First, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Yosef. I am a lust addict. I am currently in SA fellowship. I also go weekly to therapy to trauma-based CSAT. I am baruch Hashem making lots of progress. I am very grateful for where I am and davening to Hashem for another day sober, one day at a time. I am a chassidishe yungerman and was brought up being inspired by the uplifting warmth of your uncle, the Ruv Reb Shlomo z”l.
Second, I want thank you for all the hard work you put into dealing with the issue of addiction, which helps the world in general and klal Yisrael in particular. May you be zocheh to see more and more nachas from all your work, and from all your offspring.
I would like to comment on what you wrote in the book Teshuvah and Recovery. You speak there about “the God of our understanding” and suggest that we say “Hashem” instead. I would like to comment on this.
Many addicts have been raised with a conception that Hashem is a scary thing. They lived their lives feeling that Hashem is out to get us. Many also have religious trauma. While we addicts are trying to work through Steps 2 and 3, then later at Step 11, which should become our way of life, we need a God we can trust. If we are not ready to leave behind our old belief in God, we may not have a God we can trust. When I was working on Step 2, I was struggling with Hashem, as I knew that God would punish me for all the aveiros I had done in the past. In many sefarim, it even says that there is no chance of doing teshuvah on this (only teshuvah iluah). So how can I really trust Hashem if I have no chance of saving myself from these harsh punishments? I’m doomed!
Well, baruch Hashem, I found many messages that helped me out in this issue. One of them is that there are all kinds of messages in the Torah. For me as an addict, I am tempted to choose the most negative messages that say, “Yosef, there is no chance for you, so what next? For sure, go act out!” Or I can choose to connect with what Rebbe Nachman has to say, or what the Izhbitzer has to say. Perhaps that is the God of my understanding. I will say that I choose the God of the Izhbitzer.
Although I believe that Torah is miSinai, I believe that for me as an addict, Hashem wants me to choose those hashkafos that will help me recover from my addiction and not live with the fear of the Reishis Chochmah.
Wishing all the best.
Rabbi Twerski Responds
We must correct mistaken concepts of Hashem and recognize that He is rachum v’chanun. Hashem’s love for the most sinful Jew exceeds any degree of love we can imagine.