Tish'a b'Av
  Breaking Free Chizuk Tish'a B'Av  
In Today's Issue
Image of the Day: What Can You Take with You?
Torah: Shechinta b'Afra
Practical Tips: From Mourning to Morning
Torah: Have an easy fast!
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Image of the Day
What Can You Take with You?
What Can You Take with You?
Shechinta b'Afra
By Once-innocent

Dear Hashem

I have a lot of feelings on his day of mourning yet I’m not sure how to express them. I’m going to try and explain what’s going on inside me and hopefully it will bring me to some clarity and direction.

Last night in Shul we read Eicha; we asked how You, Who had been our Redeemer, could destroy Your holy city and temple. Why, we asked, is Your love no longer evident? And how can it be that “the city that was full of people” now “dwells alone”? These seem to echo all the many questions that I have had throughout the years… Do You, Hashem, really love me? Do You care if I do wrong? Are You still listening to me? When we read about the innocent babies being punished, suffering along with those who maybe did deserve it, I can’t help but ask WHY? Why is there so much pain in Your world?

That question will remain unanswered until the end of time. It’s a fact I must come to face. I may never know why. But I don’t have to let that destroy my daily living. Afterall, some questions can be answered, and, I guess, it’s up to me to pursue them, depending on how much it actually matters to me.

Today is a day of great pain, yet I find that I cannot bring myself to tears. How can I cry when I don’t know what I’m crying over? I woke up this morning desperate for a shower, angry that I couldn’t brush my teeth, frustrated that I couldn’t find clothes because there’s a nine-day laundry pile-up… This day just doesn’t apply to me. The Meraglim’s report, the Destruction of the Temples, Crusades, Expulsions, Inquisitions, World Wars… These blend in with the rest of my history textbooks, seemingly irrelevant to my daily life.

Yet there’s another way to look at all this. Today You sit and cry over us, Your children, whom You love and care for unconditionally. You want to bring us home. You never wanted us to go through all the death and destruction that our history drowns in. We belong in a world of peace, a world of clarity, and a world where we all acknowledge You. We get so caught up in the superficialities of this world, we continue to turn away from Your Palace, rejecting Your open arms because we’re too busy updating our status’ and checking our notifications.

So today I’m not going to be crying over history. I’m going to be crying over the present. For all the people who don’t know they’re Jewish, for those who choose not to identify themselves as Jewish, and for those who just-don’t-care. We need an end to the pain, hurt, and confusion. Enough suffering! I’m crying because I wish I were more sensitive to Your Will, more aware of what we’re all missing. I just want things be okay again. I want to feel safe in Your arms.

May this Tisha B’Av be the last of it’s kind. I don’t want You to have to go through this again.

Practical Tips
From Mourning to Morning
Part 2/3
By GYE Member

I believe that we, as Jews who are seeking to accomplish the tremendous mission with which our loving Father in heaven so implicitly trusts us, can benefit greatly by carrying this list at all times. When we find ourselves overcome with the temptations of the yetzer hara, let us take out the list and read it slowly, aloud, and try to do one of the "eitzos". With the help of Hashem, Who stands by our side through the thick and thin, "He who dwells among you amid your impurity," this will be of tremendous assistance in helping us rebuild the broken Yerushalayim we carry within, speedily, and in our days. Amen v'Amen.

[Note: The main yetzer hara of this generation is the temptation of arayos, sexual impurity, in all its various forms. (Sichos Haran 116, Tzidkas Hatzaddik 109). Thus, most, if not all, of the concepts included in this list are intended to be used specifically when one finds himself in a temptation of this sort. It goes without saying that this list applies, predominately, to men. In exchange for the term "motzi zerah l'vatelah" or "transgressing", I have opted for the term "acting out."]

1. Concepts to remember:

A] Acting out will not satisfy us. Though in the heat of the moment, it appears that acting out will provide a release, which will satisfy us, both physically and emotionally, it is false on both accounts. Physically, there is a profound sense of emptiness even within the short-lived pleasure, and we will want more soon after we act out. Emotionally, we will feel a numbness overcoming our mind. We will grow tired and irritable. The guilt immediately wears down on us and brings a deep sadness with it. Try to picture how you felt the last time when, after your marvelous dance with the Devil, he slunk away into the shadows and left you broken into a million pieces.

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov compares the yetzer hara to a person who runs through the crowded marketplace waving his clenched fist high in the air. "Who can guess what I have in my hand?" he yells as he runs. People begin to grow curious, and they chase after him. As they run, their imaginations run wildly within, and they each begin to imagine that this man is holding that which he most desires. They more time goes on, the more the townspeople convince themselves that this man is literally holding the key to their happiness. Finally, the man stops abruptly. Everyone waits with bated breath, eager for the treasure to be revealed. Holding his hand high, he opens his fingers, revealing that he was holding - absolutely nothing at all (Sichos HaRan 6).

This is the yetzer hara. He leads us to believe that he can provide us with happiness and true fulfillment but it is just a ruse. We lead ourselves to believe that acting out will provide a sense of true wellbeing and joy but when we do, and the yetzer hara 'opens his hand', we find that there was never anything in there at all.

B] How will I feel if I pass this test? This thought is an outgrowth of the previous one. Allow your mind to not only picture how you would feel after acting out, but how you will feel after passing the test and removing yourself from temptation. You will be able to walk in the street with the confidence of a true oveid Hashem, knowing that you have accomplished something incredible. You will be able to face your family and friends without feeling like a faker. A genuine sense of joy and fulfillment will spread throughout your being, the real version of the knock-off pleasure that comes with acting out.

C] My actions have enormous ramifications upon all of creation. The Nefesh HaChaim teaches that every action a Jew performs has a tremendous effect on all of creation (See Nefesh Hachaim, 1:3). Acting out in this manner destroys many spiritual worlds and prevents Hashem's goodness from resting upon one's life in particular and all of creation in general.

D] I am at the door of the next level in avodas Hashem. After so many years of struggling to attain levels of holiness, a person finally arrives at the door, which will take his avodas Hashem to the next level. Here he may find it easier to have kavanah in tefillah. Here he might receive the siyata d'shmaya to truly understand and remember the Torah he is learning. Here he may come to love every Jew, etc. But the yetzer hara is not going to let him enter without a battle. Just before he turn the doorknob and enter a world of brilliant light, the yetzer hara pours out his wrath upon this Jew, using all the means at his disposal to knock him off the staircase, all the way down to the bottom again. (Likutei Moharan Tinyana 48) By acting out, we might be forfeiting this incredible attainment we have worked so hard to achieve all these years. It might take us so very long to get back to the place we are standing. Let the temptation not be a reason for discouragement, but on the contrary, an indicator that we are about to truly succeed at long last!

E] The pleasure of acting out is my Gehinnom. This is a bit of a scary one. The physical pleasure of acting out can be intense. Waves of pleasure run through the body, touching each cell from head to toe. The Nefesh HaChaim teaches that this very pleasure we experience is the Gehinnom in which our soul must one day be cleansed (Nefesh HaChaim 1:11). What appears to be a spirit of pleasure and carefree ecstasy is in fact everything painful, dark, torturous and scary in disguise, hovering over us while we indulge in sin. The moment we finish acting out, this spirit of pleasure sheds its garment and embarks to its place in the fires of hell. Acting out doesn't merely earn us a red x for which we must go through the pain of Gehinnom to be cleansed. It is the Gehinnom itself.

F] Passing this test will serve to rectify a past slip-up. R' Yaakov Meir Shechter writes in a few places that every time a person overcomes a temptation, one of his previous sins is erased. (See Kuntres Nisyonos Hazman, page 7) He once said, "The yetzer hara wants to ruin our future with our past. We must do the opposite! We must fix our past with our future!"

G] Is this worth it? Even if one is, at the time of temptation, unable to remind himself of how he will feel when it is all over and that the yetzer hara's treats are illusory, he can still question whether it is worth what he stands to lose by acting out. Rebbe Nachman of Breslov writes "For a little pleasure of fifteen minutes, a man is willing to give up his entire life in both this world and the next" (Likutei Moharan Tinyana 108). The "Spirit of Folly," which the yetzer hara inflicts, brings us to foolishly choose to throw away everything real, meaningful, purposeful etc. for something so incredibly fleeting. A diamond dealer, if he has even the slightest sense in his head, will not trade away a 280 carat diamond for a polished rock, no matter how shiny it may be. It is simply not worth it.

To be continued...
Have an easy fast!
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Porn Anonymous (PA)
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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