Published July-08-04
Ask Rabbi Dan
by Rabbi Dan S. Wiko PhD
  Issue: 5.07
e-mail me

Lily asked:
"I have three serious questions to ask. The first one is something that I have always wondered about Judaism. If a person is born with a mental disorder such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or a chemical imbalance are they held responsible by G-d or will they be punished because of the things they may do which are wrong, if they cannot help it? My second question is: I have read once that it is very important for a Jew to repent to G-d at least once a day. How does or should a Jew repent? My third question may seem inappropriate but there have been discussions on it and I would like to know the answer from a Rabbi. Is masturbation and sexual fantasies wrong in Judaism? Thank you very much for you answers. "

Dear Lily,

With regard to your first question. It is my understanding that since G-D created this "afflicted" person as he/she is, the person is not held to the same responsibility as would be one who is in a "better place". It is the responsibility of those entrusted with his/her welfare that proper medical and/or psychological attention is provided.

Kabbalah teaches that everything that exists does so for a purpose far beyond our human understanding. It is quite possible, however, that the spark of soul existing within the afflicted and the spark within those who he/she comes in contact with have soul-issues to work out. All humans are here on this earth to learn a particular lesson, one that will allow for spiritual growth.

It is my belief that G-D does not punish. Not even those who are fundamentally bad people. We do a sufficient job of punishing ourselves and each other. That leaves a void to be filled by G-D's love.

It is extremely important that all people repent on a daily basis. Taking stock of what you have accomplished at the end of each day, be it good, mediocre or evil allows you the opportunity of seeing the results of your thoughts and deeds and gives you the opportunity to make the necessary corrections, try harder or be content. When you have done good things, you are, already, walking in G-D's path. When you have failed to complete a thought that would have turned out well for you and others, it allows for you to make an adjustment in both thought and deed. Finally, if you have committed an evil act (stemming from an evil thought) and you take the time to reflect on it, you are well on the way to Teshuvah/repentance. The next time, you'll act in a way that benefits more or even all of G-D's creations.

For some reason, masturbation by a female, as far as I know, was never addressed in Scripture. The male is instructed: "cast not thy seed upon the ground". This, circuitously, became an edict to males to not masturbate. However, since both sexual fantasies and masturbation are a part of human sexuality, I, for one, would find it hard to believe that G-D would look at it as wrong.

Please understand that I am not expressing an Orthodox view. If you want to hear that position, I recommend that you ask an Orthodox rabbi his learned opinion.

One can be a "good" Jew and a "good" person while incorporating more modern social and sexual behaviors. The key, as far as I am concerned is that, in the process of exploring one's own sexuality that no harm come to another.

Chag kasher V'sameach

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