Just a little bit more, then I quit forever!
Time and again, I have tried to stop watching pornography on the Internet, but a day later, and sometimes after just a few hours, I’m back at the keyboard, unable to withstand the urge, as if compelled by some kind of magnet whose strength is far greater than mine. Can you tell me what’s at the root of this, and what I can do to stop?
The very strong pull to gaze at forbidden images on the Internet is rooted in the “yetzer hara,” the evil inclination inside every person. This powerful and unholy force has been around since the beginning of time. The Sages of the Talmud teach that “the eyes see, the heart desires, and the body carries out the sin.”
Represented by the snake in the Garden of Eden, the yetzer hara strives with all its might and cunning to draw man away from G-d, as in the story of Adam and Eve, who “saw” that the fruit was pleasing to the eyes and tasted it against the will of G-d.
This force gains added strength when a person feels depressed or lacking, leading him or her to fill their emptiness with the deceiving temptations of evil. But the seeming satisfactions of evil are passing, leaving a person to seek more and more illicit pleasure to fill up his or her void.
What happens on a spiritual level is that when a person sins by watching forbidden images and filling his mind with unholy thoughts, the “Shechinah,” or protective Divine Presence, flees from him, and he draws a “ruach ra’ah,” an evil spirit upon himself in its place. At first this unholy spirit is like a visitor, but with every new session at the computer, watching pornography and the like, this evil spirit becomes a permanent guest, until it takes over the person completely.
With each transgression, another impure layer of this evil spirit surrounds him, until he is encased by an unholy spirit that takes over his life completely, ruling over him, instead of him ruling over it. This is what causes a person to feel “possessed” or driven by an urge he feels that he cannot control.
On the spiritual battlefield, breaking the addiction to Internet pornography means overcoming this yetzer hara and shattering the ruach ra’ah, which accompanies the person like an invisible straitjacket wherever he goes.
Possessed by his Yetzer
As long as the ruach ra’ah has the addict imprisoned in its deathlike grip, he doesn’t have the wherewithal to overcome the yetzer hara. First, the ruach ra’ah must be weakened and forced to retreat. This can be achieved through the Twelve Torah Steps, outlined in the “Pornoholics Anonymous” section of his website. Here, we will mention a few of the basic weapons needed in the battle.
When a person immerses himself in a mikvah, he drowns a layer of the ruach ra’ah that has enveloped him. He is spiritually cleansed, but only for a short period of time. Since a person draws layers and layers of impurity upon himself with each transgression, it isn’t enough to immerse in a mikvah only one time. Multiple immersions are needed, on a daily basis if possible, to weaken the grip of the ruach ra’ah.
You are what you think
To the extent that a person has polluted his brain and soul with unholy images and thoughts, he must replace the damage he has caused his spiritual world through an increased immersion in Torah study which is a powerful, healing medicine.
Concurrently, it is good to recite, also on a daily basis, special prayers called “Tikunim,” which have been formulated by masters of the Kabbalah to obliterate the forces of impurity that a person has drawn upon himself by looking at erotic images, or having engaged in sexual fantasies and sexual sins.
There are many other important strategies in the battle against the yetzer hara, which can be found in the online version of the book, “Secret of the Brit,” in the section on “Rectifying the Brit.” In addition to an anti-porn filter, which you can download and then throw away the code, so you won’t be tempted to override it, these weapons include added good deeds, reciting the Bedtime Shema with great concentration, Tikun Hatzot, and the outpouring of heartfelt prayer before G-d, all explained elsewhere on this site. Without G-d’s assistance, we would not be able to win the battle against this tenacious enemy.
To illustrate, here is a prayer based on an excerpt from the writings of Rabbi Natan, the foremost student of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, from the book, “Likutei Tefillot:”
“May it be Your will, my G-d and G-d of my fathers, that I merit in Your great mercy and kindness to cleanse my mind of foreign thoughts and false wisdoms, that I not pollute and derange my mind with lusts and sexual fantasies, G-d forbid. And that I not infest my brain with lusts and evil fantasies, and that I not have any unholy thoughts at all. Rather let my thoughts be clean, refined, and pure, without doing anything to cause unholy thoughts to lodge there in the holy chamber of my brain, which is like the Holy of Holies. Give me the strength to overcome all evil thoughts and fantasies that come to confuse my mind, especially the evil thoughts that I have brought upon myself by not guarding my sight, and by looking at illicit images.
“Let me not give room at all in my mind to such polluted thoughts and deeds, which distance me from You with a horrible distance. Have mercy upon me, my G-d, for I know the terrible damage these evil thoughts cause in all of the upper spiritual worlds which are always connected to my mind through the awesome interconnectedness of Your creation, and which sever me from Your holiness, and from the holiness of Israel, the source of my life. You alone know the great and terrible lust which overcomes me, confusing my mind again and again, polluting my very being until my mind is completely filled with evil fantasies. And not only have I not overcome these evil inclinations, but I myself brought them upon myself through my wanton doings, when I knew that this unholy behavior wasn’t Your will for Your holy Jewish People. Woe is me for the days that I have wasted in sin.”
“Therefore, my G-d, and G-d of my fathers, I come before you with a broken and sorrowful heart, humbling myself before Your Kingship, appealing to Your mercy like a poor man at the gates, that You forgive me in Your abundant kindness, though I be undeserving, and that You bring me from darkness to light, and that you help me from this day forth to sanctify my thoughts. May I be successful in banishing these polluted thoughts from my mind, and avoiding like fire anything that awakens evil fantasies and lust in my heart and my brain. Give me the strength to overcome my evil inclinations, and may my thoughts be always holy and sanctified in Your service. Amen.”
(“Likutei Tefillot,” 1:4)
May Hashem grant you strength and steadfast persistence in the ever-raging battle.