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Clarifying the Trait of Abstinence - Rabbi Twerski on Mesillas Yesharim

Abstinence may be praiseworthy. We have noted earlier that many worldly experiences are trials and temptations, and that a person may increase his vulnerability, as for example, if a person becomes so accustomed to good wine and tasty delicacies that he becomes dependent upon them and they become necessities for him instead of dispensible luxuries. Should something happen whereby he could not afford he could not afford these, he may be driven to do things that are forbidden in order to satisfy his wants.

- Mesillas Yesharim Chapter 13 by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato, the "Ramchal"

One might think that Ramchal had extensive experience with treating drug addiction and alcoholism, because he is giving a very graphic description of addiction. If a person develops a dependence on anything - food, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, designer clothes - he may take desperate measures to obtain the objects he craves. Cigarette addicts have been known to walk long distances in a scathing blizzard to get a pack of cigarettes. Narcotic addicts, whose drugs are vary costly, may stop at nothing to get their drug, and will write bad checks, cheat, lie, rob, and steal to get money to finance their habit.

It is understandable that people take desperate measures to get the bare necessities of life, whereas we should be able to dispense with non-essential luxuries. But whether some things are necessities or luxuries is highly relative.

R. A. Twerski from Lights Along the Way pg. 188


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