I wish I could tell you I was always a nice Jewish boy. Regretfully, if I did, it wouldn’t be the first lie I ever told. I did aspire to have a nice Jewish wife and raise a good Jewish family. However, I wasn’t doing a good job of making it happen. I couldn’t break my addiction to, well, the baser pleasures in life. If I saw an attractive woman walking by, I would check her out. If I went into a bar and saw a chance to approach a woman and “get lucky”, I would go for it. I was completely ignorant of the spiritual devastation I was bringing on to the world, the Jewish People, and myself. I was so obsessed with physical satisfaction, I didn’t care. Picking up women was my top priority. I wish I could say that this was a stupid phase in my life I went through before I became observant, but it wasn’t.
I did all these things while trying to be a repentant Jew. This made everything all the worse. Shachrit (morning prayers) on Sunday’s wasn’t an act of increasing my connection to HaKadosh Baruch Hu, it was a weekly ritual of begging for forgiveness for the previous nights transgressions. My actions online weren’t any better. As much as I wanted to utilize sites like jdate to find my wife, I got bored. It became venue for sport dating. I went out with someone only long enough to stroke my ego and to have a good time. I had no idea who I was hurting, and how deeply I was transgressing against Hashem’s Will. In my mind, I was having a good time. It never occurred to me that the girl would spend time and effort investing herself in a date. It never occurred to me that I was hurting another human being. It never occurred to me that my actions, which were evil in that I was actively hurting another human being, had serious consequences.
All through this period my life was going nowhere. I never seemed to have any success in my career, and I wasn’t getting married, I was just getting older. I never tried to ask myself what I was doing, or wasn’t doing that kept me from moving forward in the most important areas of my life. I just got upset and frustrated. Everybody else was to blame. It was because the greedy bankers I worked for on Wall Street wouldn’t give me a chance. It was the non-observant Jews there who were afraid to work with someone who was Shomer Shabbat. If that didn’t answer the question as to why my world was at a standstill, I looked at the bigger picture: it was the left-wing Israeli government.
It never occurred to me that the root cause of my failures or ‘non-success’ in life were directly related to the horrendous sins I was committing and the punishment I was bringing on to myself. This went on for years. I would go out on date after date, totally oblivious to anyone’s needs other than my own, without any awareness of who I was hurting. At the same time, friends got married, relatives received promotions. All I could talk about was what I did at the bar the previous night.
I begged Hashem for help. I was so obsessed with what I was doing, even when I knew I had to change my life, I was too addicted to what I wanted to overcome my desires.
Then, for a guy like me, addicted to the three-week relationship, Hashem gave me the biggest challenge of my life…
The ideal woman.
From the moment I met Shula, I knew she was the one. We met on jdate and I just knew. Hashem, in His overflowing Compassion, blessed me with someone that was more perfect for me than I could possibly imagine. It was a true miracle. Despite my many unforgivable sins against G-d, Hashem showed His infinite Compassion and had pity on me. The night, after our first date, I turned off my jdate account. Baruch Hashem, Shula felt the same way about me. We started dating and I was never happier.
I knew this was the real thing because for the first time in a jdate relationship, I was on my best behavior and didn’t try to ‘win.’
Our dates were amazing. We spoke for hours. Our connection was purely emotional and with every date, it grew deeper and deeper. I never felt this close to another human being in my life. It was the greatest feeling. After three weeks, I was thinking about how soon I could ask Shula to marry me.
Then something terrible happened.
That all too familiar voice inside me said something I had heard for years.
“Okay, she likes you, you’ve won. Now you can move on to the next woman and win her.”
It was devastating.
I had gotten so used to three-week relationships, a commitment to one person seemed almost impossible. For the first time in my life, I didn’t want to listen to that voice.
A colossal battle began inside me.
I grew more and more in love with Shula every day. The thought of spending one day without her was horrifying, let alone anything else. Yet, the other side wanted to continue with the single lifestyle I was living. One side saw how great my life would be once I made a commitment to my soul mate and rechanneled all of that sexual energy to more productive purposes. The other side could only dream about the scores of women that I would never, ever be able to conquer. Just two months ago, I was a complete slave to my urges – now I would have to stand up to them – forever!
I became very frightened.
I began to ask myself, if I am thinking these gruesome thoughts today, while I am so in love, how am I going to be faithful forever? What’s going to happen if, G-d Willing, we get married, and ten years from now, my fire still burns for her, but, G-d forbid, not the way it did when everything was new? Could I ever survive a relationship longer than six months, let alone forever?
I felt helpless.
How can I overcome my Yetzer? I turned it into a giant. It was one thing to stand on its shoulders. But now, I had to turn around, stand on my own two feet, and meet it eye to eye. I couldn’t afford to fail, not even once! Everything was at stake – but it all seemed so impossible.
How could I do this to Hashem! I prayed to G-d for a woman who was a 10, and He blessed me with someone who is a 100. Shula is the greatest girl I will ever meet. If I mess this up, I will turn old and gray without ever getting married. I will have known that G-d gave me a chance, and I blew it. Either in this world, or the next one, I will have to look G-d eye to eye and knowingly bear the guilt of my actions.
Again, I begged Hashem for help.
It’s impressive how desperation brings out the best Kavanah in all Tefilla. I prayed with all my heart to G-d for help. I was lost. I was scared for the future.
Then, Hashem saved me.
It was the morning before Rosh Hashanah, the holiday of judgment and repentance. I was surfing the net and browsing the articles on Israel National News when I saw something about religion and pornography. My head was filled with nothing but these two subjects, so it seemed like an interesting piece to read.
It started out innocent enough: “Internet pornography is raping the minds and souls of the Jewish people. Internet pornography generates more money each year than ABC, CBS, and NBC combined. Internet pornography has gotten so bad, this disease has infected households of all walks of Jewish life.”
Interested, I read on.
The article talked about the sins internet porn was bringing us to commit and the spiritual impact of those sins.
“Internet causes people to have sexual fantasies. This is called niuf, and it is compared to adultery. Committing this sin is tantamount to transgressing one of the Ten Commandments of the Bible. Internet causes people to stare at women all the time.”
I read on.
“Internet brings men to have what is commonly known as ‘wet dreams’. These are dreams where men will emit semen during their sleep. Internet also brings men to what the Torah refers to as, the wasting of seed. The wasting of seed is seen as literally taking Hashem’s name in vain. It is a sin so serious that the Torah goes on to say that there can be no tshuva for it. The destruction of the First Temple, to date, the greatest period in Jewish history, was because of this sin. Of all the evil deeds the people of Noah’s generation did, one the sins that resulted in Hashem’s decision to wipe out all mankind was the sin of spilling seed. The Shulchan Aruch, the Code of Jewish Law, refers to the wasting of seed as the worst sin there is.”
As I read this, my face turned white. I never realized how destructive my actions were. The article continued.
“As dangerous it is to commit the vile transgression of spilling seed, all is not lost. By following the laws of Shmirat HaBrit, we can do tshuva for sins of this nature. We can also perform a tikkun, or repair, on our soul, and revitalize ourselves with renewed energy to serve Hashem with great vigor each day.”
The article turned out to be a gateway to heaven.
I began to learn about the laws of Jewish Sexual Morality. I didn’t make any commitments – I simply started learning. This mitzvah is so powerful, just in learning these laws, I felt energized in a way I had never experienced. I didn’t become a monk, or a celibate, or any of that.
I learned that sex is a good thing and encouraged by the Torah, as long as it is done with ones wife, and during the times that are permissible – which is most of the time! I learned that with each small step one does to correct his soul for the damage he did over a lifetime of misdeeds, he gets instantly rewarded. Every small step I took resulted in a surge of spirituality.
The mitzvah of Shmirat HaBrit enabled me to get married with the confidence that I would be a faithful and loving husband. It gave me the opportunity to re-focus and channel my excess sexual energy towards higher pursuits. It energized me with strength and abilities far beyond anything I knew was possible. It brought me closer to Hashem on a level greater than I ever imagined.
A miracle happened that day. No less miraculous than the victory in ’67 was my first victory over the Yetzer Hara. It was a complete knockout. I got married to my soul mate, and my jdate account is still canceled! Sure, the Yetzer is still strong and attacks constantly. At least today, while the battle against my urges is still difficult, is no longer impossible.
It is this mitzvah that I believe, is the greatest challenge for our generation. It is the performance of this mitzvah that I believe, will not only bring great joy and strength to Am Yisrael, but will bring great joy to Our King, and will merit His Protection for all of us in the upcoming conflicts with the nations of Edom and Ishmael. Like Gideon, who fought the children of Edom and Ishmael, and won despite the 1-in-a-billion odds, we can fight the same battles, and Hashem Willing, strive to merit the same miracles.
With this in mind, let’s talk about fighting the Great Jewish War of our times. Even better – let’s talk about winning it!