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Judaism has been teaching 12 steps for 3,000 years.

March 9, 2018

 

Interestingly, the Twelve Steps is built on a paradigm of self growth that Judaism has been teaching for 3000 years.

 

The first thing that sticks out upon delving into the Twelve Steps is that the addictive behavior is mentioned only once ― in Step One: "We admitted we were powerless over fill in the blank― that our lives had become unmanageable." No where else do the steps directly speak about the compulsive habit, for the founders of AA understood addiction to be a three-fold disease:

  • Physical: intense cravings.

  • Emotional: using the behavior as a medication and distraction for dealing with challenging issues in life.

  • Spiritual/intellectual: Not accessing God to help arrest the behavior; stubbornly thinking I can do it on my own.

Therefore, the solution needs to include these three aspects of recovery:

  • Physical: a complete cessation from the action.

  • Emotional: developing healthy coping skills to address difficult situations.

  • Spiritual/intellectual: Humbly understanding that I am powerless over this behavior and asking God to do for me what I can not do for myself.

The sages have taught that this prototype is the foundation for both individual and global existence.

 

"Shimon the Righteous says: the world stands on three things - on Torah (spiritual/intellectual), on service (physical) and on kind deeds (emotional)." Ethics of our Fathers, 1:2. The process of teshuva (self-growth and repentance) is rooted in these three pillars of our being.

  • Intellect can be directed either toward arrogance, or humility (and connection with the Creator).

  • Emotions can serve jealousy and selfishness, or loving-kindness and caring for others.

  • Physical instincts can be let loose toward lust and self indulgence, or restrained and channeled for a higher purpose.

"Rabbi Elazar HaKapper says: jealousy, lust and arrogance remove a person from the world," Ethics of our Fathers, 4:28.

Judaism teaches us that a person has three ongoing relationships at which he must excel: 1. with himself; 2. with others; 3. with God.

 

A relationship with self means an honest assessment of my character strengths and defects, awareness of my purpose for living, and taking responsibility for my actions. A relationship with others translates into fulfilling my unique role in this world, how I can benefit others, and being aware of the impact I have on those with whom I have contact.

 

A relationship with God connects me to the Infinite Power in this world, tapping into ultimate pleasure and allowing me to humbly see my place in the grand scheme of creation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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