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Go For the Gold!

obormottel Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Baal Shem Tov (the original below) advises us about a change of paradigm when we are triggered by an object of our lust. Contemplate about the source of this person's beauty: Isn't it G-d Himself? And if so, why settle for a mere part (chelek), why lust after an external beauty or pleasure, when I can choose to lust after the Source of All pleasures?

Bal Shem

When we lust, we are really looking for "connection" with something beautiful. But we will never find it in flesh and blood, it's like a mirage in the desert that the thirsty person is sure that it's water, but when he gets closer and tries to take it, there's nothing but hot-air there.

The beauty and connection we seek are really the vibes of our souls, yearning for connection with the source of all beauty. Yes, this isn't always an easy frame of mind to maintain, it takes EMUNAH. But the more we work towards this Emunah, the more success we'll have in staying away from looking at things we shouldn't and lusting after them.

As I was contemplating this idea, Hashem showed me this Mishna:


C. Twerski commented on the thoughts in the previous article here.

I just wanted to comment on this. This concept is brought down by the Meor Enaim in the name of the Baal Shem Tov many times. For example, the Pasuk says: איש כי יקח את אחותו חסד הוא, i.e. that even the greatest sin is really a perversion of the highest midah of chesed. When Hashem sends a test to a person, it's a sign to the person to uplift this mida to kedusha.

However, personally I have heard from the Rachmastrivke Rebbe in Yerushalayim that this is a madreiga for tzadikim but not regular people. I heard as well from Rav Yitzchok Moshe Erlanger that it's a good concept to know, but when the desire or machshava comes to a person he should not try to uplift it, as that's very possibly above his level and he will probably stumble, instead he should just run away as fast as possible. They both seem to be saying that for the average person, while it can be a chizuk to know where the lust comes from theoretically and what the ideal result should be (so that they don't feel bad about themselves), in actuality however, they shouldn't try to uplift this.

Yaakov Responds:

Thanks for sharing that. There's no question one should turn away instantly, the only question is, what should his thoughts be at that moment? If the thoughts are of lust, he should distract himself completely. But if he found that he was being nispa'el (in awe) just from the beauty, it can perhaps be helpful to think where the source of all beauty really comes from and Whom it is really worth loving.

The Bal Shem spoke of not "removing Hashem's malbushim", kaviyachol. This is truly a high level that is not for regular people. But I was trying to fit his words into a more realistic approach that can be helpful not only to uplift it to kedusha, but also in a psychological sense. Instead of FIGHTING the very real feelings that the person feels at the time, he can validate the feelings and simply redirect them to a Higher level of self-interest by telling himself, "there's much better in store for me, if I only don't go after the reflection and go instead after the real thing".

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