Thursday, 17 May 2012

Day 25: Remember Your Heritage

Part 2/3 (to see other parts of the article, click on the pages at the bottom)

by Miller, Rabbi Zvi (See all authors)

We can learn a lot from Yaakov's son, Yosef. It's worth the time reviewing the biblical story. During the time that Yosef was a slave in Egypt, he was appointed household caretaker of an Egyptian government official named Potiphar.

Here he encountered a great test. Potiphar's wife was extremely attracted to Yosef and brazenly tried to seduce him at every opportunity. Yosef's automatic response was to turn away to avoid seeing her. His first line of defense was his intense awareness of Hashem, and it was effective for quite some time in neutralizing her efforts.

Only after repeated attempts over a long period of time was she able to find a chink in his spiritual armor. Nevertheless, Yosef immediately recovered and saved himself from sinning. What did he do?

(1) He saw the image of his father's face.

(2) He ran away from the palace.

Seeing the image of the face of Yaakov, reminded him that he was the descendant of great tzaddikim. It would be beneath his dignity and moral heritage for him to yield to this woman. These thoughts injected him with the strength to bolster his waning awareness of Hashem and helped him gain control.

Why did he run outside? That was the best way of removing Potiphar's wife from his sight. In both of these actions - picturing his father and running outside - he was using what we call Wisdom of the World. He was savvy enough to know that her seduction must be met by determined thought and action.

You, too, are descended from the very same tzaddikim as Yosef. In addition, you are heir to generations of ancestors who sacrificed much to maintain their Judaism. In addition to direct ancestors, you are also the beneficiary of generations of tzaddikim of our great nation. If your eyes are challenged and your Yirat Shamayim is not sufficient, think of the greatest tzaddik you ever met and imagine how he would behave in this situation. Imagine how your ancestors would feel if they could see you now. Know that Hashem is watching you too, as indeed He is.

Rabbi Yisrael Salanter noted that most of us know intellectually that Hashem sees our actions, but the full consciousness of this truth has not yet penetrated our hearts. Our main defense must be Wisdom of the World. In letter 4 of Ohr Yisrael, he writes:"Wisdom of the World will lighten our burden and the awareness of Hashem will strengthen us."

Each one us has fluctuating degrees of Yirat Shamayim. As you continue your efforts to master your eyes, you will learn how to increase your awareness of Hashem and apply the Wisdom of the World. And, like Yosef, you will be able to withstand challenges using these tools and by knowing that you are descended from morally strong forefathers.

Today: Think about your heritage and internalize its meaning. Along with your awareness of Hashem and Mussar study of the Wisdom of the World, it will help you in your battle for Shmirat Einayim.