Guard Your Eyes

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The Shmiras Ainayim Chizuk List

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The Shmiras Ainayim Chizuk List          E-Mails 51-100

51.


Receive a Special Blessing
(Part 2)

THE HOLY SHECHINAH

If a person must work in an environment frequented by immodestly dressed women, consider the account in the Talmud (Ta'anis 21b) that tells us about Abba. Abba was a doctor and he received daily greetings from the Heavenly Academy. What was his special merit? He had separate rooms for his male and female patients. Moreover, he would take special precautions to guard his eyes when he treated women.
 
A person who is regularly confronted with improper sights and controls his eyes is considered a mighty warrior in Heaven. If women frequent your shop or office, do your best to avert your eyes from looking at them in an improper way. HaShem will praise you and reward you with great blessing in this world, as well as in the World to Come.
 
TODAY: Guard your eyes in the workplace and receive a special blessing from Hashem.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Practical Application of E-Mails 50 & 51
"Receive a Special Blessing"

 
Can you imagine the inner strength that Yoseph the Tzadik displayed to ward off the temptress? Therefore, he is considered the consummate Tzadik. The reward that he earned is unfathomable. Our Rabbi told us that the splitting of the Red Sea was on his merit!
 
Now, when the Torah tells us that every time we avert our eyes from immodest sights, Hashem rewards us with the same blessings that Yoseph received - this inspires  me!
 
I use this shot of adrenalin as my 'secret weapon.' Whenever I am confronted with an image that challenges me, I say to myself, 'Just look away and Hashem will give you a reward as great as Yoseph HaTzadik!'
 
This always gives me a fresh reserve of  strength to master my eyes.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The material in this e-mail - and on below through e-mail 63 - are from the booklet "Windows to the Soul" by R' Zvi Miller of the Salant foundation. To subscribe to eMussar, the daily lessons of the Salant Foundation, send email to salant@netvision.net.il

52.


Go For Holiness (Part 1)

"Man was only created in order to delight in Hashem and take pleasure from the Divine Presence, which is the true pleasure of all the pleasures that can be found."

The purpose of man in this world is to fulfill Mitzvot, serve Hashem and withstand tests. The purpose of pleasures in this world is only to assist a person in having calmness and peace of mind so that he can turn his heart to serve Hashem. It is fitting that everything he does should be dedicated to the Creator."

(Mesilat Yesharim, Chapter 1)

"There are times when an involuntary reaction occurs. How can I apply the ideas that we learned to gain control of the situation?"

One of the most important things to know when an improper sight is imposed upon our view is that its grip on us will fade! The image could trigger an intense reaction in our mind. We might even think, "I can't shake this." However, this is no more than the force of imagination. It is an illusion, a mirage. Our attention to the image is the only fuel that keeps this image alive. Therefore, if we simply let it pass, it will dissipate and vanish. Like turning the page in a book, we can switch the focus of our mind by simple refocusing. We will see a few examples below of how to refocus.

AN UNEXPECTED CHALLENGE

Alan enters the local flower shop to buy flowers for Shabbat. The pretty female clerk tells him that the flowers he chose need special treatment and gives him detailed instructions. He wasn't expecting this and struggles to listen without staring at her in an inappropriate way. He gains control of the situation by remembering the great merit of mastering his eyes. 
 
The Mesilat Yesharim tells us that Hashem placed us in a dimension with many things that distract us from coming close to Him. In order to merit eternal reward in Gan Eden, we must overcome these challenges and win the war of holiness over desire.

53.


Go For Holiness (Part 2)

MAKING THE EFFORT-GAINING THE REWARD

1) Each time that a person avoids an improper image Hashem calls him a "holy person" and he is rewarded for performing a Mitzvah.
 
2) If a person cuts off an improper thought just once, it is "the root of all goodness" because it changes the propensity of his thoughts and actions.
 
3) Whoever averts his eyes from looking at an improperly dressed woman merits receiving the Shechinah." (Chazal Derech Eretz 1)  The moment a person guards his eyes from looking at an improper sight, he receives the Shechinah, even if he does not sense it.

In the World to Come, on the merit of averting his eyes even one time, a man will see the glorious Shechinah of Hashem (Taharat HaKodesh). Imagine if a man averts his eyes continually!
 
May we be inspired to avert our eyes from seeing improper sights and merit receiving the holiness of the Shechinah for all eternity.
 
TODAY: Draw holiness to yourself by controlling your eyes from seeing improper sights.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
Practical Application of E-Mail 52 & 53
"Go For Holiness"

The tremendous amount of holiness that Hashem grants me when I control my eyes gives me great strength and inspiration.  Yesterday, I was walking by a magazine stand. I immediately reminded myself, "Look away, and you will merit seeing the Shechinah of Hashem!" This thought struck a chord, and I successfully averted the images.

54.


Perform the Mitzvot With Joy!
(Part 1)

The Arizal revealed that his great happiness in serving Hashem was the genesis of all the lofty spiritual levels he attained and the esoteric knowledge that he received. 

"How can we utilize the various ideas that we learned to serve Hashem with great joy?"

Over the past 53 e-mails, we have completed the guidebook "Windows to the Soul". Now we have the wisdom, tools, and confidence to master our eyes.
 
The Ramchal wrote in Mesilat Yesharim (Introduction):
"The benefit of this book is not gained by reading it one time, for it is possible that the reader won't find many ideas that he didn't already know. Rather the benefit from the book is gleaned from review and consistent study. In this way, the study of the book will remind him of concepts that are naturally forgotten by people. And he will remember his obligations which may have eluded him."
 
Mastery of the eyes requires reviewing the laws and consistent study of the pertinent topics. Therefore, keep this
PDF hand-book available and go through it periodically. Now that you know much of the ideas, you might prefer to read it straight through in a few sittings. Or perhaps, scroll to key parts that address the specific issues at hand.
 
In addition, you can print out the hand-book and study it with a partner or ask your Rabbi to give a class on Shmirat Einayim, using the sources of his choice.

55.


Perform the Mitzvot With Joy!
(Part 2)

GROWING WISE

"The creation of man was for his ultimate existence in the World to Come. Therefore, Hashem endowed him with a precious soul. With his soul he is able to serve Hashem and to receive his eternal reward in its right time and place. Therefore, the existence of the soul in this world is beloved and pleasant to the soul." (Mesilat Yesharim, Man's Duty in his World).
 
Each word of study, each second of contemplation and each effort we make to control our eyes will uplift and sanctify us. There is no greater joy than attaining holiness and purity!
 
May Hashem bless our efforts to master our eyes. May our collective effort to serve Hashem awaken great mercy in Heaven, so that we merit seeing the redemption of Klal Yisrael and the restoration of the Shechinah to the Kodesh HaKadashim.
 
"May Yisrael rejoice in its Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King." (Tehillim 149:2)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Practical Application E-Mail 53 & 54
"Perform the Mitzvot with Joy"

After reading Windows to the Soul, the importance of mastering my eyes has become very clear - and attainable. Baruch HaShem, I have made a lot of progress. I like this idea about forming a class and a discussion group. I could use the support and it will strengthen my friends, as well. I spoke to my Rabbi about it and he is going to start a class in Shmirat Einayim next Thursday evening. We already have three people who want to attend.
 
I used to think that it was impossible to control my eyes. But now that I learn and practice the Torah's wisdom of Shmirat Einayim, I am a different person. I want to share my new perspective with the community. This class is going to encourage us - and heal our souls.

56.


A Quick 30-Step Review of
Windows to the Soul
(Steps 1-10)

1. Know that if you sincerely wish to elevate yourself, Hashem will assist you in your endeavors.

2. Each time you control your eyes from looking at an improper site, tell yourself, "I am holy!"
 
3. Dedicate daily time to Torah study and set up the first line of defense to mastering your eyes.
 
4. Remember that desire will intensify in order to drown out the voice of reason. Understand that, and listen closely to your soul.
 
5. Make a commitment to study Mussar each day for about twenty minutes.
 
6. Be encouraged by knowing that through Halachah study of Shmiras Ainayim we have the means to master our eyes and change old habits.
 
7. Make a periodic review of these laws in order to strengthen their observance.
 
8. Use a balanced approach - observe the laws of Shmiras Einayim and treat women with the proper respect.
 
9. Enhance your relationship with your wife by practicing the laws of Shmiras Einayim.
 
10. If you must be in an area of immodestly dressed women keep your eyes lowered and distract yourself with something worthwhile.

57.


A Quick 30-Step Review of Windows to the Soul
(Steps 11-20)

11. Remember that by cutting off improper thoughts just once, you begin a new habit of control.
 
12. Preserve your dignity by respecting the privacy of others.
 
13. Defer to the wisdom of the Torah regarding the laws of the eyes and guard the holiness of your soul.
 
14. Take a few minutes in the evening to review your conduct for that day.
 
15. Beware of the enticing forces surrounding you. Guard your eyes from the images that try to manipulate your senses.
 
16. Put the
terrible stories of broken lives, families and marriages, into your arsenal to serve as an effective deterrent to viewing improper sights.            
 
17. Prepare yourself before you leave your home. Remember that society bombards us with indecent images, and resolve to avoid seeing them to the best of your ability.
 
18. Use "the light of your mistakes" to pave the road to success. And be patient!
 
19. Take the opportunity to look at holy sights and be uplifted.
 
20. Supplement your awareness of Hashem with Wisdom of the World and master your eyes.

58.


A Quick 30-Step Review of
Windows to the Soul
(Steps 21-30)

21. Make a conscious effort to keep your gaze below eye-level when you are in a public place.
 
22. Begin practicing your new exercises and know you are performing an important Mitzvah.
 
23. Draw holiness to yourself by controlling your eyes from seeing improper sights.
 
24. You may not have control over your workplace but you can control the spiritual atmosphere of your home. Make your home fitting to receive the Shechinah.
 
25. Be exceedingly careful while using the internet and bring merit for your children to live Torah lives.
 
26. Whether you are an employer or an employee, consider the advantages of modest dress at the workplace.
 
27. Guard your eyes in the workplace and receive a special blessing from Hashem.
 
28. Show this guidebook to a friend and offer to learn it with him.
 
29. Throw off the burden of your aveirot and start over. Hashem gives everyone another chance!
 
30. Each word of study, each second of contemplation and each effort we make to control our eyes will uplift and sanctify us.

59.


TWENTY TIPS AND TECHNIQUES FOR SHMIRAT EINAYIM

(Tips 1 - 4)

1. STRATEGIC PLANNING
 
Prepare yourself in advance by formulating a plan of how to react when improper sights come into your view.
 
2. THE HEALING POWER OF TORAH 
 
Chazal teach (Bava Basra 16a), "HaKodesh Baruch Hu created the yetzer hora as well as its remedy, the Torah."  Learn Torah with clarity and activate the healing powers of Torah.
 
3. FUTURE GENERATIONS
 
Chazal teach, "The deeds of our Forefathers is an indication of what will be in future generations."

When I succeed in turning away from improper sights, I am planting the seeds for my children to be tzadikim.
 
4. BOUNCE BACK
 
The Torah states, "A tzadik will fall seven times and arise." If I fail to properly guard my eyes, I will not despair. I will get up and resolve not to be beaten again by the yetzer hora. I may have lost the battle, but I can still win the war.

60.


TWENTY TIPS AND TECHNIQUES FOR SHMIRAT EINAYIM

(Tips 5 - 8)

5. WINNING WORDS
 
When I see an improper sight and turn away, I will tell myself, "I am turning away because Hashem wants me to be pure and holy."
 
6. FEEL GOOD

Each time you turn away from an improper sight, pat yourself on the back and tell yourself, "I am doing great."
 
7. PRAY
 
When you turn away from an improper sight, it becomes a time when Hashem will answer your prayers. Pray for whatever you want.
 
8. PRAY FOR YOUR FRIENDS
 
The stronger the community is, the stronger I will become. Therefore, if you pray for others, Hashem will strengthen you. Also, as the Gemara says (Baba Kama 92a) one who davens for his friend and he needs the same thing, he is answered first.

61.


TWENTY TIPS AND TECHNIQUES FOR SHMIRAT EINAYIM

(Tips 9 - 12)

9. GLOBAL RIPPLES
 
We are at the center of the wheel. What we do affects the rest of the world. If we control our eyes in our city, Jews in another city will be inspired to do Mitzvot.
 
10. A MAN OF STRENGTH
 
Chazal teach us, "Who is strong? The person who defeats his yetzer hora."
Control your eyes and become a mighty warrior.
 
11. FOCUS
 
The Sifte Chaim teaches that the cause of sin is inattentiveness. Focus on mastering your eyes and you will succeed.
 
12. INNUENDOS
 
Avoid words that will cause improper thoughts.

62.


TWENTY TIPS AND TECHNIQUES FOR SHMIRAT EINAYIM

(Tips 13 - 16)

13. KIDDUSH HASHEM
 
As a member of Klal Yisrael, you represent Hashem in the world. Conduct yourself in a way that inspires others to act with decency and goodness.
 
14. MY FATHER, MY KING
 
I am a Ben-Melech (son of the king). What would Hashem tell me about controlling my eyes from seeing improper sights?
 
15. THE AVOT
 
How would Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaacov conduct themselves when walking in public?

16. DIALOGUE WITH HASHEM
 
Speak with Hashem whenever you need His help. He is there for you, come close to Him.

63.


TWENTY TIPS AND TECHNIQUES FOR SHMIRAT EINAYIM

(Tips 17 - 20)

17. GREAT REWARD
 
Chazal tell us, "The more difficult the Mitzvah, the greater the reward." Earn great reward by standing up to the challenge of avoiding improper sights.
 
18. THANKS
 
Keep thanking Hashem for helping you master your eyes.
 
19. TEST
 
Always remember that a difficult test strengthens you and raises you to the next level.
 
20. TORAH
 
Human nature gravitates to impure thoughts. Learn Torah and fill your mind with purity and holiness.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is the last e-mail of a series from the booklet Windows to the Soul by R' Zvi Miller of the Salant foundation. To subscribe to eMussar, the daily lessons of the Salant Foundation, send email to salant@netvision.net.il

Below is the bibliography from the booklet which contains many good sources for reading on strengthening Shmiras Ainayim:

1. Ohr Yisrael, Rabbi Yisrael Salanter and Rabbi Yitzchak Blazer

2. Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer, Chapter 21

3. Taharat HaKodesh, Rabbi Aaron Rotah

4. Mesilat Yesharim, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzato

5. Hilchot Isur Hestaklut B'Nashim, The Poskei HaDor, Rabbi Zev Bogard

6. Yisrael Kadoshim, Rabbi Yisrael David Herpanas

7. Kedushat Einayim, Rabbi Aaron Twisig

8. Chut Shani, Rabbi Nissim Karelitz

9. Kedushat HaChaim, Rabbi Aaron Chaim Neshri

10. Ha'Er Eineinu, Rabbi Yoseph Shlomo Goldshmidt

11. Michtav M'Eliyahu, Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler

64.


Which Pill Do You Choose?

Shmiras Ainayim is not easy, and at times it feels like swallowing a bitter pill when we turn away from what our eyes desire to look at. However in the long term, this lets us receive the good that Hashem wants to give us, both in this world and the next.

Rav Noach Weinberg Zatza"l from Aish Hatorah (who passed away this past month) used to say: "Don't ask what you can do for G-d; ask what will you let G-d do for you. It's his pleasure. He is your father in Heaven. He wants to give to you, and you're not letting him".

By guarding our eyes, we actually allow Hashem's goodness into our lives. Not only do we earn eternal reward for our efforts, but we become happier in this world as well.

And it's not just that. Every person has a package of suffering that they need to endure throughout their lives, whether it's financial woes, shalom bayis problems, difficulty with raising their children or complex health problems. It is brought down in Sefarim that when we accept upon ourselves the will of Hashem and are even willing to swallow what feels like "bitterness" for Hashem's sake, we save ourselves endless untold suffering in other areas!

So when it's hard to guard our eyes we need to ask ourselves: "Which "bitter" pill do I choose?"

65.


Every time we say "no" to the Yetzer Hara and guard our eyes is priceless. It's another step up, and no step goes to waste. It's kind of like adding coins to a bank, one by one. When there are enough coins you will have achieved a complete and lasting self-control in this area. But remember, having a slip doesn't take money out of the bank. It just means that you lost a chance to put another coin in. Don't let one slip get you down or you can enter a cycle of hopelessness which will only cause further falls. The Yetzer Hara wants that even more than the slip itself. So don't give him that pleasure.

Always remember this parable: Even if someone is heading out to the other side of town and when he's half way there he slips on the ice, he doesn't slide back to where he came from! All he needs to do is just get up and continue. So remember, even if you do slip, you are still where you were when you fell. You just need to stand yourself up and continue on from where you left off.

66.


The Midah of Yaakov Avinu

The Holy Sefer Noam Elimelech from Rav Elimelech of Lizensk writes that Yaakov Avinu's attribute was that of Tiferes, meaning "Awesome Beauty". This implies that Yaakov Avinu had the ability to be awestruck by G-dly beauty in all he saw. For example, the Noam Elimelech continues, "When a person eats a tasty food, he should say to himself, "if this food is so good in taste, is it not obvious that all good and pleasantness is to be found in the Creator--may his name be blessed--without any limits or boundaries! ...and this is the deeper meaning of the Pasuk "and Yaakov kissed Rachel".

How uplifting and powerful it is to apply this midah of Yaakov Avinu to ourselves. Whenever we see something that turns our hearts towards desire, we should tell ourselves: "If this physical person is so beautiful and desirable, how much more delightful it must be to connect with G-d - who is the very source of all beauty, pleasantness and pleasure!"

Indeed, it is a very helpful and uplifting technique to say the words: "I love you Hashem!" in such moments. This takes the physical desire we feel and uplifts it straight to its source, G-d himself.

We see this very same Midah again by Yaakov Avinu when he meets up with Yosef after a separation of 22 years. Our sages say that at that very moment he was reciting the Kriyas Shema. Why was he doing that at such a crital moment? Yaakov Avinu was taking the tremendous love and joy that he felt for his son and channeling it up straight to the Almighty.

What an unbelievable lesson!

67.


Chaza"l say that the Yetzer Hara has no power over someone who guards his eyes (Yalkut Shimoni, Vayechi). And conversely, Chaza"l also say that one who does not guard his eyes is destined to fall into sin (Yalkut Shimoni, Bamidbar).

The reason why the Yetzer Hara has no power over one who guards is eyes is so simple that it doesn't even need to be said. Still, sometimes just saying it helps drill home the point, which is: you don't lust after that which you don't see. Plain and simple.

Therefore, someone who always keeps his eyes down when walking in the streets, and he is careful not to look at anything inappropriate; whether it be on the computer, movies, magazines, etc... he will have conquered the Yetzer Hara without even a fight. His evil inclination will have no control over him whatsoever.

It's kind of like smearing your body with oil before a wrestling match. Your opponent may be much stronger than you - and he IS, but if you're covered in oil, he simply can't get a grip on you at all; you just slide out of his grasp.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The above idea was taken from a Shiur by Rabbi Lazer Brody called "Eyes of Holiness" which I would like to share with you today:

Click here and the Shiur should start.

68.


Always remember to stay happy! The Yetzer Hara's biggest tool is depression and sadness. Working on one's self is not a "sad" or "confining" thing, but rather it should bring us tremendous joy that we have the merit to sacrifice our desires for the creator of the entire universe. If we take the time to think about G-d's greatness for just a few moments each day, then, like a candle before a torch, we will feel a total bitul (self-annulment) and a true joy in being able to give G-d pleasure by doing his will... 

Someone who merits to give up his desires to G-d, experiences a great joy of freedom, like Chaza"l say "Ain Ben choirin ela mi she'osek batorah" (there is no free man like he who deals in the Torah). The Torah's ways brings true freedom to a person. All the people of the world are bound like slaves to their desires. The Tzadikim are the freest people on earth.

69.


The Rambam (Maimonides, Mishnah Torah, "Laws of Repentance", 10,3) writes: "What is the proper love that we must have for G-d? It is to love G-d with an exceedingly great and intensely powerful love until the individual is constantly enraptured by it; he must be stricken like a lovesick person, whose mind is at no time free from his passion for a particular woman, with the thought of her filling his heart at all times, whether he be sitting down or rising up, whether he be eating or drinking. Even more intense should the love of G-d be in the hearts of those who love Him, and this love should constantly absorb him, as we are commanded to love the Lord "with all your heart and with all your soul." Solomon expressed this allegorically in the verse, "for I am sick with love." (Song of Songs, 2:5) Indeed, the entire Song of Songs is an allegorical description of this love".

70.


Chaza"l say, "Who is strong? He who subdues his evil inclination". A wise man once said. "Someone who serves G-d only with his heart needs to wage great battles to subdue his evil inclinations, but one who serves G-d also with his mind can subdue his inclinations without even a battle".

The Gemara writes "everyone knows that a woman('s body) is a barrel of excrement and that her mouth (allegorically) is full of blood, and yet they all run after her". Indeed, R' Nachman of Breslov once said that there is no greater foolishness than this desire, and that anyone with wisdom can overcome it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Nefesh HaChaim writes in Chapter One: "A man of Israel must understand, know, and establish in his mind and heart that every detail of his deeds, speech, and thoughts, at every second and time, all rise up according to their root source to influence the most exalted worlds. Therefore, when a man entertains an impure, licentious thought in his heart, G-d forbid, he in effect brings a prostitute into the most exalted, celestial Holy of Holies, giving strength to the forces of impurity and evil in this transcendently holy place, to a greater extent than the impurity caused by Nebuchadnezzar and Titus when they brought a prostitute into the Holy of Holies in the Temple sanctuary on earth."

71.


Look what comes out of not guarding one's eyes! The Gemara (in Sotah 47a) writes that while traveling with Rabbi Yehoshua ben Prachia, Jesus of Nazareth complained that the innkeeper's eyes weren't pretty. Rabbi Yehoshua pushed him away with both hands for his preoccupation with looking at women. Having been kicked out of the group of Torah students, Jesus went on to rebel against the sages and eventually established Christianity. So never say "So what?".

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hashem doesn't ask of us that which we can't do. The Torah says "Ki karov elecha hadavar me'od", which means "it is very close to you" (i.e that it is not difficult). So why does it feel sometimes so hard to guard our eyes? The answer is, these profound words of the Torah are true only when one makes a decision in his mind, once and for always, that this is truly what he wants! In other words, it's not so much a matter of "will power" as it is simply deciding that this is what you truly want!

72.


The Ba'al Shem Tov taught that physical love is a branch of spiritual love and it is only a materialistic expression of what the soul truly years for. G-d only gave us these desires to "learn" about the love of G-d. As David Hamelech said,
"Tzama nafshi le'lokim... kama lecha besari - my sould thirst for you... my flesh pines for you". 

If someone has a very strong struggle with Shmiras Ainayim, it actually means that he has a very great soul. He is simply experiencing his soul's yearning with "messed up signals", but in reality he has the highest opportunity for true love of G-d. So the trick is to learn how to focus our desires properly and to channel our yearnings to the right place; G-d himself - the source of all love, beauty, desire, pleasure and good.

73.


The middah (attribute) of humility is one of the most powerful tools in learning Shmiras Ainayim. When you are in a difficult situation and feeling weak, one of the best ways to overcome the test is to just let go and say to yourself: "Who am I? What is my desire against the desire of the Creator of all the universe?!".

A human being is capable of annulling himself before G-d and giving up his entire being to him. Happy is the man who merits to do this. Surely it is considered by Hashem as if he offered himself up on the Mizbeach as a sacrifice!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Rav Nachman says that the name of the Yetzer Hara in our generation should be "Dimyon - imagination". This is very deep, for that's truly all the Yetzer Hara is; a big bubble of "imaginary" hot air! The desire look is sometimes so tempting and overpowering, but if we can remember and internalize that there's really NOTHING there - it's all DIMYON, then we can find the strength even in the most difficult situations!

74.


We discussed yesterday how the Yetzer Hara's main strength comes from "Dimyon - imagination" and how in reality it is all hot air. It follows then, that by using our minds to internalize this truth we could conquer the Yetzer Hara without needing to wage major battles in our hearts. This is indeed true. However, it is only true if we guard our eyes carefully. Why? Because once the eyes start to see, the heart begins to lust and the battle "switches over" from being in the mind to being a much more difficult battle of the heart.

Therefore, we must make boundaries for ourselves if we are to succeed. We need to learn from past slips and accept upon ourselves to stop behaviors that cause the heart to become aroused. For some examples; to install a
strong filter, to stop watching movies (see this article), to stop flipping through non-Jewish magazines and newspapers, to trying hard to guard our eyes in the street, etc... In other words, we must make boundaries for ourselves if we are to make any progress. Otherwise, no matter how "smart" we think we are and no matter how much we are convinced of the folly of these desires in a "logical" way, the heart will continue to wage a merciless battle against our minds. Only when we succeed in guarding our eyes properly can the battle remain exclusively in the realm of the mind, and this makes it indeed much easier to win!

75.


Never underestimate the value of each and every time you say 'no' to yourself. Sometimes a person is feeling weak and says to themselves, "what's the difference if I look now at something that I know I shouldn't? I'm anyway not feeling strong now". You must believe in the significance of saying no every time, no matter for how long and no matter for what desire, be it a bigger sin or even a quick gaze at a woman. Tell yourself, "Now I will not look, now I will turn away. Later I may look, I may fall, but just for NOW I will be strong".

Believing in the significance and importance of every time on it's own is a powerful and proven method for making significant progress in the long term.

76.


Check out this amazing post and story from the
guardureyes.com forum:

I have a pair of non-see-through sunglasses which I use for when I need to be in temptation zones. From the outside, no one can see my eyes. From the inside, I placed transparent non-see-through lamination paper, which is sticky on one side. I stuck it onto the inside of the lenses and I can only see vague shapes when I walk in questionable areas. (I can also look down and see my feet while wearing the glasses, so I don't bump into anything when I walk). I have these glasses for a few years already, and my kids know that whenever I need to go to a mall or somewhere like that, I bring them along. Obviously they are not practical for all situations. For example, if we went out to eat with the family, I usually remove them once we are seated, making sure that I am facing a wall or at least facing away from the crowd. Also, if I need to talk with someone, I remove them to see their face and not appear rude. 

I may sound extreme, but the glasses do more than just protect meListen to this:

Just recently, my wife gave birth. Connected to the hospital is a mall. I brought my kids to visit my wife and the baby, and then the kids wanted to eat out in the mall. I had my "sun-glasses" with me and put them on when we went into the mall. I had my kids hold my hands to make sure I went the right way and didn't bump into anyone. It has become somewhat of a sport between my kids to hold my hands while I wear these special glasses.

On occasion, I explain to my 12 year old son - who B"H doesn't know anything about these things yet - that Shmiras Ainayim is a very important step to Kedusha and to becoming a Tzadik. Even though he doesn't understand why, I bring it up with him from time to time and stress how important it is not to look at women, especially non-religious women who are not dressed Tzniusdik. I believe that if you start young enough, children don't need to understand too much, it just becomes ingrained in their minds...

So we were walking along, and my kids were holding my hands, and I was telling my son that he should look down and not look around at the non-tzniusdik pictures all around...

We found a table, ordered some sandwiches (this is Israel, so there are Glat-kosher bakeries even in non-religious malls :-) and then I went downstairs to buy a bottle of drink for the kids to share. When I came back up a few minutes later, my daughter (age 11) tells me that while I was gone, an Arab cleaning worker had pulled a magazine full of dirty pictures out from the trash bin and put it down, open, in front of my son. My son had pushed it away from himself right away, and asked my daughter to throw it back into the trash. The Arab worker had come by a few times to look if my son was looking at the magazine, but he saw that my son had pushed it away and that they had thrown it back into the trash, so he left them alone.

I was fuming mad, but I held myself back. After the meal, I found the Arab's supervisor and told him what had happened in front of the Arab - who denied doing it (of-course). The supervisor was shocked and told me that they already had had problems with this guy in the past and would "take care of him". The next day when I came back to take my wife home, I again met this supervisor who told me that they were going to fire him.

My point is, that when we take these type of precautions, we aren't just protecting ourselves. If I hadn't been talking about Shmiras Ainayim and wearing these sunglasses just a few moments before this happened, I don't know if my son would have pushed the magazine away so fast, or even at all. And who knows if this wouldn't have been the start of another "story" like so many others on the
GUE website which often start with: "I first discovered p-rn at 12 years old when a friend showed it to me, etc..."

What we do effects our children more ways than we can imagine - even if we are not aware of it.

May Hashem protect the innocent children of Klal Yisrael from the Yetzer Hara in the merit of our own determination to purify ourselves. Amen!

77.


To See or Not to See

Sometimes, when we find ourselves drawn time and time again looking at things we know we shouldn't, we may ask ourselves "maybe it would be better if I was just blind!"

But let us contemplate how wonderful it is to be able to see. Without our eyes we wouldn't be able to get around, to support ourselves and our families, to enjoy food the same, to enjoy the beauty in our wives and children, and to enjoy the beautiful world. So let us ask ourselves, "Which is truly better? To be blind and have no tests, or to enjoy the tremendous gift of sight and simply learn to work on ourselves?

Our eyes truly don't belong to us. They were given to us by G-d to be able to live a fulfilling and meaningful life, and to experience Hashem's infinite goodness in the world. How can we let ourselves use this precious gift to go against His will?

78.


There is nothing as powerful as prayer to help a person overcome the greatest tests of Shmiras Ainayim and Shmiras Habris. Make a note of pesukim in Tehilim that you feel talk to you the most. Compile a list, print them out and save them in your wallet to read over to Hashem with a broken heart when you are feeling weak. Or you can practice to say them by-heart whenever you feel you are being tested.

Here are some beautiful example Pesukim from Tehillim that can help us pray to Hashem and learn to transfer all our yearnings to Him.

79.


Today's e-mail has two parts because tomorrow (Purim) there won't be a Chizuk e-mail. So make sure to get doubly inspired today!

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~ Part 1 ~

Someone posted on the forum:

I need some advice, I have a major test tomorrow and am a little nervous. I must go to a family purim seuda which is always great, but there will be many frum family members who will dress very attractively. How am I supposed to guard my eyes? Take a sefer and not look? Say mishnah by heart? Or what? Not going is not an option.

Someone answered on the forum:

I have the same problem each year, but I make sure to get very high before I come to Se'udah. And in such a state, my soul becomes alive and my inner yearnings for Hashem become revealed, and all these tests seem to me like a joke. I just close my eyes and daven to hashem, sing and cry! When I'm drunk on Purim, the yetzer Hara seems like a thing of the past!!

HEY, I just thought of another idea. Now is a perfect time to wear those dark SUN GLASSES that GuardUrEyes suggested. You can even wear big, bulky ones - it's PURIM!! Cover the inside with non-transparent laminating paper and KEEP THEM ON!

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 ~ Part 2 ~

We all know how the attraction to women makes no "logical" sense. It is part of our animal nature, given to us by G-d for the sole purpose of the perpetuation of mankind. As our sages have said: "everyone knows that  a woman is a barrel of excrement and that her mouth (allegorically) is full of blood, and yet all run after her". Therefore, if one wants to save himself from the fires of this desire, he needs to stay as far away as he can from that which awakens his animal instincts. This is why guarding the eyes is so important. Because as long as one has not seen anything to awaken his instincts, his logic can rule over him and he can use his mind to overcome the desire without needing to wage a major battle. However, once he has let himself see something that awakens his animal instincts, his mind is no longer in control and there is nothing he can do to change his instincts besides putting up a difficult fight.

This is similar to someone telling a child not to put his hand in fire and the child says, "why not? it looks so nice!" and he sticks his hand in. Obviously, he will give a cry and pull his hand out as fast as he can. There is nothing the child can do to prevent the pain once he has touched the fire, because a human being will always feel terrible pain from fire, whether it makes sense to him or not.

But there is one thing we all can do, and that is - don't stick your hand in fire in the first place (and guard those eyes)!

80.


From the Medrash Yalkut Shimoni, Vayechi

THE FOLLOWING STORY HAPPENED TO RABBI MASYA BEN CHARASH WHO WOULD ALWAYS BE SITTING IN THE BET HAMIDRASH ENGAGED IN TORAH STUDY AND THE BRILLIANCE OF HIS FACE RESEMBLED THE SUN AND THE APPEARANCE OF HIS FACE RESEMBLED THAT OF THE MINISTERING ANGELS, BECAUSE HE HAD NEVER RAISED HIS EYES TO LOOK AT WOMEN.

Once the Satan fixed his sight on this Tzaddik and said to himself: "Is it possible that this man does not sin? " Then the Satan went and asked G-d: "How do you consider Rabbi Masya Ben Charash?" And G-d replied: "He is a perfect Tzaddik" The Satan said to G-d: "Give me permission to put him to the test". G-d told the Satan: "Go".

The Satan appeared to the Rabbi as a beautiful woman the like of which there had never been in the world. When the Tzaddik saw he immediately turned his face away from the woman. Then the woman quickly moved to the side where Rabbi Matya had turned his face to, and he quickly again turned his face away from that woman. Then the Tzaddik said: "I am afraid that my Yetzer haRa will overpower me and will cause me to sin". What did the Tzaddik do? He called a student that was there with him and ordered him to bring him fire with nails. The student brought him nails and the Tzaddik put them to his eyes and became blind. When the Satan saw this he trembled and fell on his back.

At that time The Holy One Blessed be He called the angel Raphael (for he is in charge of healing) and told him: "Go and heal Rabbi Masya Ben Charash". Then Raphael came in front of the Rabbi and he asked: "Who are you?" and he replied: "I am Raphael the angel, I came for G-d sent me to cure your eyes". And Rabbi Matya replied: "Leave me alone, what is already done is what will be". Raphael returned before the Holy One Blessed be He and said: "Master of the World, thus spoke Masya". G-d said to him: "Go back to him and tell him that I will personally guarantee that the Yetzer Hara will have no power over him". Immediately Raphael went and cured Masya. From here Our Sages said: "All those that are careful not to look at women, the Yetzer haRa has no power over them".

81.


Be Happy!

The Yetzer Hara's biggest tool in getting people to sin, is depression. The difficulties we experience in the struggle with guarding our eyes often comes largely from a feeling of "why can't I have everything I want?"

To combat this, we need to retain the frame of mind that all of the "unfulfilled" desires that we think we need, and all the suffering that we endure in our life, is only for our good. We are designed and programmed by God to attain lasting pleasure. That's our function. God is not stingy. He wants us to have the premium - the greatest possible pleasure, just like most parents want nothing less for their children. Anything less than the very best would smack of imperfection, in contradiction to God's perfect essence. We must believe that this is the best possible world, since it is a reflection of God's perfection. "Since God desired to bestow good, a partial good would not be sufficient. The good that He bestows would have to be the ultimate good that His handiwork could accept." (The Way of God, 1:2:1). Since God is perfect and has no needs, He cannot take; He only gives. Creation is not for His benefit. It is one continuous gift of pure altruism, an act of complete giving without getting anything in return. "God's purpose in creation was to bestow of His good to another." [Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, The Way of God, 1:2:1].

One way to perfect this frame of mind of how G-d deals with us, is to look at how we deal with our own kids. We all know that kids hate school and would rather stay home. So why do we parents force them to go? Obviously we want the best for them, but they are too young to understand that we are leading them down a path of opportunity and lifelong fulfillment for their own good. However, if the child would truly trust that the parent wanted only the best for him, the child would be able to keep a happy frame of mind while going to school. He would be just as happy as an adult who was accepted to a big-name university to study for a prestigious degree for the job of his dreams.

Obviously, this frame of mind requires a lot of faith, but if we work on it enough we can be given the gift by God to start to truly feel it. And with this frame of mind, a man can achieve the ultimate happiness and be saved from sin. Every test we go through is another step towards graduation in this incredible opportunity of a school called "Life". Keep happy, you are in the best school possible - and your teacher is none-other than G-d himself!

82.


A man who sees a woman improperly exposed and closes his eyes because at that time he can't go anywhere else, merits to greet the Shechina, for he has drawn an great light of holiness onto his soul. Even though he has no conscious perception of it, he is really greeting Her at that very moment, for this light stems from Her - Taharat Hakodesh, p. 55

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Sometimes when we try to guard our eyes the evil inclination tells us: "why are you not letting yourself experience the beauty that G-d created in his world? There is so much incredible beauty out there, why do you try to ignore it?" One must realize though that some of the beauty in this world was put here just to test us, and from this type of beauty we need to keep far away.

However, to garner the strength to do this, we need to learn how to focus instead on the the beauty of G-d and his handiwork. For example, the Pasuk says: "From my flesh, I will see G-d". A person can look at themselves and see a beautiful expression of G-d's handiwork. We can contemplate the amazing perfection of how our own body, mind and soul all work together in perfect harmony. Also, let us open our eyes to how much beauty there is in the world around us, in our children, our own wives, in the sunsets, and in the perfect collaboration of nature - all designed by G-d to work in perfect sync and to be pleasing to man... 

And if we indeed work on ourselves and focus on G-d's infinite beauty instead of listening to the foolish Yetzer Hara who claims he wants us to see Hashem's beauty in the wrong places, then truly there is nothing more beautiful in G-d's eyes than that!

83.


Surrendering to G-d

A large part of learning to be a true servant of Hashem has to do with "Surrender". G-d puts us through so much in our lives just so that we learn to surrender to him, i.e. to realize that we can't do it alone and that we need him for every step of the way. This is not only a philosophy to help someone learn to guard their eyes, it is true in everything in our lives. It applies to they way G-d has dealt, and deals, with the Jewish people as a whole--throughout history, from when we left Egypt until today in the State of Israel where we are surrounded by enemies on all sides and still keep thinking we can do without G-d (Click here for a video about this idea). It applies to being successful in earning a living, in finding a true life partner, in being healed from disease, in having peace in life, and in everything that we strive for. As long as we still think we can go it alone, we will keep stumbling, falling and suffering. This is because, by thinking we can do it ourselves, we are in essence "closing" ourselves to G-d. Our vessels becomes full of the "self" and there's no room left for G-d to shine his blessing. However, the moment we start to "let go and let G-d" and acknowledge to Him that we can't do it on our own and we need his constant help, we enable ourselves to become a vessel for G-d's infinite bounty, and we will start to see success in all areas of our lives, from our jobs to victory over the evil inclination!

84.


Focusing the Signals

If you struggle a lot with desire, it means you have a lot of emotional / spiritual energy in you. It is the people like you that have the capacity for the most intense spiritual connection with G-d. However, you need to learn to channel this energy in the right way. Channel it into your prayer, you will be amazed how uplifting it can become! Do mitzvot with joy, learn Torah with passion!

Most religious people today unfortunately serve G-d like an alarm clock, they turn on, they turn off. But they remain dead inside, like a clock - an inanimate object. You were given a gift by G-d. The struggles you experience are really just the vibes of your soul, striving for true love of G-d. Like radio waves, you just need to tune your soul into the right channels. Don't let the signals become garbled!

Your divine service can be so much more than average... Breath your emotional energy into your divine service and bring your heart to life!

85.


Tzetel Katan


In honor of the Yartzeit today (21 Adar) of the Holy Rebbe Reb Elimelech of Lizensk, I would like to bring an excerpt from the Tzetel Katan that he wrote to guide us in how to serve Hashem properly. (For the entire translated text of the Tzetel Katan, click the title above).

"One should accustom himself to minimize his range of vision so that he will not look outside of his own 4 amos* (8 feet.) [This is true] even in his own house and more so in Shul and in the room where he learns. When he goes outside, and when a women appears before him, even his own wife and young children etc, he should [at this time] imagine before his eyes the name of G-d, 'aleph dalit nun yud."

"If one should have bad thoughts that he is forbidden to have, he should say many times [the verse]: "Vinishmartem mikol davar ra - And you shall guard yourself from all evil". And he should have in mind the teaching of Chazal that a man should not have thoughts by day that will bring him to have an emission at night. He should not allow these thoughts to remain with him, lest they make impure the mind that HaShem has given him."

"When one should come upon something that is a sin for him to see, like animals or birds having relations, or a women who is uncovered where it is forbidden for her to be uncovered, or should he see his wife who is unclean at that time, he should say immediately: "Velo sasuru acharei livavchem - And you shall not go after your heart." One should be careful not to make his thoughts impure."

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Reb Elimelech also writes in the Tzetel Katan (#16) that it takes 40 days to change any bad trait and make it engrained in ourselves. So in the merit of the yartziet, let's all take it upon ourselves to make an extra push in keeping our eyes clean for 40 days straight (from now until Rosh Chodesh Iyar), until it becomes engrained inside us. And I am sure that if we ask for divine assistance in the merit of the holy Rebbe, Rav Elimelech Ben Reb Elazar, we will see our efforts bear true fruits!

86.


One should know that the principle aspect of a Jew's holiness and purity is in sanctifying his eyes. The Torah emphasizes this in the verse regarding Yehuda by asking, "Where is the k'deisha?" While the word k'deisha has the meaning "harlot," it can also be read in its meaning of "holiness," so that we read, "Where is the holiness?" And the answer is "b'Anayim," which means that the harlot was in the place called Anayim, but also that the holiness of a Jew is in the Anayim - the eyes (Bereshit, 38:21).

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There is a tremendous amount of spiritual energy out there that Hashem is waiting to give to us, as long as we try. Rabbi Nachman of Breslov would often quote a Zohar that controlling one's desires and passions makes them the channel for beracha, abundance and reward, to flow into the world. Practically, what that means is that if you control yourself, Hashem will cause beracha to flow into all that you do. You will begin to accomplish more and become more successful. You will begin to see an extra measure of Syatah Di'Shemyah--help from Heaven--in all of your actions.

87.

 

In his book, "Kuntres HaAvodah," Rebbe Sholom Dov Ber of Lubavitch, one of the early great Rebbes of Chabad, writes the following: 

"Everyone who is concerned about his soul, not to pollute it, G-d forbid, should guard over his eyes. And if this is difficult for him, he should endeavor to restrain himself with all of his strength and might. He must take to heart that this matter is instrumental to the wellbeing of his soul, and if he does not guard himself in this matter, then all of his Divine service is accounted as nothing, and all of his achievements are as naught, and his service of G-d will fall lower and lower.... 

"Behold, there are people who are far from actually committing evil deeds, G-d forbid, but their hearts pull them to look and stare (at women.) They gaze with a seemingly cold detachment, and they do not feel any immediate excitement when they look, but the reason for their being attracted is because they experience an inner pleasure... This gazing, even with seeming detachment, creates an impression and a great stain on the psyche, which will not go away without arousing some actual evil in its wake, G-d forbid.... 

"Thus, it is every man's duty to control himself and to guard over the things he sees. In so doing, he will save himself from evil, and his service of G-d will find favor. He will bring salvation to his soul, and he will rise higher and higher."

(Kuntres HaAvodah, Ch. 2. For an English translation and commentary, see the book, "Love Like Fire and Water," Moznaim Publishing Corp.)

88.

 

The true strength of a person's piety is demonstrated under the following circumstances: a devout person does not cast off his piety even when people ridicule him; whatever he does is for the sake of heaven; he does not look at women. His piety is put to the test especially when he is in the company of other men in a situation where women are usually around-for example, in a wedding hall where women are dressed in elegant gowns, and all are gazing at the women, and he does not stare. For that, he will be rewarded with abundant good.

Therefore, when a man meets a woman, whether she is single or married, gentile or Jewish, an adult or a minor, he should turn his face aside and not to look at her. And so do we read in Job, "I made a Covenant with my eyes not to gaze on a maiden" (Job 3 1: 1). Our sages have said that the verse "He shuts his eyes against looking at evil" (Isaiah 33:15) refers to the person who does not look at women when they are doing their washing.' When they wash their clothes, they lift their skirts so as not to soil them and thus uncover their legs; and we know that a woman's leg is a sexual excitement.

And so said our Sages, "There is no greater barrier to sexual arousal than closing one's eyes".

89.


Q.
 I am a Ba'al Teshuvah and in the beginning (when I was about 25 years old), I used to try and not look at women. I asked my chavrusah (from the Lakewood yeshiva, I think) about it and he said that he doesn't hold from doing that, because it can create an opposite reaction - where women become even more tempting because you are not used to seeing them. Basically, you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't. G-d has us between a rock and a hard place.

A. You ask a very good question, but there is one important distinction that can help clarify this dilemma. There are two types of looking at women, "gazing - with lust" and "seeing - without lust". Your Chavrusah was probably brought up his whole life in a holy environment and he didn't have issues with lust. In his case, making a big deal out of "not looking at women" as if they were some secret hidden treasure that we have to hide from ourselves - would be counterproductive. Why? Because in the times when he would have to look, like when he needed to talk to a woman, his subconscious would consider it as if he was now opening a hidden "treasure" and this could trigger lust, which he otherwise wouldn't have had.

Now I don't know about your particular case, but for most people who were raised in today's promiscuous Western society, every good looking woman is - by default - an object of lust. Most normal guys raised in today's immoral environment can't help but look at a pretty woman with lust. Your Chavrusah was on a higher level, he probably wasn't just a "normal" guy. When he saw women in the street that were not relevant to him, it didn't trigger anything in his mind. For HIM, making too much of a big deal out of it would be counterproductive.

Chaza"l say that the Yetzer Hara has no power over someone who guards his eyes (Yalkut Shimoni, Vayechi). And conversely, Chaza"l also say that one who does not guard his eyes is destined to fall into sin (Yalkut Shimoni, Bamidbar). But Chaza"l only mean someone who looks at women with lust. Otherwise, believe it or not, there isn't even a prohibition to look at women. The Rambam in Hilchus Issurei Biyah 21:2 writes that someone who gazes even at the small finger of a woman with the intention to enjoy it, is considered as if he looked at her "place of filth". But in 21:3 he writes, that one could - and SHOULD - look at a woman to see if she may be fit to be his wife, but only if he does so in a non-promiscuous way. We see here clearly the difference between looking with lust, or without.

Everyone needs to know themselves. Your Chavrusah could probably see pretty women in the street and not feel lust. To make a big deal out of it for him, would cause a reverse effect. But for most people, looking at women is more like "gazing" and "lusting" and therefore not looking is their only hope of success in the struggle with the Yetzer Hara.

The reason why the Yetzer Hara has no power over one who guards is eyes is extremely obvious: You don't lust after that which you don't see. Plain and simple.
 
Here's a parable: Imagine you are about to have a wrestling match with someone much stronger than you. You take a sponge, dip it in oil and smear your body with it before the match. In the end you win because your opponent simply couldn't get a grip on you at all; you just slid out of his grasp every time.

The Yetzer Hara is indeed much too strong for us. But that is only if we try and fight him face to face. If however, we guard our eyes, he can't get a grip on us and we will emerge victorious.

So Hashem doesn't have us between a rock and a hard place, but more like between a rock and a oil sponge :-)

90.


Vision possesses such lofty importance because the eyes are the windows to the "soul of the soul." A blemish to the sense of vision, when the eyes gaze upon something forbidden, is grave indeed, as stressed by the verse in the Book of Eichah, "My eye affects my soul because of all the daughters of the city" (Eichah, 3:51).  This means that what a man sees can cause him to lose a portion of his holiness.

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Rebbe Nachman writes that sexual temptation is the main test in life. It is sent as a challenge to refine us. When you are subjected to this test it puts you in a type of "exile". You should cry out to G-d: scream and cry out to Him over and over again, like a woman in labor who cries out from the pain of her contractions. Seventy times she cries out (Zohar III, 249b). You must do likewise and cry out to G-d again and again until He takes pity and helps you to strengthen yourself and break your desire. New ideas and new perceptions will be born within you. The secrets of Torah, which before were hidden, will now be unveiled for you. The greater the determination with which you stand up to the trial, the greater the revelation you will receive in Torah and devotion to G-d. You will merit to see the seventy faces of the Torah.

91.

 

Taken From Tzvi Fishman's Arutz Sheva Blog.

There are many unfortunate consequences for a Jew who follows after his eyes. Since many people look upon this lightly, let me share a Kabbalistic secret to help impress the gravity of this transgression in your minds. In the "Sefer Haredim," in the Gate of Reincarnation, it is written that a person who habitually gazes at women to enjoy their beauty will be reincarnated as an impure bird called the "Roah," which means "he saw."

Regarding this, the holy Torah giant and Kabbalist, Rabbi Aharon Rota, writes: "If you think to say, my brother, what is so bad about this? That if you will be reincarnated in a bird, you can fly around freely to this place and that, what's so terrible in that? But you should know, my brother, that to be reincarnated in an impure thing, G-d forbid, is worse than the terrible fires of Gehinom. Furthermore, unlike a reincarnation in human form, when the person is unaware of his previous life, when a person is reincarnated in an impure bird, he is conscious all of the time that he was once a Jew with a pure and exalted soul, and that now he is doomed to the life of an impure and foul-smelling bird - how shameful and ignominious is his hell. All because he did not safeguard his eyes from looking at improper things" ("Taharat HaKodesh," Chapter on Guarding One's Eyes, Section 18).

But this isn't all, my friends. The next time that you are tempted to take a second glance at an immodestly dressed woman, or to click on an erotic site on the Internet, remember that after the reincarnation in an impure bird, another reincarnation is needed in a less impure beast, then another reincarnation in a pure animal, each time experiencing the pain of death and mental suffering involved, until the cycle is completed, and only then does the person begin the time in Gehinom that has been apportioned to him for his sins.

Is it worth it?

92.


If you find it hard to stop gazing at things you shouldn't, keep this in mind. From the smallest baby to the prettiest woman, to the old fat man down the street, human beings are all made out of the same stuff; blood, veins, muscle tissue, guts and fat--all covered over with a thin layer of skin. Keep that in mind and it will help you turn away from looking at what you shouldn't.

It will also help you to be humble before G-d, for that is really all we are.

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The above reminded me of something someone posted recently on our forum:

When in the street, I have a number of different methods to help me control my eyes depending on the situation, but 3 of the most common thoughts that I've been working on making "second nature" are:

1) Remember that what you see is the outermost layer only. Just a bit deeper is a bunch of gory blood and bones that you'd run from in horror.

2) Try to link the pleasurable sensation of inappropriate gazing and fantasies to the emotional pain that always comes after looking, i.e. the inevitable depressing feelings that always follows (since I know I can't have it anyway, and gazing just takes me far from Hashem). Although it's still a 2 step process (pleasure followed by memory of pain), I'd like to get to the point where the only sensation is the memory of pain.

3) I tell myself: "Just get through the day without a slip.  I can do it just for today".

93.


Enjoying the Challenge

One secret to success in overcoming the evil inclination is to enjoy the challenge! Imagine you are playing a video arcade game called "Life" and the enemy is called "Temptation". If a test comes and you overcome it, you get points and move to a higher level each time. However, there's one small thing about this game; you are playing here for your ETERNITY! So, next time you are faced with a test think to yourself; "Alright! Here comes a test. I can do this!"

94.


See the "Pesach Preparation" images below.

Now obviously we understand that instead of covering the entire world before Pesach, we simply guard our mouths carefully from eating Chametz!

Well the same goes for issues of lust. We live in a world that is full of promiscuity.  Muslim extremists take the zealous approach of having their women covered from head to foot and never appearing in public. They also insist on "world domination" so they can "fix" the rest of the world as well. But as Jews, we recognize that the best approach of all is simply to GUARD YOUR EYES :-)

And when we fix ourselves, we are fixing the world as well.

95.


Long ago, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov had recognized Simcha as the key to success in fighting the evil inclination and coming truly close to HaShem. In stressing the importance of Simcha he went so far as saying that depression - the antithesis of Simcha - constitutes "the main bite of the serpent (the Yetzer Harah)". How far should a person struggle to remain steadfast and avoid depression? The lesson is best illustrated by the following story Rabbi Nachman told to his disciples: 

"But what is the antidote for the person who feels so heavy, so depressed, that no words of encouragement or advice have any effect?"

There was once a poor man who earned a living digging clay and selling it. Once, while digging clay, he discovered a precious stone which was obviously worth a great deal. Since he had no idea of it's worth, he took it to an expert to tell him Its value. The expert answered, "No one here will be able to afford such a stone. Go to London, the capital, and there you will be able to sell it." The man was so poor that he could not afford to make the journey. He sold everything he had, and went from house to house, collecting funds for the trip. Finally he had enough to take him as far as the sea. 

He then went to board a ship, but he did not have any money. He went to the ship's captain and showed him the jewel. The captain immediately welcomed him aboard the ship with great honor, assuming he was a very trustworthy person. He gave the poor man a special first class cabin, and treated him like a wealthy personage. The poor man's cabin had a view of the sea, and he sat there, constantly looking at the diamond and rejoicing. He was especially particular to do this during his meals, since eating in good spirits is highly beneficial for digestion. Then one day, he sat down to eat, with the diamond lying in front of him on the table where he could enjoy it. Sifting there he dozed off. Meanwhile, the mess boy came and cleared the table, shaking the tablecloth with it's crumbs and the diamond into the sea. When he woke up and realized what had happened, he almost went mad with grief. Besides, the captain was a ruthless man who would not hesitate to kill him for his fare. Having no other choice, he continued to act happy, as if nothing had happened. The captain would usually speak to him a few hours every day, and on this day, he put himself in good spirits, so that the captain was not aware that anything was wrong. The captain said to him, "I want to buy a large quantity of wheat and I will be able to Sell it in London for a huge profit. But I am afraid that I will be accused of stealing from the king's treasury. Therefore, I will arrange for the wheat to be bought in your name. I will pay you well for your trouble." The poor man agreed. But as soon as they arrived in London the captain died. The entire shipload of wheat was in the poor man's name and it was worth many times as much as the diamond.

Rabbi Nachman concluded, "The diamond did not belong to the poor man, and the proof is that he did not keep it. The wheat, however, did belong to him, and the proof is that he kept it. But he got what he deserved only because he remained happy.

It is up to each of us never to lose hope, and like the poor man in the story to whom everything appeared lost, force ourselves to be happy. Even a faked, ungenuine, happiness has the power to transform our situation and lead us to genuine joy.

96.


Let's see what Hashem wrote in the Torah about the Yetzer Hara. When Kayin was not will to sacrifice for Hashem as much as Hevel was, Hashem turned away from his offering. Kayin felt rejected and so Hashem said to him: "Why are you sad? If you will do better, you will be accepted, and if not, your sins will crouch for you on the entrance of your grave (meaning, that when you die you will be paid back for your sins).
"Ve'elecha Teshukaso, Ve'ata Timshal Bo - And his (the evil inclination's) desire is to you (to cause you to stumble), and you shall rule over him".

The Zohar gives a parable of a king who wanted to test his son's loyalty, so he paid for a prostitute to try to entice his son. The prostitute did her best to make the king's son stumble, but deep down she really wanted that the king's son should refuse her, for she too is a servant of the king and wants the king to truly be happy. 

It is helpful to remember this parable, and to realize that the Yetzer Hara is also really a servant of Hashem. Deep down, he is happy when you refuse his destructive seducing! Realize that life is all a test of our loyalty and of how much we are really willing to sacrifice for G-d.

97.


On Pesach we say
"Bikesh Lavan La'akor es Hakol - Lavan tried to destroy everything" (even more than Pharaoh). The question is asked, where do we find in the scripture that Lavan tried to destroy everything? The holy sefer, the "Ma'or Vashemesh" writes that Lavan is symbolic of the evil inclination. When Yaakov first started working for Lavan, Lavan said to him "Ach atzmi uvisari ata - you are my own flesh and blood". Lavan tried to include Yaakov in himself and thereby destroy him. The Me'or Vashemesh explains that the way the Yetzer Hara succeeds in totally destroying a person is by telling him "you are my own flesh and blood", in other words he tells a person "I am not an outsider trying to get you to sin, rather I am you and you are me!". 

A person falls the most when he says to himself "I can't change. This is who I am". NO! This is not who you are! You are the holy Yaakov. The Yetzer Hara is Lavan and he is telling you lies that this is who you are! 

Learning to view the Yetzer Hara's desires in third person, as not as your own, is one of the most powerful tools in breaking free of his grasp. Recognize that he, and not you, i.e. the yetzer hara, is trying to
"La'akor es Hakol - to destroy everything". When you separate yourself in your mind from the Yetzer Hara's desires and view them instead as an outside enemy, you have already made significant progress.

98.


The Pasuk says
"Modeh V'eozev Yerucham - He who admits and desists will be shown mercy".

In the holy books it says that the secret of confession is as follows: Every deed a person does creates a prosecuting angel. That angel goes up to heaven and prosecutes the one who did the sin that brought the angel into existence. However, when a person confesses to G-d and admits that he is ashamed of his deed, the angel he created loses it's power to prosecute the person and he is easily forgiven. However, this only works with repentance, i.e. if the person changes his ways. Otherwise, the angel will continue to prosecute even stronger than before and point out to G-d that the person who created him was lying when he confessed and said that he feels bad for his sins.

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From the Shaar ha'Tefillah by the Be'er Mayim Chayim

"And it is not seemly and it is not proper for an intelligent person to run after the filth and desire of this sort, for why is he called man if not for having the spirit of man which ascends above and not that of a beast that descends below to the earth, and every intelligent person knows that it is proper for him to be different from a horse and a dog in his desires".

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We need to internalize that the Yetzer Hara is out to destroy us, not to help us. He claims to be our best friend, but he is our worst enemy. The evil inclination's goal is that the value of our lives should be zero. His job is to damage. To do this he was given permission to use pleasure and illusionary "fulfillment" as a bluff to be able to cause us damage. Otherwise, how could he possibly damage, we would tell him to get lost! But we need to realize, he is like Arafat offering us a piece of cake. We know he doesn't mean the cake, he means to use the cake to damage us somehow.

The false pleasures that the Yetzer Hara offers, destroy our relationship with our own selves--our own souls. But even worse, they destroy our relationship with Hashem.

99.

 

The majority think that the prohibition to look at women is only for pious or saintly people. It is forbidden to listen to their words.
(Derech Pikudecha, 35 Lo Taase)

There is no greater barrier to sexual arousal than closing one's eyes.
(Sefer Chassidim 9)


THE FIRST GATE LEADING TO HOLINESS IS TO GUARD YOUR EYES FROM
LOOKING AT FORBIDDEN THINGS.
(DIBRE SHMUEL, CHAYE SARAH)

The Tzaddikim that possess the likeness of the image of G-d on their face, are careful to turn their faces away from looking at forbidden places and when they talk to women their eyes are closed.
(The Alshich, Noach)

100.


AT ALL TIMES WE ARE LIABLE TO LOOSE THIS WORLD AND THE WORLD TO COME

From Sefer Tikkun Ha Brit, Shaar Shemirat Eynaim

Whoever goes out into the street is liable to loose both worlds, this one and the World to Come, G-d forbid. This can be through looking at women (live, on TV, on posters, in catalogs, magazines, INTERNET, etc) and at the lewdness that is all around us and that contaminates the brain and the soul.

And as the Rambam writes in Hilchot Teshuva (Chapter 4, 4), most people don't realize that it is what the eyes see that later lead a person to the act of sin. The Ohr haChayim wrote that if a person will not be careful in restricting what he sees, then it will be impossible for him to avoid sinful thoughts and come to sin. And our Sages in the Talmud further said (Nedarim 30) "All those that look at women, their end is to come to sin".

So it is of great benefit for any one who goes out into the streets to spend a few minutes of his time to review the things written here so that he will be able to guard his eyes, thereby bringing great benefit to his body and soul, for as the Bne Issachar wrote (Derech Pikudecha): "We have a tradition from our fathers that the Yetzer Hara desires more than anything to attack the person through sexual sins, because in this lust are included all the others.

And also among the Rishonim, as the Chinuch writes, Mitzvah 387: "We know that through observing the Mitzvah 'And you shall not go astray after you hearts and your eyes...' a man will guard himself from sinning against Hashem all his days. And if one transgresses this sin once, he will do it many times. Because after the doors are open for the Satan to attack, he will be relentless, and
"AVERAH GORERET AVERAH - A Sin brings in its wake another sin".