A Guest Post By @azigra
As a young hassidic boy, Elya didn't have much to do while bored. Many nights he would sit in his room counting the paisleys appearing one after another on the sheet covering his blanket. Somehow the number he ended with was always different.
It was a little after his ninth birthday, when his mother saw him bouncing a ball in front of a neighbors house from their kitchen window. He made up with a friend to play catch, they would eat a sandwich prepared by his friend's mother and head outside. His mother admonished him to stop acting like a child. He soon began heading out to study with his father a few times a week. On nights when he was especially restless he would head to the shul's basement where some kids would hang around and talk.
In school he was bored the most. He wasn't that interested in what his teachers had to say. Class was just periods of enslavement between shorter periods of freedom. He would restlessly look at the clock waiting for the bell to announce, "Elya, you're free to leave." In the school yard, an acre of light brown cement surrounded by a high chain link fence, the boys would stand in groups and talk.
"Come with me," his friend hurriedly told him.
"Why, where are you going?"
He followed the boy around the building. When they felt sufficiently hidden the boy pulled a Snickers bar out of his pocket.
"What is that?" asked Elya.
"It's chocolate, dummy. Haven't you ever seen one of these?"
"Of course, but isn't that chalav akum? Where'd you get it? you can't eat it."
"Shut up already, here, take half," the friend said while breaking the bar in two.
The Snickers bar was a gateway candy bar; he had to have more. After school Elya would walk three blocks past the last Jewish house in his neighborhood to the Korean deli. The options handicapped him: Kit Kat, Grand Slam, Twix, Butter Finger. Everyday it had to be something else, and it seemed like the choices would never end.
After weeks of this routine, he noticed something in the deli he hadn't before. Along the back wall was a rack of magazines, He eyed the titles, Time, Newsweek, The New Yorker, The Economist. He was curious what was inside of them. He slowly walked up the wall and peering behind him he grabbed one and in a slow run headed to the counter, paid and left.
To smuggle the magazine into his house, he hid in under the back cover of his gemorah, his parent would never suspect anything. Once in his room, door locked, he opened the first page. It was an ad for a car. He turned the page, and his heart began pounding, there it was, the reason why people buy this magazine; page after page of conservatively dressed woman.
Woman in skirt, dresses, pants suits, professional blazers, politician, CEO's, lawyers, office workers, and reporters. One picture of a middle aged professional woman after another. It was exhilarating, he knew what he was doing was wrong, his father, rebbi, the Rebbe, what would they all say? But he couldn't stop.
He purchased a new magazine every week. When his collection was too large to keep under his mattress he began hiding them behind a large boulder in his back yard. His favorite, the one he went back to time after time, pages worn, ink smudged, was Time magazine's 9/11 First Anniversary Collectors Edition. Endless pages of women appropriately dressed for a memorial service.
This went on for years. He was eighteen and his parents were already searching for his wife. He wondered how he could get married, how anyone would want to marry him. How anyone would want to marry someone with a Wall Street Journal subscription addiction. He was sad, even depressed. He sulked around, exerting whatever energy he had to lift his mattress. He read a book on addictions, it was defined as "a recurring compulsion by an individual to engage in some specific activity despite harmful consequences to the individual's health, mental state or social life." He knew he was sick, he had to read the Journal every morning. He knew what it was doing to his soul, "Hillary Rodham Clinton in Egypt for Peace Talks", "Angela Merkel to meet with Carla Bruni,", "Michelle Obama Plants Tomatoes with Local Students."
He did get married: In-laws, children, brises, bar mitzvas, wedding, grandchildren. Nobody knew his secret, It stayed with him into his old age when he lost his eyesight. He resigned to his fate, he knew God was punishing him for a life of evil. He was comforted in knowing that at least in his last few years he wouldn't be tempted.
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