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Training Ourselves

the.guard Sunday, 30 August 2020
Training Ourselves

I just read the vort "The Problem of Instant Gratification" in your parsha newsletter (page 4). It reminded me of a nice true story of the same idea that I heard about 40 years ago in Israel.

A chossid was once lying in bed on a freezing morning in Russia. He was craving a cigarette but he didn't want to get out of his warm bed into the freezing air of his ramshackle room.

He couldn't decide which to choose, having a cigarette or staying in his warm bed. He struggled to decide for a long time. Finally he decided to stay in bed. But by then he was so disgusted at his enslavement to his desires, that he decided to rebel and do the opposite of what he had chosen. But he was still troubled - maybe doing the opposite of his preferred choice by going into the freezing air of his room for a cigarette was just a trick of his yetzeh horah that really wanted him to have the cigarette while feeling righteous about it because he was only doing it in order to give up his first choice of staying in his warm bed.

Oy! What to do, to break away from his yetzeh horah?

Finally, he got up to have the cigarette, picked it up from his dresser and put it to his mouth. Then he put it down and refused to smoke it. He had given up the cigarette AND his warm bed.

That'll teach the yetzeh hora!

The more we train ourselves not to give in to our every whim, the easier it will be for us to overcome the bigger tests.