Monday, 21 May 2012

Day 13: Know the Guidelines for Unavoidable Situations

Part 1/2 (to see other parts of the article, click on the pages at the bottom)

by Miller, Rabbi Zvi (See all authors)

In today's world, it's unrealistic to avoid immodestly dressed women. What can I do in a situation that is unavoidable?

The darkness of night causes two types of visual misjudgment. In Mesilat Yesharim(chapter 3), the Ramchal explains that when it is dark:

(1) We cannot see a stumbling block in our path.

(2) We see something and imagine it to be something else. For instance, we see a tree and imagine it to be a man.

Corresponding to these forms of physical visual im­pairment, we are prone to two types of misperceptions:

(1) We fail to realize that a certain behavior conflicts with Halachah.

(2) We rationalize doing an aveirah by insisting that it is not an aveirah. We may even imagine it to be a mitzvah.

For example, even though we know we're prohibited from looking at a woman who is dressed immodestly, we may think that the female teller in the bank is excluded.

After all, if we close our eyes, how can we conduct our business? So we decide that the prohibition does not ap­ply in this case, or that it's even a mitzvah to look at her because it's necessary.

Yes, avoiding areas where women are immodestly dressed is a great challenge. As we learned on Day 7, Halachah stipulates that if there is an alternative route, you must take it. Yet, if there is no other reasonable alter­native route, you are permitted to walk past immodestly dressed women if you follow these guidelines:

(1) Lower your gaze or partially close your eyes.

(2) Ensure that they will not be in your view for a long time.

(3) If a man knows that he cannot avoid looking at them, he cannot go into that area.

Use strategies to keep your mind focused. For instance, as you enter the area, listen to a shiur on a portable device or call someone on your cell phone. Be prepared to turn your eyes away or close them as needed.

Today: If you must be in an area of immodestly dressed women, keep your eyes lowered and distract yourself with something worthwhile.