Thursday, 17 May 2012

Day 27: Guide a Friend

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

by Miller, Rabbi Zvi (See all authors)

"It's hard for me to believe that guiding others will help me correct my own inappropriate behavior and improper thoughts."

"Another effective way of mastering ourselves is to in­struct a friend and guide him towards goodness. ... If we study the ways of human nature in order to understand the paths of man and his falseness - this study of 'Wis­dom of the World' has the power to correct all inappro­priate behavior and improper thoughts."

(Ohr Yisrael, Letter Four)

Like a general encouraging his soldiers on the eve of battle, Rabbi Yisrael Salanter encourages us with words of inspiration, wisdom, and hope. He now reveals another stratagem to ensure your triumph over your yetzer hara: convey these ideas to a friend. Your approach must be custom tailored to each person, according to his particular personality, values, and culture. By under­standing his inner makeup before you attempt to discuss this topic with him, you will be able to approach him sensitively and effectively.

Rabbi Salanter urges you to "guide him to goodness." This means you can inspire your friend and encourage him by explaining that you know of a worthwhile strategy for mastering his eyes. Every Jewish soul yearns for holi­ness. He may be more willing to undertake this project than you anticipate.

By articulating your convictions and knowledge to others, you will clarify and reinforce them in yourself. You will review the dangers of letting your eyes rove and will increase your efforts to control them. Rabbi Salanter goes so far as to say that by guiding others you will be transformed, attaining levels of mitzvot and holy thoughts that you previously thought were not within your reach.

Another spiritual mechanism goes into operation as well: the Torah concept of middah k'neged middah, measure for measure. When we help others achieve spiritual well-being, G-d helps us achieve it too. Rabbi Yisrael taught, "In order to heal himself, a person should bring merit to others by influencing them to attain Yirat Shamayim and the wisdom of Mussar. And the Talmud teaches, 'All who have mercy on other people, Heaven will have mercy on them.' There is no greater compassion [for other human beings] than influencing others to study Mussar."

Today: Show this guidebook to a friend and offer to study it with him.