7 Levels of Training
  Breaking Free Chizuk #1464  
In Today's Issue
Image of the Day: Today is G-d's Gift to You
Chizuk: The Secret to Happiness
Links: Video #7 - Two Parts to Man's Soul
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Image of the Day
Today is G-d's Gift to You
Today is G-d's Gift to You
The Secret to Happiness
Part 5/8
By the.guard

Said the student to his Rebbe: “I want happiness”. Replied the Rebbe: “First remove the I which is haughtiness. Then remove the want which is desire. After that, all that will be left is happiness.

Part 5: The Seven Levels of Altruistic Training in Life

Because learning to let go of the self and give over our will to G-d is the purpose of creation (so that we can receive the light of G-d) every human being is given training in this area from the time they are born until the day they die. Indeed, G-d structured the world in such a way that no good things come easy, as the saying goes “No pain, no gain”. Pain, by definition, requires some level of “letting go of the self”. If we want health, we must learn to sacrifice our desires and eat healthy foods (which, for some reason always seem to taste less good and be less readily available than the unhealthy foods are). And we must learn to exercise regularly, exerting ourselves and fighting laziness in the process. It seems preprogrammed into the human experience to have to work hard, be of service to others, and let go of at least some of our desires for a greater purposes. We were put in this world for this and we cannot escape it. To this end, G-d has designed the lives of all human beings with the following stages of altruistic training:

Level 1 - Parents: Every human being is given parents on the day they are born. Through them we begin to learn what it means to have to listen to someone wiser and more experienced than ourselves, whether we like it or not. It’s not easy for us at age 2-3 years old to begin to accept authority, but we quickly learn that we have no choice and do it anyway. Slowly we develop the wisdom to understand and trust that our parents have our best interest in mind and simply know better than us. We learn from our first experiences that we can’t have everything we want, and that life will require some discipline and sacrifice. These lessons are forced upon us at a very young age until we slowly grow into it. Indeed, these are man’s first and most crucial lessons in getting a step above the pure selfish desire that we are born with, as the Pasuk says: עיר פרא אדם יוולד – “Man is born a wild beast”.

Level 2 – Siblings: Through our siblings, we are forced again and again throughout childhood to recognize that the world doesn’t center around us. We learn that there are others we must share with, give in to, live with, and stick up for. This is already a higher level of altruism than level one. It is a known phenomenon that single children who never had siblings grow up to be much more self-centered than children who have siblings. There is also a much higher divorce rate among single children later in life. This points to siblings being such an important and crucial part of the maturation of a human being.

Level 3 – a Job: The way G-d created the world is that if we are to survive and put bread on our table, we must provide some sort of service to others. And if it was easy to provide these services, then your potential customers presumingly wouldn’t need you to do it for them, hence they wouldn’t be willing to pay for it. So we have no choice but to learn some sort of discipline that not everyone can do on their own, which allows us to be of use to other human beings. Learning a discipline often takes years of hard work and sacrifice. Those who drop out of school early and don’t work hard, often end up working even harder down the line through menial and physical work. It is known that children of rich parents are often much more self-centered. When a child grows up with the feeling that all is provided without having to work hard for it, they can end up much less mature. It is the need to provide for others, in whatever work one does, and the need to please the customers and interact with other human beings, that provides a much needed step in the maturity cycle of a human being.

Level 4 – Marriage: Marriage counselors will tell you that the secret to a happy marriage is learning to put your spouse’s needs before your own. Marriage allows us the chance to mature to a much higher level of selflessness. While parents and siblings were forced upon us, marriage is not. Yes, we are kind-of tricked into it by nature, but if we want to keep the marriage going and remain happy, we must learn what it means to care for another human being. We must learn to understand someone who thinks differently than us, and really be there for our spouses, both physically and emotionally. Perhaps that is why G-d made men and women’s brains so different. If we had the same way of thinking, marriage would be too easy and we wouldn’t learn to let go of our "selves" like we need to.

Level 5 – Children: Until we become parents, we are still living in our own selfish bubbles. As much as marriage can help us mature (if done right), it is still kind of like a ‘business deal’ where both sides stand to benefit. But once we become parents, we are thrown in to a whole new level of selflessness. Parenthood is much less reciprocal than marriage. Our children don’t give us back anything for all the tireless effort we put into them, and the sleepless nights we spend rocking them to sleep and caring for all their little needs. (There’s a saying “Parenthood is basically a series of things not going according to plan”). Besides for the immense amount of effort and sacrifice that parenting takes, we must learn to step down to the level of those who can’t understand us (and who throw tantrums when they don’t get what they want, no matter how much you try to reason with them). Parenthood is a big step forward in maturity and altruism. And as a wise man once said: “The secret to being a good parent is putting our children’s needs before our own”. If we want to raise emotionally healthy children, this new level of altruism is something we will have to learn.

Level 6 – Loving your fellow man: Rabbi Akiva said, “The commandment of ‘And you shall love your fellow man’ is a great foundation of the Torah”. Why is this commandment considered such a foundation? Because the entire Torah was given to us for this purpose, to teach us altruism and how to let go of the self! When Hillel was asked by a non-Jew (who was considering converting) to sum up the Torah on one foot he said, “That which you would not want done to yourself, do not do to your friend”. Over the years, mankind has progressed and matured to understand that society can’t exist without us all accepting that what I would not want done to me should not be done to my neighbor. Human experience pushes mankind in this direction. From the barbaric world of thousands – or even hundreds of years ago, the enlightened nations have progressed to the level where slavery has been abolished, human rights are embraced, and justice systems have been installed to ensure that every human being has the right to live in peace and freedom. In addition, advances in transportation and communication have made unity between nations possible world-wide. The UN was established for the purpose of ensuring that all countries live in peace with each other and uphold basic human rights. (The fact that the UN abuses its mandate to consistently bash Israel over all other real human right abusers is just a symptom of age-old anti-Semitism, which is still alive and well today). In our day and age, when a nation on the other side of the world commits a crime against its people, the enlightened nations protest and come to the aid of the downtrodden. When there is a natural disaster somewhere in the world, many nations send help and aid. Mankind has matured so much over the past few hundred years. Most monarchies, despots and dictators have all but fallen to the dust of time, and the drastic differences that used to exist between the social classes (such as between nobles and serfs) have all but been erased, to the point where even the President of the the world’s most powerful nation can be impeached for simply telling a lie! (There is a beautiful video called “The Secret of the Jews” that demonstrates how the nations are progressing and maturing under the influence of the Torah that was given to the Jewish people 3,000 years ago). As much as parents, siblings, marriage and parenthood can help us mature, at the end of the day, these ‘significant others’ are really extensions of ourselves. It is human nature to want to have a good marriage and to desire only the best for our children. But through learning how to truly love our fellow man and care even about those who we don’t have any connection with, we are able to grow to even higher levels of selflessness.

Level 7 – Religion:The main tenants of the world’s largest religions, Christianity and Islam, were taken from the Bible – the Book of all Books. Some Sages say that even the tenants of Buddhism originate from Abraham, as the Pasuk says (Genesis 25:6) “And to the children of his concubines Abraham gave gifts and sent them from upon Yitzchak his son while he was still alive, eastward to the land of the East”. The Rambam writes that inasmuch as the religions of the nations may be misguided, it was G-d who orchestrated for them to adopt these religions in preparation and training (if you will) for the ultimate truth. By teaching their followers to let go of selfishness, love their fellow man, serve G-d and trust Him, and to give their will over to G-d, even misguided religions were meant to be important players in preparing humanity for the real truth and great light that G-d ultimately wants to bestow on His creations.

To be continued...

These 19 short videos clips are excerpts from a series on theshmuz.com by Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier called "The Fight - A Frank Strategy and Pan for Conquering Desire".

Gathering from the wisdom of chazal, this series presents a solid understanding of the mechanics of desire, and offers us a strategy and plan to winning The Fight of our Generation.

Video #7 - Two Parts to Man's Soul


"If you want to work on desire, you have to fundamentally understand yourself. And to do that you have to understand the way your Creator fashioned you and formed you.

The Chovos Halevavos in Sha'ar Avodas Elokim explains that when Hashem made the human He took two diverse parts and put them together. There is a half of me that is a cheilek Elokah mi'ma'al (a piece of Hashem), a pure neshamah (soul) that came from under the kisei hakavod (Hashem's throne). And that part of me only wants to do what's good, what's right, what's noble and proper. That's my pure, holy neshamah..."

Click the link above for the full story and video.

Email us if you don't have internet access, and we will send you the story by email. (sorry, we can't send the video.)

Break Thru Your Boundaries...
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If you’re compulsively acting-out with pornography and masturbation we suggest you explore joining Porn Anonymous (PA). If you need help deciding whether to join PA, call Michael at 347-699-2368, or email help@pornanonymous.org to schedule a time to talk. For more information visit pornanonymous.org (Hebrew: p-a.org.il / Yiddish: pa-yid.org).

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If your compulsive acting-out has progressed beyond the screen (with other people, paid sexual services, etc.) we suggest you explore joining Sexaholics Anonymous (SA). To figure out if SA is for you, call Dov at 917-414-8205, or email Dov at dov@guardyoureyes.org to schedule a time to talk. For more information visit www.sa.org.

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