Porn, Fantasy, and Compulsive Sexual Behavior: How Much is Too Much? Episode 19

Our sources teach us that lusting after our hearts is prohibited. Yet sexual curiosity, fantasy, and thinking about sex are part of the normative developmental process. Therefore, how do we determine how much is too much and what thoughts and behaviors are problematic? Is what may be “bad for your neshama” like viewing porn, necessarily bad for your mental health, and might the battle to guard one’s eyes and control one’s thoughts actually backfire, leading to obsessional thinking and compulsive behaviors?
Join Talli Rosenbaum and Rabbi Scott Kahn as they discuss sex addiction, pornography, and compulsive sexual behaviors, as well as identification, prevention, and treatment. Special thanks to Dr. Yaniv Efrati, educator and sex researcher, for his valuable contribution to the discussion.

Bamidbar 15:39

והיה לכם לציצת וראיתם אתו וזכרתם את כל מצות ה’ ועשיתם אתם ולא תתורו אחרי לבבכם ואחרי עיניכם אשר אתם זנים אחריהם.

 

“It shall be for you as “tzizit.” You will look at them and recall all of the commandments of G-d and do them; and do not stray after your hearts and after your eyes, after that which you stray.”

 

Masechet Berachot 12b

דתניא: אחרי לבבכם זו מינות… אחרי עיניכם זה הרהור עבירה, שנאמר “ויאמר שמשון אל אביו אותה קח לי כי היא ישרה בעיני.”

As it says in the Baraita: “After your hearts” refers to apostasy… “After your eyes” refers to thoughts of licentiousness, as the verse states: “Samson said to his father, ‘Take her for me, for she is pleasing in my eyes.’”

 

Masechet Sotah 8a

[ה]אמר רבא גמירי דאין יצר הרע שולט אלא במה שעיניו רואות.

Rava said: We have a tradition that the evil inclination only rules over that which his eyes see.

 

Masechet Berachot 24a

אמר רבי יצחק: טפח באשה ערוה. למאי? אילימא לאסתכולי בה – והא אמר רב ששת: למה מנה הכתוב תכשיטין שבחוץ עם תכשיטין שבפנים – לומר לך: כל המסתכל באצבע קטנה של אשה כאילו מסתכל במקום התורף!

Rabbi Yitzchak said that a handbreadth in a woman is licentiousness. To what does this refer? If you say it means looking at her [such that only seeing a handbreadth or more is a halachic violation], didn’t Rav Sheshet say, “Why did the Torah list the adornments worn openly with those worn under the clothes? To teach you that even looking at a woman’s little finger is like looking at the place of obscenity!”

 

Sefer HaChinuch, Introduction

…והחיוב של אלו לעשותן אינו בכל עת, רק בזמנים ידועים מן השנה או מן היום. חוץ מששה מצוות מהן שחיובן תמידי, לא יפסק מעל האדם אפילו רגע בכל ימיו, ואלו הן: א. להאמין בשם. ב. שלא להאמין זולתו ג. לייחדו. ד. לאהבה אותו. ה. ליראה אותו. ו.שלא לתור אחר מחשבת הלב וראיית העינים.

The obligation regarding [the preceding mitzvot] is not to do them at all times, but rather at specific moments during the year or the day. The exception is six mitzvot which are constantly obligatory, and they should not leave a person even for a moment of his life. They are: 1. To believe in G-d. 2. Not to believe in another god. 3. To accept his Oneness. 4. To love Him. 5. To fear Him. 6. Not to follow after the thoughts of the heart and the vision of the eyes.

 

Sefer HaChinuch, Mitzvah 387

וכמו כן שלא ירדוף האדם אחר מראה עיניו, ובכלל זה שלא לרדוף אחר תאוות העולם הזה…

In the same way, a person should not chase after the sight of his eyes, and included in this is not chasing the desires of this world…

 

Chayei Adam 1:5

שלא לתור אחר מחשבת הלב וראיית העינים שנאמר ולא תתורו אחרי לבבכם וכו’ ואמרו חכמים אחרי לבבכם זו מינות ואחרי עיניכם זו זנות… ובכלל זנות הוא כל תאות העולם הזה, שאם יסיח דעתו למלאות תאותו בדבר אחד, ימשוך מזה שלעולם יתאוה לה.

[One should not] follow after the thoughts of the heart and the vision of the eyes, as the verse states, “Do not stray after your hearts and after your eyes” etc. The Sages said that “after your hearts” refers to apostasy, and “after your eyes” refers to licentiousness… And included in licentiousness are all of the desires of this world, for if a person turns his mind to fulfilling his desires in one thing, he will be drawn after it such that he will always desire it.

 

 

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