Geoffrey Stern

The Biblical Nazarite – lessons in addiction, sobriety and joyful living

The Biblical Nazarite – lessons in addiction, sobriety and joyful living

Join Geoffrey Stern, Rabbi Adam Mintz and Rabbi Hirsh Chinn on Clubhouse Friday May 21st at 4:00pm (ET). The Torah is ambivalent with regard to the sobriety of the Nazarine. Is the Nazir a holy man striving for greater spirituality or an addict seeking rehab for a moral shortcoming… or both? Rabbi Hirsh Chinn was Geoffrey’s roommate at Yeshivah Torah Vodaath. He was a student of the recently deceased Rabbi and Dr. Abraham J Twersky, who according to his obit in the New York Times was “the descendant of several Hasidic dynasties. Yet he was also a psychiatrist and a respected authority on addiction who was drawn to the 12-step approach central to Alcoholics Anonymous, a program whose origins are Christian….. (see more here). Rabbi Hirsh actually edited a Hagadah written by Dr. Twerski which is based on the premise that “The original passage from bondage to freedom, Exodus, is equated to a person with a substance abuse problem and their passage to freedom through recovery. (see here) ---------------- sefaria Source sheet here. The Biblical Nazarite - lessons in addiction, sobriety and joyful  living 1.   במדבר ו׳:א׳-י״א (א) וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר ה' אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃ (ב) דַּבֵּר֙ אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְאָמַרְתָּ֖ אֲלֵהֶ֑ם אִ֣ישׁ אֽוֹ־אִשָּׁ֗ה כִּ֤י יַפְלִא֙ לִנְדֹּר֙ נֶ֣דֶר נָזִ֔יר לְהַזִּ֖יר לַֽה'׃ (ג) מִיַּ֤יִן וְשֵׁכָר֙ יַזִּ֔יר חֹ֥מֶץ יַ֛יִן וְחֹ֥מֶץ שֵׁכָ֖ר לֹ֣א יִשְׁתֶּ֑ה וְכׇל־מִשְׁרַ֤ת עֲנָבִים֙ לֹ֣א יִשְׁתֶּ֔ה וַעֲנָבִ֛ים לַחִ֥ים וִיבֵשִׁ֖ים לֹ֥א יֹאכֵֽל׃ (ד) כֹּ֖ל יְמֵ֣י נִזְר֑וֹ מִכֹּל֩ אֲשֶׁ֨ר יֵעָשֶׂ֜ה מִגֶּ֣פֶן הַיַּ֗יִן מֵחַרְצַנִּ֛ים וְעַד־זָ֖ג לֹ֥א יֹאכֵֽל׃ (ה) כׇּל־יְמֵי֙ נֶ֣דֶר נִזְר֔וֹ תַּ֖עַר לֹא־יַעֲבֹ֣ר עַל־רֹאשׁ֑וֹ עַד־מְלֹ֨את הַיָּמִ֜ם אֲשֶׁר־יַזִּ֤יר לַה' קָדֹ֣שׁ יִהְיֶ֔ה גַּדֵּ֥ל פֶּ֖רַע שְׂעַ֥ר רֹאשֽׁוֹ׃ (ו) כׇּל־יְמֵ֥י הַזִּיר֖וֹ לַה' עַל־נֶ֥פֶשׁ מֵ֖ת לֹ֥א יָבֹֽא׃ (ז) לְאָבִ֣יו וּלְאִמּ֗וֹ לְאָחִיו֙ וּלְאַ֣חֹת֔וֹ לֹא־יִטַּמָּ֥א לָהֶ֖ם בְּמֹתָ֑ם כִּ֛י נֵ֥זֶר אֱלֹקָ֖יו עַל־רֹאשֽׁוֹ׃ (ח) כֹּ֖ל יְמֵ֣י נִזְר֑וֹ קָדֹ֥שׁ ה֖וּא לַֽה'׃ (ט) וְכִֽי־יָמ֨וּת מֵ֤ת עָלָיו֙ בְּפֶ֣תַע פִּתְאֹ֔ם וְטִמֵּ֖א רֹ֣אשׁ נִזְר֑וֹ וְגִלַּ֤ח רֹאשׁוֹ֙ בְּי֣וֹם טׇהֳרָת֔וֹ בַּיּ֥וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֖י יְגַלְּחֶֽנּוּ׃ (י) וּבַיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁמִינִ֗י יָבִא֙ שְׁתֵּ֣י תֹרִ֔ים א֥וֹ שְׁנֵ֖י בְּנֵ֣י יוֹנָ֑ה אֶ֨ל־הַכֹּהֵ֔ן אֶל־פֶּ֖תַח אֹ֥הֶל מוֹעֵֽד׃ (יא) וְעָשָׂ֣ה הַכֹּהֵ֗ן אֶחָ֤ד לְחַטָּאת֙ וְאֶחָ֣ד לְעֹלָ֔ה וְכִפֶּ֣ר עָלָ֔יו מֵאֲשֶׁ֥ר חָטָ֖א עַל־הַנָּ֑פֶשׁ וְקִדַּ֥שׁ אֶת־רֹאשׁ֖וֹ בַּיּ֥וֹם הַהֽוּא׃   Numbers 6:1-11 (1) The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: (2) Speak to the Israelites and say to them: If anyone, man or woman, explicitly utters a nazirite’s vow, to set himself apart for the LORD, (3) he shall abstain from wine and any other intoxicant; he shall not drink vinegar of wine or of any other intoxicant, neither shall he drink anything in which grapes have been steeped, nor eat grapes fresh or dried. (4) Throughout his term as nazirite, he may not eat anything that is obtained from the grapevine, even seeds or skin. (5) Throughout the term of his vow as nazirite, no razor shall touch his head; it shall remain consecrated until the completion of his term as nazirite of the LORD, the hair of his head being left to grow untrimmed. (6) Throughout the term that he has set apart for the LORD, he shall not go in where there is a dead person. (7) Even if his father or mother, or his brother or sister should die, he must not defile himself for them, since hair set apart for his God is upon his head: (8) throughout his term as nazirite he is consecrated to the LORD. (9) If a person dies suddenly near him, defiling his consecrated hair, he shall shave his head on the day he becomes clean; he shall shave it on the seventh day. (10) On the eighth day he shall bring two turtledoves or two pigeons to the priest, at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. (11) The priest shall offer one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering, and make expiation on his behalf for the guilt that he incurred through the corpse. That same day he shall reconsecrate his head       ב. 2.   רש"י על במדבר ו׳:י״א:א׳ מאשר חטא על הנפש. שֶׁלֹּא נִזְהַר מִטֻּמְאַת הַמֵּת, רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר הַקַּפָּר אוֹמֵר, שֶׁצִּעֵר עַצְמוֹ מִן הַיַּיִן (ספרי; נזיר י"ט):   Rashi on Numbers 6:11:1 מאשר חטא על הנפש [AND THE PRIEST … MAKE EXPIATION FOR HIM] FOR THAT HE HATH SINNED BY THE DEAD — i.e., that he has not been on his guard against defilement by a corpse. — R. Eleazer ha-Kappar said, “his sin consists in that he has afflicted himself by abstaining from the enjoyment of wine (Sifrei Bamidbar 30; Nazir 19a).       ג. 3.   ספרי במדבר ל׳:א׳ וכפר עליו מאשר חטא על הנפש (תענית י"א וש"נ) וכי על איזו נפש חטא בה שצריך כפרה, על שציער עצמו מן היין. והלא דברים קל וחומר ומה אם המצער נפשו מן היין צריך כפרה, קל וחומר למצער נפשו (על כל) דבר.   Sifrei Bamidbar 30:1 (Bamidbar 6:11) "and he shall atone for him for having sinned against the soul": Now against which soul did he sin that he needs atonement? (His sin is) that he deprived himself of wine. Now does this not follow a fortiori, viz.: If one who deprives himself of wine needs atonement, how much more so, one who deprives himself of everything (by fasting)!        ד. 4.   נזיר י״ט א דְּתַנְיָא רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר הַקַּפָּר בְּרַבִּי אוֹמֵר מָה תַּלְמוּד לוֹמַר וְכִפֶּר עָלָיו מֵאֲשֶׁר חָטָא עַל הַנָּפֶשׁ וְכִי בְּאֵיזוֹ נֶפֶשׁ חָטָא זֶה אֶלָּא שֶׁצִּיעֵר עַצְמוֹ מִן הַיַּיִן וְקַל וָחוֹמֶר וּמָה זֶה שֶׁלֹּא צִיעֵר עַצְמוֹ אֶלָּא מִן הַיַּיִן נִקְרָא חוֹטֵא הַמְצַעֵר עַצְמוֹ מִכׇּל דָּבָר עַל אַחַת כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה   Nazir 19a As it is taught in a baraita: Rabbi Elazar HaKappar, the esteemed one, says: What is the meaning when the verse states with regard to a nazirite: “And make atonement for him, for he sinned by the soul” (Numbers 6:11)? And with which soul did this person sin by becoming a nazirite? Rather, in afflicting himself by abstaining from wine, he is considered to have sinned with his own soul, and he must bring a sin-offering for the naziriteship itself, for causing his body to suffer. And an a fortiori inference can be learned from this: Just as this person, in afflicting himself by abstaining only from wine, is nevertheless called a sinner, in the case of one who afflicts himself by abstaining from everything, through fasting or other acts of mortification, all the more so is he described as a sinner. According to this opinion, Rabbi Yishmael holds that since the woman afflicted herself by abstaining from wine she must bring a sin-offering, even though, due to her husband’s nullification, she did not actually become a nazirite.       ה. 5.   רמב"ן על במדבר ו׳:י״א:א׳ וטעם החטאת שיקריב הנזיר ביום מלאת ימי נזרו לא נתפרש. ועל דרך הפשט כי האיש הזה חוטא נפשו במלאת הנזירות כי הוא עתה נזור מקדושתו ועבודת השם וראוי היה לו שיזיר לעולם ויעמוד כל ימיו נזיר וקדוש לאלקיו כענין שאמר (עמוס ב יא) ואקים מבניכם לנביאים ומבחוריכם לנזירים. השוה אותו הכתוב לנביא וכדכתיב (במדבר ו׳:ח׳) כל ימי נזרו קדוש הוא לה' והנה הוא צריך כפרה בשובו להטמא בתאוות העולם:   Ramban on Numbers 6:11:1 AND THE PRIEST SHALL PREPARE ONE FOR A SIN-OFFERING. The reason why a Nazirite must bring a sin-offering when the days of his Naziritehood are fulfilled has not been explained. In accordance with the plain meaning of Scripture, [it is because] this man sins against his soul on the day of completion of his Naziritehood; for until now he was separated in sanctity and the service of G-d, and he should therefore have remained separated forever, continuing all his life consecrated and sanctified to his G-d, as it is said, And I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for Nazirites, where Scripture compares the Nazirite to a prophet, and as it is written, All the days of his Naziritehood he is holy unto the Eternal. Thus [when he completes his Naziritehood and returns to his normal life] he requires atonement, since he goes back to be defiled by [material] desires of the world.       ו. 6.   שבת ל״ג ב דְּיָתְבִי רַבִּי יְהוּדָה וְרַבִּי יוֹסֵי וְרַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן, וְיָתֵיב יְהוּדָה בֶּן גֵּרִים גַּבַּיְיהוּ. פָּתַח רַבִּי יְהוּדָה וְאָמַר: כַּמָּה נָאִים מַעֲשֵׂיהֶן שֶׁל אוּמָּה זוֹ: תִּקְּנוּ שְׁווֹקִים, תִּקְּנוּ גְּשָׁרִים, תִּקְנוּ מֶרְחֲצָאוֹת. רַבִּי יוֹסֵי שָׁתַק. נַעֲנָה רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן יוֹחַאי וְאָמַר: כׇּל מַה שֶּׁתִּקְּנוּ, לֹא תִּקְּנוּ אֶלָּא לְצוֹרֶךְ עַצְמָן. תִּקְּנוּ שְׁווֹקִין — לְהוֹשִׁיב בָּהֶן זוֹנוֹת, מֶרְחֲצָאוֹת — לְעַדֵּן בָּהֶן עַצְמָן, גְּשָׁרִים — לִיטּוֹל מֵהֶן מֶכֶס. הָלַךְ יְהוּדָה בֶּן גֵּרִים וְסִיפֵּר דִּבְרֵיהֶם, וְנִשְׁמְעוּ לַמַּלְכוּת. אָמְרוּ: יְהוּדָה שֶׁעִילָּה — יִתְעַלֶּה. יוֹסֵי שֶׁשָּׁתַק — יִגְלֶה לְצִיפּוֹרִי. שִׁמְעוֹן שֶׁגִּינָּה — יֵהָרֵג. אֲזַל הוּא וּבְרֵיהּ, טְשׁוֹ בֵּי מִדְרְשָׁא. כׇּל יוֹמָא הֲוָה מַתְיָא לְהוּ דְּבֵיתְהוּ רִיפְתָּא וְכוּזָא דְמַיָּא וְכָרְכִי. כִּי תְּקֵיף גְּזֵירְתָא אֲמַר לֵיהּ לִבְרֵיהּ: נָשִׁים דַּעְתָּן קַלָּה עֲלֵיהֶן, דִילְמָא מְצַעֲרִי לַהּ וּמְגַלְּיָא לַן. אֲזַלוּ טְשׁוֹ בִּמְעָרְתָּא. אִיתְרְחִישׁ נִיסָּא אִיבְּרִי לְהוּ חָרוּבָא וְעֵינָא דְמַיָּא, וַהֲווֹ מַשְׁלְחִי מָנַיְיהוּ וַהֲווֹ יָתְבִי עַד צַוְּארַיְיהוּ בְּחָלָא. כּוּלֵּי יוֹמָא גָּרְסִי. בְּעִידָּן צַלּוֹיֵי לָבְשִׁי מִיכַּסּוּ וּמְצַלּוּ, וַהֲדַר מַשְׁלְחִי מָנַיְיהוּ כִּי הֵיכִי דְּלָא לִיבְלוּ. אִיתִּיבוּ תְּרֵיסַר שְׁנֵי בִּמְעָרְתָּא. אֲתָא אֵלִיָּהוּ וְקָם אַפִּיתְחָא דִמְעָרְתָּא, אֲמַר: מַאן לוֹדְעֵיהּ לְבַר יוֹחַי דְּמִית קֵיסָר וּבְטִיל גְּזֵירְתֵיהּ. נְפַקוּ, חֲזוֹ אִינָשֵׁי דְּקָא כָּרְבִי וְזָרְעִי, אָמְרִין: מַנִּיחִין חַיֵּי עוֹלָם וְעוֹסְקִין בְּחַיֵּי שָׁעָה. כׇּל מָקוֹם שֶׁנּוֹתְנִין עֵינֵיהֶן מִיָּד נִשְׂרָף. יָצְתָה בַּת קוֹל וְאָמְרָה לָהֶם: לְהַחֲרִיב עוֹלָמִי יְצָאתֶם?! חִיזְרוּ לִמְעָרַתְכֶם! הֲדוּר אֲזוּל אִיתִּיבוּ תְּרֵיסַר יַרְחֵי שַׁתָּא. אָמְרִי: מִשְׁפַּט רְשָׁעִים בְּגֵיהִנָּם שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר חֹדֶשׁ. יָצְתָה בַּת קוֹל וְאָמְרָה: צְאוּ מִמְּעָרַתְכֶם! נְפַקוּ. כָּל הֵיכָא דַּהֲוָה מָחֵי רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר, הֲוָה מַסֵּי רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן. אָמַר לוֹ: בְּנִי, דַּי לָעוֹלָם אֲנִי וְאַתָּה. בַּהֲדֵי פַּנְיָא דְּמַעֲלֵי שַׁבְּתָא חֲזוֹ הָהוּא סָבָא דַּהֲוָה נָקֵיט תְּרֵי מַדָּאנֵי אָסָא וְרָהֵיט בֵּין הַשְּׁמָשׁוֹת. אֲמַרוּ לֵיהּ: הָנֵי לְמָה לָךְ? אֲמַר לְהוּ: לִכְבוֹד שַׁבָּת. וְתִיסְגֵּי לָךְ בְּחַד! — חַד כְּנֶגֶד ״זָכוֹר״ וְחַד כְּנֶגֶד ״שָׁמוֹר״. אֲמַר לֵיהּ לִבְרֵיהּ: חֲזִי כַּמָּה חֲבִיבִין מִצְוֹת עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל. אִיְּתִיבָה דַּעְתַּיְיהוּ. שְׁמַע רַבִּי פִּנְחָס בֶּן יָאִיר חַתְנֵיהּ וּנְפַק לְאַפֵּיהּ. עַיְּילֵיהּ לְבֵי בָנֵי, הֲוָה קָא אָרֵיךְ לֵיהּ לְבִישְׂרֵיהּ. חֲזָא דַּהֲוָה בֵּיהּ פִּילֵי בְּגוּפֵיהּ. הֲוָה קָא בָכֵי וְקָא נָתְרָן דִּמְעָת עֵינֵיהּ וְקָמְצַוְּחָא לֵיהּ. אָמַר לוֹ: אוֹי לִי שֶׁרְאִיתִיךָ בְּכָךְ. אָמַר לוֹ: אַשְׁרֶיךָ שֶׁרְאִיתַנִי בְּכָךְ, שֶׁאִילְמָלֵא לֹא רְאִיתַנִי בְּכָךְ — לֹא מָצָאתָ בִּי כָּךְ. דְּמֵעִיקָּרָא כִּי הֲוָה מַקְשֵׁי רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן יוֹחַי קוּשְׁיָא, הֲוָה מְפָרֵק לֵיהּ רַבִּי פִּנְחָס בֶּן יָאִיר תְּרֵיסַר פֵּירוּקֵי. לְסוֹף, כִּי הֲוָה מַקְשֵׁי רַבִּי פִּנְחָס בֶּן יָאִיר קוּשְׁיָא — הֲוָה מְפָרֵק לֵיהּ רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן יוֹחַי עֶשְׂרִין וְאַרְבְּעָה פֵּירוּקֵי. אֲמַר: הוֹאִיל וְאִיתְרְחִישׁ נִיסָּא אֵיזִיל אַתְקֵין מִילְּתָא. דִּכְתִיב: ״וַיָּבֹא יַעֲקֹב שָׁלֵם״, וְאָמַר רַב: שָׁלֵם בְּגוּפוֹ, שָׁלֵם בְּמָמוֹנוֹ, שָׁלֵם בְּתוֹרָתוֹ. ״וַיִּחַן אֶת פְּנֵי הָעִיר״, אָמַר רַב: מַטְבֵּעַ תִּיקֵּן לָהֶם, וּשְׁמוּאֵל אָמַר: שְׁווֹקִים תִּיקֵּן לָהֶם, וְרַבִּי יוֹחָנָן אָמַר: מֶרְחֲצָאוֹת תִּיקֵּן לָהֶם. אֲמַר: אִיכָּא מִילְּתָא דְּבָעֵי לְתַקּוֹנֵי? אֲמַרוּ לֵיהּ: אִיכָּא דּוּכְתָּא דְּאִית בֵּיהּ סְפֵק טוּמְאָה   Shabbat 33b when Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Yosei and Rabbi Shimon were sitting, and Yehuda, son of converts, sat beside them. Rabbi Yehuda opened and said: How pleasant are the actions of this nation, the Romans, as they established marketplaces, established bridges, and established bathhouses. Rabbi Yosei was silent. Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai responded and said: Everything that they established, they established only for their own purposes. They established marketplaces, to place prostitutes in them; bathhouses, to pamper themselves; and bridges, to collect taxes from all who pass over them. Yehuda, son of converts, went and related their statements to his household, and those statements continued to spread until they were heard by the monarchy. They ruled and said: Yehuda, who elevated the Roman regime, shall be elevated and appointed as head of the Sages, the head of the speakers in every place. Yosei, who remained silent, shall be exiled from his home in Judea as punishment, and sent to the city of Tzippori in the Galilee. And Shimon, who denounced the government, shall be killed. Rabbi Shimon bar Yoḥai and his son, Rabbi Elazar, went and hid in the study hall. Every day Rabbi Shimon’s wife would bring them bread and a jug of water and they would eat. When the decree intensified, Rabbi Shimon said to his son: Women are easily impressionable and, therefore, there is room for concern lest the authorities torture her and she reveal our whereabouts. They went and they hid in a cave. A miracle occurred and a carob tree was created for them as well as a spring of water. They would remove their clothes and sit covered in sand up to their necks. They would study Torah all day in that manner. At the time of prayer, they would dress, cover themselves, and pray, and they would again remove their clothes afterward so that they would not become tattered. They sat in the cave for twelve years. Elijah the Prophet came and stood at the entrance to the cave and said: Who will inform bar Yoḥai that the emperor died and his decree has been abrogated? They emerged from the cave, and saw people who were plowing and sowing. Rabbi Shimon bar Yoḥai said: These people abandon eternal life of Torah study and engage in temporal life for their own sustenance. The Gemara relates that every place that Rabbi Shimon and his son Rabbi Elazar directed their eyes was immediately burned. A Divine Voice emerged and said to them: Did you emerge from the cave in order to destroy My world? Return to your cave. They again went and sat there for twelve months. They said: The judgment of the wicked in Gehenna lasts for twelve months. Surely their sin was atoned in that time. A Divine Voice emerged and said to them: Emerge from your cave. They emerged. Everywhere that Rabbi Elazar would strike, Rabbi Shimon would heal. Rabbi Shimon said to Rabbi Elazar: My son, you and I suffice for the entire world, as the two of us are engaged in the proper study of Torah. As the sun was setting on Shabbat eve, they saw an elderly man who was holding two bundles of myrtle branches and running at twilight. They said to him: Why do you have these? He said to them: In honor of Shabbat. They said to him: And let one suffice. He answered them: One is corresponding to: “Remember the Shabbat day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8), and one is corresponding to: “Observe the Shabbat day, to keep it holy” (Deuteronomy 5:12). Rabbi Shimon said to his son: See how beloved the mitzvot are to Israel. Their minds were put at ease and they were no longer as upset that people were not engaged in Torah study. Rabbi Pineḥas ben Ya’ir, Rabbi Shimon’s son-in-law, heard and went out to greet him. He brought him into the bathhouse and began tending to his flesh. He saw that Rabbi Shimon had cracks in the skin on his body. He was crying, and the tears fell from his eyes and caused Rabbi Shimon pain. Rabbi Pineḥas said to Rabbi Shimon, his father-in-law: Woe is me, that I have seen you like this. Rabbi Shimon said to him: Happy are you that you have seen me like this, as had you not seen me like this, you would not have found in me this prominence in Torah, as the Gemara relates: At first, when Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai would raise a difficulty, Rabbi Pineḥas ben Ya’ir would respond to his question with twelve answers. Ultimately, when Rabbi Pineḥas ben Ya’ir would raise a difficulty, Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai would respond with twenty-four answers. Rabbi Shimon said: Since a miracle transpired for me, I will go and repair something for the sake of others in gratitude for God’s kindness, as it is written: “And Jacob came whole to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Paddan-aram; and he graced the countenance of the city” (Genesis 33:18). Rav said, the meaning of: And Jacob came whole, is: Whole in his body, whole in his money, whole in his Torah. And what did he do? And he graced the countenance of the city; he performed gracious acts to benefit the city. Rav said: Jacob established a currency for them. And Shmuel said: He established marketplaces for them. And Rabbi Yoḥanan said: He established bathhouses for them. In any event, clearly one for whom a miracle transpires should perform an act of kindness for his neighbors as a sign of gratitude. He said: Is there something that needs repair? They said to him: There is a place where there is uncertainty with regard to ritual impurity       ז. 7.   שמונה פרקים ד׳:ט׳ וזאת התורה התמימה המשלמת אותנו כמו שהעיד עליה יודעה, תורת י"י תמימה משיבת נפש, עדות י"י נאמנה מחכימת פתי, לא זכרה דבר מזה, ואמנם כוונה להיות האדם טבעי הולך בדרך האמצעיה, יאכל מה שיש לו לאכול בשויי, וישתה מה שיש לו לשתות בשווי, ויבעול מה שמותר לו לבעול בשווי, וישכון המדינות ביושר ואמונה לא שישכון במדברות ובהרים, ולא שילבש השער והצמר ולא שיענה גופו, והזהירה מזה לפי מה שבא בקבלה אמר בנזיר וכפר עליו מאשר חטא על הנפש, ואמרו ז"ל וכי על איזה נפש חטא זה, על שמנע עצמו מן היין, והלא הדברים קל וחומר אם מי שציער עצמו מן היין צריך כפרה, המצער עצמו מכל דבר על אחת כמה וכמה. ובדברי נביאנו וחכמי תורתינו ראינו שהם מכוונים אל השווי ושמירת נפשם וגופם על מה שתחייבהו התורה, וענה השם ית' על יד נביאו למי ששאל לצום יום אחד בשנה אם יתמיד עליו אם לא, והוא אמרם לזכריהו אבכה בחדש החמישי הנזר כאשר עשיתי זה כמה שנים, וענה אותם כי צמתם וספוד בחמישי ובשביעי זה שבעים שנה הצום צמתוני אני וכי תאכלו וכי תשתו הלא אתם האוכלים ואתם השותים, אחר כן צוה אותם ביושר ובמעלה לבד לא בצום, והוא אמרו להם כה אמר י"י צבאות לאמר משפט אמת שפטו וחסד ורחמים עשו איש את אחיו, ואמר אחר כן כה אמר י"י צבאות צום הרביעי וצום החמישי וצום השביעי וצום העשירי יהיו לבית יהודה לששון ולשמחה ולמועדים טובים והאמת והשלום אהבו, ודע שאמת הם המעלות השכליות מפני שהן אמיתיות לא ישתנו כמו שזכרנו בפרק השני, והשלום הם מעלות המדות אשר בהם יהיה השלום בעולם. ואשוב אל כוונתי שאם יאמרו אלו המתדמים באומות מאנשי תורתינו, שאיני מדבר כי אם בהם, שהם אינם עושים מה שעושים אותו מהטריח גופותם ופסוק הנאותיהם אלא על דרך הלמוד לכחות הנפש, כדי שיהיו נוטים אל הצד האחד מעט כפי מה שבארנו בזה הפרק שראוי שיהיה האדם כן, זהו טעות מהם כאשר אבאר.   Eight Chapters 4:9 Eight Chapters is Rambam’s introduction to Pirkei Avot.   The perfect Law which leads us to perfection as one who knew it well testifies by the words, (Psalms 19:8) "The Law of the Lord is perfect restoring the soul; the testimonies of the Lord are faithful making wise the simple" recommends none of these things (such as self-torture, flight from society etc.). On the contrary, it aims at man's following the path of moderation, in accordance with the dictates of nature, eating, drinking, enjoying legitimate sexual intercourse, all in moderation, and living among people in honesty and uprightness, but not dwelling in the wilderness or in the mountains, or clothing oneself in garments of hair and wool, or afflicting the body. The Law even warns us against these practices, if we interpret it according to what tradition tells us is the meaning of the passage concerning the Nazarite, (Numbers 6:11) "And he (the priest) shall make an atonement for him because he hath sinned against the soul." The Rabbis ask, "Against what soul has he sinned? Against his own soul, because he has deprived himself of wine. Is this not then a conclusion a minori ad majus? If one who deprives himself merely of wine must bring an atonement, how much more incumbent is it upon one who denies himself every enjoyment." By the words of our prophets and of the sages of our Law, we see that they were bent upon moderation and the care of their souls and bodies, in accordance with what the Law prescribes and with the answer which God gave through His prophet to those who asked whether the fast-day once a year should continue or not. They asked Zechariah, "Shall I weep in the fifth month with abstinence as I have done already these many years?" His, answer was, (Zachariah 7:3-7) "When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and in the seventh (month) already these seventy years, did ye in anywise fast for me, yea for me? And if ye do eat and if ye do drink are ye not yourselves those that eat and yourselves those that drink?" After that, he enjoined upon them justice and virtue alone, and not fasting, when he said to them, (Zachariah 7:9) "Thus hath said the Lord of Hosts. Execute justice and show kindness and mercy every man to his brother." He said further, (Zachariah 8:19) "Thus hath said the Lord of Hosts, the fast- day of the fourth, and the fast-day of the fifth, and the fast of seventh, and the fast of the tenth (month) shall become to the house of Judah gladness, and joy, and merry festivals; only love ye truth and peace." Know that by "truth" the intellectual virtues are meant, for they are immutably true, as we have explained in Chapter 2, and that by "peace" the moral virtues are designated, for upon them depends the peace of the world. But to resume. Should those of our co-religionists and it is of them alone that I speak who imitate the followers of other religions, maintain that when they torment their bodies, and renounce every joy, that they do so merely to discipline the faculties of their souls by inclining somewhat to the one extreme, as is proper, and in accordance with our own recommendations in this chapter, our answer is that they are in error, as I shall now demonstrate.       ח. 8.   Rabbi Abraham J Twersky   Abraham J. Twerski was an Orthodox rabbi, the descendant of several Hasidic dynasties. Yet he was also a psychiatrist and a respected authority on addiction who was drawn to the 12-step approach central to Alcoholics Anonymous, a program whose origins are Christian. “He discovered in A.A. meetings the kind of sincere and even selfless fellow-feeling that was often absent in synagogues,” Andrew Heinze wrote in a 1999 profile of Rabbi Twerski for Judaism, the quarterly magazine of the American Jewish Congress. “He was moved by the example of men and women who would willingly be awakened in the middle of the night to go out and help a fellow alcoholic.” He saw no contradiction between the 12 steps and his belief in the laws of Torah, according to his granddaughter Chaya Ruchie Waldman. “The 12 steps may have been created by Christian believers,” she said, “but it was about spirituality, surrendering to a higher power, and that is synonymous with Judaism.” Rabbi Twerski melded an eclectic menu of treatments in his work as director of psychiatry at St. Francis Hospital in Pittsburgh. The Gateway Rehabilitation Center, which he founded, was named one of the top 12 rehabilitation clinics in the United States by Forbes magazine in 1987. He also wrote 80 books, many on Jewish topics but many others on addictive thinking and the addictive personality, all of which enhanced his international reputation as an authority on addiction.   https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/06/science/abraham-j-twerski-dead-coronavirus.html   See:  Artscroll: Haggadah From Bondage to Freedom by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski (English, Hebrew and Hebrew Edition) Hardcover – February 1, 1995 Hebrew Edition  by Abraham J. Twerski  (Author, Editor), Hirsh Michel Chinn (Editor)   It is hard to find books dealing with recovery from a Jewish perspective, this book is a great addition to your library. The original passage from bondage to freedom, Exodus, is equated to a person with a substance abuse problem and their passage to freedom through recovery.

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