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The Shmiras Ainayim Chizuk List

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The Shmiras Ainayim Chizuk List          E-Mails 201-250

201.


Jump Into His Arms

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 people might think that it's not physically possible to be truly holy in today's crazy world, G-d is not limited to their abilities. Many people who originally thought it was impossible, learned to put their full trust in G-d and give over their desires to Him. 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 Hashem 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"...
 

202.


The Chafetz Chaim's Letter

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.

Signed:

Yisrael Meir, the son of Areyeh Zev, the Kohen

203.


Imagination & Shmiras Einayim

Taken From asimplejew.blogspot

A person usually thinks of imagination as something that runs wild on the occasions that he isn't careful with shmiras einayim. Imagination, however, can actually be an extremely powerful weapon in the battle against the yetzer hara and its desire to run around unchecked in our minds.

Instinctively, a person may glance a second time after seeing a sight that he finds enticing, despite the fact that it may be improper to look at. The mind hasn't fully processed what the eyes have seen in the first split second, yet it knows that there is now something worthy of its attention and desires to get a better look.

This brief moment in time between the first and second glances is where employing the power of imagination is crucial. At this moment, a person must tell himself that he did not see anything at all. Once the brain receives this command signal, it looses its desire to look a second time. A person can than proceed along his way as if nothing happened and maintain his thoughts focusing on matters of kedusha.

204.


The Virtues of Purity & Holiness
(Part 1: 20 out of 80)

To highlight the supreme stature of living a life of holiness, we will list [in the coming days] 80 outstanding virtues of shmiras habris, as compiled by the Torah giant, Rabbi Aharon Rata, in his book, "Taharas HaKodesh." In the original Hebrew text, Rabbi Rata brings sources for each entry in the list.

  • The person who guards the Brit is the pinnacle of Creation, and the world is upheld by him.
  • There is no nation in the world that can rule over Israel, in the merit of those who guard the Brit.
  • It is as if he kept all of the Torah.
  • He will merit to see HaKadosh Baruch Hu in the future world, and this is the greatest possible pleasure.
  • He will merit to achieve the completion of his soul.
  • He will merit that the Shechinah not depart from him.
  • His physical aspect will  also be illuminated.
  • He is called a man of valor.
  • HaKadosh Baruch Hu attires him with the attribute of splendor.
  • He merits to cleave to G-d.
  • HaKadosh Baruch Hu will heal him from all of his ailments and pains.
  • He draws favorable blessings on himself and his family.
  • HaKadosh Baruch Hu guards over him, and nothing can cause him harm.
  • HaKadosh Baruch Hu takes pride in him each day.
  • HaKadosh Baruch Hu remembers him every day.
  • He is called flawless.
  • He is called tzaddik.
  • Blessings first come to him, and then to the rest of the world.
  • He merits righteous children.
  • The angel "Duma" and all of the destructive angels do not have permission to come near him.
     

Taken from www.jewishsexuality.com

205.


The Virtues of Purity & Holiness
Part 2
21 - 40 (out of 80)

We bring here another 20 out of the 80 outstanding virtues of shmiras habris, 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.

  • He brings blessing to the Shechinah.
  • He merits pleasure in his service of G-d.
  • HaKadosh Baruch Hu grants him more honor than anyone else.
  • He merits to be spared from the tribulations of Mashiach's coming, and from all kinds of punishments, and he merits to be redeemed.
  • After the redemption, at the time of the great day of judgment, he will be spared.
  • HaKadosh Baruch Hu establishes the world to come for him.
  • 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.
  • He merits royalty.
  • He unites HaKadosh Baruch Hu with the Shechinah.
  • He has permission to enter the gate of the Tzaddikim.
  • The Angel of Death has no permission to approach him, and his death comes not at its hands.
  • He merits to experience the holiness of Shabbat.
  • The Name of G-d rests on him.
  • He rescues many souls from Gehinom.
  • He becomes the partner of G-d.
  • He merits the Divine Likeness.
  • He merits to vanquish the four impure klipot.
  • He is inscribed in the highest world.
  • The upper and lower celestial beings tremble before him.
  • The waves and storms of the ocean become calm before him.

Taken from www.jewishsexuality.com

206.


The Virtues of Purity & Holiness
Part 3
41 - 60 (out of 80)

We bring here another 20 out of the 80 outstanding virtues of shmiras habris, 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.

  • HaKadosh Baruch Hu shelters him from enemies and from the evil eye.
  • No accusing angel can damage his soul.
  • He merits to reach exalted levels.
  • He is called the work of G-d's hands and the goal of Creation.
  • He is called a member of the King's court.
  • The Names of G-d protect him.
  • He brings about the sweetening of bitter decrees.
  • He is called the complete man.
  • He fills the holy sefirot with Divine influx.
  • From this, he himself receives constant blessings.
  • His image is imprinted in the Shechinah.
  • When there is suffering in the world, the Patriarchs join with him to cancel the evil decree.
  • All of the evil spiritual forces and the Sitra Achara take distance from him.
  • The main factor in the coming of the redemption is Shmirat HaBrit.
  • The kingship of the House of David and the building of Jerusalem depends on Shmirat HaBrit.
  • After his death, he is worthy of an aron, the internment befitting a righteous man like Yosef.
  • He is saved from all harsh judgments.
  • He causes the renewal of the stream of blessings to the world which was dried up because of sins.
  • He is called an unblemished, righteous man.
  • His body does not return to dust.

Taken from www.jewishsexuality.com

207.


The Virtues of Purity & Holiness
Part 4/4   (61 - 80)

We bring here the final set of 20 outstanding virtues of shmiras habris (out of the 80 we brought over the past few days), 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.

  • He is spared the sufferings of the grave.
  • He inherits the transcendental land of the living.
  • The descent and ascent of the angels are all in his behalf.
  • He is called holy.
  • In his merit, many Jews are rescued from blemishing the Brit.
  • He is worthy, like the High Priest, of bringing an offering on the altar.
  • His faculty of knowledge expands and his thoughts are purified.
  • He merits to become a chariot for the upper Yesod.
  • HaKadosh Baruch Hu opens the fountains of wisdom for him.
  • He merits a broken heart and all good attributes.
  • He merits to bring merits to others, and his words are accepted.
  • He merits to perform acts of kindness in the proper manner.
  • He merits to pray in the proper fashion.
  • He merits to sanctify himself even in matters that are permitted.
  • He merits complete faith.
  • He merits to feel the fear of G-d.
  • He merits joy in G-d.
  • He merits Divine Providence more than all the world.
  • He is considered like one of the Prophets.

 

May all of the Jewish People merit to attain these exalted virtues. Amen.

 

Taken from this page at www.jewishsexuality.com

208.
209.
Hard but Rewarding
Taken From www.jewishsexuality.com
 
Question:

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?

Answer:

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?

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.
 
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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, 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!"
210.
211.
Heartfelt Prayer
 
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 www.jewishsexuality.com
212.
213.
Rejoice in the Struggle!

Excerpted from the Tanya, Chapter 27, by the first Admor 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 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."
 
Translation from www.jewishsexuality.com
214.
Make it Disgusting in your Eyes
 
The Medrash says that Pinchas drove his spear straight through the 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 writes, that through doing this, Pinchas made the sin of illicit 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, that after the Midyanites brought the Jews to sin in illicit relations, 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 at least from the booty of the enemy? Answers the ohr Hachayim, that when it comes to immoral sexual conduct (that the Midyanites caused the Jews to sin in), the only way for the Jews to receive 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 sin remains alive in a Jew's heart, he cannot properly atone for sins of this nature. Instead, he must try to first arouse a disgust and hatred of these sins in his heart - and only then he can achieve a true Teshuvah.
 
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For a similar thought related to this week's Parsha Ki Seitzai; please see today's Chizuk e-mail from the other e-mail list: #568 on this page.
215.
216.
217.
The Easy Way & the Hard Way
 
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, 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 combination of these, c"v.

(Conversely, the Steipler points out in the first volume of Krayna D'igrisah that anyone who keeps away from forbidden pleasures is promised to receive the pleasures of life from other areas instead).

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 us, we should tell him that we don't have a choice whether to work or not. Because in any event, somewhere down the line - we will have to do the work we were given. So instead of making it hard on ourselves, let's do it the right way, the first time, with joy!
218.
219.
Let Go & Let G-d
 
The great David Hamelech recognized that only through Hashem's divine intervention can one succeed in subduing the evil inclination. He mentions this theme many times in Tehhillim - see below for three examples. Moshe Rabbeinu as well, 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 we want to split our 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.
 
Along these lines, Chaza"l say that Moshiach can't come until the time when the Yidden realize, "Ein Lanu Al Mi Lesha'ain Ela Al Avinu Shebashamayim - We have no one to rely on but our father in heaven".
 
This is a recurrent theme in all of the Torah and Chaza"l. And as it is on a national level, so it is on a personal level. True redemption of any kind can not be achieved before a person truly knows that he has no hope but G-d Himself.
 
Examples from Tehillim:
 
1."Tzofeh Rasha Latzadik umevakesh le'hamiso - Hashem Lo Ya'azvenu Beyado - 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:
 
"Yitzro Shel Adam Misgaber Alav Bechol Yom Veilmalai Hakadosh Baruch Hu Ozer Lo, Aino Yuchal Lo - 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"
 
2. "Lulai Ezrasa Li, Kima'at Shuchneh duma Nafshi - Had you not helped me, my soul should have been laid rest by Dumah (the angel of Gehenom)"
 
3. "Ani Amarti Bishalvi bal emot le'olam, hashem birtzoncha he'emadeta learri Oz.. histartah panecha hayisi nival - 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."
220.
"If there's no water, you can't put out fire"
 
One struggling member wrote us something beautiful and 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. I've seen a lot of information on Jewish websites describing the struggle between the yetzer tov and the yetzer hora but they don't really describe 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.
 
Make sure to learn Torah every day. Some ideas:
 
- There's nothing like a Daf Yomi Shiur. Gemara is "Sechel Hayashar - straight thinking" 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, it's the perfect potion to keep the Yetzer Hara far away!
 
See also this page of our website for many more Torah ideas and on-line Shiurim.
 
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YankleD posted today on the forum:
 
"Barasi Torah Tavlin" - take advantage gentlemen. It's the only foolproof system.  Torah is always the key. Shteig! Shteig! Shteig!

Learn up a storm on a Tosfos! Demand truth of the world and of yourself! Grow and Learn and strive to live up to the truth of the Torah, for that is the only way.  See past the lies and live for the challenge. We are going to daven soon for the "sefer hachaim - the book of life" - a life full of meaning away from the challenges of the past and living up to the challenges of the present. What does Hashem demand of us? T'mimus - be simple. Walk the other way from the Y"H menuval and live with simplicity and kedusha.  

Ok, running now to night seder :-)
221.
The Kosher Isle
Please Use this Section On Our Site!
 
Some people claim it's too hard for them to guard their eyes because they have many hours on their hands and are therefore drawn to non-kosher time-killers/thrillers. Others claim that 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 non-kosher movies and news sites. Obviously, these claims have some truth to them and for those who feel this way, it makes guarding the eyes much harder.

It is important to realize though, that we can't hold on to both sides of the stick. If one truly wants to stay away from poison that destroys our souls, we must be willing to make some difficult sacrifices and find kosher and healthy outlets for stimulation, entertainment and for spending their time. (See this entertaining article about the dangers of today's Movies by Tzvi Fishman)
 
And that is the purpose of the Kosher Isle.

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!
222.
Today's e-mail is an excerpt from an e-Book on Shmiras Habris called "Hands-Off".
Download here the entire PDF (right-click and choose "Save Target/link As").

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"He who comes to purify himself is granted Heavenly assistance"

(Yoma 38b)

 
When you make an effort to deliberately not look at something (either whilst knowing it's there and avoiding it, or accidentally seeing it, but then immediately looking away), Hashem rewards you by eventually making it easier to not look next time.

This is like a 401k where Hashem matches your efforts in the form of spiritual contributions so that one day you realize that you are much stronger than the sum of your total efforts should logically have been by your own efforts alone.

We see the same Siyata de'Shemayim in other areas as well. For example, if you make a concerted effort to avoid Lashon Hara, then not only will you be less tempted to speak it, but you will also find that people will not speak it to you as well. This can be easily evidenced by the periodic realizations that relatively 'monumental' events may have occurred around you that you were never aware of until later (e.g. divorces, firings, neighborhood scandals (Chas v'shalom) and yet you never found out until long after the fact. This can be considered a "receipt" of your efforts being favorably accepted by Hashem.

(What may also be relevant is a statement made by the Chofetz Chaim regarding studying the laws of Lashon Hara. Regarding the importance of studying these laws, he said, "The Midrash (Bamidbar Rabbah 14,4) states that if one studies a subject intensely, Hashem removes the Yetzer Harah from him with regard to that subject." - Cited in Chofetz Chaim - A Daily Companion, 2008, Mesorah Publications)

By knowing that the road you must travel to accomplish this goal will be shortened for you at the point that you deserve it, the knowledge that you will receive this assistance will strengthen your efforts.

This is like the "runners' high" that marathon runners experience and come to expect with long runs (like marathons). Were they not to experience this 'boost', then they likely might not be able to complete the lengthy course by way of their own intended physical effort.
223.
Today's e-mail is an excerpt from an e-Book on Shmiras Habris called "Hands-Off".
Download here the entire PDF (right-click and choose "Save Target/link As").

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"Create in me, G-d, a pure heart""
(Tehillim 51:12)
 
Regarding looking at forbidden things; what you see is a contaminant for your soul, especially in the ideas & thoughts that arise from the glance ("The eyes see and the heart desires"). But even if the desire could somehow be contained, the mere 'seeing' of the forbidden blemishes the soul and the efforts you have put forth thus far.

E.g. When I was a young child and I was in the midst of a foul odor, I remember that I didn't want to breathe through my nose and smell it. I also remember thinking (with my 5-year old logic) that breathing through my mouth, while not resulting in the experience of the unpleasant odor, had me fearing that I was somehow bringing the 'dangerous "stink" molecules' into my lungs where it would poison me from within'.

This is a somewhat valid metaphor for looking at forbidden things. Even if we could look at a forbidden image without immediately running to act on it ('wincing from the odor'), we have still taken in the 'stink molecules' by looking, and these will most certainly "poison us from the inside". Just like the only solution for me back then was to close my mouth and hold my breath, so too the only solution here is to close your eyes, look away, and keep the foul imagery out.

If my analogy is too far-fetched or abstract (or ridiculous), then use pulmonary disorders like inhalation of asbestos as your example. Had they taken the necessary precautions and closed off their mouth (similar to 'shutting your eyes'), the intrusion of the aggressors' influence in the form of tiny asbestos particles (similar to the unholiness of viewed forbidden image) would not have entered them and progressively become aggressive to the point that their physical (in our case, 'spiritual') well-being was damaged.
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Today's e-mail is an excerpt from an e-Book on Shmiras Habris called "Hands-Off".
Download here the entire PDF (right-click and choose "Save Target/link As").

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"I have set Hashem before me always..."
(Tehillim 16:8)

 
When you are inclined to look at inappropriate material, you always make sure that "the coast is clear" (i.e. ensure that the curtain is closed, the door is shut, computer monitor facing away from door, etc.), but did it ever occur to you that HASHEM CAN SEE YOU?

How Chutzpah'dik is that? Hashem gives you money, a loyal wife, healthy children, a beautiful place to live, etc. etc. etc., yet you ignore him to make sure an ordinary person doesn't see you?

[This is like if you are in an elevator with the President of the company and the janitor, and you wait for the janitor to step off of the elevator before feeling comfortable enough to pass gas, completely ignoring the fact the President of the company you work for is still standing right there with you!]

On his deathbed, Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai gave a bracha to his talmidim, among them Rebbi Eliezer and Rebbi Yehoshua, that: "Your fear for Hashem should as great as your fear from people". When asked why he shouldn't bid them to fear Hashem even more, he correctly acknowledged that: "If only people would have the awareness and fear of Hashem's presence as they do of other people..."

If you truly feel that Hashem is there when you pray for parnassah, children, health, Shalom Bayis, etc., then why wouldn't he ALSO be there when you do this?

A major turning point that you should strive to experience is when you are truly unable to proceed with this act because of the awareness that, no matter how alone you are with all precautions taken, you know that Hashem is watching you and DOESN'T WANT YOU TO DO THIS.

You are fully aware that Hashem is staring at you.
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Real Teshuvah
 
"How does one know that Hashem has accepted his Teshuva, especially for Shmiras Ainayim and Shmiras Habris related sins?"

Here are three possible answers, all of which are true.

1) Chaza"l say that true Teshuvah is achieved "Ki'sheme'id alav yode'ah talumos shelo yashuv lekislo od" -Translation: "When G-d, who knows all hidden things, bears witness on him that he will not go back to his bad ways again". But how can a person know when G-d bears witness on him? The Ba'al Hasulam explains that when a person truly feels that it would be as bad for him to go back to his old ways as sticking his hand into fire, that is a sure sign that Hashem has testified on him that he will never go back to his old ways!

2) The Ramba"m writes that true Teshuvah is achieved when we have the same opportunity to sin as we did before - and the same desire, yet we don't. If that happens, we will know that we have done a true Teshuvah. (That's one reason I heard, for why we say in the Shma Koleinu of Slichos: "Kichlois Koicheinu, al Ta'azveinu - when our strength has left us, do not forsake us". Because once we do not have the same strength that we used to have in our youth, complete Teshuvah is no longer assured).

3) The holy Chassidic master, Rabbi Mendel of Vitebsk writes (in his sefer Pri Ha'aretz) that true Teshuvah can come about only through Messiras Nefesh (to be ready to die for it). He explains that a person can reach this level if they feel so bad about their sins that they would rather to be dead than to do these sins again. If a person feels this way about their past deeds, they can be sure that they have done an exalted Teshuvah.
 
May Hashem help us all achieve a true Teshuvah!
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It's All About Connection
 
Before the Yidden entered Eretz Yisrael, Moshe Rabbeinu said to them (Devorim 7:22): "And Hashem will wipe out the goyim from before you slowly but surely, but you cannot destroy them quickly, lest the animals of the field increase upon thee". I always wondered about this. After all, if Hashem can bring the 10 plagues on Egypt and split the sea, why can't he wipe out the goyim in Eretz Yisrael in one fell swoop? Is Hashem really worried about the increase of the animals? Is that something harder to deal with then getting rid of these great nations?
 
It occurred to me that maybe there is a far deeper meaning here. All the creations of the world have a connection to Hashem based on their needs. The more someone "needs" Hashem, the more connection they have with him. Hashem told the snake after the sin of the Etz Hada'as "and you shall eat the dust of the earth all the days of your life", and Rashi explains that Hashem wanted no connection with the snake and therefore gave him his food wherever he goes. However, the other animals of the field need to ask Hashem for food every day, as it says in Tehillim, "Livakesh Mikel Ochlam - to ask from Hashem their food".
 
Hashem wanted human beings to have even more connection with Him than the animals do, and therefore humans don't have a natural way to get food like the animals do, but rather, they are dependant on owning land, toiling the soil, rainfall, and on a good crop and harvest. One of the praises mentioned of Eretz Yisrael is "Limtar Hashamayim Tishteh Mayim - From the heavens you will drink water", and the Pasuk goes on to say - "Eretz Yisrael is not like Eretz Mitzrayim which drinks like a watered garden from the Nile". But why is that a praise? It would seem that Mitzrayim is more fortunate than Israel! The answer is, that Hashem wants more of a connection with us than he wants with the Egyptians. To them, he gave the Nile river so that they don't need rain fall at all and don't need to come on to Hashem as much at all. However, Eretz Yisrael drinks from the heavens, and like it says; "the eyes of Hashem are on the land [of Israel] from the beginning of the year until the end". Eretz Yisrael needs special divine intervention for water, and the praise of this is that the Jewish people living there are always dependant on Hashem for rainfall and therefore remain strongly connected with Him. After all, like it says (Devarim 6:11), "and you will receive buildings that you didn't build, wells which you didn't dig, vineyards that you didn't plant, etc..." So the Yidden will have everything they need in Eretz Yisrael. If they weren't dependant on Hashem at least for rainfall, they would no longer need Hashem and quickly forget Him.
 
The same applies to our enemies. And that is why it says, that although Hashem will wipe out the goyim from before us slowly but surely, still, He will not destroy them in one swoop - "lest the animals of the field increase upon thee". What that perhaps means is, that if Hashem would wipe out our enemies all at once, we would no longer feel dependant on Him. The words "lest the animals of the field increase upon thee" mean to hint perhaps, that if Hashem would destroy our enemies quickly then even the animals of the field would "increase" over us, meaning that the animals would have even more of a connection with Hashem than we would.
 
And that is why Hashem has given us the Yetzer Hara as well. He wants a connection with us! He wants us to know that we need Him, and that without his constant help, we are lost. And that is also why Hashem doesn't destroy the Yetzer Hara in one fell swoop once a person decides to do Teshuvah. Instead, each time we think we got rid of him, he keeps coming back again and again. Only "slowly but surely" does Hashem wipe him out from before us. For if Hashem would get rid of the Yetzer Hara all at once, we wouldn't need Hashem any more and we wouldn't feel dependant on him. And this "connection" that we have to Hashem through our struggles with the Yetzer Hara, is even more important to Hashem than the falls that we have as a result of Him not removing the Yetzer Hara altogether, as soon as we want to do Teshuvah.
 
To sum it all up: The most important thing to Hashem is not our progress in destroying the Yetzer Hara, but rather our dependency on Him, and our constant knowledge that we need Hashem every day anew to help us succeed against our #1 enemy.
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Who's Pursuing Who?
 
Taken from www.ilovetorah.com
 
Once, when Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz entered his Beis Medresh, study hall, he noticed that his students stopped conversing and then started again. He asked them what it was they were talking about. They told the Rebbe that they were saying how they were afraid that the Yetzer Hara would pursue them. The Rebbe responded, "Don't worry. You aren't on such a high level. You're still pursuing him!"
 
When I first heard this story, it really hit home base for me. Every time I have told it over, it has almost shocked the listeners. It's funny how the simple words of rabbi Pinchas of Koretz contain, for most, the antidote for overcoming much of their struggles with their Yetzer Hara.
 
The Yetzer Hara, guided by the Satan, is said to get stronger everyday as one grows in their level of Yiddishkite. Someone once said to his Rebbe, "I wish I had your Yetzer Hara."  The Rebbe taken aback said strongly, in a stern voice, "Chas V Shalom, G-D forbid!".  The student had innocently thought that because his rebbe was so pure it must be that his Yetzer Hara, evil inclination wasn't so strong. But the real truth is that the higher one's level of piety, the stronger their Yetzer Hara has to become. After all, aren't we supposed to struggle in life with free choice? Without a Yetzer Hara, being a pious man would be easy and therefore have little value to Hashem and ourselves. To value something, we must work for it.
 
So if it feels like the Yetzer Hara is just getting stronger each day, take heart! It means you are growing each day!
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Personal Redemption
 
Chazal tell us that when the shofar is blown, the Satan gets confused and thinks that the Moshiach is coming and he fears that he will be slaughtered. The question is asked, how is it that the Satan keeps getting confused, year in, year out? Shouldn't he have learned by now that it's just the Shofar of Rosh Hashana?

I heard a beautiful answer recently from the Toldos (A talmid of the Ba'al Shem Tov). He says that just like there will be a redemption on a national scale, there is also a personal redemption that every Jew can achieve. As it says, "Karva el Nafshi Ge'ala - bring my soul close to redemption". The Satan doesn't fear the national redemption when he hears the Shofar, instead, he sees that the soul of every Jew is awakened by the Shofar and achieves a certain level of "personal redemption". And it is THAT redemption that he fears so much!

That is the power of the Shofar. When we declare Hashem as King over the world; when we recognize that there is NOTHING else but Him, a Jew is able to reach a higher state of consciousness. He no longer feels his "wants" and "needs". He no longer lives confined within his own personal world of desire. Instead, all he wants is for the honor of the King to fill the world! And this is truly a state of "personal redemption" - which the Satan fears so much.

Ironically, Rosh Hashana is the day that our Parnassa and sustenance for the whole coming year is decided. It is precisely when we let go of all our "wants", "needs" and "desires" and wish only for Hashem's Kingdom to fill the world - THAT is when Hashem turns to us with love and says, "Here my son, take all the goodness of the world. I created it all for you".
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Here are some excerpts from a beautiful and holy "battle cry" on our forum from "Mevakesh", from right before Rosh Hashana last year!
 
Cry, Baby, Cry!!
 
Rabeinu Yonah quotes a Yerushalmi in Brachos (Perek 1 Halacha 5) which says:

"There are two channels with which a person sins, his heart and his eyes. Therefore, the sins that were performed with each channel need to be atoned for in the way in which the sin was performed. Sins that came about through the channel of the heart, need a broken heart to facilitate atonement. And sins that were committed through the channel of the eyes, need TEARS to facilitate atonement!"

Rabbeinu Yonah continues, and quotes a Pasuk in Tehilim (119) "Palgei Mayim Yordu Eini Al Lo Shamru Torasecha - rivers of tears flowed from my eyes, because I have not guarded your Torah". Rabbein Yonah explains this Pasuk to mean that not guarding what our eyes see is considered as if we have not kept the Torah, and indeed warrants rivers of tears for atonement!

My dear brothers and sisters, Rabeinu Yonah is talking to us all!

Our eyes have caused us to transgress "Lo Sasuru Acharei Eineichem"! Baruch Hashem we are all on the road to Tesuva Shelaima (some of us just starting, some of us well along, but the main thing is that we are on the road!)

However, Rabbeinu Yonah is telling us that we need more than just Teshuva. We need to cleanse the very channels with which we have sinned, with TEARS. 

CRY MY DEAR BROTHERS AND SISTERS, CRY YOUR HEART OUT TO OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN. HE AWAITS OUR SINCERE TEARS AND WILL USE THOSE TEARS TO MAKE THE MORTAR WITH WHICH HE IS BUILDING THE BEIS HAMIKDASH HASHLISHI.

Never in the history of Klal Yisroel have we stooped to such low and degenerate levels of znus, filth and such an impossible environment.

But, as Hashem always keeps the cure close by, NEVER in the history of Klal Yisroel has there been such a power of good ready to combat the evils of the street. We all owe a tremendous Hakoras Hatov to GuardYourEyes, who has started a movement of good. A movement of Teshuva like never before. A revolution of Anti-filth! A real army ready, willing, worthy and able to fight, capture and slaughter the Yetzer Hara!

My dear brothers, Rosh Hashana is less than 24 hours away! CRY!!! CRY!!! CRY!!! CLEANSE!!! CLEANSE!!! CLEANSE!!! CHANGE THE WORLD!!! I CAN! YOU CAN! WE ALL CAN!!!!

A KESIVA V'CHASIMA TOVA. PLEASE DON'T FORGET DO DAVEN FOR EACH OTHER AND THIS YEAR WILL BE THE YEAR THAT MOSHIACH TRIUMPHANTLY ARRIVES AND ALL THE FILTH WILL BE ABOLISHED FOREVER AND EVER.
 
AMEN!
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"Why doesn't Hashem come down to say Hello?"
 
Dear Guard,

You've helped me so much to subdue my unhealthy habits. I am so glad to be done with this. However, quite frankly, I would like to know that all the suffering I have given myself over by not pursuing these things has some meaning on High. Why can't I simply feel something special when I serve G-d, for example when I put on Tefillin? I have no joy from doing these things, but I do them anyway. Why don't you ask Hashem to help me have joy and simcha when serving him? He never answers my cries anyway. And while you are at it, tell Him that I feel that He doesn't care about me at all, and that I feel alone without Him, and that it would do a lot of good if He could just stop by from time to time and say "hello."
 
Dear mighty spiritual soldier!
 
Your e-mail brought tears to my eyes! You should know that you have a great soul and great strengths, and you are from G-d's select few in today's world who are able to remain clean in these areas. You are shaking the upper worlds with your self-sacrifice. But if Hashem would stop by and say hello, it would be all over. Hashem is loving it too much, and he doesn't want the great game of "Hide-&-Seek" that he is playing with you to end so fast.
 
Hashem is SO awesome and exalted - and your reward is SO great, that when Moshiach comes (any day now!) or after 120 years, you will wish you could go back to those days where you had a chance to serve Almighty G-d even though he was so hidden. If you would actually "know" what you are accomplishing by serving Him, by going against your nature for him to the extent that you are, if you would only know, you would beg once again not to know.
 
This alone should give you tremendous joy:
  • The fact that you have the great honor to serve such an awesome G-d, who created everything that exists in the universe and in all the upper spiritual worlds...
  • The fact that you have the honor to be one of his great warriors on this dark Earth, where he has hidden himself so well...
  • The fact that you are giving Hashem such Nachas Ruach with your self sacrifice...
This should all be enough to make you want to dance!!
 
Chassidic literature often emphasizes how important it is for a Jew to value each and every deed that he does for Hashem, no matter how small. It is brought down from Tzaddikim that more a person values every little thing he does for Hashem - the more precious it is in the eyes of Hashem as well. One great Chassidic Master went as far to say that a Jew should feel that he wouldn't sell the smallest thing that he did for Hashem for all the riches in the world! If we would only be successful to internalize this, we would be the richest people on earth! Think about it. You said "no" to the Yetzer Hara today, or you put on Teffilin. Even though we are not on the spiritual level to feel the "divine light" of the Mitzvah that we did, still, if someone would come and offer us a million dollars to sell him that Mitzva, would we sell it? No! So in a very real sense, every Mitzva is (or should be) more precious to us than winning the lottery. So I ask, how can one feel down when he is winning the lottery every day?!
 
As far as feeling lonely and not feeling a connection with Hashem, one can indeed feel this way if we view Hashem as some sublime essence, detached from us lowly humans and somewhere up there in Heaven. However, the most central theme in Chassidus, and perhaps the Ba'al Shem Tov's greatest revelation, was that Hashem is everywhere and in everything, even in the most lowly things!

Let me explain how far this goes... In every bit of "desire" or "love" we feel, even in sinful ways, there lies the "fallen" light of "G-dly love and desire". If we understand this great secret, we begin to feel G-d in everything we see, and in our own hearts as well. Instead of being pulled after the "fallen" love and pleasures that tempt us every day, we learn instead to turn our hearts to the source of all love, pleasure and beauty - G-d Himself. One who learns this great art merits to live with G-d all day, every day. He doesn't need G-d to come down from Heaven and say "hello" because G-d is right there with him at all times.
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KOFER NEFESH
It's Considered Mesiras Nefesh When One Forgoes Even A Single Thing


Posted by "Tomim" on the forum
 
I'm reminded of a vort from the Tzemach Tzedek (the 3rd Lubavitcher Rebbe) in regard to bittul: Once, at a farbrengen that took place in the Rebbe's sukkah shortly before his Histalkus, the Tzemach Tzedek stood up on a bench and said: "Regarding damages incurred on a vessel, the Gemara states 'mah li kotloh plagah , mah li kotloh kulah?". "When Reuven damages the vessel belonging to Shimon, Shimon comes before him with the complaint 'What do I care if you partially damaged it ['kotloh' literally means killed], or if you fully damaged it!? You're responsible for the whole thing!'" When even a small hole is punctured in the bottom of a cup, it has to be considered as if the entire cup is destroyed, regardless of the size of the damage!

"The same is so with regard to mesiras nefesh" said the Tzemach Tzedek. "When a Yid forgoes his will on a single thing (mesiras nefesh is synonymous with the giving up of the will, as explained at length in Chassidus) and surrenders it to Hashem, it is considered as if he has entirely given up his life for Hashem."

It is true that there are levels of mesiras nefesh which require that the individual surrender his entire being - total disintegration, but at the same time bittul and mesirus nefesh are accomplished even by the small things that we forgo just for the sake of avodas Hashem. Every time we turn away from seeing something that we want to see but know we shouldn't; every want and desire that we give up for Hashem's sake, is considered mesiras nefesh on our part!
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OUR FATHER! OUR KING!
 
"Sorry yetzer hara, we are busy now with much more important things!"

A Post by "Battleworn" on the forum
 
At Mincha today I thought about all the HUNDREDS of times that we say AVINU! and all the hundreds of times we say MALKEINU! during these days. 

AVINU - our loving Father who loves us totally, completely, unconditionally and infinitely. 

MALKEINU - our King! We are the King's soldiers! We represent Him in this world! Regardless of what happened in the past, we have a shlichus to fulfill right now, as a representative of Hashem!

At this time of year, when so much is at stake and the Y'H is working overtime to get us down, we repeat hundreds of times, "AVINU! MALKEINU!" OUR FATHER! OUR KING! That's the main message we need to get in to ourselves. It's not for nothing that we repeat these words so many times! Try to think about these words each time you say them!

Each time we say this tefilah we ask for each of the 44 things once. But these holy, special, key words, we repeat 44 times!

RABOSAI! IF THE Y'H WANTS TO GET YOU DOWN THIS WEEK, TELL HIM THAT YOU ARE MUCH TO BUSY WITH YOUR FATHER AND KING! 

Yes, maybe it's true that I'm a loser, a lowlife. Yes, maybe it's true that Hashem is angry at me. Maybe it's true that I can't do what others can, maybe it's true that ...... (the Y'H never runs out of ideas on how to get us down)....

BUT DURING ASERES YIMEI TESHUVA IT'S THE JOB OF EVERY JEW TO PROCLAIM HASHEM KING!

Take a moment to think about it. You're busy with the with the coronation of the Creator Himself - Who happens to also be your Father, and this scumbag comes and starts pestering you about his insanities. Here I am, the "Ben habichor" of The King of Kings, The Creator Himself, busy with His coronation, and this jerk somehow manages to get me in to the most ridiculous conversation imaginable!

RIGHT NOW, IT'S THE JOB OF EVERY JEW TO REMIND HIMSELF THAT HASHEM IS HIS FATHER AND KING! THERE'S NO TIME FOR THE Y'H'S "VERY IMPORTANT" DISCUSSIONS RIGHT NOW - IN MIDDLE OF THE CORONATION OF MELECH MALCHEI HAMILACHIM BY HIS DEAR CHILDREN!
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We Are the Chickens
 
Many Yidden use chickens for the Minhag of Kaparos on Erev Yom-Kippur (or in the days preceding it). One may ask... before Yom Kippur, we immerse in the Mikvah and supposed to be all clean and dressed in white. So why do we need to get all dirty with the smelly chickens and watch the blood and filth as the Shochet slaughters them, right before Yom-Kippur?
 
The purpose of Kapparos - and indeed the proper way to do Teshuvah - is to be humbled and broken hearted by remembering our feebleness and how temporary we are. As we say in the Vidui on Yom-Kippur: "Afar Ani Bechaya'i, Kal Vachomer BemisasiI am dust in my life, and much more so in my death". And like it says in this week's Parsha Ha'azinu - "Ani Amis Va'chayeh, Ve'ein Miyadi Matzil I put to death and give life, and there is no being saved from my hand". Everyone will die. Doing Kapparos with the chickens, seeing and "feeling" the trembling chickens, smelling the filth and watching the slaughter, we are forced to remember that our bodies are not different than the chicken's. And indeed, when doing the Kapparos we are saying that we should have been slaughtered in place of the chickens. We are the same flesh and blood and we experience the same life and death, dust and rot. One day, our eyes that gazed at improper things will be eaten by the maggots, and our brains, which thought improper thoughts and desired other flesh and blood, will rot and disintegrate in the earth.
 
Normally we don't focus on these things and try to serve Hashem with Simcha all year round. But on Erev Yom-Kippur, the Kapparos help us remember this truth once a year, and inspire us to do Teshuvah with a humbled and broken heart.
 
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The Yidden In Kiev Didn't Need Chickens That Year
 
Exactly 68 years ago, towards the end of the Eseres Yimei Teshuvah, leaflets were distributed around the city of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, a part of the Soviet Union at that stage under Nazi control, informing all Jews that they were to report the following morning to a section of the city near the cemetery and that they were to take with them their valuables, warm clothes and personal documents. The leaflets also warned that any Jews that didn't would be shot.
 
By 8am the next morning, on the 8th of Tishrei, over 30,000 Jews had congregated near the cemetery as instructed. Rumours abounded as to what was going to happen to them. They were understandably scared, but tried to calm each other with assurances that everything would be fine.

The general consensus was that they were going to be deported. Yes, that was it, they thought, they were going to be sent away and resettled. After all, they had been told to bring their personal documents, right? Some even arrived early to get a good seat on the train.

They couldn't have been more wrong. There was no train; neither was there any plan to resettle them. Instead, they were led through the cemetery, where their documentation was checked. They were told to leave their baggage and that they would be reunited with it at their destination.

They were then pushed through a corridor of German soldiers, who beat them with sticks and kicked them, all the time laughing and mocking their victims. A famous eyewitness account said the soldiers "seemed to be drunk with fury in a sort of sadistic rage".

After leaving this corridor, bleeding, screaming and crying uncontrollably, the Jews were led to an overgrown area near the edge of a ravine, called Babi Yar. There they were shot and their bodies dumped into the ravine.

The whole process was executed with military precision. Most of the victims had no idea what was going on until it was too late.

First, in groups of 10 or more, they were machine-gunned and then pushed over the edge. Then soldiers walked among the injured and dying lying in the ravine and shot them at point-blank range.
 
Over the next 36 hours - throughout the day, into the night and throughout the next day - a total of 33,711 Jews from the city of Kiev were massacred. Assuming it was a non-stop process, that works out at about 15 men, women and children killed every minute - simply because they were Jewish.
 
(Taken from www.vosizneias.com)
 

 
Yidden! Let these holy martyrs of Kiev be in our minds this Yom-Kippur. Let our hearts be broken before Hashem, and let us remember that we are mere flesh and blood, slaughtered by our enemies for Hashem's sake throughout all the generations. Let us get ANGRY once and for all - REALLY ANGRY - at the Yetzer Hara who causes us to sin against the Almighty and abuse the gift of life that we were given, for the mere 80 years or so that we spend on this temporary earth. Let the tears come. Let our hearts be broken and humbled. For this is the real Teshuvah, as it says in Tehillim: "Zivchei Elokim Ruach Nishabra, Lev Nishbar Ve'nidkeh Elokim Lo Sivzeh The (true) sacrifice of Hashem is a broken spirit, a broken and humbled heart Hashem will not discard". 

And may we all be written in the book of LIFE and be Zoche to a G'mar Chasimah Tova!
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Our Thoughts Go Where We Want Them To
 
Chaza"l say that when one says Krias Shema he should gaze at his Tzitzis. Seeing his Tzitzis (which were blue from Techeiles in the time of Chazal) will make him think of the sky, which  is blue, and thinking of the blue sky will lead to thoughts of Hashem who made the sky, and this in turn will lead to thoughts of serving Hashem, etc...
 
Somebody once told Rav Dessler Zt"l that he doesn't understand the above Chaza"l. "Which person", he asked, "when seeing his Tzitzis will have this whole domino effect in his mind to lead him to think of Hashem?! That is so far fetched!"
 
Rav Dessler responded: Chaza"l say that one should not walk behind a woman, as walking behind her will lead him to think about her, and thus to think about other women and thus to think of sinning, and eventually lead him to sin. Asked Rav Dessler, "Can you identify with that thought process?" When the man responded in the affirmative, Rav Dessler explained: A persons thoughts go in the direction that the person is heading, in the direction that his heart leads him! If you are a person heading in the direction of sin, everything you see, hear or say can easily lead to thoughts of sin! If you are a person heading in the direction of Hashem, then everything you see, hear or say can easily lead to thoughts of Hashem!

So caress your tzitzis and think of Hashem; see the blue sky and think of Hashem! And when you look up at the Scach of your Sukka this year, see the Ananei Hakavod that protect the Jewish people with Hashem's eternal loving embrace!
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"Is it Really So Bad?"
 
Question:
 
My Yetzer Hara keeps trying to convince me that looking at erotic images is not so bad, as long as I am careful not to be MZ"L... Can you help me get him off my back?
Answer:
 
As far as the prohibitions are concerned, anyone who is religious and has learned any Torah, should be aware of the severity of these sins. The Torah says, "Thou shall not go astray after your hearts and after your eyes which lead you astray". This applies to any image that arouses one's evil inclination, and erotic images of any type are definitely forbidden. The Rabbis state that anyone who purposefully brings himself to an erection is to be banished (Niddah 13A). The Gemara there even goes as far to say "Better one's stomach should burst than he should touch the area of his bris (and possibly bring himself to an erection)". And another Gemara says "better to walk behind a lion than to walk behind a woman". And yet another Gemara: "whoever brings himself to an erection is destroying the world". This is not Mussar or Chassidus, this is regular Gemara. Our Sages were fire about this! The Medrash says that anyone who is not careful with gazing at women will come to sin with them in the end. Viewing these images is also included in the prohibition of "Lo Sikrevu Legalos Erva, Ani Hashem Elokeichem - Do not come close to revealing nakedness, for I am Hashem your G-d". There is no other Mitzva in the Torah where such terminology is used. Even in the case of idol worship, the Torah doesn't say not to come close! Only in this area, the Torah exhorts us to stay far away from it.  It is also interesting to note that the Torah uses the words "do not come close to reveal nakedness" and not "to relations". This implies that "revealing nakedness" (i.e. even looking) is, on some level, as if one had already done the act.

This little test can be your meter - if an image triggers a rush, a stronger heartbeat, sweaty palms, or even a silent, "Wow!" then you are polluting your soul, damaging your "Da'at", the ability to know G-d, and cutting yourself off from the Divine Presence, the Shechinah. The eyes are the windows to the soul and they are the vessels to receive the light of the Shechina. One who has damaged these vessels will not be able to bask in the glory of the Shechinah in this world, nor in the next.

So with all these sources, how can a religious person even ask such a question? The answer is in Parshas Shoftim. "Ki Hashochad... etc..." .. "For bribes make wise men blind, and twist the words of Tzadikim". The Yetzer Hara, who offers us bribes of false and fleeting pleasures, blinds us to the obvious truths and makes us think we have real "questions". But he is just disguising them as questions. Don't be fooled, and realize that these are not questions but really his "answers"!

(R' Elchanan Wasserman used this Pasuk and idea in an essay he wrote, to explain how the multitudes of non-Jewish wise men and scientists from around the world, fail to see the obvious and glaring hand of Hashem in all of creation).
242.
You Never Have To Be Alone Again
 
By Benyamin Bresinger Director of Chabad Project Pride
 
"In the Sukkot (booths) you shall dwell for seven days." - Leviticus, 23:42

The Sukkah remind us of the Clouds of Glory that surrounded and protected our people after leaving Egypt. During their forty years of wandering through the desert, on the way to the Land of Israel, these Clouds of Glory continuously protected them. It inspires us to believe that today, too, G-d protects us in His special and unique way.

The protection in the desert was primarily from the elements -- the sun during the day, the hot sand, and the harsh winds. Today we are not threatened on a daily basis from the hazards of such a hostile climate. Nevertheless, since Judaism must be relevant, since the commandments of the Torah are not just commemorating the past, there must be a lesson that is applicable in our lives. So what does this holiday mean to me today?

I know how fragile many of us can be. Both the addict and the non-addict alike may feel vulnerable and fearful, feeling that they are totally alone. Who doesn't need reassurance at times? We need to know that G-d is taking care of us, and can always be counted upon. This reassurance is needed -- especially if there has been any personal history of feeling rejected, abandoned or hurt. It could be very difficult for such people to trust anyone, let alone an invisible G-d.

While I am sitting in the Sukkah this year, I realize that we know exactly what we need protection from. It's not what is outside -- the heat or the cold, but it is what is on the inside. Self-doubt, fear, ego and resentment are the problem areas, just to name a few. Can G-d protect me from my own thinking? Can G-d protect me from myself?

Along comes the holiday of Sukkot, which allows us to tap into that deep knowledge that G-d Has been, Is and will be there for us. The Torah tells us to "dwell" in the Sukkah. I need to dwell on how I am not alone, that I can always count on G-d. And no matter what my negative thinking says, I need to remember that I am worthy of G-d's care -- simply because I am His child. If I can enter the Sukkah and sit still, study, pray and expose my self-sabotaging thoughts for what they are, I can hopefully experience what this holiday is all about -- a 7-day hug from my Father in heaven.
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Trust Him in your Heart
 
Posted by Uri on the forum
 
I want to discuss a pasuk in kapitel 28 in Tehhilim that I feel is a very important yesod. The pasuk says, "Hashem is my strength and my shield, in Him my heart trusted and I was helped."

What does that mean, "my heart trusted"?
Obviously, there are different types of trust.
One is intellectual, and the other (the higher level) is trusting with one's heart.

When dealing with strong desires, there is a famous phrase: "Let go and let G-d".
I think that line is completely brilliant.
People find bitachon so, so very hard.
It could be because they are missing the first part of that saying.
They are trying to "let G-d" without "letting go".
What that really means, is that their "bitachon" is really just a form of trying to be "in control".
We must drop the control. Yes, drop it.
And then, let G-d take over.

It really took me so long to finally get this concept.
For years, I could never get bitachon down in the slightest.

The Brisker Rav was known to say all the time that Bitachon is the awareness that "ein od milvado - there is nothing besides Him".
We must first acknowledge that there is nothing else.
Nothing has any power without His consent.

We should try letting go of the need to control; the need to always feel that we are "stabilizing" every situation... and just let go; and then, let G-d..

This is Sukkos, my friends.
The Sukkah = Clouds of Glory = the Reality of this World.
When we realize this, we will stop being frightened by the body's strong desires and "needs".
We will stop feeling that we must make sure we are "Ok" and "in control".
And instead, we will let Hashem do what He does best: Run this world.
245.
Yosef's Ushpizin & Torah Tavlin
 
(From IsraelNN.com) Thursday night is the night of Hoshana Raba, the final day of the week-long Sukkot holiday, on which Jews traditionally remain awake throughout the night and study Torah. Special study sessions will be held around the country and around the world, while tens of thousands more plan to simply study at home or with a friend.

We may find that the Yetzer Hara felt stronger over Sukkos than usual. Because it's vacation-time, people are often not learning as much Torah as they usually do.
 
Hashem says "barasi Yetzer Hara, barasi torah tavlin - I created the Yetzer Hara, and I created the Torah as a medicine" ... And the Zohar (Chadash, Ki Setzai) says there is nothing that is "Mekatreg" (prosecutes i.e. defends against) the Yetzer Hara like learning Torah. The Zohar brings the Pasuk "if your enemy is hungry, feed him bread"... bread, meaning Torah, as it says "Lechu Lachmu Bilachmi - Go eat of my bread"....
 
We will notice consistently, that the Yetzer Hara gets stronger when we are learning less. For the final Teshuvah of Hoshana Raba, let's commit now to learn more Torah this year; to sink our heads into a shtikle Gemarah every day, without exception. The Gemarah is "Sechel Hayashar - straight thinking", and when a person works hard on a Blatt Gemarah to understand it well and figure it out by asking questions, finding answers, etc... his mind becomes holy and "straight" thinking. Immoral lusts on the other hand, come from crooked thinking. The Yetzer Hara can't find his way in to a "straight thinking" Yiddishe Kup.
 
Also reading the Holy Zohar for a few minutes each day, even without understanding it, is a big Segulah to chasing away the Yetzer Hara.
 
Tip: The Holy Sefer "Chok Liyisrael" provides a daily dose of Tanach, Mishna, Gemara and Zohar. The perfect combination to keep the "Menuval" away!
 
See this page for more great ideas to making your life more full with Torah! (Scroll down the page for many great sites of Shiurim and Torah videos).
 
The Beis Ahron of Karlin writes that we take a reshima of Yirah for the whole year from Rosh Hashana; we take a reshima of Teshuvah for the whole year from Yom Kippur; we take a reshima of Ahava for the whole year from Sukkos; and we take a reshima of Torah for the whole year from Simchas Torah!

Today is the Ushpizin of Yosef-Hatzadik. The tikkun of the "Yesod" is directly connected to the teshuvah and Torah of Hashana Rabba and Simchas Torah.

May we all be Zoche to true Teshuvah, to a chelek in Torah, and to a Gut Kvittle!
246.
Meriting Malchus - Kingship
 
Yesterday was the Ushpizin of Yosef Hatzadik, and today - Hoshana Rabba, is the Ushpizin of David Hamelech. The Zohar in Parshas Lech Lecha discusses the merits that both Yosef and David had that enabled them both to achieve kingship.
 
Here is what the Zohar writes:
 
The Pasuk states "And Yosef said to his brothers, come close to me, and they came close". Why did Yosef call them, were they not already close? But when Yosef said to them, "I am Yosef your brother" they were wondering, for they saw Yosef in the celestial kingship (through Ruach Hakodesh). And Yosef said to them, this kingship [that you see], because of "this" I earned it, come close to me, and they came close, and he showed them the sign of circumcision, and he said "this caused me the kingdom, because I guarded it". From here we learn that one who guards this sign of the circumcision, kingship is guarded for him. From where (else) can we know this? From Boaz, because he swore (when Ruth came to him alone at night) "By the life of G-d, lay here till the morning". Because his Yetzer was strong upon him until he made a Shavuah and guarded this Bris, and because of this, he merited that kings came out from him (David and his descendants); kings that ruled over all other kings - and the Melech Hamoshiach who is called in the name of Hashem.
 
We also see from Boaz the power of vows. The Zohar says "his Yetzer was strong upon him until he made a Shavuah". That implies that once he made the vow, his Yetzer no longer bothered him even though Ruth was still there alone with him. The reason for this is because often our urges are psychologically tied directly to what we "perceive" as our "ability" to act out. However, if one is able to convince his mind that various behaviors are simply not an option, the entire urge vanishes. That is why vows are so powerful. Because for a G-d fearing Jew, once a vow has been made, it is simply "not an option" any more.
 
Normally making vows is frowned upon by our sages as with someone playing with fire, but when it comes to girding oneself from temptation, we find that making vows is praised by the Torah and by Chaz"al. As the Pasuk says "Nishbati Va'akayeima, lishmor Mishpatei Tzidkecha - I have vowed and will uphold it, to guard your righteous laws". And also it says "Nishba Lehora Velo Yamir - Oseh eileh lo Yimot Le'olam - He who swears to prevent bad and does not nullify... he will never falter".

(However, making vows is tricky and risky business. See this page for tips and advice on how to make vows in safe and effective ways).
 
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Teshuvah Me'Ahava

Today's is the last day of Sukkos. Sukkos is a time of Teshuvah Me'ahavah (Repentance through Love). The Gemarah (in Yummah 86b) says that when a Jew does Teshuvah through Love, his past sins become merits. It says in the Torah about the first day of Sukkos: "Take for yourself on the first day" - and Chaza"l write: "Rishon Le'cheshbon Avonos - The first day of the accounting on one's sins". But why would we want to make an accounting of our sins, and what does this have to do with Sukkos? The Husiaterner Rebbe, Reb Ya'akov zy'a from Rhizin, writes that (based on what we wrote above) this cryptic Chaza"l can now be understood in a new light. Since a Jew does Teshuvah through Love during these days, on Sukkos he starts to count all of his PAST sins as MERITS!
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249.
They Lower Down the Ladder to You
 
Someone posted something beautiful on our forum:
 
Ahhh, the Yetzer Harah.  Yes, this shmendrick IS stronger than us, and without Hashems help, we have NO chance of overcoming him. I personally have experienced this over many many years. I realized that the ONLY chance I would have against him, would be to get closer to Hashem and find things that would bolster my ratings in Shemayim so that I would merit extra heavenly assistance. 
 
As the Michtav M'Eliahu says, you cannot fight the Yetzer Harah head on, you will lose. He compares it to a spring. The more you push down on a spring, the stronger its tension will be to spring back on you. So, it is almost like a no-win situation. If you try to fight him by facing him straight on, you are finished. He is too strong.
 
So, what did I do to deserve the heavenly assistance that we need?  I took it upon myself to tovel (immerse) in the coldest mikveh in Israel (even colder than the Arizal's).  Every Erev Shabbos I went to this mikveh with all of the kavanos of the Arizal, and even in the winter, no matter how cold it was, no matter how rainy or windy, I would enter this Mikveh. It was so cold that I felt as if my legs were being crushed, until finally, after about 2 minutes, they became completely numb. I welcomed this numbness. But, to dunk my head - this was difficult. I had to do it so quickly without thinking about it. Then, when I dunked my head for the 4th time, it felt like it was being squeezed in a vise. I thought my skull was going to crack.  
 
I told Hashem that I was able and willing to to cause myself physical discomfort, just please don't let me have to fight the Yetzer Harah with my mind! I did this the entire winter, and what happened? IT DIDN'T HELP!!! As soon as I thawed out, the menuval was there.
     
So, I gave this up and came to the conclusion, that there is no way out, we are obligated to fight him with our mind as well. There's no shortcuts. I saw in a sefer by the Shomer Emunim Rebbe (Taharas Hakodesh) that avodas hashem is like being far down under ground. You look upward, and you can see light.... the way out. So you try to climb up the sides of your pit, carefully fitting your feet into the crevices, and little by little you get closer to the light... the way out. You carefully watch your footing, and then... all of sudden, you slip and fall all the way down again. Once again you start all over, seeing that light up above. And again, just as you get closer and closer, you lose your footing, and you fall all the way down again, and this keeps happening again and again. BUT, he says, after NOT giving up, then min hashamayim (from heaven), they lower down a ladder to you and you climb all the way up.

What is the point? Yes, we cannot possibly defeat the Yetzer Harah on our own. Hashem is the only one that can help us. But before he does, he wants us to be moser nefesh for him. I have learned that being moser nefesh is not a choice, it is the only way that we can win; it is the only way that we will get the heavenly assistance that we need. After we continue to try and try and try again, then... they lower down a ladder for us and we climb right up!
250.
Caterpillar your Way to New Heights
 
Growing in purity is often like a caterpillar climbing a staircase. For the caterpillar, stairs are a challenge. After a short upwards incline, the caterpillar reaches a plateau, a long flat surface that is not going up at all. Things go smoothly for a while as the caterpillar traverses this surface, until the he hits a wall. It seems like the end of the road. The journey has reached a dead end.

But after bumping into this wall, the caterpillar looks around and realizes that the journey is not over at all. The only way is up. So the caterpillar starts climbing. He then understands that this was not a dead end. It was the next step upwards, to reach a new height. What seemed like an obstacle was actually an invitation to go higher.

The same happens in our Avodat Hashem. After an initial high, we come to a flat period where things coast along. Suddenly, the Yetzer Hara attacks again and new obstacles appear that seem to threaten everything we've gained until now. It looks like we've failed and the journey is over. But this is normal. We are being beckoned to go to a higher level, to raise ourselves above our current state and reach upward. It is at this moment that we need to look up and start climbing.

Growing closer to Hashem is not always a steep incline. That would be too exhausting. The plateaus give us time to reenergize, and they are just there to prepare us to go to the next level. But the challenge is in front of you. Grab it, and caterpillar your way to new heights!