Day 12: Create Your Own Spiritual Log
"That sounds like a good thing to do, but truthfully, I'm too busy to take the time."
When the Jewish People were slaves in Egypt, Pharaoh was concerned that they would rebel and overthrow his rule. In order to prevent them from organizing a rebellion, he saw to it that they labored under a heavy and continuous workload. When Moshe and Aharon asked him to let the nation leave to worship their G-d, Pharoah interpreted their request as the first stage of revolt and responded, "Intensify their burdens!" (Shemot 5:9) They must not have a spare minute to devise a strategy.
Just as Pharaoh denied the Jews time for action, the fast pace of modern life gives us little time to reflect on our conduct. Even if we have learned the laws of Shmirat Einayim, we may have grown lax about them and not noticed how susceptible we are to improper sights.
Increasing our awareness of Hashem so we can effectively control our behavior requires conscientious vigilance.
We must first be fully aware of our own actions, and this requires taking the time to think. The Talmud tells us that, "Aperson who contemplates his path in this world will merit seeing the deliverance of Hashem." (Moed Katan 5a).
Setting aside time daily for "spiritual accounting," is one of the most effective ways to review your behavior. In just a few minutes each day, you create a sense of accountability and heighten your awareness. Your "account" is strictly your own business. It is personal and should be kept private so you can accurately record questionable behavior without feeling embarrassed by other readers.
First, review the basic principles of Shmirat Einayim. Next, review your day to see your strong points and weak points. This is a highly effective way to strengthen your best traits and behavior and uproot aveirot.
Create Your Own Spiritual Log
For some people, a mental checklist at the end of each day works well. Many people benefit even more by keeping a small chart handy. In this way, you can view your progress over time.
Below is a sample chart for your spiritual log. Of course, you can create your own chart to reflect your own goals.
Place a "check" for times you were successful in controlling your eyes; place a "minus sign" when you did not exercise control.
Today: Take a few minutes in the evening to review your conduct of that day.
At first, I was skeptical about keeping a written accounting on my effort to take control of my eyes. But even though it seemed excessive, I had to admit that I don't remember everything that transpires during the course of the day, and I tend to "forget" uncomfortable failings. So I decided to try it. I was a little nervous that it might be found by someone, so I devised abbreviations for each of the categories and tucked it away out of sight.
A fascinating pattern emerged when I reviewed last week's log. Until I saw it in black and white, I hadn't realized that I don't usually seek out alternative routes to problematic streets on my way to work. I just barrel through, trying not to look. But reading my log, I realized that I should be choosing better routes in the first place.
It's a funny thing. My wife, Sara, watches her weight by keeping track of what she eats and writing it down at the end of the day. She says it helps keep her "honest." It also makes her really aware of what she's consuming; I've seen her pull her hand back from that extra dessert knowing she will have to "report" it. I guess you could say I'm doing the same thing - watching what my eyes consume. Keeping track is just a device, but it's a clever one, and it seems to work for both of us.
These e-mails are excerpts taken from the book "Windows of the Soul" by Rabbi Zvi Miller of the Salant Foundation.