The time from Pesach to the holiday of Shavuot is a time of personal introspection, a time of rectifying faulty character traits, and cleansing ourselves of unholy factors which interfere with our receiving the Torah.
During these weeks, we read from the Book of Vayikra which details how the Jewish People are to live in a holy fashion, eat in a holy fashion, conduct their sexual lives in a holy fashion, and dwell in a unique Holy Land. We are a unique holy people. Our holiness is what distinguishes us from the nations. While holiness is intrinsic to our holy Jewish souls, it is something that we have to work at in each facet of our lives, in order to give it expression, in line with the Torah’s commands.
As we have written on numerous occasions, we are also supposed to surf the Internet in a holy fashion. While the Internet has become a part of modern life, without an effective anti-porn filter, it can be devastatingly destructive to our holy Jewish souls. Here is an example of a letter I recently received from a youth hooked on Internet porn:
“Before i ask my question i must relate to you the gravity of my sins and i am truly sorry to burden you with them. i have been addicted to porn and masturbation ever since i was 12. i am 21 now. every day is a struggle. i live in the prison of my sins. on 3 separate occasions i went about 2 weeks without sinning and then fell to ever lower depths. my mind is a library of erotic images and motion pictures, humans treating themselves and others like objects of no consequence. my body has taken a toll. i am lower than the lowliest animal. even in the magnitude of my sins i am fighting for survival.
“the one time i felt Hashem opened my eyes and showed me first hand the magnitude of my sins and i couldnt even ask for help to escape them. i was the slave who wished to remain. for years i have felt pulled in every direction finding no peace. now i finally return to the words of the wise and holy sages.
“i would like to marry. i thought if i prayed to HaShem i could find respite from this terrible illness, in the confines of a holy union, but i fear i am not fit to marry a bas yisroel. what do i have to offer? am i permitted to seek a bas yisroel? or this like a peasant boy lusting after the princess?
“will i ever be fit to join in a union of holy kedusha? when can i trust that i am even capable of such a thing? must i master teshuvah first, instead of relying on marriage to save me? how long if ever must go by of me wandering alone before i can trust that i am ready for marriage? i yearn for a new lease of life with someone by my side but i dont know if i’m even capable of being side by side with anyone considering the magnitude of my sins. am i permitted to interject myself into someone else's life considering the state of my own? should i marry at the first opportunity and accept my lot?
“should i quit everything i am doing and take refuge the beis medrish and holy books or is this merely an attempt to escape my prison?
“what sort of tikkun and learning regiment must i undertake? I apologize. now I am ready to do anything that must be done. is there a tikkun for my sins?”
Hopefully, with G-d’s help, and the wise counsel of our Rabbis, my correspondence with this tortured youth will lead him toward a healthy and holy future. Don’t think that he’s a rare case. Internet transgression and sexual laxity are epidemics, endangering millions. Our Sages have warned us that no one is free from the temptations of sexual sin. As we approach Shavuot and the giving of the Torah, I recommend that everyone spend a little time reading the plethora of articles, and questions and answers, on www.jewishsexuality.com. Subjects range from pornography addiction, overcoming masturbation, the importance of mikvah, the problem with tight-fitting garments, the holiness of the marital union, homosexuality, and everything else you always wanted to know about Jewish sexuality but were too embarrassed to ask.
Remember – you’re holy! But you have to work on it, as the Torah commands. “Be holy! For I the L-rd your G-d am holy.”