Rejecting the Unholy
Interestingly, many of us here have had difficulty staying clean over Yom Tov and immediately after Yom Tov. Whether it is the lack of regular structure, too much free time, or being around well dressed female guests, the emotional highs we get on Yom Tov require us to plan ahead. We need to fill our time constructively. We need to anticipate the challenges that may arise and know how we can best avoid them. We don't need to go "everywhere we always go on Yom Tov" - If a specific location is triggering, avoid it. We need to be careful to eat well, sleep well, and "air-out" when needed. We need to tell ourselves, in advance of the holiday and Isru Chag, that we are normal human beings who have moods, and that it’s okay to feel a little hyper or a little down. I guess that my vivid memories of staying up Shavuos night and really learning Geshmak, followed by a beautiful Vasikin Davening, followed by major acting-out, will stay with me for the rest of my life. The depression that it caused (“come on, it’s Kabolas Hatorah today!”), was enough to kill my resolve to try to stay clean for weeks after. In my case, it was the anxiety after all those hours cooped up, and the "high" that came along with the learning and davening that did me in. Baruch Hashem, I have learned how to ease the tension in kosher ways, although sometimes, when learning alone for an extended time, I will experience certain physical ‘sensations,’ and know I have to take a breather. Additionally, I have learned to regulate my moods in a healthier manner.
The Medrash on the Possuk, "El Asher Teilchi, Ei'leich, Uba'asher Tolini, Alin" relates: Naomi told Rus that it is not the Derech of Bnos Yisroel to go to stadiums, theaters and the like; nor do Bnos Yisroel sleep in a house without a Mezuzah. To that she replied - I will only go where you, Naomi, go; I will only sleep where you, Naomi, sleep. The next part of the Possuk, according to the Medrash, is Rus's acceptance of all Mitzvos. The question is asked: why are these two items singled out? Why are they mentioned before everything else? Doesn’t a Ger have to accept the entire Torah at once?
Recently, I heard an answer: before one accepts the Torah, before Shulchan Aruch, before anything else, there is a Hakdama of V'atem Ti'hyu Li Mamleches Kohanim V'goy Kadosh - first, you have to realize how different a Yid is - a Goy Kadosh - then you can be Mekabel Torah and Mitzvos. Naomi was telling Rus, if you want to live a life of enjoyment and fun, it won’t work. If you are looking for the fun the secular world offers, symbolized by stadiums and theaters, you are not ready to be part of us. Moreover, even if you agree not to spend your life searching for fun on the outside, but still wish to have an unrestricted home - symbolized by a home without a Mezuzah - you are still not for us.
As we develop a higher sensitivity for Shemiras Eynayim, we, like Rus, must come to the realization that a big portion of the world we live in is off-limits to us. If being a Goy Kadosh is a prerequisite for Kabolas Hatorah, then it is self-understood that certain locations are off-limits for us, certain types of movies are off-limits for us, and socializing with certain people is off-limits to us. And maybe some technological devices, if we are truly honest with ourselves, are off-limits to us.
Here’s hoping that you received the Torah as a key player in our “Mamleches Kohanim V’goy Kadosh.”