Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"Guard Your Eyes" Handbook (For Scrap Paper Use Only) - UPDATED 11:48 am

At the recent Torah Umesorah Convention, sexual addiction was addressed. A handbook was presented to all attendees. This handbook on sexual addiction was produced by the anonymous authors of Guard Your Eyes. Guard Your Eyes (GYE) is "a website for Jews struggling to maintain their moral purity in today's world."  It claims to have helped many people with sexual addictions. 
Click HERE to see the letter from Torah Umesora to schools regarding GYE.

UPDATE (11:48 AM): According to Yonasan Rosenblum of Mishpacha Magazine, GYE has helped many people with the support groups they offer. I highly recommend support groups when they are moderated by skilled therapists. If you wish to use them, find out who is moderating the group and what his credentials are. However, a support group can be very helpful regardless of the therapist's credentials. The shame surrounding sexual issues can be very much alleviated when it is shared with fellow frum Jews struggling with the same issues. Although it's great that support groups are provided for this greatly under-addressed issue, I am suspicious of GYE. Their Handbook on how to deal with sexual addiction contains some kinky ideas.
Click to view the Guard Your Eyes Handbook (from the Torah Umesorah Convention) in PDF form.
          This stuff is worse than garbage. They tell you to punish yourself, and they are wrong. Before you write me off as being against Da'as Torah, you need to realize that today's poskim hold that sigufim (self-flagellations) are not only uncalled for nowadays, they are assur - prohibited. That is because we are not on the level of being able to grow from sigufim; we can only lower ourselves by punishing ourselves. The reason this site is so successful, is that people think they are right! More Painful = More Frum. But this is against Da'as Torah.

          There is much nonsense on the web, and I can accept that. But this particular nonsense claims to be supported by a man who has my respect: Rabbi Abraham Twerski. That's what gets me mad! 
          On the homepage of the Guard Your Eyes website, there is a link to articles from Rabbi Twerski, along with his warm recommendation of this website. Follow the link, read Rabbi Twerski's articles on sex addiction, and you'll see why I don't believe that Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski actually read this handbook. Nowhere does Rabbi Twerski tell people to punish themselves. Instead, Twerski advises people to work on their character. Here is what Rabbi Twerski himself says in response to a frum person who "cannot stop masturbating:"

[You need to change your character in order to overcome the addiction.] How does one become a different person? By working diligently on improving one’s character traits. Learning how to manage anger, to rid oneself of resentments, to overcome hate, to be humble, to be considerate of others, to be absolutely honest in all one’s affairs, to admit being wrong, to overcome envy, to be diligent and overcome procrastination.... This does not happen quickly.
When one has transformed one’s character and has become a different person, one will find that this “new person” can accomplish things that the old person could not.
(Click for the entire letter, the question and Twerski's response.)
          By the way, nowhere will you find Rabbi Twerski advocating self-harm in the name of overcoming an addiction.
          The Handbook advises making a Shavua (the most severe Torah oath) in the name of Hashem that each time one loses control of his urges, he will punish himself. To elaborate, the Handbook gives some examples of a Shavua:
          "Some examples might be: 'Shvuah bisheim Ado-nai [an oath in the name of G-d] – for one week, that if I masturbate, then within the following 24 hours, I will:
  • tell my Rebbe
  • tell my wife
  • take a bus to the kever of a tzadik and stay there for 2 hours before coming home.
  • fast for 24 hours
  • give ‘a painful’ amount of money to Tzedaka."
          The problem with this advice is that it does not address the underlying problems of the addiction. In fact, following this advice would only serve to lower your self-esteem. If you hurt yourself, you disrespect yourself, thereby lowering your self-esteem. Hence, you will only strengthen your addiction, which is nothing but an escape from your feelings of low self-esteem!
         The Handbook mentions that therapy might be necessary. Why "might"? Therapy is absolutely necessary for a person to overcome an addiction. Why are self-punishments mentioned before therapy? Take a look at the order in which the Handbook lists the various "tools" for fighting sexual addiction:
2.Guarding the eyes [see below - "Make it Hurt"]
3.Making Fences [includes making vows to punish yourself]
5.Using the Tools on our website [GuardUrEyes.com]
18.The Very Last Resort."

        Why are the self-punishments listed as Tools 2 and 3, while therapy is relegated to number 13, almost as  a "Last Resort?!" You will not heal from your addiction by hurting yourself; you need to address the underlying problems. Check out this article by Dr. Sorotzkin, called "Psychological Explanations for Sexual Acting Out." He'll tell you about how he's been treating sexual addictions in the frum community for more than 20 years. He's the most sought-after frum psychologist, so I'd rather listen to him than to a website that won't even identify its own authors.
Here is one of the ideas listed under Tool #2:
          "Make it Hurt: We can try to accept upon ourselves (not forever, just for "x" amount of days or weeks, at first) [emphasis added] that every time we take that second look at something triggering, we will (either):
     • give ourselves a pinch that hurts,
     • wear a rubber-band [sic] and snap it against our skin,
     • give 25 cents to tzedaka,
     • give our eyes a 'time out' by closing them for 6 seconds."
         Rabbi Twerki supports this? Nowhere does Rabbi Twerski tell addicts to pinch themselves, and I've read many of his books.
         [Side note: That last bullet point is ludicrous! By closing your eyes, you will be perpetuating the image that you just saw, making it sink deeper into your brain. You don't need a degree in psychology (although it helps) to know that the sensory imprint of an image you see gets erased when you look at a different image. Closing your eyes prevents the image from getting erased.]
          This is garbage. Following this advice will make you more depressed, because you are hurting yourself. The fact that you have a rubber band on your hand will constantly remind you that you are trying not to think about sex, and you'll just think about it more. Whatever you think about gets reinforced. Better you should think happy thoughts, encouraging thoughts. That way, you'll be strengthening your self-esteem. How can it be that Rabbi Twerski, who is the biggest proponent of the idea that low self-esteem is the underlying cause of addiction, would support a website that tells you to destroy your self-esteem? Rabbi Twerski, take a look at what you are supporting.
         Besides for doing more harm than good, self-hurting is an aveirah - a sin. Why does a Nazir (person who vows to abstain from wine for a month) need a Kaparah - forgiveness? Because Hashem does not want people to hurt themselves. He considers it a sin!
         Guard your eyes when you visit the Guard Your Eyes website. Use their support groups. As Rabbi Twerski is fond of saying in regard to healing from addiction: "Therapy is the icing on the cake. [The support group is the cake.]" But don't heed their advice to fast for 24 hours every time you lose control. Instead, get a good therapist. Ask Dr. Sorotzkin to recommend one - his email address is posted on his homepage - bensort@aol.com. For good psychological advice, go to a real Jewish website, run by a person who shares her name. A Jewish point of view can be found on Dr. Miriam Adahan's website. Her idea is that building your self respect - by taking care of yourself, being disciplined, and keeping a Growth Notebook with small acts of self-control - will eventually strengthen your spiritual muscles enough to help you fight your personal addictions.
         Don't commit spiritual suicide by hurting yourself. Hashem loves you.


  1. Shame on you for bad mouthing a communiy as a whole

  2. First of all youre wrong. Second of all as a bochur with a satmar name you shouldnt be in this business. Leave it to the so called professionals. Wait till you get married if you must join. In the meantime forget your shovavim toiros, they make you worse.

  3. Good I see its not moderated. So I can be more explicit. Seeing you are not married, and have no were to put your 'seed', the more you read about these things they more they affect you. And by effect I mean for the worse. I can understand you as a bochur trying to find out all you can about the 'forbidden fruit', looking at all the Jewish blogs who dont stop talking about it. But these are all written by apikorsim of the worst kind. Most have learnt a bit of gemoro and are much more knowledgable in it than any of your satmar crowd who have hardly looked at it. Most have done the daf yomi and some still do. But they have their minds full of not just zionist shittos which today are all forgotten about except by your satmar but are trying to disregard any mitsva they can.

  4. They all know what nidda is about much better than you ever will, or for that matter any satmarer. But dont keep a thing. They know that they are doing wrong, and try to prove all the time that you satmar lot are worse. As if two wrongs make a right. Of course there is bad in satmar much worse than you will ever know since you are still a bochur and you dont get to know these things. But these bloggers are worse in them and the only thing they can pin on satmar is child molestation in the mikva which they have never seen the inside of. And of course the cheder rebbes who still hit children with a barbaric attitude since they are unable otherwise to keep control. I would advise you to leave yeshivo forthwith and get a job. You shouldnt be learning at all, perhaps a bit at night. With your head full of this, no i wont call it shtusim but still its not conductive to learning. Do yourself a favor get a job make some money, get married and if you still then havent grown out of it then carry on.

  5. I must say the correct way is to punish yourself for any aveiro you might be doing. It could be getting up late or anything else not just MZl. It neednt be a massive punishment, and even if you will transgress it a few times and 'take' your punishment in the long run it will help. No one is perfect no one is an angel. Everyone needs something to keep him in line, and punishing oneself is really the best way.

  6. To "The Real Nuchem:"

    First off, my intention is not to shame the community. It is rather to show abused people that I, among others, am aware of the intimidation they go through in our precious community. (I assume you were referring to my other posts, since I did not shame our community in this post.)

    I glanced at your blog, and I see that you don't say anything of substance except that you think Rabbi Rosenberg is lying. Since much of what he said has been substantiated in courts of law, I believe Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg. Moreover, he is one of my role models. There are very few in our community who can serve as a role model for a "real ehrliche yid" who does everything leshem shomayim regardless of the hatred of people. As the Mechaber says at the beginning of Shulchan Aruch: "Al Yisbayesh Mipnei Hamaligim." Don't be ashamed in front of scoffers.

    You might want to take a page out of "the real Nuchem's" book, and sign your name on your blog. Rabbi Nuchem signs his name. Why don't you? Are you scared? Rabbi Nuchem isn't. That's because he knows Hashem protects those who serve him in truth.

  7. To Anonymous:

    I will answer you point by point.

    1. "Punishing is really the best way to keep yourself in line." Since you don't quote any experts, I will assume you base this opinion on personal experience. But in my experience, punishment may keep you in line for a bit, but eventually the problem comes back much stronger. It doesn't address the real reason for the problem, which Dr. Sorotzkin addresses. I'll bet you didn't read his article. Read it, and tell me what you think.

    2. "Wait till you get married to join the fight against abuse." When I get married, I won't have as much time to write. I enjoy blogging for a good cause, and it's a great way for me to avoid the real aveiros that you are so concerned about. Be happy I'm typing, not clicking around all the available immoral websites(the way many bochurim AND YUNGERLEIT are doing). By the way, did Moshe Rabbeinu wait till he got married to fight for his people? No, he only got married because he was forced to escape for his life.

    3. "Bloggers want to badmouth Satmar." I don't care what their intention is, as long as the evil people (read: molesters) are exposed so they can be stopped.

    4. "Cheder rebbes still hit children with a barbaric attitude since they are unable otherwise to keep control." Sorry, but it's better to lose your job than to sin. That's what the torah says. So to these rebbes I say, "leave your job rather than hit a Jewish child."

    Will hopefully return with more after Shabbos.


  8. 5. "Get a job and make some money. You shouldn't be learning..." I suspect there can only be one reason why you would tell a bachur to be mevatel torah, and it is this: You are afraid that, since I strongly support exposing crime in our community, if I know how to learn I will be able to convince people to follow me. And you are right to be afraid. The Gedolim of the upcoming generation are going to be today's dudes with Androids in their pockets, who know exactly what's going on in the community. I predict that we will have many more Rabbi Rosenbergs very soon. People like you, who will go to any lengths to cover up crime (even at the expense of innocent children), should be shaking in their pants.