Your son does it.
Yes, your little angel. He does it. And he does the other thing as well.
(Don’t ask him, that will just make him a liar.)
It shouldn’t really be a surprise. In seforim it is referred to as “the known sin”.
The “other thing” has only been made possible in the last few years with the availability of the internet, but it basically falls into the same category.
It’s not that he’s a bad kid. He truly might be the angel you say he is. But he was born with an addiction crouching at the door of physical maturity, when he’s little more than a child.
He didn’t know what it was. And I’d venture to say it won’t find expression until it is given a form or a name.
But a form and a name it will get, whether from a classmate, the TV shows you don’t (or perhaps do) know he’s watching at Grandma’s, or that innocent looking novel he’s reading right under your very nose.
And it will torment him for the next decade.
He’ll feel disgusted with himself, he’ll feel like a freak, he’ll feel like an animal.
He’ll scream silently at his reflection in the bathroom mirror, outraged at his own existence.
He had sworn he wouldn’t go so far.
He had sworn last time would be the last.
Why did his body ignore the voice inside his own head, pleading for him to stop?
He stares at his hands, feeling weak, defeated.
“Am I not in control of myself?”
What happened to the pure child he once was?
And so the scene repeats itself, just a few short days later.
He might hold off for a week or two, or perhaps even a month, or maybe more.
But it seems inevitably our prince will fall again to this seducer within him.
– – – – –
What can be done?
One problem is actually quite simple to fix.
Block his access to the substance of his addiction.
He’ll be grateful. He wants to be helped, but he’s too ashamed to ask.
But the answer isn’t, as many have recommended, dumber devices.
It’s smarter devices.
He still wants to be connected, to have access to social, communication, shopping, travel and information apps. So giving him nothing will likely just lead to him securing access to these services via illicit, unrestricted avenues.
He needs a device that will let him do what he wants, and not what he doesn’t want.
It doesn’t have to be done by force or trickery. Like I said, he wants to be helped.
And it’s really simple to do.
Click on the name of each device for instructions on how to protect the user.
– – – – –
But what about the other issue?
The one which doesn’t take two to tango?
That’s far more difficult to solve.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe’s advice seems to simply be, don’t think about it. Keep busy. What happened happened, and hopefully the future will be better.
As the Kotzker Rebbe put it, “I don’t demand of my chassidim to not sin, I demand they not have time to sin”.
To be perfectly honest, that’s not particularly encouraging.
Neither is the advice given in chassidus to learn Torah so deeply that it is equally pleasurable.
It’s just not going to happen.
Tips for improved self control include plenty of sleep, exercise, and a healthy diet.
In yeshiva? Good luck with that.
Perhaps we do need a monumental re-emphasis on physical well being in yeshiva. (More accurately, we probably do, but again, good luck with that.)
Or perhaps we need to tackle this pre-emptively.
It’s taught that it’s far easier to refrain from doing something you’ve never done, than to stop once you have experienced it.
Perhaps we need to raise our boys with an awareness of the sanctity of the mark upon their flesh.
With the understanding that some things, like the parchment of a Sefer Torah, are too holy to be touched.
With a knowledge of the deeper meaning of the words “ושמרתם את בריתי” – And you shall guard My Covenant – Bris.
With an appreciation of the gravity of the act about which it is said the entire Iggeres HaTeshuvah in Tanya was written to combat, it being the final hurdle before the coming of Moshiach.
Perhaps this way we can prevent our boys from stumbling into this pit of sweet tasting poison.
Perhaps this way we can save our sons.