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(Words in blue-Italics are excerpts taken from
The week of Yesod in the Sefirat HaOmer corresponds to the rectification of the holy bris. Today is Malchus She'biyesod. "Malchus" is the all-inclusive day, which is the highlight and culmination of the week of "Yesod". 
Like all of the other commandments, Sefirat HaOmer is loaded with Kabbalistic significance. Without the Kabbalah, we would not know what we were doing when we put on tefillin, wave the lulav, or blow the shofar on Rosh Hashanah.

Yes, there are simple explanations, but someone who only familiarizes himself with pashat, or simple understandings, resembles a swimmer who is afraid to put on a mask and stick his face in the water. If you tell him there is a whole beautiful, marine world below the surface, teeming with all forms of life, he won't believe you because he has never experienced this deeper, inner world for himself.

When it comes to Sefirat HaOmer, look in your prayer books. At least in the major league prayer books in Israel, you will see adjacent to each day of the counting, two mystical words like Hesed of Hesed, Tiferet of Gevorah, or Hod of Tiferet. These words are from the Kabbalistic world of the Sefirot (channels of spiritual blessing).

Each day of the counting, we are called upon to rectify another sefirah. This is an integral part of the process of inner purification that we are to undergo as we approach the holiday of Shavuot (Feast of Weeks). We are not only to mention the day, but also to undertake the detailed, laborious toil of perfecting our character traits and the channels of celestial blessing that are directly parallel to them, just as a marionette puppet is connected to the hand above, or just like the keys of a piano are connected to the chords inside the piano's lid. Each time a key is hit, a different sound is produced. So too, each time we improve a character trait, a channel of blessing is cleansed in the spiritual worlds above, releasing a flow of blessing to our world below.
Today, Malchus She'biyesod, is an especially auspicious time to take upon ourselves more stringency in sexual purity, in preparation for the giving of the Torah!
For example, one may take upon himself to immerse in a Mikva every time he has a seminal emission. This is known to be a big Segulah for Shmiras Habris. For more on Mikva'os, see here.
Below is a picture of the holy Tzadik Yesod Olam, Rav Shlomo From Zevil, whose Yartzeit was yesterday, Yesod she'beYesod. He worked his whole life on the aspect of family purity amongst Yidden, and with his own hands and at his own expense he built countless Mikva'os in Eretz Yisrael.
In his merit, may we all be Zoche to true Kedusha and Tahara!










Someone wrote us recently a list of questions on Shemirat Habris and we tried to answer as best we could. Perhaps we can all learn something from this exchange....


1) How do you know that you have rectified the brit if you have done Teshuvah after wasting seed?


Teshuvah is a lifelong job. When one repents through the love of G-d, his past sins become changed into merits. The Ramba"m says that true teshuvah means that you have the same opportunity to sin as you did before -- and the same desire, and yet you don't. If you reach that, you will know that you have done true Teshuvah.


2) Why is the shemirat habrit considered so important to Hashem?


Shemiras Habris is important to Hashem because the bris represents "Yesod". Yesod means foundation. The foundation of a building is underground, nobody sees it - but it holds up the whole building. The same applies to Shmiras Habris. It is what you DON'T DO and what no one sees that holds up the entire spiritual structure of a Jew. If a person is not Shomer Habris, then even if he davens and learns Torah, the whole building is shaky, weak and in grave danger of collapse.


3) Similarly, why is something that is done so easily (wasting seed) considered to be murder and come with so many punishments?


Precisely because it is so easy to fall, if the sin wasn't considered so severe by G-d, it would be almost impossible for us to stop.


4) If you wasted seed, does it automatically mean that you are going to Gehinnom?


If you did true Teshuvah for wasting seed, you will not go to Gehinom.


5) If the sin of wasting seed is so severe, why don't more people talk about it and know about it?


A Jew answers a question with a question... "If G-d created everything and fills everything, why do only 1% of humans live with him consciously every day?"


All the holy books are full of sayings and hints about how important Shmiras Habris is, the Talmud, the Halacha, Kabbalah and all the Chassidic masters...


6) Even though wasting seed is a severe sin, isn't it better to waste seed than to go and have sexual relations with women?


See here for an answer to this question.

7) What is the Tikkunim if someone had relations with a non-Jewish woman? It is scary, because I read that if you do this, then you get reincarnated as a dog.


I didn't hear about getting reincarnated as a dog, rather, her soul is bound to the sinner's soul like a dog, in the world to come.


The Tikkun for every sin, no matter how great, is Teshuvah. Always focus on the future, not the past. If you work hard on Tikkun Habris today, G-d will wipe your slate clean. Don't let the past get you down. That is a trick of the yetzer hara to stop us from doing teshuvah.


8) How severe is the sin of wasting seed if the person does not even know that it is a sin? Most people don't know about it or think that it's a minor sin.


Obviously one is judged more lieniently for sins he did when he was not aware that they were sins. But again, the key is to look forward and not worry about the past.


9) What if someone is ill and can't stop wasting seed? Does the sin become a less severe sin?


An ill person must seek help. He may not be in control now, but that is no excuse for not seeking help. The most ill person is still responsible for his recovery. See here for various therapy options


10) I read that Rabbi Nachman had written that wasting seed is mostly due to depression. What does Rabbi Nachman say about things that will help you so that you don't fall into depression?


Read this parable from R'Nachman to help. Indeed, the Yetzer Hara's biggest tool in getting people to sin, or in stopping them from doing Teshuvah, is depression. See Tip #8 on our "Mind Tips" page.
Remember, G-d is ultimately the one to fight our struggles for us. He just asks us to start, by "wanting", "praying" and "surrendering" to him.


May G-d be with us all!


More questions someone wrote us....
Q. What happens to a person who passes away who is Shomer Habrit versus someone who is not? Does the person who is not Shomer Habrit have more suffering in the grave? Does he spend a lot of time in Gehinnom? What is Gehinnom like anyway? What information do you have about the afterlife?
Nobody knows what the after life is really like. The Torah hid this from us so that our divine service should be more for the sake of heaven and less from the fear of punishment or for the sake of the great reward that we will receive in the next world.
However, the Gemara and the holy Kabbalistic books drop hints about the punishments and rewards that await the evil and the righteous in the next world. It is written that those who have guarded the bris will be protected from Gehinom by Avraham Avinu himself, who was the first to fulfill the Mitzva of circumcision. In the Zohar it is brought down many times how the angles of vengeance, and the arch-angel Dumah, who is appointed over Gehinom, have no power over one who has guarded his bris in this world. On the other hand, one who did not do Teshuvah in this world, will be chased by his sins in the next world. The Talmud brings Pesukim that imply that every sin we do will be tied to our souls and torment us in the next world if we don't do Teshuvah on them. The sins themselves will testify against us and cause us great shame in the world of truth. Also, if one did not work on himself in this world and he is steeped in physical desires, his soul will not be able to break free of the body after he dies. He will be tied down to his body until it has totally disintegrated into dust, before he will even be let into Gehinom. He will also feel great anguish that he can no longer indulge in the physical pleasures that had been so much a part of him. However, the soul of one who has elevated his physical desires to the service of G-d, will break free of the body right away after death, and rise straight to its honorable place in Gan Eden.
Q. What do you mean that he will be tied down to his body for a long time? Does the dead body feel all the animals that are eating away at it after death? What exactly is happening when we refer to the suffering of the grave?
The Talmud writes that the worms eating the flesh after death are as painful to the soul as needles in the skin (of a live person). However, I believe that this applies only to those who were tied to their body's desires in this world. One who has done Teshuvah and learned to use the desires of this world only for divine service will not feel this pain, which is known as "Chibut Hakever". There is other suffering that happens to sinners in the grave, such as "Kaf Hakela", where the soul is chased from one end of the world to the other by tormenting angels created by his sins, but since I am not a Kabbalist, I can't elaborate on that which I don't know too much about :-)
Let's just hope we don't need it.


Someone keeps sending us great questions that I think we can all learn from...
Q. What does it mean when it is said that a person has two names, one given to him by the Sitra Achra? Does a person have to find out what this name is?
The Holy Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh on Parshas Korach explains that every person's name holds a double meaning, as well as a double potential. The name a person was given at the time of his bris ("Ploni Ben Ploni") has a holy meaning hidden within it that symbolizes that particular person's spiritual strengths. At the same time, if a person does not realize his potential and follows his evil inclination G-d forbid, then that very same name--including the names of his father and grandfather--hold a hidden meaning that symbolize this particular person's spiritual downfall and suffering. That is why Chaza"l explain each of name "Korach Ben Yitzhar Ben Kehas Ben Levi" in a bad light, even though his fore-bearers were greatTzadikim. Because, once Korach had misused and destroyed his lofty spiritual potential, his name, along with the names of his entire lineage, became symbols of his particular spiritual downfall.
Q. How can a person find out what their particular Tikkun is in this world?
I have heard it said in the name of Tzaddikim, that one can know what his particular Tikkun is in the world by seeing in which areas he struggles the most. It is in those areas in particular that his soul came down to this world to fix.
A friend of mine told me a story that happened with him. He is a a Sefardic man, a Ba'al Teshuvah, who was sitting and learning Torah for many years in Kollel. He has a very strong Emunah and humility about him. About 12 years ago he found a hidden Tzadik in Tel Aviv who was acting as the Gabai of a small Bet Knesset in the area. This hidden Tzadik used to bless people who came to him with Kabbalistic blessings, but he acted very simple and no one knew much about him. My friend became very close to him and recieved guidance and blessings from him on a daily basis. This Tzadik could see on my friend's face if his thoughts were clean or if he had sinned that day.
One time my friend was on the bus to come to his Rav, and an immodestly dressed woman passed by his feild of vision. He turned away from her but the image lingered in his mind for a bit, until he was able to dismiss it from his thoughts. As soon as he walked in to the Bet Knesset, his Rav wagged a finger at him. When he went though his day in his mind to try and find in what way he had sinned, he could not find anything that he had done that would cause the Rav to reprimand him. When he asked the Rav to enlighten him, the Rav told him that he (my friend) knew what it was. When he asked if it was the woman on the bus, the Rav answered in affirmative and told him that although he had not sinned by seeing the woman--since this was not his fault, however, since he had thought about her afterwards for a short time, these thoughts had created a Mazik (a damaging angel) that was hovering over him. Therefore, the moment he had walked into the Bet Knesset, the Rav had seen this angel and reprimanded him.
What amazed me the most about this story is not the lofty vision of his Rav, but the fact that every improper thought we have immediately creates a damaging angel that hovers over us. And it is not the sight of an immodest woman that creates this angel, but rather our subsequent thoughts that create it.
So when something immodest comes into your field of vision, don't let it get you down--because it's not your fault. But be careful to dismiss any thoughts about it from your mind and not dwell upon it, for such thoughts are what are considered a sin in G-d's eyes and are what create the damaging angels.
Q. What is the best way to destroy the damaging angels and demons if we have done something wrong to bring them into being?
There are many types of Tikkunim brought down in the holy books, ranging from all types of prayers, like the Tikkun haklali of R' Nachman (Tip #9), giving a lot of charity, immersing in the Mikva (Tip #10), and crying with real tears. But the biggest and most successful tikkun of all, especially for our weak generation today, is simply doing a real Teshuvah and not going back to one's old ways. Learning to guard the eyes and giving up the lust in one's heart, these things are the biggest tikkun for all the bad angels that one has created with past misdeeds, and indeed, through a true Teshuvah, these angels become transformed into holy angels.
Tonight is the holiday of Shavuos. "Shavuos" also means "Vows". Perhaps this is an indication that through "Vows", one can uphold the Torah that we receive on Shavuos.
We read in this week's Parsha "ish ki yafli lindor neder La'hashem"  - "a person who separates himself to make a neder to Hashem (to be a Nazir)"... The Holy Chassidic Sefer the Beis Ahron of Karlin writes that "yafli" is an expression of "separating one's self" and that this applies as well to separating one's self from physical desires in any form.
Although making Shavuos and Nedarim are a very stringent matter and are not advisable in general, when it comes to protecting oneself from the Yetzer Hara and making fences to keep away from aveira, we see in the Pesukim and in Chaza"l that this is a commendable trait. As the Pasuk in Tehillim says "nishbati va'akayemah lishmor mishaptei tzidkecha" - "I have sworn and will fulfill, to guard your righteous laws". And another Pasuk says "nishba lehura velo yamir... osei eleh lo yimot le'olam" - "He who swears to stay away from bad and does not break his word...  he shall never falter".
The Yetzer Hara knows how to trick us into sinning. He starts with getting us to do something small, to give in just a little bit, and as one starts to fall into the trap, he often can't stop himself from falling further. That's why vows can be so helpful. A person can learn the ways that the Yetzer Hara tricks him, and he can make vows to not let himself be led into dangerous situations where it may very well be too late.
There are many different types of vows a person can use. Each person needs to know his own strengths and limitations. Let no one make a vow unless he is sure he can fulfill it. One can vow, for example, to take a twenty minute walk before he gives in to his Yetzer Hara. This may well discourage him from continuing to fall. Or one can vow not to use the computer when alone in the house. Or he can vow go to the Mikva each time he falls... These types of vows are pretty much safe, because one can know in advance if he is capable of fulfilling them. Using vows in this way is a proven and powerful strategy to ultimately breaking free of the Yetzer Hara's tight grip.
See tips #4, #5 and #6 here for more on the idea of vows and for various approaches.
May we all merit to uphold the wonderful Torah of life that we will receive again on this Shavuos as we swore to uphold it in the desert many years ago with the vow "Nasseh Ve'nishma".
The word "Shavuos" is a double meaning, it translates both as "Weeks" and "Vows". Chaza"l say that on Shavuos there was a double vow; 1) the Jewish people vowed never to leave G-d, and 2) G-d vowed never to leave the Jewish people.
We spoke last time about the power of vows in fighting the Yetzer Hara. On Shavuos night I was reading the Zohar of Parshas Yisro about the giving of the Torah, and I happened upon the following piece (in the third commandment, about not swearing falsely in the name of G-d) and here is a translation:
A vow to fulfill a commandment of his master, this is a truthful vow (like someone who swears truthfully in court), like it says "Ubishmo Tishave'ah - and in his name you shall swear". When the Yetzer Hara is prosecuting a man and enticing him to break a commandment of his master (and he vows to hold himself back), this is a vow that his master is praised through, and indeed a man must to swear in his master's name on this, and this is his master's praise. And Hakadosh Baruch Hu is praised through him. Like Boaz, as it is written "In the life of the Lord, lay here until the morning". Because the Yetzer Hara was enticing him, and he swore on this.
On Shavuos we read the story of Ruth and Boaz, and as we see in the Zohar above, when Ruth came to him at night, he swore in the name of G-d not to lay with her that night, and he told her to sleep until the morning. Even though Boaz was the greatest Tzaddik of that generation, he didn't trust himself without a vow.
Each person knows what they can / should make vows on, to protect themselves against the Yetzer Hara's enticings.
One member wrote:
"Because of what you wrote, I decided to make a vow not to watch videos on youtube or similar sites anymore, for one year. I find that whenever I happen on those sites, even when I want to see something innocent, I am enticed by the countless improper videos that always pop-up and it's hard to hold myself back. Thank you for your great help!"
If shmiras ainayim seems so hard, take minute and think about how often you are really tested each day. Most people will find that they have tests in shmiras ainayim only a few times a day, for short periods of time. If you look at it in the context of 24 hours, it's really not that much of the day that we are being tested. That alone should gird us with strength for the times we need it.

Also, one of the best strategies in fighting the Yetzer Hara is not to be caught off guard. If you know in advance that these few times a day are the biggest tests, it's much easier to deal with it than if you're hit with the tests without being ready. Always anticipate the tests in advance, and be ready for them. And before you enter the "test zone", encourage yourself, say a prayer and think of your goals in life. With this strategy, you will find that 90% of your daily tests become much easier to deal with.

This is also another strong reason to get a fool-proof Internet filter, if you don't have one yet. Someone who doesn't have a good filter is tested in shmiras ainayim many hours of the day, instead of the usual few minutes here and there that most of us are tested with each day. So if you don't have one yet, get one today!
We think we have it hard with Shmiras Ainayim and Shmiras Habris. And sometimes we do. But take a look here at the mesirus nefesh and love for Hashem's mitzvos of a simple Jew, just 65 years ago. It makes me so ashamed.
In the Daf Yomi in Sotah (9a), we learned in the Gemara; "One who puts his eyes on that which is not his, not only will he not achieve his desires, but he will lose even that which he has."
We are commanded to bring the Korban Tamid in the Beis Hamikdash twice a day. The Torah uses the following words; "zeh ha'ishe asher takrivu la'hashem" - "this is the fire that you should sacrifice to G-d". And it says "Olas Tamid Ho'asuyah Behar Sinai, lerei'ach nicho'ach ishe la'hashem" - "the Olah Tamid sacrifice that was made on Har Sinai, for a pleasing fragnance, a fire for G-d". The word "ishe" which is used by the Torah, also means "woman". It could be that the Torah is hinting to us that even when we don't have the Beis Hamikdash any more, we can still bring daily sacrifices to G-d by giving up our desire for women. Every time we say no to our Yetzer hara and we don't stray after our eyes, this is a sacrifice that is worthy of having been given at Har Sinai (like the Pasuk says above) - where the Torah itself was given to us, and it is a pleasing fragrance and a fire for G-d. Indeed, it is called a Korbon Tamid, meaning "the always sacrifice" - perhaps because--always, even after the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed, we can still bring this sacrifice. And what a great honor it is to be able to bring our own personal Korbon Tamid  for G-d every day!
A person who just found out that he has a serious disease, or someone who is ill, in pain, or just lost a large sum of money - it's unlikely that such a person would be having a difficult struggle with shmiras ainayim or improper thoughts at that time. Suddenly these type of desires would have no meaning, they become irrelevant in light of "more important matters" at hand. It's only when one is healthy, financially stable and feels comfortable with himself that he can start to forget his priorities in life and begin to stray after self-gratification.
If we keep this in mind, it may help us in the struggle. Let's appreciate what we have now and pray to G-d that we should never need to come to tragedies -G-d forbid- before we "forget" about how "difficult" our struggles are in these areas.

I would like to share with you the advice of someone who recovered from a strong po-rnogrophy addiction. Every person can find the ways that work for them. If a person is determined, he will succeed. And each success story paves yet another spiritual path that others can learn from and follow. (If any of our members have tips that worked for them, or stories of recovery to share with us (anonymously of course) , we would appreciate if you send them to us so we can strengthen others!)


Note: Some of the tips below are only for those who are seriously addicted and are just starting out on their journey to recovery. However, even those who have made good progress can still learn from some of the ideas below. Here's what he writes:


Some practical advice for those who struggle with this problem.

1) Understand that this is an addiction - like cocaine. However, also understand that you're strong enough to break its hold over you.

2) Decide to make a stand! To fight it, and resolve to never give up - even if you slip up once in a while. If you look at it like eating pork, and how it defiles you - it will help to galvanize your will.

3) Take each day, one at a time. Don't worry about next week. Don't even think about tomorrow. Just push through the day. You can go weeks, p-orn free like this. It gets much easier after the first few weeks, but beware, the urge can become seemingly overpowering without warning - no matter how long you have been pure. Just push through it. Don't give in! Focus on some other important topic, and in a few minuets the urge will subside.

4) Important!

Step A: Take all of your downloaded pictures of pretty females, and burn them to a disk. Label it 'corrupted old programs'.

Step B: Delete all of the above pictures from your hard drive. All of them! (And resolve not to visit any more p-orn sites. A filter will help. One reason for creating the CD, is that most addicts will never be able to get rid of the p-orn without having first made a copy.) Now if you feel the urge, these photographs/vids will not be a mere mouse click away. You will actually be forced to take the time to search through your cds, select it, and then place it in your drive. This will not be whimsical act - a quick peek, but rather a deliberate action on your part to break your holy vow. This gives you the needed time to reconsider your actions.

Step C: Throw away your training wheels. When you have gone one month without looking at po-rnograghy, destroy the CD that contains your pictures.

5) You're free! Now resolve to stay that way. The above advice worked for me.


Q. I stopped looking at forbidden pictures a while ago.  But they are still in my memory.  Even if I do teshuva my aveiros can never be erased completely.  The eraser marks will still be there.  The images are implanted in my memory and will never go away.  I'm sick over it. Your website is like a rope being thrown to a drowning person. But it will take a lot of convincing for me to believe that there's hope.  I want the memories erased.  I want all my past mistakes erased.  Erased without a trace.  Like a brand new piece of paper.  I don't know if that's possible.


A. The fact that you had the will power to stop looking at forbidden things already shows that you have greatness inside you. How many people are willing to work on themselves and admit their mistakes in today's world? This is very precious in G-d's eyes.
Chassidus teaches us that a Jew has to look at the past and future as out of their hands, and to look at what you did in the past as what G-d wanted to happen. Strange as it may seem, your sins of the past were G-d's will. Only the present is in our hands. In the present, it is in our hands to decide if we want to change and do Teshuvah on the past. We can change the past by changing our present. What that means is that the situation you are in at this present time is exactly the situation G-d wants you to deal with. Look at it as if you were born at this moment, with all the images and memories already engraved in your head. G-d wants you to deal with this situation, and davka this situation. 
This is also a chance for greatness, to be able to serve G-d with joy even though the mind was already influenced by the past. We all are in this together. We all have a damaged past to deal with, and that is why we, the members of this e-mail group, are great spiritual soldiers. If we all had pure minds and had never sinned, we wouldn't have the opportunity for growth and for Teshuvah that we have today. We wouldn't have the opportunity to pave new paths of recovery and give G-d true joy. And that's why Chaza"l say "Where Balai Teshuvah stand, even perfect Tzaddikim can't stand". This can be understood in two ways; 1) because the ba'al Teshuvah has a greater challenge to deal with, having already a damaged past, and 2) if the Ba'al Teshuvah succeeds in doing a true Teshuvah, then not only have they erased their past sins, but they have uplifted them and turn them all into holy angels, (as Chaza"l say "Zedonos nasin lo ki'zechuyos" - "the sins become merits")!
We have been in touch with someone who has succeeded already for close to one hundred days, to stay clean from viewing improper pictures and from masturbation. He is a true hero and real spiritual soldier. Recently, he decided to try and guard his eyes and mind as well, but he was having trouble with this and he wrote us as follows:
Q. I've failed in guarding myself from mental stimulation. I have not been able to control my eyes properly. I keep fantasizing, fantasizing about whoever on the street is dressed immodestly. I would like to masturbate again, but I'm beyond that; I'm not going to screw up after so many years of effort. I refuse to go back to that again.


A. Dear spiritual soldier! Don't be discouraged. You should know that guarding the eyes and the mind is even more difficult even than stopping to masturbate and view p-orn. It is a constant work. Every time you go out into the street, and especially when you are feeling emotionally weak, it is very difficult to keep the right frame of mind to garner the strength necessary for guarding the eyes properly. Once a person has seen that they can live without masturbation and p-orn, and once they have recognized it as an addiction, they can learn the techniques and with effort and prayer they can keep the strength not to go back to it. But guarding the eyes is a constant and continuous struggle and requires a lot of patience. You will have many ups and downs along the way. Don't expect results right away. If you succeed in turning away from something arousing even a few times a day, it is already a great accomplishment - even if you failed many other times that day. And don't worry, you will start to see progress over the months and over the years, as long as you never give up hope. And never stop praying to G-d. When you see beauty or feel lust, cry out "G-d! I love you, not flesh and blood!"
See also here for more Chizuk on dealing with sexual fantasies...
We read last week about the Meraglim. The sin of the Meraglim was that they believed "it could not be done". It is so easy to be guilty of the same sin, especially when dealing with the powerful desires of the Yetzer Hara. We must realise that even if someone could think that it's not physically possible for him to break free of his addictions, G-d is not limited to his abilities. Many people who originally thought it was impossible, learned to put their full trust in G-d and give over to him their addiction and desires. Just like a child trusts his father and jumps into his waiting arms--even from a height--without the slightest fear, we need to be able to just "let go" of our desires and trust fully that G-d will take care of us. If we do this, then he will indeed bring us through the desert and into Eretz Yisrael. As it is written: "Zacharti Lach Chesed Ne'urayich - Lech tech acharai Bamidbar..." - "I remember the kindness of your youth (i.e. how you gave over your trust) [when I said to you:] "follow me into the barren desert"...

Leviticus 19:1 - 20:27   (Parshat K'doshim)
1 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying:
2 Speak to the whole Israelite community and say to them:
You shall be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.


Even in the 7 Noahide laws, it states "Incestuous and adulterous relations are forbidden". Human beings are not sexual objects, nor is pleasure the ultimate goal of life.  This goes for ALL of Mankind.


G-d creates each individual with challenges in their lives.  Some people have a tendency to have a short temper, others have a tendency to want to amass as many objects and material things that they can in life.  Still, others, feel a need to stray sexually and find it hard to stay faithful to their spouses or morally upright.  And there are still others who feel a 'same sex attraction' (SSA) and find it easier to build a relationship, sexual and emotional with someone of their same sex.  But these behaviors are anti -'holy' and pull Man away from G-dliness.


Sex is a beautiful and wonderful thing.  It is a gift from G-d, after joining a man and woman in marriage--a holy matrimony, to build a loving, holy relationship together and to build families. Sex is not to be used casually to fill an appetite and to satisfy lust, and it certainly goes against holy behavior to gaze intentionally at forbidden images and masturbate, thereby distorting the gift that G-d has given us into a means of self-pleasure, and as an outlet for the sexual fantasies of the mind.

In the year 1927, at a time of world depression and widespread persecution of the Jews, the Chafetz Chaim wrote an appeal to world Jewry to speak out on the dangers of immodesty, in order to stem the sufferings of the Jewish People. We quote here some excerpts from his letter:
....However, today, because of our great sins, bitterness surrounds us, and when a person looks around him at the state of his life, there is not a day that is not cursed more than yesterday. And when he examines his situation regarding Torah and mitzvot, he sees that there also he has absolutely no success. And even though every Jew beseeches the Holy One Blessed Be He to answer his pleadings and to grant him respite, no one hears - this is the true situation.
I have said that the main reason is that we ourselves distance the Holy One Blessed Be He from us.

...."Behold, our Sages stated, 'A handbreadth exposed in a woman, in a place that is usually covered, constitutes sexual unchastity' (Berachot 24A).  And today, due to our many sins, this matter has very greatly spread, and the evil inclination seduces women to walk around without covering their hair, and to go out with their arms exposed in sleeveless dresses. And many of their garments expose the chest. Everything is exposed so that in whatever place a man should look, he is confronted with unchastity....

"In summary, this terrible fashion of the times brings a man to have evil imaginations, and sometimes also the emission of semen in vain, G-d forbid, (and in doing so, he endangers his small children, as the brilliant Torah scholar, the Yaabetz, wrote in his prayerbook). And almost because of this terrible fashion alone, we ourselves negate the admonishment of the Holy One Blessed Be He, as it says, "Therefore your camp shall be holy, that He not see in you any unchaste thing."

... "And due to our many sins, a great blaze has erupted in His vineyard in several places because of this terrible fashion. For the power of impurity has considerably strengthened because of this. As our Sages have said on the verse, "And you shall guard yourselves from every evil thing" (Devarim, 23:10), that a man should not have sexual thoughts during the day and come to pollute himself at night (Ketubot 46A). For if this should occur, all of the blessing and Divine flow to this man's deeds will be cut off, and because of this he will be surrounded by evil tribulations, as is written in the holy books of wisdom.

"Therefore, every man has the obligation to extinguish this terrible fire, and to rectify the situation in his home so that everything will be according to the law, and not to allow licentiousness, G-d forbid. And in doing so, he will merit to have upright and exalted holy children.

..."These words are written in the honor of G-d and His Torah, out of anguish over the tribulations of His nation Israel, with the longing for redemption, speedily in our time, Amen.


Yisrael Meir, the son of Areyeh Zev, the Kohen
Shmirat habrit is the foundation of all of the Torah. The Kabbalists teach that if a Jew keeps Shabbat, studies Torah, gives charity generously, and generally excels in his overall mitzvah observance, but is lax in guarding his sexual holiness, then all of the spiritual energy created by his Torah study and mitzvot is diverted to the realm of impurity, giving strength to the unholy forces in the world. Without the foundation of shmirat habrit, a person's observance of Torah suffers a devastating spiritual knockout.
To further highlight the supreme stature of living a life of sexual holiness, we will list [in the coming days] 80 outstanding virtues of shmirat habrit, as compiled by the Torah giant, Rabbi Aharon Rata, in his book, "Taharat HaKodesh."  In the original Hebrew text, Rabbi Rata brings sources for each entry in the list.
  1. The person who guards the Brit is the pinnacle of Creation, and the world is upheld by him.
  2. There is no nation in the world that can rule over Israel, in the merit of those who guard the Brit.
  3. It is as if he kept all of the Torah.
  4. He will merit to see HaKadosh Baruch Hu in the future world, and this is the greatest possible pleasure.
  5. He will merit to achieve the completion of his soul.
  6. He will merit that the Shechinah not depart from him.
  7. His physical aspect will  also be illuminated.
  8. He is called a man of valor.
  9. HaKadosh Baruch Hu attires him with the attribute of splendor.
  10. He merits to cleave to G-d.
  11. HaKadosh Baruch Hu will heal him from all of his ailments and pains.
  12. He draws favorable blessings on himself and his family.
  13. HaKadosh Baruch Hu guards over him, and nothing can cause him harm.
  14. HaKadosh Baruch Hu takes pride in him each day.
  15. HaKadosh Baruch Hu remembers him every day.
  16. He is called flawless.
  17. He is called tzaddik.
  18. Blessings first come to him, and then to the rest of the world.
  19. He merits righteous children.
  20. The angel "Duma" and all of the destructive angels do not have permission to come near him.
There once was a king wanted to see whom among his servants was truly brave and strong. He had one of his foolish court jesters dress up in a large dragon outfit that looked truly strong and fierce. The king then called his two most trusted servants into the arena to fight against this dragon, his mightiest warrior and his wise advisor. The warrior entered the arena to fight, but when he caught a glimpse of the frightening monster coming towards him, he fled. However, the wise advisor thought to himself "the king is beloved to me and I am beloved to him, it can not be that the king would send me to fight such a monster and surely be killed, it must be a trick". And as he thought thus, he went forth and with a great gasp from the crowd, he pulled the costume off of the foolish jester in front of everyone. And the king awarded his wise advisor the highest honors. But the mighty warrior was so ashamed that he ran away from the palace and never returned.
R' Nachman writes that every Jewish soul is connected with the 70 holy souls that went down to Mitzrayim with Yaakov Avinu, which correspond to the 70 facets of the Torah. And on the side of impurity are the 70 nations of the world, with each nation representing another evil trait or worldly desire. And the desire for sexual transgression is the all-encompassing trait that represents all 70 evil traits and desires. And then R' Nachman writes, that he who succeeds in conquering this desire will find all the other desires of the world easy to conquer, and he will be worthy of having the secrets of the Torah revealed to him. (Lekutei Maharan, 36)
We bring here another 20 out of the 80 outstanding virtues of shmirat habrit, as compiled by the Torah giant, Rabbi Aharon Rata, in his book, "Taharat HaKodesh."  In the original Hebrew text, Rabbi Rata brings sources for each entry in the list. (The first 20 virtues are listed in #220 above).
  1. He brings blessing to the Shechinah.
  2. He merits pleasure in his service of G-d.
  3. HaKadosh Baruch Hu grants him more honor than anyone else.
  4. He merits to be spared from the tribulations of Mashiach's coming, and from all kinds of punishments, and he merits to be redeemed.
  5. After the redemption, at the time of the great day of judgment, he will be spared.
  6. HaKadosh Baruch Hu establishes the world to come for him.
  7. He is joined to the Shechinah, and she bears witness for him to save him from all of the accusing angels - during his life and after his death.
  8. He merits royalty.
  9. He unites HaKadosh Baruch Hu with the Shechinah.
  10. He has permission to enter the gate of the Tzaddikim.
  11. The Angel of Death has no permission to approach him, and his death comes not at its hands.
  12. He merits to experience the holiness of Shabbat.
  13. The Name of G-d rests on him.
  14. He rescues many souls from Gehinom.
  15. He becomes the partner of G-d.
  16. He merits the Divine Likeness.
  17. He merits to vanquish the four impure klipot.
  18. He is inscribed in the highest world.
  19. The upper and lower celestial beings tremble before him.
  20. The waves and storms of the ocean become calm before him.

I was reading your website and discovered that is forbidden to gaze at women and admire them for their beauty. Does this to apply to non-married men also?


Most certainly. While a man must look at a potential marriage partner to see if he likes her, he shouldn't go around gazing at women on the street, in the movies or TV, on the Internet, or in magazines. The eyes are the windows to the soul and they must be guarded in holiness.

A famous poet once captured in words the sensation experienced by gazing at an attractive woman:

O fleeting beauty,
Your glance has given me sudden rebirth,
Shall I see you again only in eternity?

As explained on other pages of this website, this momentary rush of passion is destructive to the Jewish man, his household and family.

A Jew must walk the streets with his eyes focused on the few yards of pavement in front of him or on the rooftops, but not at the "fleeting beauties."

Initially, you will find it extremely difficult to ignore curiosity's calling to see who is out and about, to glance in the car passing by, etc. But, once you practice the guarding of your eyes for several days, you will begin to sense control over the intake of your eyes. Your sense of sight will no longer be given over to chance and happenstance, but rather you will be the master. You will feel a new dimension of strength and self-control.

This mitzvah of not "going astray after your eyes" is one of the hardest, but one of the most rewarding.
Every time you give in to the Yetzer Hara, you are jumping straight into the beast's mouth.  Keep this image in your mind.

One member wrote: "I used to lust after everything and my mind was full of fantasies all the time. I thought i just had a huge yetzer hara but as I learned to control my eyes and stop masturbating, I felt the lust just fade away. I don't even want to get aroused any more and my mind isn't filled with fantasies like before. It seems clear to me that there's a direct correlation between a person's actions and his desires. No matter how big the yetzer hara seems, if you ignore him for a while, he just goes away. I'm amazed at my progress. I never believed I could feel so free!"
We bring here another 20 out of the 80 outstanding virtues of shmirat habrit, as compiled by the Torah giant, Rabbi Aharon Rata, in his book, "Taharat HaKodesh."  In the original Hebrew text, Rabbi Rata brings sources for each entry in the list. (The first 40 virtues are listed in #220 and #223 here).
  1. HaKadosh Baruch Hu shelters him from enemies and from the evil eye.
  2. No accusing angel can damage his soul.
  3. He merits to reach exalted levels.
  4. He is called the work of G-d's hands and the goal of Creation.
  5. He is called a member of the King's court.
  6. The Names of G-d protect him.
  7. He brings about the sweetening of bitter decrees.
  8. He is called the complete man.
  9. He fills the holy sefirot with Divine influx.
  10. From this, he himself receives constant blessings.
  11. His image is imprinted in the Shechinah.
  12. When there is suffering in the world, the Patriarchs join with him to cancel the evil decree.
  13. All of the evil spiritual forces and the Sitra Achara take distance from him.
  14. The main factor in the coming of the redemption is Shmirat HaBrit.
  15. The kingship of the House of David and the building of Jerusalem depends on Shmirat HaBrit.
  16. After his death, he is worthy of an aron, the internment befitting a righteous man like Yosef.
  17. He is saved from all harsh judgments.
  18. He causes the renewal of the stream of blessings to the world which was dried up because of sins.
  19. He is called an unblemished, righteous man.
  20. His body does not return to dust.
Never underestimate the power of heartfelt prayer before G-d. Without G-d's constant assistance, we would not be able to win the battle against this tenacious enemy. Prayers from the heart can be said in the language you know best. To illustrate, here is the translation of a prayer based on an excerpt from the writings of Rabbi Natan, the foremost student of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, from the book, "Likutei Tefillot:"

"May it be Your will, my G-d and G-d of my fathers, that I merit in Your great mercy and kindness to cleanse my mind of foreign thoughts and false wisdoms, that I not pollute and derange my mind with lusts and sexual fantasies, G-d forbid. And that I not infest my brain with lusts and evil fantasies, and that I not have any unholy thoughts at all. Rather let my thoughts be clean, refined, and pure, without doing anything to cause unholy thoughts to lodge there in the holy chamber of my brain, which is like the Holy of Holies. Give me the strength to overcome all evil thoughts and fantasies that come to confuse my mind, especially the evil thoughts that I have brought upon myself by not guarding my sight, and by looking at illicit images.

"Let me not give room at all in my mind to such polluted thoughts and deeds, which distance me from You with a horrible distance. Have mercy upon me, my G-d, for I know the terrible damage these evil thoughts cause in all of the upper spiritual worlds which are always connected to my mind through the awesome interconnectedness of Your creation, and which sever me from Your holiness, and from the holiness of Israel, the source of my life.  You alone know the great and terrible lust which overcomes me, confusing my mind again and again, polluting my very being until my mind is completely filled with evil fantasies. And not only have I not overcome these evil inclinations, but I myself brought them upon myself through my wanton doings, when I knew that this unholy behavior wasn't Your will for Your holy Jewish People. Woe is me for the days that I have wasted in sin."

"Therefore, my G-d, and G-d of my fathers, I come before you with a broken and sorrowful heart, humbling myself before Your Kingship, appealing to Your mercy like a poor man at the gates, that You forgive me in Your abundant kindness, though I be undeserving, and that You bring me from darkness to light, and that you help me from this day forth to sanctify my thoughts. May I be successful in banishing these polluted thoughts from my mind, and avoiding like fire anything that awakens evil fantasies and lust in my heart and my brain. Give me the strength to overcome my evil inclinations, and may my thoughts be always holy and sanctified in Your service. Amen."  

("Likutei Tefillot," 1:4)
Translation taken from
Israel Water Authority Director Uri Shani announced Tuesday morning that Israel's water supply faces "the worst crisis in 80 years, since they started keeping records." Major sources of drinking water in Israel, including Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) and the mountain aquifer are all below their red lines, Shani said at a special press conference in Tel Aviv. The coastal aquifer has fallen below the black line, indicating it could suffer rapid and possibly irreversible damage. Shani predicted that the Kinneret itself could fall below its black line by December 2008.
How can we help? We can!
"Take heed to yourselves, that your heart not be deceived, and you turn aside and worship other gods and bow down to them; and then the anger of the L-rd will be inflamed against you, and He will shut up the heaven that there be no rain, and that the Land yield not its fruit; and you perish quickly from the good Land which the L-rd gives you" (Devarim, 11:17).

The Zohar explains that the idol worship referred to in the Shema means sexual transgression. In punishment for misusing the "lower waters" of the seminal life force during sexual sin, G-d shuts up the heavenly "upper waters" of life sustaining rain (Zohar, Bereshit 189B). This relationship occurs specifically in the Land of Israel, because the G-d's covenant bequeathing Eretz Yisrael to the Jewish People, symbolized the brit milah, is based on sexual holiness.

The Ramak, Rabbi Moshe Cordevero, was dean of the Safed academy of Kabbalists, immediately preceding Rabbi Yitzhak Luria, the Ari. The Ramak explains that the heavens are associated with the "sefirah" or spiritual channel "Tiferet." From here, the Divine blessing of rain flows forth to the earth, identified with the sefirah of "Malchut." The channel that conducts the blessing of rain from Tiferet to Malchut is the "Yesod," associated with the atmosphere between heaven and earth. The Yesod acts as a spiritual faucet.
Therefore, when the channel of Yesod is damaged, rains are withheld from the earth (in Eretz Yisrael). Since the sefirah of Yesod parallels the organ of the Brit in man, it follows that sexual transgression causes the greatest damage to the channel of  Yesod, stunting the flow of rain and G-d's blessing to the Land (See the commentary on the Zohar, "Matok M'Dvash," Vayashev, 189B).
From by Tzvi Freeman


Is pornography bad? If so could you please explain why it's bad and how it affects a person's life?


Good question. Too often we just assume something is bad because everyone says it's bad, without thinking into the reasons.

Everyone knows that child pornography is bad because it's been demonstrated over and over that people who look at that stuff end up acting it out—and really destroy people's lives. That's beyond the unconscionably cruel exploitation of the children involved.

Other forms of pornography are harmful for a similarly oft-repeated reason: Pornography makes women into objects of desire rather than real people. We want to have relationships between person and person, not person-to-object.

But there's something much deeper than that in pornography, something that gets at the very core of being a man. A real man is someone who maintains control over himself. Animals can't do that—they just respond to their instincts. People are free in the sense that they can decide what is the right and proper thing to do.

But when someone is looking at pornography, he is actively undermining that inner strength of his, allowing himself to slip into being an animal. The eyes see, the hormones are triggered and the mind is washed away in a sea of biological tyranny. A grown human being becomes a slave of one tiny organ of his body. In his relationship with women, as well, he becomes enslaved in his passion for them—and a cinch for them to manipulate.

If you want to rise in life and become a whole and healthy human being, you need to maintain control of your mind. It's your mind, after all. And the first step in controlling your mind is to control your eyes. Keep them from staring at that which doesn't belong to you.

We saw in last weeks Parsha how the wrath of G-d was kindled against the Jewish people for sinning with the Moabite women, and a great plague broke out killing 24,000 people. It was only through the zealousness of Pinchas that the wrath of G-d was quieted. We can learn from this two important lessons:
1) As the Zohar writes, there is no sin that arouses the wrath and zealousness of G-d like that of sexual transgression.
2) We can please G-d and give him great joy, when we, like Pinchas, arouse our own wrath and zealousness AGAINST these sins. Not against others specifically, but against our own mind's tendency to stray after unhealthy and sinful lusting.
In the same way that G-d is zealous in detesting and in punishing sexual transgression, we too must use this very characteristic of zealousness when dealing with these desires. We must arouse a zealousness in our hearts to abhor and revile the poisonous lusting of our hearts that pulls us away from G-d and arouses his wrath against us. In other words, instead of becoming aroused by something we may have seen for example, we need to learn to let our zealousness for G-d become aroused in our minds and hearts instead.
And one who indeed trains himself to arouse his zealousness in this regard, he will achieve true inner "peace". Like G-d said to Pinchas in this week's Parsha: "Pinchas the son of Elazar the son of Ahron the Priest has cooled my wrath from upon the Jewish people through his zealousness in their midst, and therefore I did not destroy the Jewish people in MY zealousness. Therefore I say, I give him my treaty of PEACE".
If G-d has given you these struggles he is saying to you "I don't want you just to be an average Jew like everyone else, I am giving you a chance to be a real "Tzaddik".
One member wrote:
"In retrospect, I have to thank G-d for all the struggles he gave me in breaking free of this addiction. As a former addict, I was, and still am, very sensitive to any type of sexual stimulation or arousal and therefore I had no choice but to learn to guard my eyes very carefully. I forced myself to stop watching movies. I got a strong internet filter which works on a "white-list" and doesn't let me access all the sites that I used to waste time with. I don't open non-Jewish magazines and I am careful not to go to places where women are dressed immodestly. Besides this being the only way I could truly break free, I have also become a much more focused human being and waste so much less time. I am able to connect to G-d today on a much deeper level and feel so much purer. So it turns out that this struggle was a blessing for me, because through it, I had no choice but to cut myself off of the entire gentile mindset. No more crazy news sites that talk all day about the latest Hollywood celebrities and their self-centered lives, and no more movies filled with lewd scenes and un-G-dly messages. Another religious Jew might be able to do all these things and still remain sexually clean, but I believe that someone who lets himself be so involved in the non-Jewish mindset of western civilization today--which is all about "self-gratification"--won't be able to truly connect with G-d. And the real truth is, that I too would not have had the strength to let go of all this just for the sake of being a better human being. But because I was forced to leave all this behind in order to truly break free of my problem, I am so thankful to G-d and I feel that today I am able to be on a much higher level than I used to be."

The Battle Against Sexual Fantasies - and Remaining Happy!
Translation from

Excerpted from the Tanya, Chapter 27, by the first Admore of Chabad, the Baal HaTanya, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi.

"However, should the sadness (in serving G-d) stem not from worry over sins, but from evil thoughts and desires that enter his mind – if they appear not during Divine Service but while he is occupied with his own affairs and with everyday matters, he should, on the contrary, be happy in his portion that, though they enter his mind, he averts his mind from them in order to fulfil the obligation, That you seek not after your own heart and your eyes which lead you astray (Bamidbar, 15:39). 
"This verse does not speak about Tzaddikim, to refer to them as going astray, G-d forbid, but of people of intermediate standing (benonim) like him, in whose mind do enter sexual fantasies, whether of an innocent nature or otherwise. When he averts his mind from them, he is fulfilling the commandment of the verse. Indeed, the Rabbis of blessed memory have said, 'He who has passively abstained from committing a sin, receives a reward as though he had performed a precept' (Kiddushin 39b). Consequently, he should rejoice at his compliance with the injunction as when performing an actual positive precept.

...For this is the nature of the service of the intermediate level (benoni) – to subdue the evil impulse and thought rising from the heart to the brain, and to completely avert the mind therefrom, thrusting the temptation away with both hands, as has been explained (Tanya, Ch. 12). And with every thrust that he expels the fantasy from his mind, the sitra achra down below is suppressed, and since "the stimulus from below causes a stimulus from above" (Zohar 135b), the sitra achra above which soars like an eagle, is also suppressed, in accordance with what is written, 'Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, thence I will bring thee down, says the L-rd' (Ovadia, 1:4). Thus the Zohar, Parshat Trumah, extols the great satisfaction before the Holy One Blessed Be He when the sitra achra is subdued here below, for then the glory of the Holy One Blessed Be He rises above all, more than any other praise, and this ascent is greater than all else (Zohar 128b).

"Therefore, no person should feel depressed, nor should his heart become exceedingly troubled, even though he be engaged all his days in this conflict, for perhaps because of this he was created, and this is his service – constantly to subjugate the sitra achra."
The Medrash on this week's Parsha says that Pinchas drove his spear straight through their genitals of Zimri and Kuzbi the Midyanite, as they were sinning together. Then, G-d gave Pinchas divine strength and he was able to lift both of their their dead bodies up out of the tent, while still on the spear, for all to see that they had been killed for their sins.
The Holy Ohr Hachaim Hakodesh, whose Yartzeit is tonight, writes that through doing this, Pinchas made the sin of illicit sexual relations look disgusting in the eyes of the Yidden and thereby caused a tremendous Kiddush Hashem.
On a similar note, the Ohr Hachayim writes as well in another place in this weeks Parsha, that G-d commanded the Jews "Tzror es Hamidyanim Ve'hikesem Osam" - meaning, "Make the Midyanim hated in your eyes and destroy everything of theirs". So the Ohr Hachayim asks, why do we need to hate them and destroy everything, why not be able to benefit from the booty of the enemy? And he answers that when it comes to immoral sexual conduct (that the Midyanites caused the Yidden to sin in), the only way for the Jews to receives G-d's forgiveness and atone properly would be if they turn their hearts to hate these sins, and destroy all that is related to it. For as long as the lust of the sins remain alive in a Jew's heart, he cannot properly atone for sins of a sexual nature. Instead, he must try to first arouse a disgust and hatred of these sins in his heart - and then he can achieve a true Teshuvah.
In the begining of this weeks Parsha (Pinchas), it is written: "And the name of the Israelite man who was smitten, who was smitten with the Midyanite, was Zimri Ben Salu the head of the tribe of Shimon". The holy Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh, whose Yartzeit is today, asks why the Torah wrote twice the words "who was smitten". The Ohr Hachaim answers that the Torah is telling us that Pinchas didn't kill a living "Yisrael" (Israelite) but rather he killed a smitten "Yisrael" - a man, who through his sinning with the Midyanite, was already considered "smitten", since in doing this sin he smote the "Yisrael" part of his soul. That's why it says "the name of the Ish Yisrael (the Israelite man) who was smitten" - as if to say, his "Yisrael" was smitten already, even before he was killed by Pinchas.
In another explanation the Ohr Hachaim writes that it could be that through his death he atoned for his sin, and therefore the Torah calls him an "Ish Yisrael" as if to say that, even though he sinned, he was still considered a Yisrael.
It is also interesting to note (as pointed out by the Sefer Hamusar) that we see from this week's Parsha that sinning with a gentile woman is considered so severe a sin that it is the only sin in the entire Torah that it is permitted to kill the offender without witnesses and without warning (Hasra'ah), as Chaza"l say "Kanayim Pogim Bo" - "Zealots are allowed to kill him".

Advice of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov (From Likutei Etzot, Thoughts and Fantasies, 4).

"Therefore, when sexual fantasies come upon one's thoughts, and the person breaks his passion and averts his thoughts from them, this is his main t'shuva and the principle manner that he rectifies his past transgressions to the Brit, each person according to his deeds. This is doing repentance measure for measure. Thus, a person shouldn't become depressed when he sees that wicked and ugly sexual fantasies are overwhelming him. On the contrary – this is his way of repentance and rectification, for precisely when these fantasies coming to him now and he overcomes them, this is his main  t'shuva and tikun, and in this manner, he liberates sparks of holiness that fell into impurity through transgressions to the Brit. This is the way he merits to rectify the Brit." 

(Translation taken from

Rav Tzvi Mayer Zilberberg – In The Black of The Night
There is no such thing as I already failed, says Rav Tzvi Mayer.  Even if you are middle of an aveira, you have no excuse to "finish up".  Stop yourself right there and then and your zechus (merit) is immeasurable!
Dovid HaMelech says in Tehilim (119:62) "Chatzos Leila Akum LiHodos Licha" - "in the middle of the night I will rise to praise you".  Rav Tzvi Meir explains that this alludes to someone who is caught up in aveira. Do not give up and say next time I will be better.  No, stop right now in the heat of the battle and you can earn the greatest reward.  "Chatzos Leila", in the middle of the blackness of aveira, Akum LiHodos, I will get up and sing your praise!
This weeks Parsha discusses vows:
Hebrew Transliteration: "Ish Ki Yidar Neder La'hashem Oh Hishava Shevuah Le'esar issar al Nafsho, Lo Yachel Divaro, Kichol Hayotzeh Mi'piv Yaaseh".
English Translation: "A Man who makes a vow to G-d or an oath to forbid forbidden unto his soul, shall not make his words empty, like all that left his mouth he should do".
Normally making vows is frowned upon by our sages as with someone playing with fire, but when it comes to girding oneself from sexual temptation we find that making vows are praised by the Torah and by Chaz"al. As the Pasuk says "Nishbati Va'akayeima, lishmor Mishpatei Tzidkecha" - "I have vowed and will uphold, to guard your righteous laws". And also it says "Nishba Lehora Velo Yamir - Oseh eileh lo Yimot Le'olam" - "He who swears on evil and does not nullify... he shall never falter". And Chaza"l also say that Bo'az swore to guard himself from transgression when Ruth came to him that night, as it says "Chai Hashem, shichvi ad haboker" - "In the name of G-d (a type of vow), lay here until morning".
Vows are indeed one of the most powerful tools for a believing Jew to use to help hold himself back from the things that he knows often bring him to fall. One must be very careful though, to make only vows he knows he can fulfill. For example, always make vows for short periods of time at first, and then extend the period slowly, as you become more confident. See this page for advice on how to use vows in the safest ways to help you in these struggles.
One member wrote us:
"Knowing myself only too well as an x-addict, I made a vow for a year not to use unprotected internet unless my wife is in the room with me and can see the screen from where she is sitting (if she wants to). When I need to make picture searches for my graphic work, my wife opens the internet for me using the password that only she knows, and she stays in the room while I search, sitting facing the screen. Even so, improper pictures often do appear from time to time, even when making searches with innocent keywords. So each time before I make "picture searches" for my work, I say a short prayer to G-d to protect me from such images and to save me from unhealthy lusting that takes me away from G-d. And the amazing thing is that whenever I say this prayer I walk away afterwards feeling uneffected, even though I may have inadvertantly seen a bunch of things I didn't want to. The pictures simply don't effect me as much as they used to when I say this prayer."

Tikunot and Hadrachot, Ch. 31

"This is a rule that you should know, my son, the Holy One Blessed Be He does not test a person beyond his powers and his ability to withstand the trial, because the Holy One Blessed Be He does not needlessly cause his creations to suffer. On the contrary, the Holy One Blessed Be He only tests a man to his benefit, to elevate him, and to bring him praise, and to rectify his soul. For a person is brought into this world precisely to undergo trials. Holiness is not awarded to a person from Heaven as a gift without the withstanding of trials. And when a person knows and believes that Holy One Blessed Be He is with him during all of his trials, then this faith strengthens his mental and physical powers, and all evil forces are scattered before him."
Someone wrote us his tips:
Due to the nature of my company, I must have internet access. However, here are some suggestions which have helped.
a. Have a friend who will be emailed EVERY sight link that you visit.
b. Have a gadol that you can meet with once a week to tell over how your week went.
For more info along the lines of tip b. see tip #4 here.
This week's Parsha is called Masei - meaning "Travels" and the Torah outlines the journeys of the Jewish people through the wilderness. Although these journeys happened on a national level, they also occur on an individual level throughout each of our lives. It is the will of G-d that each of us make a journey throughout our life time that takes us from the bondage of Egypt to the promised land.
In the struggle for sexual purity in our day and age, this journey can be felt in a very clear-cut way. People find themselves caught up in the "Egypt" of desire and watch themselves become slaves to the evil inclination. They become aware that it is falsehood and destroying their lives, but they find they can't break free. Finally, like the Jewish people in Egypt, they "hit bottom" and cry out to G-d. And G-d hears these prayers that come from the depths of the heart, and he helps those people break free of the bondage of Egypt against all odds. But even then, the journey through the desert is not always an easy one.
After leaving Egypt [read; stopping the destructive behaviors], the first place that one must arrive is "Sukkot", as we see in the Parsha. Sukkot refers to the clouds of glory which surrounded the Jewish people and provided them with a total protection and dependency on G-d. Sukkot, in the journey through the desert, symbolizes giving ones self over to the care of G-d, which is the first step in recovering from the bondage of desire and addiction. At a later stage, the Parsha tells how there was no water for the people to drink. This place was known as "Mara" - meaning "Bitter". Often, after breaking free from life-long habits and desires, one goes through a stage of "withdrawal" where he may feel "dried out". And G-d showed Moses a branch and he placed it in the water and the water became sweetened. The Aitz or branch, refers to the Tree of Life which represents "G-d and his Torah". As one progresses on his journey to sexual purity, he is able to connect with G-d and the Torah in ways he was never able to before. It is this spiritual connection, this branch from the "Tree of Life", that sweetens the desert waters and replaces the lust and self-gratification that he had become so accustomed to, with the truly life giving waters of spirituality, sobriety, joy and a true freedom. 
There are two types of "fascinations" that we human beings are capable of experiencing.
Type 1) Allowing ones self to indulge in the fascination of human beauty and form. This means following the natural instincts and wiring of the brain to become enthralled by the lust in human flesh. This type of fascination is fed and intensified through pornography, lusting in the street, reading today's magazines and watching x-rated movies and TV shows.
Type 2) To be spellbound by the beauty in nature, fascinated by the splendor and wisdom in G-d's handiwork, amazed at - and thankful for - one's own body, captivated by the magnificence and spirituality in our holy Torah and the depth of wisdom therein, awestruck by G-d's greatness and enthralled by the blessings that we experience everyday of family, health, sustenance and good fortune.
Know though, my dear friends, that these two types of "fascinations" cannot co-exist. The human mind is only capable of maintaining one of these two types. The second type of fascination is obviously far more spiritual, enjoyable and fulfilling, but it is also much more "subtle" and cannot be experienced by a mind that is under the influence (like an alcoholic) of the fascinations of type 1.
So make your choice today.
Choose LIFE.
One way or another, we are here to work. Our sages say "adam le'amal yulad" - "a man was born to toil". There's no escaping it and there are no two ways about it. As the Torah makes clear many times and as we remember all the more so during the three weeks, if the Jewish people try to shirk their obligations to serve G-d through joy, they will serve their enemies through suffering instead. And as it is on a national level, so it applies on an individual level. Each one of us has his job to do. If we decide that it is too difficult to fight our evil inclinations, we will find ourselves fighting much more difficult and bitter things down the line, G-d forbid. One who gives up on his fight with the yetzer hara may find himself fighting his wife, fighting poverty, fighting illness or any combonation of these.
This world is like a hallway to the next. It is only a means to the ultimate goal of "Lachazos Be'noam Hashem" - to bask in the glory of G-d. The Kabbalistic books write that every Jew will have to come to his Tikkun (rectification) by hook or by crook. So why do it through many reincarnations and so much suffering, when we can much more easily serve G-d with happiness and accept the yoke of heaven with joy?
So next time the Yetzer Hara comes to you, tell him that you don't have a choice whether to work or not. Because in any event, somewhere down the line - you will have to do the work you were given. So instead of making it hard on yourself, do it the right way, the first time, with joy!
We spoke already this week about Parshas Masei and how the journeys of the Jewish people in the desert are a lesson to us about our personal travels through this world (see #242 above).
Someone sent us a related point that he heard from Rabbi Chaim Kaufman of Gateshead, who also spoke about this matter and emphasized how the Torah points out that the Bnei Yisroel went back eight masaos (travels) after Aharon Hakohen passed away, as seen in Rashi. This comes to teach us that even the fall-backs are part of the journey and are needed in order for one to reach his goal. This is the concept mentioned in Chaza"l of a "Yerida L'tzorah Aliya" - "a fall for the sake of climbing higher".
Another interesting point that I noticed about the travels--as you can see in the attached picture--is that the Torah was given at the very farthest point from Eretz Yisrael that the Jewish people ever were in during their entire 40 years of wandering. And after the giving of the Torah, we can see (in the picture) that the Yidden began to climb closer and closer to the promissed land. Maybe this comes to teach us that the moment of true "Kabbalas Hatorah" happens to a person when they are at the farthest point, when they "hit bottom". It is as that point, that they make the descision to be mitchazek and begin to climb.
This is also why (according to Kabbala) midnight-and-on is considered a time of Rachamim (divine mercy) even though it is still in middle of the night. Yet mid-day-and-on is considered a time of Din (divine judgement) even though the sun is still high in the sky. Although this seems strange, the reasoning is beautiful. Mid-day-and-on is already facing towards the night and is therefore a time of Din, while mid-night-and-on faces towards the morning and is therefore considered a time of Rachamim - even though it is still the darkness time of the night.
From both these examples we see, that it is the direction that a person is going that matters to G-d, and not where he currently stands.
Someone asked us the following question:
i would like to understand why i see you mention frequently in your chizuk and on your site that we must realize that we are powerless and must give ourselves over to g-d. i don't fully get the concept and especially its necessity. what's wrong if we still believe that we can fix this? what does "giving your self over to god mean"?
They say in the programs; "Let go and let G-d". What that means is; Quit playing G-d. Seek help from a power greater than one's own will and determination.
The first step in breaking free is to realize that the Yetzer Hara has been fooling us for too long. We always thought that with will-power alone we would be able to break free, and that is why the urgency of freeing ourselves from the addiction wasn't so strong. We tried again and again, and had no success. Finally, we "hit bottom". "Hitting Bottom" basically means that we realized it just doesn't work with our determination alone.
At this stage we are ready for the first step in achieving sobriety, which is, admitting to ourselves finally that will-power alone is not enough to break free of the complex issue of addiction. We need to surrender to G-d so that the Yetzer Hara can't continue to fool us any more.
Indeed, the first three steps of the renowned 12 step program revolve around this theme (Rabbi Avraham Twerski, world renowned expert in addictions, holds highly of the 12 step program).
Even the great David Hamelech recognized that only through Hashem's divine intervention can one succeed in subduing the evil inclination. He mentions this theme times in Tehhillim - see below for three examples. Also Moshe Rabbeinu was only able to take the Yidden out of Egypt and split the Yam Suf by virtue of his absolute nullification before G-d, as he said "Va'anachnu Ma" - "What are we?" So, if you want to split your own personal sea and leave the bondage of Egypt behind, the first step is to recognize that ONLY Hashem can do it. And only Hashem is strong enough to take us out of Egypt. We alone are not strong enough. But in order for G-d to do these miracles for us, we need to "Let go and Let G-d" and give ourselves over to him. This means giving the disease and addiction over to Hashem and trusting him to take it away from us and support us while we heal.
Along these lines, Chaza"l say that Moshiach can't come until the time when the Yidden realize "Ain Lanu Al Mi Lesha'ain Ela Al Avinu Shebashamayim" - "We have no one to rely on but our father in heaven".
From all of the above we see that this is a recurrent theme in all of the Torah and Chaza"l. It is the same on a national level, and the same on a personal level. True redemption of any kind, can not be acheived before the point where one totally surrenders to G-d and knows that he has no hope but G-d himself.
Examples from Tehillim:
Hebrew: "Tzofeh Rasha Latzadik umevakesh le'hamiso - Hashem Lo Ya'azvenu Beyado"
English: "The Rasha (the Yetzer Hara) gazes upon the tzadik and desires to kill him, but Hashem will not let him fall into his hands" .
And Chaza"l say on this -
Hebrew: "Yitzro Shel Adam Misgaber Alav Bechol Yom Veilmalai Hakadosh Baruch Hu Ozer Lo, Aino Yuchal Lo"
English: "The evil inclination of a man strengthens himself upon a man each day and desires to destroy him, and if G-d wouldn't help him he would not be able to defeat him"
Hebrew: "Lulai Ezrasa Li, Kima'at Shuchneh duma Nafshi"
English: "had you not helped me, my soul should have been laid rest by Dumah (the angel of Gehenom)"
Hebrew: "Ani Amarti Bishalvi bal emot le'olam, hashem birtzoncha he'emadeta learri Oz.. histartah panecha hayisi nival"
English: "I had thought in my peaceful times that I shall never falter, but Hashem, it was your will that did uphold me to show strength. Had you hidden your face, I should have been confounded"
One struggling member recently wrote us something beautiful and so true...
I need Kedusha to counteract Tumah.  I need it regularly, and it will replace filthy thoughts with powerful desires to grow in a positive way.  I know it works, I've experienced it and tasted the exhilarating sweetness and freedom that living "confined" to the guidelines of Torah truly represents.  Postings and books on other non-Jewish porn-addiction websites, essentially describe the struggle between the yetzer tov and the yetzer hora but don't really have a substitute for being filled with filth. If there's no water, it's hard to put out fire even if you know it burns.
Beautiful words to remember... "If there's no water, it's hard to put out fire even if you know it burns".
Make sure to learn Torah every day. Some ideas:
- There's nothing like a Daf Yomi Shiur. Gemara is "Sechel Hayashar" and when a person is thinking straight and G-dly, the Yetzer Hara can't get a grip on him.
- Infuse your soul with holiness and read a few minutes of Zohar once in a while. Even if you don't understand it, your soul will feel the holiness and it will cleanse you out. Zohar is known to be a special Segulah to save one from the grasp of the Yetzer Hara.
- For a little taste of the entire spectrum of the Torah, read each day's Chok Le'yisrael for a little Torah, Nevi'im, Kesuvim, mishnayos, Talmud and Zohar. All together - the perfect potion to keep the yetzer hara far away!
In the coming chizuk e-mails we will bring some excerpts from a fascinating article by the religious psychologist and therapist, Dr. Benzion Sorotzkin. The article is called "Psychological Factors in Sexual Acting Out" and it is vital in helping those who struggle with intense sexual desire and unhealthy addictions to understand the roots of the subconscious needs they are trying to fill. Once a person understands this, they can fight it better, both on their own and through therapy (see our Therapy Page for Therapy Options).
Psychological Factors in Sexual Acting Out

Some may protest the above title. "Why do we need to look for psychological explanation when someone acts out sexually?" they protest. There is a simple explanation. It's called taivah (lust) and yetzer hara (evil inclination). Looking for psychological explanations, they assert, merely serves as an excuse to act out.

Perhaps we can address this legitimate concern with the following example. If a frum person occasionally transgresses the prohibition against lashon hara (slanderous speech) we can indeed attribute this to the yetzer hara (evil inclination). The appropriate treatment would be learning mussar. What about someone who incessantly speaks lashon hara without a break? How likely is that to be purely an expression of an over-active yetzer hara? It is far more likely to be a result of a deep sense of inferiority which often induces a need to put other people down in a desperate attempt to bolster one's self-image. If this person tries to deal with the problem just by learning mussar, it will likely just make his problem worse, since it would further depress his self-image thus increasing his impulse to speak lashon hara. Psychological help is needed to repair the inferiority complex that is feeding the excessive need to put others down. Only then can he deal with the "normal" yetzer horah for speaking lashon hara via mussar.

The same is true of kedusha issues. There are certainly the normal taivah impulses that necessitate the learning of mussar in order to control these impulses. But there are often psychological factors that cause the problem to reach levels way beyond the bounds of normal taivah. In such a situation, it is often imperative to first use psychological means to deal with these extraordinary impulses to bring them down to normal levels where they can be effectively addressed via mussar.

In a recent report on a Nefesh sponsored workshop on "Understanding Internet Addiction" Dr. Rachel Sarna cites similar comments made by two leading experts in the field, David Delmonico, Ph.D. and Elizebeth Griffin, M.A.:

While it may appear that addictions are pleasure-seeking behaviors, the roots of any addiction are usually traceable to suppression and avoidance of some kind of emotional pain. Addiction. is a way to escape from [a] reality. too full of sadness. or too devoid of joy. Emotional trauma in early life may be the source of most addictions. Everyone is [potentially] at risk. However, people who suffer from low self esteem, distorted body image and. ADHD are even at greater risk than others. [p.14, emphasis added].

The frustrated emotional need of a vulnerable person can hijack his normal sexual drive in a desperate attempt to assuage its pain. The fact that the acting out involves his normal instinctual need - and may, for example, intensify when his wife is a niddah - can fool people into thinking that it is simply an exaggeration of a normal drive. This is why well meaning advisors will often push marriage as a cure for sexual acting out. The many married men with this problem provide irrefutable evidence that the intimate relationship of a loving couple bears only the most superficial resemblance to the acting out behavior and therefore, this "cure" is doomed to failure.

In the merit of the Yartzeit of the holy Ariza"l today, may we all be strengthened in areas of Kedusha. And as one member pointed out, Bein Hametzarim (the 3 weeks) is a time of Teshuva as it says in Aicha: "Kol Rodfeha Hisuguha Bain Hametzarim" and the Holy Books (see Ohr Gedalyahu) explain that anyone who runs after Hashem to reconnect will finds it during these 3 weeks.
For today's Chizuk, I want to share with you a video interview with someone who was non-religious and experienced death, the after-life and his heavenly judgement, and how he was sent back down to earth and became a Ba'al Teshuvah. The video is in Hebrew with English subtitles. Special effects and sound were added, but the interview is all real. It is about an hour long but for the purposes of Chizuk in Shmiras Habris, the most important parts to watch are from the beginning until 17.40 minutes into the story. If you have even less time, please watch at least from 12.00 minutes and on, until 17.40 minutes.
Warning: This clip is liable to raise your level of Yiras Shamayim by 70%!
Download the zip file here (150 MB) that contains the video, along with a small program that will allow you to watch the Flash Video Format (in Vista it can be watched with Real Player as well, I think). The link will bring you to a page in (a company that allows for people to upload and share files). Wait for the page to load, scroll down, and click just once on the link called "Seal of". Then, wait a few seconds and the computer will ask if you wat to open or save the file. Press "Save" and direct it to the folder you want to save it in.
A New Section On Our Site!
Some people claim it's too hard for them to break free of the addiction because they have many hours on their hands and are therefore drawn to non-kosher time-killers/thrillers. Others claim there is not enough Kosher entertainment out there and they need interesting and stimulating material to unwind and kill-time with, so they gravitate to porn and also watch non-kosher movies which turn them on and cause them to watch even more porn. (In the past few days alone, two people made this claim while writing us in seeking help for their addictions). Obviously, these claims have some truth to them and for those who feel this way, it makes breaking free of the addiction much harder.
It is important to realize though, that sometimes you just can't hold on to both sides of the stick. If one truly wants to break free and get rid of this cancer that is destroying their soul and will destroy their lives as well, they must be willing to make some difficult sacrifices and find kosher and healthy outlets for stimulation, entertainment and for spending their time.
See here for the beginning of a new section on our site. Help us provide kosher and healthy outlets for people struggling with internet addictions, to replace the bad outlets they have been using until today. Please send us your ideas for Kosher activities, Kosher websites, Kosher Books and even Kosher Movies!
Obviously there are millions of Kosher web-sites and Kosher books out there, but we are looking more for the ones that could truly help someone in these situations by giving them good stimulation, good entertainment, and also good personal growth!
I will bl"n put up on our site whatever ideas I get from our members on these subjects.
Thank you!