A self-help book offers teachings from an addiction recovery facility.
Beit T’Shuvah is a residential treatment center in California that is also a synagogue. Although addicts need not be Jewish to live there, events like Friday night Sabbath services are regular occurrences. Borovitz (Finding Recovery and Yourself in Torah, 2016, etc.) and Bergman (Nolo’s Deposition Handbook, 2018, etc.) assert that the goal of the facility is to lead everyone who enters, regardless of religious beliefs, to “a richer and more meaningful life,” albeit attaining that objective is not always an easy task. At the helm of the operation is Borovitz, a man who has had his own struggles with addiction and who has spent time in prison. The main crux of the book consists of his “ten spiritual commitments,” which are based on the Ten Commandments but also borrow from the teachings of Alcoholics Anonymous. These are concepts such as the fourth commitment, which encourages individuals to regularly assess their actions with “spiritual inventories.” Generally, readers are encouraged to take careful stock of their lives and seek improvement, even if it means becoming only one “grain of sand” better each day. The volume also features testaments from former residents of Beit T’Shuvah and others who have been involved with the organization. At under 200 pages, the book moves quickly, and it certainly delivers a unique perspective on spiritual self-help. Life lessons stemming from an addiction facility steeped in Judaism constitute an intriguing niche, and the counsel given is both practical and humble. But the manual would have benefited from a deeper embrace of its unusual angle. The statements from former residents are concise and often blunt (one ex-patient refers to his past self as “an addicted loser”), but they leave many questions. For instance, what was it like for a non-Jewish, recovering addict to attend Friday services for the first time? How did one’s experience at Beit T’Shuvah compare to other facilities? Nevertheless, the work deftly illustrates that people’s spiritual journeys, whether they suffer from addictions or not, are not easy. And who better to give advice than those who have traveled on some particularly rocky roads?
While it delivers an inviting spiritual approach, this guide could use additional personal details.