Internet Pornography – Public Enemy #1
In the beginning of the week, an Israeli teenager phoned me, wanting to talk about his addiction to Internet porn. He said that he’s been in turmoil for almost two years, feeling terribly guilty and depressed, with no one to talk to because of his feelings of transgression and shame. He turned to me because he saw a banner ad for the Hebrew version my booklet, “The Mouse Made Me Do It!” and followed it to the link on our jewishsexuality.com website, where it is posted for free downloading.
In the course of our conversation, he revealed that there was no anti-porn filter on his home computer, and that he couldn’t ask his father to have one installed because he discovered (by surreptitiously checking out the history of his dad’s laptop) that his father is hooked too.
The next day, I got an unhappy email from a divorced fellow who now lives alone, and who is also a victim of Internet temptations. He also came across our website and identified himself in the section called “Pornoholics Anonymous.” He related that simple curiosity led him into a two-hour per day habit, caused him to find his wife no longer attractive, and eventually led to their divorce and the break-up of the family.
These are just two examples. As we have written in the past, the problem is not just a breakdown in morality. Watching pornography is a serious Torah transgression of, “You shall not turn after your heart and your eyes which lead you astray.” In and of itself (without mentioning the serious transgression of spilling semen in vain which very often accompanies non-kosher surfing) viewing immodest websites cuts a person off from G-d and from Torah, making prayer and Torah learning empty and void of all meaning. Young people afflicted with the problem (plague is a better word) describe their becoming withdrawn and social recluses. Whether a person clicks on hardcore pornography or the “normal” socially-accepted bikini-clad celebs that are all over the web, the result is the same. Because our eyes are directly connected to our brains and our souls, with every immodest click, a person damages the highest levels of his, or her, spiritual framework.
Without delving into the Kabbalistic understandings of this week’s Torah portion, “the brit and the chesed” mentioned in the first verse (Devarim, 7:12) refers to these matters. All of the subsequent blessings of fertility, abundant livelihood, and good health depend on the purity of our sexual lives. The Rambam, who was a brilliant physician as well as a giant in Torah, testifies that major cause of bad health and disease stems from the squandering of our holy sexual energies (Hilchot Daot, 4:19).
Today, the Torah’s warning, “You shall not bring an abomination into your house” (Devarim, 7:28) might just as well be talking about a computer that doesn’t have a reliable anti-porn filter. That’s step number one in overcoming the problem. Get the smut out of your home. And make sure that someone else keeps the code – not you! In Israel, the Rimon filter is very good, and the excellent K9 filter can be downloaded free from anywhere. Once you have a filter installed, learning about the serious of the transgression and how to overcome it is the next step. Our Jewishsexuality.com website is filled with articles on the subject, and that’s why we wrote the book and the booklets, “The Mouse Made Me Do It!” which is a warehouse of Torah information and counseling on the subject.
Once again, anyone who can donate toward the printing and distribution of the Hebrew-version booklets to high-school students, youth movements, and soldiers in Israel, will be doing a great and life-saving mitzvah. In addition, as our Sages have taught, giving charity and helping others escape the pitfalls of sexual transgression are powerful atonements for our own sexual sins.
Donations can be made out to the “Brit Book” and sent to: Brit Book, 19 Shoshana Street, Jerusalem, Israel 96149. For those seeking US tax-exempt status , donations should be made out to the “Central Fund For Israel” and earmarked for the “Brit Book,” and mailed to the same address.