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The Shmiras Ainayim Chizuk List

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The Shmiras Ainayim Chizuk List          E-Mails 251-300


All Tzadikim Are Tested
Taken from the website
Every tzaddik is faced with the most difficult tests. Chazal say that the higher one's level, the greater their evil inclination. There is no tzaddik that exists that wasn't tempted and didn't face sin head to head. We think that because they are righteous they were never normal human beings just like us, facing the simple temptations that we do. Yosef HaTzaddik covered his face and ran away from Potifar's wife. Rabbi Abraham Abulafia was brave enough in his sefer, Chayay Olam Habah, to admit that he defiled his body from the wasteful admission of seed. He says that for fifteen years, "the Satan was at my right hand to mislead me". Also he said, that the numerical value of Satan, 359, is the same as that of Zera Lavan, white seed, which is in reference to semen. This goes to show you one of the main goals of the Satan, to get us to stumble in this desire.

Rebbe Nachman says, that these desires are the greatest test that a man faces in this world (Rabbi Nachman's Wisdom 115). He said that he was able to overcome this desire, but he had to cry out to Hashem again and again. The temptations were very real for him, but he later said, "A man with even the smallest amount of real intelligence, will not find this a temptation at all". The Satan wanted so much for him to slip on this desire that he was willing to let Rebbe Nachman overcome every other desire, if only he would slip up on this once. Rebbe Nachman did the opposite though, and said he would ignore his other desires and not work to control them at all, but the sexual desire he would completely eradicate (Shevachay Haran 16). As a young man, even amidst the fire burning inside him, he overcame this desire completely. He later said, "I do not have any feeling of desire at all. Men and women are all the same to me". When he came in contact with a woman, he didn't even have an extraneous thought. (ibid)


"Al tamin be'atzmecha ad yom misascha -
Don't believe in yourself till the day you die"
There's a story in the Gemara (Kedushin 81b) about Rav Chiyah Bar Ashi who had stopped having relations with his wife for years because he was old and week, and yet he would fall on his face every day and pray that Hashem save him from the Yetzer Hara. One day his wife heard him praying and she couldn't understand why he needed to pray for this, even though he was old and weak. So she dressed up as the town harlot and passed by him as he learned in the garden, and he didn't know it was his wife and he "sinned" with her. Afterwards, he wanted to kill himself for having sinned, and he sat inside the oven to burn himself to death and atone for his sin. And his wife found him there and asked him what he was doing. And he told her what had happened and refused to come out. So she admitted to him that it was her, and finally after proving it to him, she convinced him to come out.
And yet, even though he realized he hadn't really sinned, the Gemara says that this Tzadik fasted for the rest of his life, only because he had "thought" he was sinning.

We can see from this story how one must never stop davening to Hashem to be saved from the Yetzer Hara. Even this great Tzadik, who was already old, weak and greatly removed from these temptations, still felt the need to fall on his face and daven every day for Hashem to save him!
No prayer goes to waste, no matter how insignificant it seems, and even if we feel we don't really mean it. Whenever you see something that turns your heart, cry out to Hashem and say, "Hashem, save me from lust for flesh and blood! Help me instead to lust for you! As it says in Tehillim: Tzama Lecha Nafshi, Kama Lecha Besari - My soul thirsts for you, my flesh pines for you!"


When You Feel Far, You Are Close
When Moshiach comes - any day now, G-d willing, we will yearn for the days when we had the struggle, when the struggle was so real. There is no greater connection with Hashem than when a person feels that he needs Hashem every second to save him.
The Sefer Shamati (from the Ba'al Hasulam) explains that the real definition of "Simcha Shel Mitzva" is as follows: Davka when a Jew feels no simcha in serving Hashem and he feels dried out and far from Hashem, yet he knows what he really wants deep down and instead of letting these feelings stop him, he arouses himself to rejoice in the realization that he "needs" Hashem so much to help him... That is true Simcha Shel Mitzvah and that is the truest connection with Hashem that a person can have.
The Ba'al Hasulam gives a parable. If someone is dying and only his friend can save him, he will beg his friend to save him with every ounce of strength he has. He will be totally dependent and attached to his friend. However, if he is not dying and he only wants his friend to give him something of "extras" (motarot), then he will not be so attached to his friend through his desire and request.
When a Jew feels that being a slave to his Yetzer Hara is "death itself", in that it will tear him away from the source of "life itself", then it becomes to him a matter of life and death. And when the struggle is hard, he knows only Hashem can save him from this death! And he will not stop needing Hashem and begging Hashem to save him every day. And this is the TRUEST and STRONGEST connection a Jew can have with Hashem. It is even stronger than the connection of Tzaddikim whom Hashem has already saved from the Yetzer Hara. For such a Tzadik is like someone who got a present from the king, took it and left. But the man who is begging the king to spare his very life, then davka BECAUSE it is so hard and he has so little strength, this is a man who is truly davuk (attached) to the King. 

Tzadikim who had already beaten the Yetzer Hara were known to have greatly yearned for the days when they still had these battles; when they still felt so dependent - and therefore attached - to Hashem. As the Pasuk says "Me'rachok Nireh Li Hashem - from afar Hashem appeared to me". It is the feeling of being far, that in reality brings us so close. And this should give a person the greatest joy, ironically davka at the time he feels no joy (because in such a state he has no one to rely on but Hashem - and is the most attached to Hashem).


Fallen Love
A Jew needs to use all of his middos (attributes) in the right way. For example, both the attributes of humility AND haughtiness can be used for the service of Hashem. As the Pasuk says "Vayigbah Libo Bedarkei Hashem - and his heart was proud in the ways of Hashem" (in regards to one of the kings of Klal Yisrael). One of the previous Karliner Rebbes once said that when a Jew wants to serve Hashem, he should feel humble and broken hearted that he hasn't even begun to serve the Almighty as is worthy of such a great and awesome G-d. However, when he goes into the street, he should arouse his pride and remember that he is a ben-melech - a son of the King, and that it isn't appropriate for him to be pulled after the lowly desires of this world. 
This follows the Ba'al Shem Tov's teachings that every Middah (attribute) needs to be used for Kedushah. The same applies to lust and love of forbidden pleasures. It is our job to learn to transform our desire for flesh and blood to desire for Hashem... And the Ba'al Shem Tov also explains how the "love" we feel for forbidden things is actually a "fallen" love of Hashem. For after all, Hashem is the source of all love, all beauty, all pleasure and all desire.

All of the Middos are rooted in the upper worlds and they all come from places of holiness. But they have fallen to the Klippos and have been downgraded in this world of darkness. As children of the King, it is our job to uplift these attributes and return them to their source by using them for Kedusha!

So when the heart is pulled after the things we see, we need to cry out to Hashem and say "Hashem! ... These desires I feel belongs to you. You are the source! Help me please Father, to direct my love towards you, for you are the source of all beauty and all good!"

And when we walk in the street, let's arouse our pride as the "son of the King", and not let ourselves be pulled after the filth and grime of the Yetzer Hara!
The Smooth Talking Bandit
An approximate translation of a Zohar (Parshas VaYerah):
Rabbi Yitzchak says. To what is the Yetzer Hara similar? To a band of highway robbers who murder and steal from people. They take a man from their ranks who is a smooth talker, and they stake him out on the highway. And there he awaits people on the road and goes out to greet them, pretending to be a poor man who wants to be their servant and friend, until the people believe him and trust in his love and in what he says. And he brings them with his smooth talking to the place where the robbers are waiting, and in the end, he is the first one to kill them and rob them of all they have, after he gives them over into the hands of the robbers. And the people cry out, "woe to us that we listened to this man and to his smooth tongue".

And after the robbers have killed these people, this same man goes up from there again to stand on the highway and convince others to follow him. What do the wise men do? When they see this man coming towards them and enticing them, they know him and know that he is trying to trap their very souls, and they kill him and take a different route.

So it is with the Yetzer Hara. He comes up from the band of robbers - from Gehinnom - towards men, to entice them with the sweetness of his words. And the fools believe in him and in his love, and he makes himself as their servant. He gives them beautiful women who are prohibited, he gives them people to harm, he takes off the yoke of Torah and the yoke of Heaven from them. And the foolish trust in his love until he goes with them and brings them to the path where the bandits await; the way to Gehinom, where there is nowhere to turn right or left [to escape]. And when he gets there with them, he is the first to kill them, and he turns into the angel of death and takes them into Gehinom and brings down the angels of destruction upon them, and they cry and shout, "woe to us that we listened to this one". But it doesn't help them [for Teshuvah and regret no longer help in the world to come]. Afterwards, he goes up from Gehinom and entices others. But the wise, when they see him, they recognize him and overpower him until they control him. And they turn from that path and go on another path to be saved from him.
True Holiness; True Strength
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).
I saw also in a Sefer recently that the word "Re'iyah" - which means "Sight", equals in Gematria the word "Gevurah" meaning "Strength". This is to show us that the main strength of a person in fighting his evil inclination is by guarding his sight. One who guards his eyes is the REAL Gibor.

Chidushei Torah
R' Nachman writes that the Tikkun for immoral fantasies is to be Mechadesh Chidushai Torah. And he explains that the reason for this is because fantasy comes through a person's "imagination", therefore, by working out new insights in Torah through the power of the imagination (i.e. by comparing one thing to another), one fixes the spiritual damage that he caused through the imagination of improper fantasies and thereby causes his imagination to become holy.
In light of the above, here's a Chidush Torah of my own for now (to get you all started :-). We read every day in the Korbonos"Zeh ha'isheh asher takrivu l'hashem" and "Ishe Raiyach Nicho'ach L'Hashem". Perhaps the word "Ishe" that is always used in the Torah when talking about Korbanos, is coming to hint to us that the most desirable "sacrifice" to Hashem and what makes for him a true "Raiyach Nicho'ach", is when a man sacrifices his "desire for women" and gives it away to Hashem.
Maharal: The Secret to Beating the Yetzer Hara
Someone pointed out to me a beautiful piece from the Maharal (Netiv Koach Hayetzer, Perek 4). The relevant Hebrew text can be downloaded here.
The Maharal writes something that sounds very simple, yet he claims that it is the deepest secret to understanding the battle with the Yetzer Hara. The Maharal writes, that as long as a person believes he can overcome the Yetzer Hara himself, he will fail. This is because he is pitting his strength against the strength of the Yetzer Hara, like two people who are fighting with each other. The Yetzer Hara is an angel of G-d, and we are mere mortals. Obviously, the angel will overcome the mortal. The only one who is stronger than this angel is Hashem himself. He alone can help us overcome the Yetzer Hara.

What Are Real Chidushei Torah?
R' Baruch of Medzibuz explains that the true meaning of Torah She'Ba'al Peh is that every Jew needs to be Mechadesh (discover) insights in the Torah each day by learning new ways to serve Hashem. And he explains that when we make new fences and guards in areas that we need to strengthen ourselves to uphold the Torah - these are the true "Chiddushim" in Torah, and that is what is meant by "Torah Sh'Ba'al Peh".
As we say, "ve'Sen Chelkeinu Betorasecha" - each person has their own Chelek in the Torah. How? Because each person, through his own unique struggles and the fences that he makes for himself because of these struggles, he creates new paths and chiddushim in Hashem's Torah.
Advice for Someone Tempted to View Forbidden Pictures
- and a Tikkun
Rabbi Avraham J. Twerski sent us an article he found that he thought would be useful for our chizuk (he translated it into english for us):
If the yetzer hara is so powerful that you feel you cannot resist it, tell the yetzer hara, "Just wait a bit. I'll grant your desire in 15 or 30 minutes." You should know for certain that every second you put it off, you are fulfilling the mitzva "And do not explore after your heart and after your eyes after which you stray," as the Talmud says, that when a person is tempted to commit a sin and refrains from doing so, one has a mitzvah. One should rejoice that one has the opportunity to fulfill the mitzvah of teshuva, and inasmuch as one mitzva leads to another mitzva, he may find that after the 15 or 30 minute delay he can put if off for longer, and in this manner he can placate his yetzer hara.
If, after the delay, one falls prey to the yetzer hara, one should know that the mitzva accrued during the delay is not lost and stands to his credit, and by merit of this, it will be easier to resist subsequent temptations. One should pray to Hashem that the mitzvah of delay should strengthen him in his struggle with the yetzer hara.
One should be most careful to fulfill the mitzva of tzitzis properly with a talis katan of the prescribed size, and look at the tzitzis from time to time, because this is a segula ("magical force") against the yetzer hara, as the Talmud says in Menachos 44. He should kiss the tzitzis, bring them to touch his eyes, and say audibly, "And do not explore after your heart and after your eyes after which you stray."   
When they lift the Torah in shul, look at the script in the Torah and think that looking at the holy words should protect you from looking at improper things. Also, look at the Shabbos candles, whose glow is that of Hashem's presence. On Chanukah, look at the Chanukah candles for an extended time.
Every day, recite Chapter 51 of Psalms, and concentrate on the verse, "Hashem, create a pure heart within me." and also on the verse, "Return to me the joy of Your salvation." 
You should know that each time you suppress the yetzer hara, you give Hashem great delight. The Talmud says that the place occupied by a baal teshuva is superior to that of a perfect tzaddik. When you succeed in subduing the yetzer hara, you should not feel depressed about the past, as Rambam says, "Yesterday the sinful person was distant from Hashem, but with teshuva he is close to Hashem, and Hashem receives his mitzvos with great love.
Aba Shaul the Grave Digger
Gemara in Nidda (24b):
Aba Shaul says, I used to be a grave-digger. One day, a cave opened up under me and I stood in a (huge) eye-socket of a skeleton until my nose. When I went back, they told me it was the eye of Avshalom. And lest you'll say that Aba Shaul was short, he was the tallest in his generation. And Rav Tarfon, who was the tallest in his generation, came only to Aba Shaul's shoulders. And Rav Meir, who was the tallest in his generation, came only to Rav Tarfon's shoulders.... etc....

The Maharsha writes that this Gemara is a parable. Aba Shaul is saying that he was once sunk in impurity. It reached a point where he had fallen in until his nose - meaning, he could hardly breath a breath without impurity. Then he says "when I went back" - meaning "when I did Teshuvah", they told me it was the eye-socket of Avshalom (son of David). Avshalom had "huge eyes" in a metaphysical sense. He desired to take over his father's entire kingdom and take his father's Pilagshim (mistresses) as well. He had eyes that desired to swallow everything that was not his. Aba Shaul is saying that once he did Teshuvah, he was able to recognize that the impurity he had sunk into was a result of this "eye of Avshalom", which means "the desire to look at and swallow all that was not his".

And the Gemara continues, lest you say, Aba Shaul must have been a "low-life" to have eyes that desired everything, no! he was such a great person, that he became the tallest (read: greatest) in his generation! 

We can learn from this Gemara two important lessons:

1. The source of impurity is the eyes. The eyes see and desire that which does not belong to them, and through this, one can sink so low until he can hardly breath without impurity.

2. When a person who has these struggles does a true Teshuvah, he can reach the greatest heights of spirituality.
Not Shayach
After yesterday's Chizuk e-mail (Aba Shaul the Grave Digger) about how the eyes desire to swallow up that which is not ours, someone sent us the following inspirational e-mail that I think we can all learn from:
Thank you for this last e-mail. For me, this was a truly powerful and relevant Chizuk because it deepens something that I've been using lately to help fight the yetzer hara. Last year while learning Baba Metzia, the Rav gave and incredible explanation of the concept of 'kinyan'.  He drew from Rebbe Nachman and other sources and described that there are many levels by which a person can 'acquire' something: (a) A person can see something, desire it and become slightly attached to it (b) He can state aloud, 'it's mine' (c) He can pick it up  (d) He can sign a document of acquisition. These examples exist along a continuum of 'acquisition', from the most shallow to the most deep and enduring.
Ultimately, our soul is here to acquire our body (and its associated physicality in the world) in order to fulfill the soul's purpose. Our souls all signed a contract when we came into the world. The soul needs the body and its associated physicality in order to fulfill this contract.

And as I walk through the world, I can acquire things cheaply and shallowly, or I can really invest in them until they become part of me. Ultimately, true fulfillment of purpose comes from having real relationships with the things or people in my life, in a way that contributes to the fulfillment of the soul's purpose. The shallow 'acquisitions' that I make, don't contribute to real fulfillment. Quite the opposite. They create a cloud of confusion about my soul's purpose in the world. Clarity and truth are what bring fulfillment. It's only when I'm truly connected to that which is relevant to my soul's purpose that I can accomplish that purpose, and feel fulfilled in this world and Iy"H in the next. The shallow 'acquisitions' that come from looking with my eyes and their desires, are like the cloud that confounds and confuses my consciousness, preventing me from seeing that which is truly relevant - or Shaiyach - to my soul.
So as I walk around the world, I make a practice of reminding myself that real fulfillment comes from attaching myself to that which is Shaiyach. And with the help of G-d, I remind myself when I notice my eyes going after desires, 'Not Shaiyach'.  And if it's not shaiyach, there's no real fulfillment, just confusion.
So try it. Keep in mind a phrase that evokes to you something like 'this object of desire is not relevant or connected to my soul, and in fact will just bring confusion'.  For me, the phrase is 'Not Shaiyach'.
Thanks for all these great tips and posts. They are Iy"H truly strengthening my avodah in the area of attaching my soul to that which is relevant, and clearing it of the confusing attachments that are not relevant.
How to get Hashem to Fight for Us
The Yetzer Hara is stronger than us. We have no hope of beating him alone. After all, he was created by Hashem, so it's like trying to fight Hashem himself! The only way we can win him over, is when Hashem himself steps in to fight for us. But how do we get Hashem to do this for us? 
I saw a beautiful piece in the Sefer "Shamati" from the Ba'al Hasulam that sheds light on this great question. David Hamelech writes in Tehillim, "Ohavei Hashem sinu Ra, shomer nafshos chasidav miyad reshayim yatzeileim - Those who love Hashem hate evil, He guards the souls of his righteous, from the hand of the Reshayim he saves them". The Ba'al Hasulam explains that "evil" refers to the Ratzon Lekabel which is "the desire to receive" that was implanted in every person by Hashem so that He can ultimately bestow all his good upon us. However, it is this very Ratzon Lekabel that separates us from Hashem, since it makes us "wanters" and "takers", while Hashem is the very opposite of that, He only wants to "give". Just like two people who like opposite things can't be friends, and conversely, two people who like exactly the same things, become very close. Therefore, explains the Ba'al Hasulam, true Deveikus with Hashem can only be achieved when a person breaks his Ratzon Lekabel and insists that he wants to be like Hashem. This means not to be a "taker" but only to be a "giver", to give of himself to others, and to live for Hashem and give Him a Nachas Ruach
The problem is, no one can break the Ratzon Lekabel. It is the very nature of our existence and it was put in place by Hashem himself. How can one break his very nature? So the Pasuk reveals to us the secret: "Those who love Hashem", says the Pasuk, "hate evil". Hashem doesn't ask of us to break the Yetzer Hara, he asks us only to HATE IT. When we recognize how this Ratzon Lekabel has been the cause of every misfortune and evil that has ever befallen man, we begin to HATE IT. When we realize that it is only the Ratzon Lekabel that seperates between us and Hashem - like a stone wall, we begin to HATE IT. And when we finally hate the Ratzon Lekabel with a passion, the Pasuk continues: "He guards the souls of his righteous, from the hands of the evil ones he saves them".
How deep and profound this is! Hashem is not asking us to break our nature. He is not asking us to be mighty-super men and conquer the huge Yetzer Hara. Instead, he asks us only to Hate the Menuval. To hate him for being the one thing that separates us from Hashem. To hate him for being the source of all misery and suffering in the world, since the time of creation. And when we hate him with a passion and cry out to Hashem, Hashem steps in and "from the hands of the evil ones he saves them".
Never Letting Go of Hashem
The Nesivos Shalom (Parshas Noach) brings the Pasuk: "Vayehi Er Bechor Yehudah Ra Be'einei Hashem, Vayemiseihu Hashem - And Er the son of Yehudah was bad in the eyes of Hashem, and Hashem killed him". The Nesivos Shalom explains that there are two types of "bad": (1) "Ra" without a "Hei", and (2) "Ra'ah" - with a "Hei""Hei" represents the name of Hashem"Ra" without Hashem (like it says by "Er") is "bad" with no hope, and "Ra'ah" with a "Hei" is "bad" with hope
Continues the Nesivos Shalom: It says about the Jewish people, "Lo Hibit Aven Biyaakov... Hashem Elokav Imo - He sees no sin in Yaakov... Hashem his G-d is with him". Asks the Nesivos Shalom, how can it be that G-d chooses not to see sins in the Jewish people? Chaza"l say terrible things about anyone who says that Hashem is a "Vatran" (i.e. that He lets us off the hook when we sin)? Explains the Nesivos Shalom, that the end of this Pasuk holds the answer - "Hashem Elokav ImoHashem his G-d is with him". A Jew that sins because he can't control himself, but deep down his heart is breaking about how far he is from Hashem and he doesn't let go of Hashem, in such a case Hashem chooses not to see the evil and will forgive this person. And even if during the sin he doesn't feel bad, but afterwards he feels bad about it and the good inside him makes him feel guilty and he asks himself, "How could I have sinned and ignored the word of Hashem?" then there is also still hope for him. For this is the Koach that brings to Teshuvah. 
And the Nesivos Shalom goes on to say that the guilty feelings we have are a GIFT from Hashem that come from the good inside every Jew. Indeed, a Jew who does NOT have these feelings anymore no longer has hope - like "Er" the son of Yehudah (where the "Ra" is written without a "Hei"), and that is why Hashem killed him. 
And he goes on to say that this can be a test for a person to know where he stands. If he no longer has a guilty conscious when sinning, then he can know that he is in a very bad state indeed. Because a person who gives in to the Yetzer Hara only because the Yetzer hara has tempted him strongly and he can't hold back, is still not "bad" in essence, and G-d will forgive him when he does Teshuvah. But where one doesn't feel guilt anymore, it means that the bad has taken him over completely, and there is little hope. 
And this is a Tikkun for every Jew to be able to get out of the bad. That even when he falls, he should make sure that the fall does not become part of his essence. For one who continues to hold on to Hashem and feel guilty when he is far from Hashem, even if he did the worst sins, he still has hope and will be forgiven.
Is it Us or Him?
David hamelech sang Shira that Hashem saved him from the hands of "Shaul". "Shaul" means also "borrowed" in Lashon Kodesh. Sometimes Hashem gives a person special spiritual feelings and levels to help them through hard times, but these "madregos" are really borrowed. They are not really ours. And sometimes, when we get to where Hashem wanted us to get to, the feelings and joy we felt in Avodas Hashem are taken away from us so we can grow even more (in spite of losing the feelings). So David was thanking Hashem for saving him from "borrowed" madregos and letting him earn these levels on his own.

On the other hand, we know that there really is no such thing as achieving any level "on our own". As Chazal say, "Lulai Hashem Ozer Lo, Lo Yuchal Lo - If Hashem wouldn't help him, he couldn't overcome him (the Yetzer hara)".
So what's the deal? Is it really us or is it really Hashem who does the work? How do these two point of views co-exist?

So here's the secret. Hashem is the one who really does it, but he doesn't do the work for us UNTIL we have tried everything possible and have come to the conclusion that no one can help us but Him. At that point, we have a "Kli Shalem" (a complete vessel) and Hashem is there to fill it up. In other words, we DO have to work hard; very hard. But the work we do is not necessarily to make progress, but rather to get to the point where we know that we can't do it on our own. As long as we didn't work as hard as we could, we still think in the back of our minds that maybe we could do it ourselves and the vessel is still not complete. Only after we've done all we can and still can't win the Yetzer Hara, at that point we NEED Hashem so badly and the Kli is Shalem. The rule is that Hashem's light is always shining, but the reason we don't feel it is because our vessels are damaged and / or full of other things. As soon as we truly need Hashem and have an empty vessel for His help, the light of Hashem automatically shines in and we are saved.
You may ask, but WHY did Hashem make the world this way? Why couldn't he make it that we could really achieve our levels on our own? Wouldn't that give Him more Nachas Ruach? The answer is simple yet beautiful. Hashem is not looking for our success. He is looking for us to have a KESHER (bond) with him. If we could succeed on our own, we wouldn't NEED him and we wouldn't have a strong Kesher with him. Hashem has enough "mighty" Malachim in Shamayim. He is not looking for "Super Men" who can do it alone. Instead, he wants us to have a KESHER with Him. And when we know that we have no other hope than getting His help, THAT is a complete Kesher
Perhaps if we train ourselves to acknowledge all the time that Hashem is the only one who can help us (by constantly saying this to Him and asking for his help), then maybe we will have to work less (and fall less) in the long term before coming to a full realization and having this "Kli Shalem".
The same principal above, applies with any type of "Redemption", whether it's from the Yetzer Hara or whether it's the redemption at the End of Days. Like Chaza"l say, Moshiach won't come until we all recognize that "Ain Lanu al mi Lisha'ein ela al Avinu She'bashamayim - we have no one to rely on other than our Father in Heaven". For at that point, the vessel is complete and the light of Hashem will flood the world.
Replacing the Bad with Good
A holy Jew posted on our forum:
As I require Internet access for my line of work, I had fallen into harmful patterns of not only inappropriate viewing, but also secular media and culture exposure. My rationalization for this was that I needed "something" to distract me from the travails and troubles of life. My method of relieving stress was to waste time on the Internet and specifically to watch movies. Weekends were generally the worst and I would tell my wife that I had work to do and would stay up until all hours of the night browsing the web, watching video clips and movies. For a long stretch of time, I was slipping virtually every weekend.

I knew that I needed to do something to break my dependence on the secular media, so close to 2 months ago I made a conscious decision to give up secular media almost completely. I resolved that over Sukkos I would strengthen myself in Torah and be'ezras Hashem, break my dependence on the media. Over Sukkos, I decided to take the Mesechta that I was learning the previously (I did not know Gemara well at all and was not really "Koveah Itim" properly) and really put in time. As a result of this commitment, I was able to spend most of the Yom Tov learning, and I had committed to myself to keep it going after the Yom Tov as well. 

Following Yom Tov, I had a few minor slips when I was feeling down or frustrated. To my surprise however, I had little desire to listen to the radio, watch movies or follow sports, and was able to get back into my learning relatively quickly.

Baruch Hashem, I have found a new ta'am (taste) in my learning and I now turn to the Gemara instead of the Internet when I am bothered or frustrated. I no longer go online Saturday nights, but rather learn instead.
Happy indeed is he who finds ta'am in Torah to replace the empty and filthy time-wasting behaviors that the Yetzer Hara tries to convince us that we need! And what greater Teshuvah can their be than to replace sinful ta'anugim with "Vihisaneg al Hashem"! (See our Kosher Isle for more ideas on how to replace the bad with good).

For more posts by members on the dangers of secular media, check out Chizuk e-mail #323 on this page (scroll down).

For those who must have open internet for their work, we highly suggest Accountability Software. See here for a few options.

GuardYourEyes now has a special "filter Gabai". You can reach him at Please follow the instructions on this page. (See also the comments at the bottom). The filter Gabai can save your password for you, as well as help you whenever you need to make any adjustments or changes to the filter.
Sur Mera - Through - Aseh Tov
Someone posted a question on our forum:
It feels like sometimes the effort to to avoid tumah, pritzus, etc..  itself seems to cause one to think about the very thing that they are trying to avoid. Am I wrong? Perhaps just by getting busy doing something else it will enable some people to have more success. It's like the way one thinks of food on a fast day. Some people think about food more on a fast day than other days, even if the other days they might end up fasting accidentally. The very thought of it being a fast day can cause one to think of food. Am I making sense? So what is a good solution? Anyone have any ideas?
Elya answers:

You raise some very good questions. There is an axiom which says, "What we resist, persists."  The more effort you spend pushing away every obstacle and constantly thinking about how to avoid it, the more you will think about it and eventually sin. 

That's why the trick is to accept the fact that there is Pritzus in the world and that you have no power over controlling it. Hashem took away the Yetzer Horoh for Idol Worship but not for this. (If he did, none of us would have been born!)

It's a good idea to read self-improvement books instead of thinking so much about how to avoid self-destruction. Books by Rabbi Twersky like "Self Improvement? I'm Jewish" is a good one.

You are right.  Finding other things to occupy your time when you're bored, tired, hungry or upset is another key to staying pure. Pamper yourself with things which are permitted.

In continuation of Elya's answer:

The Pasuk says "Sur Mera, Va'asei Tov - Stay away from bad and do good". The Chassidic Sefarim say to read it differently. "Sur Mera" - HOW? Through "Va'asei Tov".

In other words, instead of focusing on "Sur Mera", focus on "Asei Tov". Focus on learning to flow with life - not fight against it. Become a better person each day, and before you know it, the "Ra" will disappear on its own.
After A Slip

Some great posts on our forum from the warriors of GYE

Posted by "Battleworn":

One of the great tzadikim rendered the pasuk "Velo sosuru acharei levavchem ve'acharei eineichem - do not stray after your hearts and eyes" as follows: Don't untie your kesher with Hashem after (acharei) you went after your eyes and after your heart. The greatest nachas ruach for Hashem is when we keep fighting even after we had a slip.
Posted by "MosheW":
I heard an amazing insight on life from the Rebbe of Karlin (d.1772) which gave me a lot of chizuk, I hope that you will be inspired as well. The Rebbe once commented while observing people dancing. The steps of a dance, the Rebbe noted, are such that the person goes up and down, over and over again. Each time the dancer goes up, he comes down soon after. Yet he will continue to proceed with the upwards motions and movements, knowing full well that he will come back down. The Rebbe asked, "why? why bother jumping up if you are going to come right back down?" The Rebbe answered: because to move up you have to fall down!!! The way someone climes the ladder of kedusha is by falling a rung every few rungs on the way up. The Rebbe then added, that a person has to always use his falls to continue climbing up.
Inspiring Music can be very helpful in chasing away the Yetzer Hara.
Click here to hear a Soulful "Meiron" Niggun played by Clarinet. While listening to it, picture the flames and sparks of Rabbi Shimon's holy fire in Meiron heading skyward, and all the holy Yidden dancing with all their strength and love for Hashem.

That fire you see in your imagination is your soul's yearning for d'veikus with Hashem! Put on the niggun, close your eyes and FEEL IT.

Try dancing a Chassidic dance, as described by the Rebbe of Karlin (see above :-)
Some great posts on our forum from the warriors of GYE

Posted by "Bochur28":
One idea that helps me guard my eyes is what the Ibn Ezra says on the mitzvah of "Lo sachmod - do not covet". He asks, how can the Torah command us to not covet? It's not really in our control and it's so easy to stumble in, so how can it be a mitzvah? The answer is - says the Ibn Ezra - that just as a pauper knows that it's not shayach for him to marry a princess and hence he does not desire her, so too, each one of us must not desire things that the Ribono shel Olam has not given us, since it's not shayach to us. And we should know that if we in fact had them, it would not be good for us anyway.
Posted by "Ano-nymous":
Whenever a bad thought comes to me, I think of an image of a beautiful waterfall, and the bad images leave immediately. I'm working on not staring in the streets. A couple times I had to literally tear my head away. This is so hard sometimes that it hurts me to do it. But the Yetzer Hara tricks you by getting you to look into the future. He says "look how much you enjoy this! How are you going to go without this for such a long time?". He used this to keep me from seriously trying to stop for years, but now I just look at today. I also look backwards and see how far I've come. But I try not to look ahead. Trying to imagine how hard it will be in the future is like looking down from atop a tightrope. You will fall and severely hurt yourself. So, DON'T LOOK DOWN! Just look at today. 
As we say in Kriyas Shema twice a day: "Asher Anochi Metzavecha Hayom - which I have commanded you today!"
Turn the Fire of Desire into a Fire of Holiness

Some great posts on our forum from "Be-Holy":

May Hashem fill all of our hearts with love. I went to Karlin Stolin this Shabbos morning for davening. They don't sing but they shout the pesukei d'zimra. It was amazing, I was almost sweating - "nishmas kol chai" was so real! We are like angels people. If we believe we can do it, we will. R' Zvi Meir says that the problem today is that nobody has any goals anymore!! This website helps up reach our goals. A friend told me a good saying: "A non-Jew hopes, a Jew believes!". Believe that Hashem wants to test us only in order to reward us.
I feel Hashem is testing me from all sides, but if we do not work to get holy eyes, how will we ever see Kedusha? Like we daven every day, "v'sechazena eneinu" our eyes will see Hashem's return to Tzion, but will impure eyes see??? No they won't- but a promise from Rebbe Zvi Meir is that if someone is working on an avodah now - even if they have not obtained it yet - when Moshiach comes they will merit to complete that avodah. Let us all bring ourselves together - we must daven for each other. Let's thank Hashem for everything he gives us - the miracles of health, wife, children, etc... then we can thank Hashem and ask that we be able to serve him wholeheartedly. He will listen!
Be strong! We must believe we are being tested. We have energy but it was misused.. Do not fall at the first hurdle!! Keep going - Hashem has great things in store for this generation, that's why the Yetzer Hara is on high alert. Imagine you are the battle chief, talk to your generals and commanders. Look them in the eye and say "we are headed for hard times but there is light at the end of the tunnel". Explain to them the reward and satisfaction they will receive when we get to the other side. I really mean this. Do it during davening. Speak to yourself, but let Hashem listen. He is the King and you are his general. All the powers of the world are at your command, they really are. Look yourself in the mirror for two minutes and tell your eyes and soul "we will not sin today".

In avodas Hashem, all we need to do is want and try and Hashem opens the heavens. Be'ezras Hashem, I will take that fire of desire that is in me and give it to Hashem. Today my love and loneliness go to Hashem.

Daven with the fire - learn with fire, greet and treat everyone with fire. This will change the "Aish" of the ruach tumah to an "Aish" of ruach tehara - be"h. WE WILL SUCCEED!!! Chaunka is coming- let's get ready, starting today.
Some Tips From a Bochur - a Ba'al Teshuvah
Here are some other tips that help me:
- Thinking of my Hebrew name

- Thinking of my Rebbe standing right next to me

- Thinking that by resisting, I'm saving my children from being tempted with this problem (maysah avos, siman lebanim).

- Thinking that flesh is the same as the chicken I ate last night for supper, and that it's just a bunch of chemicals that G-d put together in seamless fashion to protect our bodies, not to hurt our souls.

- Thinking about olam haba, and how the "kav hayashar" says that your limbs in the next world are affected by what you do here. So if we look at bad things, perhaps our eyes will be gauged out, and we will walk around with them hanging from their sockets.

- Thinking about the damage it does to my avodas hashem and my learning.

- Knowing that Torah and Taiva are enemies; one forces the other out, and they cannot coexist.

- Knowing that when Moshiach comes, or when, after 120 years, I stand before Hashem in Din, there will be no excuses

- Thinking that a tzelem Elokim, a piece of G-d himself, cannot be submerged in tumah - the Tzelem Elokim leaves when the tumah comes in.

- Thinking of the 'ohr haganuz', the hidden light for people who control themselves, that is promised in olam haba.

- Having the privilege and zchus to be among those of klal yisroel who are fighting the good fight for kedushah.

- Thinking of what the "kav hayashar" that says, that when you look at a girl, she robs you of your kochos; I need my kochos for learning and davening; I'm tired enough as it is in shiur, I can't afford to give up any more kochos!

- Two words: Yosef HaTzadik

- Imagining what they're saying in shomayim, besha'as mayseh, and imagine what they say if we try hard not to slip!

- Sheva pa'amim yipol tzadik, vekam - the letter from Rav Hutner about this helped me incredibly, imagining that I've fallen so many times, again and again, even when I was trying, and yet, I can still be a tzadik, there's always still hope! And it is davka because of the past falling that when I rise, I will rise all the higher!
Teshuvah in 6 Chapters
Our Yetzer Hara tells us that we can do Teshuva by passing by places we used to go, just to say we passed by and didn't look again, or didn't meet that person again.  But this is a setup, because when you do it enough times, you will go back to it. 

It's like this story in 6 chapters: 

Chapter 1: I walk down the street, I see a hole, I fall in. 
Chapter 2: I walk down the street, I see a hole, I fall in, I get up. 
Chapter 3: I walk down the street, I see a hole, I walk around it. 
Chapter 4: I walk down the street, I see a hole, I cross to the other side. 
Chapter 5: I walk down the other side of the street
Chapter 6: I walk down a different street. 

This is the story of Teshuvah... setting boundaries, falling sometimes, getting back up, learning from the falls and yet you keep going!
Rabbi Miller was once in the hospital and asked for a male nurse. The doctors said to him "but you're an old man already!". "Yes", replied Rabbi Miller, "but I don't want to become young again!"

Teshuvah Now

Chazal Say, "Repent a day before you die". Since we don't know if we will be alive tomorrow, we must always repent TODAY. Like the saying goes:
"Live each day as if it was your last. One day, you will be right".
Think about how you would live your day, if you knew today was your last c"v.

Out of the morning mist
While pearled dew still kisses earth
Tiptoes a silent Destiny
Day's mission engraved in tears
Printed on parchment created 
Before time itself.

The "who", the "when", the "how"
-  And always the "why" -
As yet undisclosed to those below
For Hashem wisely conceals 
The date of demise from mankind.

Return your soul pure.
Each night.
In case.

Perhaps you will not witness

Dawn's kaleidoscope of brilliant hues
From beneath the clouds
Or hear the bird's joyful melodies
Mingle with the angels
Praising the Creator of new sunrises.

Make your last moments on earth
Your holiest.

(Part 1)
Staying happy, upbeat and positive is one of the biggest keys to success in overcoming the Yetzer Hara. For an injection of SIMCHA, click here to download a Leibidik niggun collection called "Shirei Ho'Admorim". Put it on and start to dance!

No matter what, we can always start again from TODAY. We need to be PROUD of our past accomplishments. We need to be HAPPY that we are doing the work of the King of Kings and are ZOCHE to struggle in this, where most other people in our generation and situation just don't care. We are from Hashem's elite soldiers! And every time we turn away is priceless.

Let's rejoice that Hashem has chosen us for his front line battle against the Yetzer Hara. If he chose us, it means he TRUSTS us. He knows that in spite of our slips, we will emerge victorious. He waits and waits for us to succeed in a complete Teshuvah, sometimes for many years. But in the end it is all worth it, for in the process we learn how to give our hearts to Hashem and grow so much! 

Did you ever stop and think of the implications of us, mere mortals, having the honor of serving the Master of the entire Universe? The universe has about 100 billion galaxies, and each galaxy has in it about 100 billion stars! And each star is as big - or bigger - than our Sun (which itself could fit a million Earths into it)! And that's just the physical universe. Need I even mention the millions of spiritual words, Malachim, Serafim and Chayos Hakodesh?!! And this Almighty G-d - who created ALL THIS, has but one desire. He is looking into the hearts of his beloved people, and seeking someone, anyone, who is willing to do something for him with pure motives, hard work, and a little messiras nefeshAnd he has chosen YOU!
(Part 2)
"Battleworn" posted once on the forum:
Keep in mind that when Hashem invested in you, He knew what he was doing. He knows exactly who to choose for the very sensitive and dangerous mission, of penetrating the enemy's  territory. If he chose you, then you can definitely succeed. And remember, it's a tremendous honor to have been chosen by Hashem for this mission. R' Tvi Meir always says: Chazal tell us, that the malachim said to Hashem "Don't give the Torah to lowly people, "T'na Hodcha al Hashamayim -- The Torah should be for the malachim". So Hashem answered "Do you have a yetzer hara? If not, the Torah is not for you, but rather for the people that have a y"h. So we see that our entire claim to the greatest gift of all - the holy Torah, is based on the fact that we have a y'h. And so it follows, that whoever has a bigger y'h has a greater claim and a greater right to the holy Torah!!! 

REJOICE! We are the ones that will bring Moshiach! 

Simcha and a positive attitude are the key to success. Rabeinu Yona says in Yesod Hateshuva, "On that day [that you make up your mind to do teshuva], throw away your past and consider yourself like a baby that was just born" 

Take some time to think about how important you obviously are in the eyes of the Master Of The Universe, if he chose you for this mission. And then put on some good music and DANCE!!! Transform yourself from a "worrier" in to a "warrior!!!" (the spelling is very close, like the little difference between the letters of the words "chametz" and "matzah").
"Me" posted to someone once on the forum :
The main advice I have for you is: "Simchah".  You mentioned that you are full of anxiety, and this is one of the major causes of this taivah.  In fact I saw it written, that the first thing the yetzer does with us is to fill our minds with worries and anxieties, and then when we feel sad, etc, this is what allows the klipot of arios to cling to us and over take our minds. I believe that your first step is to conquer your anxieties, and try to be b'simchah as much as possible, and remove every and any anxiety causing thought that enters your mind.

The Baal Shomer Emunim said, that we have a mitzvah of "Ivdu Es Hashem B'Simchah". Then the yetzer comes in to our minds and says, "what do you have to be happy about? Just look around you, look at all of the sickness, poverty, suffering in the worlds etc... But, we must know that this is the yetzer telling us this. He goes on to explain. "Who taught us "Ivdu Es Hashem B'Simchah"?.... None other than Rav Shimon Bar Yochai in the Zohar. And he says, "If anyone had reason to be down and sad, he did, since he lived right after the time of the Churban Beis Hamikdash. And yet, it was HIM that taught this to us!
Chizuk from the Warriors
"Battleworn" posted once on the forum to someone who was having a hard time guarding his eyes, who claimed that focusing on guarding his eyes made it even harder for him:

1) Your life's focus must always be on the positive. You absolutely can't go around the whole day concentrating on what you're not going to do. Someone who does that is simply not living, and of-course it can't work. The first thing is to make sure you know what you are trying to do with your life, and then you can concentrate on accomplishing that goal and really starting to live. When you think of guarding your eyes as a means of getting where you want to in life, you won't have that problem. It's tested and proven.

2) R' Avigdor Miller zt'l said that shmiras einayim is pointless if you are not also guarding your thoughts.

3) The mind set has to be that it's all a bunch of nothing and stupidity. Not guarding your eyes allows the menuval to get in and make something out of nothing. But if you continue to think "It's paradise out there but I'm not looking" then you're doomed to failure. (See the next "vort" from Rav Dessler on this idea).
"Shomer" once posted on the forum:
I just wanted to share something I saw in the Michtav M'Eliyahu from Rabbi Dessler z"l.

Chazal tell us that "im puga buch menuval ze, mashcheyhu l'bais medresh - If you encounter this 'mevuval', drag him to the bais medresh".  Rabbi Dessler is medayak in the lashon of this statement and asks ... why does it say if you encounter this 'menuval - pervert'?  It should say if you encounter the yetzer hara, drag him to the bais medresh?

Rabbi Dessler goes on to explain that in order to fight the yetzer hara, you must first realize that he is a 'menuval'. Rabbi Dessler elaborates that the yetzer is "oseh meseh nivlus - performs actions of perversion". He promises a person that he will bring them satisfaction and contentment, but he leaves them only with sorrow and despair. There is no bigger perversion than that.
Putting Our Minds to It
Never let the Yetzer Hara convince you that this struggle is too hard for you, or that Hashem didn't give you the strength, the tools or the nature to be able to overcome this. Human beings are capable of the most amazing things when they put their minds to it. For a strong example of this, copy and past the following into your browser's address bar, and press ENTER to play the clip:
(By the way, it's not a Chr-stian song, see here).
Someone sent me a nice article from By Rabbi Zelig Pliskin. The philosophy behind this idea can help us in our struggle with the Yetzer Hara.
Five Powerful Words: 'What Can I Do Now?'

Develop the habit of asking yourself, "What can I do now?"
This is an antidote to two problematic patterns: wasting a lot of time being upset about things that are over and done with, and worrying about something that might happen in the future. Even if it seems that an undesirable outcome is likely, worrying just prevents you from doing what you can to improve the situation.

If something is over and done with, it is over and done no matter how much time you waste being upset. But if you're going to be upset, at least be upset about it for only a short amount of time. Then ask yourself, "What can I do now?" If your first thought is that you can't do anything about the situation, then at least do something constructive about something else. But sometimes you might think of something creative that will turn the situation around.

Having the thought of, "What can I do now?" on your mind might lead to ideas that will at least partially solve the problem. When you can't think of anything on your own, ask some friends or a mentor for suggestions. Other people might think of something that you didn't.

People with a pattern of thinking worrisome thoughts should think of practical things that can be done. This will save them from much distress.

Just taking action makes you feel better. When you feel better, you will think more clearly. You're more likely to think of something to do now that you hadn't thought of when your mind was focused on worrying. So remember to keep asking yourself, "What can I do now?"
This state of mind can be hard sometimes, but it is vital to our ultimate success. Don't dwell on past failures - even if it was a moment ago, and don't let yourself worry about future tests. Always live in the present moment and ask yourself: "what can I do NOW to make Hashem happy and to move in the right direction?
A Tip From A Warrior
Someone posted on the forum:
I'll tell you something that I have been doing for a while and it seems to be working and may work for others.
Every time I find myself looking at a woman for more time than I should, or if I find myself taking a second glance, I give myself a big pinch (yes, it hurts).
I know it sounds weird, but it serves a dual purpose: (1) It reminds me to be more careful next time, as I don't want another pinch. (2) It punishes me down here on Earth, so that it will hopefully not need to be punished in the next world, which is much worse. As the Sefarim point out, one who gets punishment down here doesn't get punished again for that aveira in the next world ("K'sheyesh din limata, ein din limalah - when their is judgement below, there is no judgement above").
Using Laziness Properly
Every Midah (attribute) that Hashem created, can be used for either good or bad. How can the attribute of "laziness" be used for good? Well, one powerful way to fight the Yetzer Hara is simply to be LAZY about sinning. When the Yetzer Hara wants us to sin, we can say: "heck, I don't have strength for this!". "Shev Ve'al Taseh Adif - sitting and doing nothing is better". That's using laziness in the RIGHT way.

The Medrash Yalkut Shemoni (click here) writes:

"Who ever turns himself away from aveira (sin), then even if he is a Israelite, he is worthy of bringing a sacrifice on the alter like the Kohen Gadol"... 
"And who ever is lazy to sin and doesn't sin, he merits to enjoy the shine of the Shechina like the ministering angels".
Parshas Vayetzeh

"And Yaakov Kissed Rachel"
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 the good and pleasantness is to be found in the Creator--may his name be blessed--without any limit or boundary!'...'and this is the secret of the Pasuk "and Yaakov kissed Rachel".

How uplifting and beautiful it is to try to apply this midah of Yaakov Avinu to ourselves. Whenever we see something that turns our hearts to desire, we need to tell ourselves, "If I desire this so much, how much more beautiful it must be to connect with G-d, who is the infinite source of all beauty, pleasantness and pleasure!"
Lavan's Music

"G38" posted on the forum:

In this week's sedra (Vayeitsei) when Lavan catches up with Jacob he complains that Yaakov sneaked away from him, and he says that had Yaakov told him he was leaving, he (Lavan) would have sent him off with music. The question is, what was bothering Lavan so much about Jacob's going without the music?

The answer is, Lavan wanted to play his type of music so that Jacob's mind and those of his children would be infested with it. Once a Yid has Goiyishe music in his head, no Torah can come in.

(In contrast, I heard once that the Skulene rebbe shlit"a recommends to people who suffer from depression to listen to his father's songs).

I had a surge of desire lately, and I was wondering why. Then I realized that I had listened that day to music with female voices in the background.
See our music page for inspiring music clips to chase away the Yetzer Hara!
There's a fundamental and elementary piece from the holy Ohr Hachayim that gives a clear perspective on the powerful nature of these desires, and helps us understand how Hashem expects us to remain holy in spite of it being against human nature. I would like to bring this Ohr Hachayim now in a few stages. To see the original text in Hebrew, click here (the important parts are marked in yellow, and the VERY important parts in red).
Ohr Hachayim (Acharei Mos, 18:2)
Part 1
It is known that all the Mitzvos that Hashem commanded his holy nation are Mitzvos that a man can stand by and cause himself a desire to do, besides for the Mitzva of staying away from arayos (illicit relations) which is something that a person craves and his desires forces him to act, unless one makes an effort to stay far away from two things: (1) Seeing with the eyes, (2) Thinking about it. However, if a person does not keep away from these two aspects (sight and thought), a man will not be able to control himself and rid himself of it.

As long as one does not stay away from looking, even if he stays away from thinking about it, he will not be able to control himself and rid himself of the inevitable desire. As we can see from the story of R' Amram, the Rebbe of all Chassidim (Kidushin 81a), that even though he was far from thinking about these things, he was won over by the aspect of "sight" (to see the full story, see Chizuk e-mail #275 on this page). And we can also see this from the story of Reb Masya Ben Charash (Yalkut Shimoni; Veyechi) who chose to blind himself when he felt that he would be forced to come to bad deeds through the sight of his eyes, even though he was surely far from thinking of these things - as is clear in the story (see the story in Chizuk e-mail #46 on this page).

And if one does not distance himself from thinking about these things, his thoughts will also force him to seek out and lust after the deed. As we can see from the story in the Gemara (Avodah Zara 22b) of the non-Jew who bought a thigh of meat in the market place, cut into it, used it to pleasure himself, and then cooked it and ate it. This comes from being steeped in the aspect of "thought" which forced him to do these deeds even without seeing anything.

So we see, that with either of these two aspects, sight or thought, it becomes close to impossible for a person to control himself in this area. And it goes without saying that if one looks AND thinks about these things, he will be very weak when facing this desire. And it also goes without saying, that if one actually begins to taste from the bad, he will be completely given over into the hands of his desires.

(To be continued in the coming e-mails, IY"H).
We continue below the insightful piece from the holy Ohr Hachayim that we started in the previous e-mail. The Ohr hachayim explains the powerful nature of these desires and helps us understand how Hashem expects us to remain holy in spite of it being against human nature. To see the original text in Hebrew, click here (the important parts are marked in yellow, and the VERY important parts in red).
Ohr Hachayim (Acharei Mos, 18:2)
Part 2
And the only way that a man can wage war with this powerful desire is by removing from himself these two aspects (1. improper sights and 2. lustful thoughts). And by doing this, one instills within himself that he should not lust after this, and he will be able to control his natural desires. And this is the reason that Chaza"l say (Brachos 34b) "In the place that Balei Teshuvah stand, even the completely righteous cannot stand". For the natural good will of the completely righteous wins over their desires without great effort, which is not the case with a Ba'al Teshuvah.

And if one should ask, "How can a natural person be in control of his desires which "force" him to act? After all, it does not make sense that Hashem would obligate all men equally to guard themselves in this area, only people who can stand up and have the will power to deny this desire! And these are people who never came into the tests of seeing improper sights and thinking lustful thoughts. Only for such people did the Torah command these Mitzvos. But for people who already fell into these things, it is naturally impossible for a man to control himself and hold back from this craving that forces him to act!"

To counter this claim, Hashem wrote in the Torah with pleasant words of life, and the Parsha of Arayos starts out with the words "Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them, I am Hashem your G-d". For it is true that in the human race, besides for the Jewish people, they can claim this complaint and say that they did not find it in their strength to deny the power of this intense desire from themselves. However, with you, the Children of Israel, because I am Hashem your G-d - that is, you can achieve understanding and awareness of G-d - and through this G-dly strength, you will win over the natural physical drives.

(To be continued in the coming e-mail, IY"H).

The Ohr Hachayim has touched here on the "core" of the 12-Step program, which is that without bringing G-d into the picture, we are powerless to overcome this powerful desire.
Today we finish the translations of the insightful piece from the holy Ohr Hachayim that we brought in the previous two e-mails. The Ohr hachayim explains the powerful nature of these desires and helps us understand how Hashem expects us to remain holy in spite of it being against human nature. To see the original text in Hebrew, click here (the important parts are marked in yellow, and the VERY important parts in red).
Ohr Hachayim (Acharei Mos, 18:2)
Part 3
The mind can control the matter. So when a Jewish person accepts upon himself to be "one" with Hashem his G-d (di'veikus), he will be in control of his nature. As Chaza"l say, "The hearts of the Tzadikim are given over in their hands, but the hearts of Resha'im control them". The meaning of this is, that desire and lust are in the heart of a man, yet his "will power" is in his mind. And these are the two levels that the Master of the World has given man (to work with). And when a person sees something of a sexual nature, his heart will crave it, but this is not the end. The "will power" in his mind can deny himself the desire and he will not act upon it, even though he covets it... And that is the meaning of the words "For I am Hashem your G-d" (in the Parsha of Arayos). This means to say, that since Hashem shines the light of his Shechinah into the soul of a man, through this, one has the strength to win over his desires with his 'will power'...
To return to what we were saying... The aspect of thinking about sexual matters strengthens the desire. And one cannot win over this desire unless he distances his mind and thoughts from these things and does not gaze upon things of this nature. But should his eyes gaze upon them, he is in grave danger, like the story of David Hamelech A"H, that when circumstance brought him to see what he saw, his heart, which had been empty of desire (as the Pasuk says "and my heart is empty inside me") was aroused and he acted. 
And even if one just "begins" to think about these things, it will cause a strengthening of his natural desires. And therefore the wisest of all men, Shlomo Hamelech A"H, wrote in Mishlei (1); "My son, if the sins will persuade you, do not listen" - meaning, do not even enter into negotiations with your Yetzer Hara, for the longer you think about it, even in a negative light, the more the desire is strengthened and will turn his will towards it. 
And this is also why Hashem says; "Tell them that I am Hashem their G-d", because (those who guard the Bris) are on the level that Hashem wants to unify his great name upon them. For he who guards his Bris is on a great level. Indeed, there is no greater level than this.
The Chassidic Sefarim speak about how we are able to learn true Ahavas Hashem from Shechem Ben Chamor in this past week's Parsha. The Torah uses four different descriptions for Shechem's infatuation with Dinah, in the following order:

It is interesting to note that the order of Shechem's "infatuation" with Dinah seems to diminish as the Pesukim go on. At first the Torah uses the Lashon of Deveikus, which means "one with" and "Completely Attached to". Then the Torah uses the word "love", then "desire", and lastly the word "Chafetz" is used, meaning simply "wants". 

Perhaps in teaching us how to love Hashem, the Torah is first teaching us the nature of "false" infatuations so that we can fulfill the Pasuk "Ohavei Hashem, Sinu Ra". When it comes to "Ra" - the fleeting passions of the Yetzer Hara, the order of intensity diminishes quickly over time.

But when it comes to love of Hashem, the order is reversed. The first step is "Chafetz" where the person "wants" to get closer to Hashem. And if they "want" enough, Hashem helps them to find true "Cheishek" in Avodas Hashem. And that leads to "Love of Hashem", which ultimately leads to the highest Madrega - a complete Deveikus with Hakadosh Baruch Hu - as the Pasuk says "Ve'davakta Bo".
Rav Yehudah Leib Ashlag - the Ba'al Hasulam - once said, "What's the difference between Gashmius (physical pleasures) and Ruchnius (spiritual pleasures)? Gashmius everyone wants, but once you have it, there is no feeling of fulfillment. Ruchniyus on the other hand, nobody wants, but when you have it, there is such a deep feeling of fulfillment!" 

How true this is with the pursuit of these pleasures. The whole world is running after it, almost everything in the media revolves around the "desire" for it. But you'll seldom, if ever, hear someone talk about how good he feels having had it. It's all "want, want want" with no fulfillment. Spirituality on the other hand, no one seems to want. But someone who has it, there's no need to ask him how enlightened and uplifted his life feels!
Parshas Vayishlach

Milchemes HaYetzer
Posted by "Bardichev" on the forum
This weeks parsha contains the classic parsha of "milchemes hayetzer".

We find some very very important "similarities" by Yaakov Avinu to our own struggle

Yaakov Avinu struggled with "saro shel esav" the source of all evil, the samech mem.

When? By night.

What was his situation? He was "livado - alone".

Yes, being alone is the Jewish person's lot in life, we are "goy achad ba-aretz".

Yet when it comes to dealing with the Yetzer Hara, we need to be extra careful at night, and extra, extra careful when we are alone.

Night symbolizes a time when our mind is less clear.

At night we are more vulnerable, but that is the time we show our true strength!!!

Yaakov Avinu fought the Yetzer Hara of night for all of us...

"Ad alos hashacar - till the crack of dawn", the generation that will bring Moshiach.

Many seforim speak about the idea that before Moshiach comes the generation will have to deal with the Yetzer Hara of wild desires: "lust".

As it says, "viyigah bkaf raglo - and he touched (hurt) the thigh of his leg".

This symbolizes the middah of "yesod", which is damaged in our generation.

Brothers and sisters, we are at the doorstep of Yemos HaMoshiach!

Let us try, Try, TRY to be true fighters, like it says in the passuk: 'vayaar ki lo yachol lo - and he (the Satan) saw that he could not win him".

May we be zoche to gain strength from our forefathers and be victorious in our milchemes hayetzer!!!

Good Shabbos
from the Warriors on our Forum

Jack Writes:
We couldn't improve in any area without resistance to what we are trying to achieve. It's that push, that brute force, that makes us stronger. 

In martial arts theory, we see an enemy not as an enemy, but as a chance to perfect ourselves. So if we get hit, the response is NOT - "I hate him"- but rather "why couldn't I block it? Could you please throw that punch again - I want to see if I can block it this time". Without a yetzer hara, life would be meaningless.
Ben Writes:
Remember what Hashem said to Yehoshua right after Moshe Rabbeinu died. Yehoshua was about to embark on the conquest of Eretz Yisrael and Hashem said to him (among other things): "Did I not command you, be strong and have courage, do not fear and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."  So how does this apply to us?  We are not conquering Eretz Yisrael.  No, indeed, but we are striving to conquer our own "holy land," our own bodies. Our bodies are "occupied" by the Y"H, which must be driven out. So be strong and courageous in your battle with the Y"H, and remember that this is Hashem's battle!
'Gettinghelp' writes:

Keep building your foundation of success. Each day of success is one more solid brick you are using to build a mansion that is you. A big beautiful home filled with shalom bayis and bracha after bracha. Each clean day makes me feel that much closer to my wife and kids, and therefore closer to Hashem. I think that all He (Hashem) really wants us to do is to use our minds and bodies as a means of getting closer and more in touch with our true selves, thus enabling a better and closer relationship with Hashem. It's so hard and painful at times to overcome past experiences that influence us today. But this is the life Hashem has given us to live, each one special and tailored, made for us - and only us. We have the power within ourselves to reach levels of kedusha we never dreamed we could. Just by being on GYE, you have already reached a new level of kedusha!
'BeHoly' Writes:
Last night I had a gift of clarity while walking with a friend. The past was not there and we were just in the moment. This is a rarity for me.

Today is like no other, yesterday is gone, who knows about tomorrow? We are here today, that is why it is called "the present" - a gift from Hashem.

We have all done wrong in our lives (that we thought would bring us happiness), yet we had no happiness. We lived in fear and depression, yet we couldn't get out. We lived in shame and we saw no end. We yearned for closeness, but could not focus on what type of closeness our souls really yearned for.

To everyone reading this... Hashem will help us. We can gather strength together and fight our battles and win this war. But fighting is not enough, we need Torah and we need Emunah that Hashem is with us on the battlefield and will guide us through thick and thin.
Click here to download a wonderful Shiur with many great Yesodos on this struggle from R' Yisrael Reisman Shlit"a.
The King's Daughter

The Even Ezra (Shemos 20:14) asks: How could Hakadosh Baruch Hu command us in the 10 commandments: 'Thou shall not covet another man's wife'? It would seem that this is something out of our control! If we go in the street and see a woman, especially if she is attractive, how can we cause ourselves not to covet her? It's against the laws of human nature - which were designed to bring about an attraction between a man and a woman. It would seem to make a lot more sense if the Torah simply commanded us not to actually be with someone else's wife. At least on our actions we can try to maintain control. And yet, the Torah commands us straight out: 'Thou shall not covet', which means: Do not even desire it even in your heart! Is this at all possible?"
To answer this question the Even Ezra brings a parable: The king of the land has a beautiful daughter, and whoever sees her is captivated by her beauty. A simple villager is going along his way when the princess's entourage passes him by and he catches a glimpse of her. Will he covet her in his heart? Or would he even seek another woman of her caliber to be his wife? The answer is clear: If the villager is not crazy, it is clear to him as the mid-day sun that the King's daughter can never be his, and he will therefore not desire her at all. It's only natural for him to desire that which he knows he has some chance of attaining, if even the smallest.
The Holy Torah is teaching us here an important lesson in human nature: The moment we internalize that something is not relevant to us whatsoever, and it will never have a relevance to us in the future either, automatically we won't desire it. But if everything is an open possibility in our mind, when we don't differentiate clearly between what is relevant to us and what is not, when we think we could get anything - if only we tried hard enough to attain it, then we indeed don't have a chance that we won't covet these things in our hearts.

On a similar note...

One of the brachos that we say under the Chuppah says as follows: 'Blessed are you Hashem... who forbade the non-married to us, and who permitted the married to us through Chuppah and Kiddushin'. It seems that there is unnecessary repetition in this blessing. Why isn't it enough just to say 'who permitted the married to us through Chuppah and Kiddushin?' What is the point of specifying in the blessing also that which he forbade to us?"
Perhaps this is because it is only if we know without any doubt that all other women in the world are forbidden to us, that we can truly connect properly with the one woman who is permitted to us.
The Two Neighboring Kingdoms
A complete victory over the Yetzer Hara is the sum of many small victories (and sometimes losses too). Here is a parable from the book "The First Day of the Rest of My Life":
Many years ago there were two kingdoms that lived side by side. One was a very poor kingdom with a large population of people who struggled to get through each day. The second kingdom had far fewer subjects but it was very rich, and the people there lived a high life style and knew no want. For many years, the two kingdoms lived together in harmony, in spite of their vast differences. 
One day, the king of the rich country died and his son rose to the throne. He was very unlike his wise and thoughtful father, and instead was aggressive, hasty and unrestrained.
One bright day, he decided without any reason that he would like to conquer the neighboring kingdom. He wished to show off his great strength, without thinking for a moment about the destructive consequences that his actions were likely to cause. His advisors tried to talk him out of it, but to no avail. In a well planned surprise strike, the young king managed to invade the territory of the neighboring kingdom with his large army. 
At first, the people of the poor kingdom tried to show resistance. They fought valiantly with great sacrifice to protect their homeland. But when they saw that the enemy had already succeeded in conquering significant areas of their territory on the very first day, their spirit was broken, and in a short period of time they surrendered. 

The people of the poor kingdom thought that perhaps the new king would share his riches with them, but they were quickly disappointed. Over time, he pillaged even the little that they had, until the entire population were left starving and broken in body and spirit. 
When the populace understood that they were destined to die of starvation and had nothing more to lose, they decided - especially those who lived on the border with the rich kingdom - to try a stealth incursion into the enemy kingdom to search for food. Under cover of night, they cut through the fences and tried to slip inside. But those who were fortunate enough to be saved from the guard dog's vicious teeth, were quickly shot at by the many soldiers who manned the border. The few that managed to survive were caught by citizens and given over to the authorities who threw them into prison. And so, the people of the poor kingdom were sure that their fate was sealed. They sunk into despair and self pity, and awaited their slow deaths by starvation.
Suddenly one of the older advisors of the poor kingdom got up and said: "My dear people, instead of sitting and just waiting for our deaths, let's do something. We already saw that the strategy of stealing across the border doesn't work. Our only chance of success is if we unite and work together with wisdom and judgment. It's no secret that we outnumber the enemy by far. Let's use this to our advantage. We can choose an area on the border that is the least guarded and invade there with our thousands of men, women and children - men first, and the women and children behind us. It needs to be an area that is the right size for us to be able to insure that we can keep complete control over it for the long term. And then, with the help of the riches that we'll find there, we'll be able to firmly establish our hold on that territory and get stronger. When we feel secure enough, we'll go out and conquer another area for ourselves, and establish our hold there too. And so on and so forth, until the entire neighboring kingdom will fall into our hands like a ripe fruit. 
So the citizens followed his wise advice, and they succeeded. They acted with wisdom and didn't try and conquer the entire country at once, because that would have failed miserably.

The two neighboring kingdoms are our Yetzer Hara and our Yetzer Tov...

One bright day, the Yetzer Hara decides to try and conquer us with a surprise attack of arousal and fantasies - often at a time when we least expected it, as we were involved in learning in Yeshiva and were full of desire to get stronger and become uplifted in Torah and Middos.
When the Yetzer succeeded in making us stumble, instead of recovering right away and returning a valiant fight, we started blaming ourselves that we let him win, and we sunk into self-pity and hopelessness. And this is exactly what let the Yetzer Hara continue to overpower us, until we finally surrendered to him unconditionally. This is just like the individuals in the parable who attempted an incursion into the enemy's territory that was bound to fail from the start.
Instead, we need to act with wisdom. In place of trying to conquer the entire territory right away, we need to try and conquer for ourselves small territories, one at a time; territories that we are sure we can maintain defense over well. And then, slowly but surely we will progress, until we will succeed in conquering everything back.
I Already Blew It!
(Part 1)
"Battleworn" posted the following Chizuk on the forum from a Shmooze by R' Tzvi Meir Zilberberg - Shvi'ee Shel Pesach 5759:
The Chozeh from Lublin, The Beer Mayim Chaim, R' Hershele of Ziditshov, R' Tzadok Hacohen and other tzadikim all said: 

When a person feels "I blew it already, I messed up this time", and yet he still doesn't give up and keeps trying to salvage what he could - ignoring the fact that he already failed (R' Tvi Meir calls it "Kum B'palgus Laila - getting up in middle of the night" in the words of the Zohar Hakadosh), then the Nachas Ruach that he makes for Hashem is even greater than when one is completely successful. And this is the epitome of Shechina Ba'tochtonim (bringing the divine presnece into the lower world) which we know is the purpose of creation.

This type of Avodah is the greatest form of mesirus nefesh, because it is completely against human nature, as there is no short term satisfaction.

This yesod is hinted to in last week's parsha, Vayishlach. The Pasuk says "Vayei'avek ish emo ad alos hashachar - and the Malach faught with him until the morning broke". Chazal say that the Lashon of "Vayei'avek" comes to teach us that "He'elu avak ad kisei hakavod - they lifted dust until the Throne of Glory". R' Tzvi Meir explains that through the struggle that Yaakov Avinu had with the "other side", he uplifted the lowest situations - the dust of the earth - all the way to the Kisei Hakavod!

As a matter of fact, we don't find any hint in the pasuk that Yaakov overpowered the malach. On the contrary, the malach actually wounded him. But because Yaakov wouldn't give up even after he was wounded, the "other side" was forced to "agree" to bless him. This is to show us (Maseh Avos Siman La'banim) that the tikun hashalem will ultimately come through our not giving up, even in a generation that is wounded by the Yetzer Hara! (According to many sefarim, the wounding of Yaakov's thigh symbolizes the difficult tests of our generation in the area of Yesod).
I Already Blew It!
(Part 2)

Yosef HaTzadik
Yesterday we discussed that when a person feels "I blew it already, I messed up this time", and yet he still doesn't give up and keeps trying to salvage what he could - ignoring the fact that he already failed, the Nachas Ruach that he makes for Hashem is even greater than when one is completely successful.

Perhaps the greatest illustration of this is with Yoseph Hatzadik in this week's Parsha. The Gemara (in Sotah 36b) says that Yoseph actually came in to Potifar's house to sin (as Rashi brings). And the Gemara says that he actually spilled seed at the time, thereby losing Ten Shevatim that were supposed to come from him. Yet, when after all that, he still held back from sinning, he became the great Yosef Hatzadik (and the Merkava for Midas Yesod and one of the seven "Roiyim"!). 

R' Tzadok and other tzadikim explain that this is what really constituted the nisoyon. The menuval said to Yoseph: Don't you see that you already messed everything up? And don't you realize what a goner you are? Your brothers, the Shevatim, already paskened that you are chayav misa, and they even included the Shechina Hakidosha in their Beis Din. (Even Yitzchak Avinu who knew where Yoseph is, didn't tell because Hashem had been included in the Shvuah not to reveal it to Yaakov). Nobody cares about you any more. You're lost and cut off from this world and the next. And now you failed so badly. Face the facts, it's over!

But Yoseph Hatzadik said, "No! I don't care about anything - not even about being a Tzadik. The only thing that concerns me is: What do I need to do at this moment?  What does my Father in Heaven want from me right now?"

And it was in that zechus that he was zocheh to everything. That is why he is called Yosef Hatzaddik. And even Krias yam suf was in his zechus, as Chazal say "Hayam raah vayonos - ma raah? arono shel Yoseph! - The sea saw and fled. What did it see? The coffin of Yosef". When the sea saw before it a human being that had completely defied his nature for the will of the Almighty, the sea defied its own nature for the Almighty too, and split.
Posted by "Battleworn" from a Shmooze by R' Tzvi Meir Zilberberg Shvi'ee Shel Pesach 5759
The Super Power of these Little Lights
Posted by "Battleworn" on our forum:
The Me'or Einayim and many other tzadikim discuss the follwing idea:
The Gemarah says, that we must light Ner Chanuka:
1.  at night 

2.  on the longest nights of the year

3.  lower than 10 tefachim

4.  outside 

5.  on the left side 

6.  starting at the end of the month

All these things represent darkness, distance and weakness:
  1. The night, of course, represents darkness and galus.
  2. Lower than 10 tefachim is the place where the gemarah says, the Shechina never goes.
  3. "Outside" represents distance and tumah, and "Reshus Harabim" is, according to kabalah, the place of the "sitra achara".
  4. "Left" represents weakness and harshness.
  5. The end of the month is when the moon, which represents Am Yisroel, is disappearing.
We are told to go davka to that place and at that time, and to light a candle. Not to banish the darkness, though that will indeed be the end result, but just to light a little candle. The darkness is still there, and the candle even burns out. But tomorrow we'll be back, ignoring yesterday's seeming lack of success, and we will light two candles...

It is these little lights in the darkness that will bring to the world the ultimate light, like it says - "B'orcha nireh ohr - in Your light (G-d) we shall see light"

And it is these little lights that Hashem was referring to when He told Aharon Hakohen, "Shelcha le'olam kayum - yours will last forever" - even in the darkest of the dark there will always be the little lights. And this pacified Aharon, because he knew the super power of these little lights.

The GYE network is one of the great Neros Chanuka of the world, and the stronger the wind blows, the more we will be mischazek together!! All of us on the forum and on the Chizuk e-mail lists, are candles lighting up the darkest night!

Wishing you all a happy (in the true sense of the word), powerful, meaningful, fruitful, successful and lechtiger Chanuka!
Mesiras Nefesh

Chanukah is all about Mesiras Nefesh. The Chashmonayim were ready to risk their lives completely for the sanctity of Klal Yisrael, and for the Torah and Mitzvos. And it is only because they were willing to lay their lives on the line and give it their ALL - that they experienced such open miracles of "rabim biyad me'atim" and "temaiyim beyad tehorim".

The Yetzer Hara is far stronger than us. Only Hashem can win this battle for us, but He only steps in with the miracle when we show Him that we are ready to give it our ALL. The moment a person decides in his mind that no matter how much it hurts or how bitter it feels - he will do it anyway, no matter what; the moment a person is willing to suffer whatever pain it takes to succeed even if it feels like he is dying, an amazing thing happens: The struggle ceases to be difficult and it actually becomes EASY and SWEET! 

This is one of the most profound secrets in Avodas Hashem and it applies to any spiritual feat, including Torah learning. As the Pasuk says: 
"Zos Hatorah Adam Ki Yamus Ba'Ohel - This is the Torah of a man who dies in the tent". Our Sages learn out from this that the Torah can only be acquired properly through someone who 'kills himself' over it. As soon as a person accepts upon himself the yoke of Torah to the point where he is ready and willing to suffer for it to the point of death; "ZOS HATORAH - THAT is the Torah", and then he merits to feel the true sweetness of Torah that by far exceeds any physical pleasure. 

So whether it's Torah learning or conquering the Yetzer Hara, in order to achieve true freedom and joy in the divine service therein, we have to be willing to even feel a taste of death and still not give in. Once we achieve that, Hashem does an amazing thing and suddenly the struggle becomes easy and the person feels true joy! 

This is truly an amazing secret. Most people don't know this until they've achieved it. But this was revealed to us by the Tzadikim, and now that we know it, it should be much easier for us all to take that initial leap of faith of true Mesiras Nefesh!