One Forbidden Tree
On a similar note, it occurred to me what a big zechus it is that we have, those who struggle greatly with these desires. After all, we declare everyday “Hashem Echad” - that there is only one game in town: Hashem’s will. “And you shall love Hashem your G-d with all your heart/s (as Chazal explain, with both your Yetzer Tov and Yetzer Hara) with all your soul and with all your possessions/midos”. How many people get a chance to really fulfill this central mitzvah and goal in a Jew’s life? Most of us enjoy our lives of Torah and Mitzvos. Today there is Kosher food in abundance, we have nachas from our children, Shabbos is a day off to spend with the family and get rest, etc. So where do we get a chance to really show Hashem (and ourselves) that this is all about HIM, not us; that we really LOVE HIM with all our hearts and all our beings? Who knows if we wouldn't live our whole lives as erliche Yidden and then come up to Shamayim after 120 and find that we did it all for ourselves, we didn’t really love Hashem at all!
Perhaps it is this one forbidden tree, whose fruits look so luscious and tempting, which the snake keeps trying to push us to gaze upon and partake of its fruits, yearning for the forbidden knowledge (as the Pasuk says ‘and Adam “knew” his wife’) that gives us a chance to show a little messiras nefesh for a change. Only when the desires feel really strong do we have a chance to show Hashem who we are really living for at the end of the day - for ourselves or for HIM?
Because if it’s all about me, then how can I give up the greatest pleasure - that which I yearn for so deeply, that which outweighs in my (warped) mind all other pleasures? But if we are striving to love Hashem, if we truly believe “Hashem Echad” – that it’s all about HIM, that there is only HIS will - then how fortunate are we to have a chance to show it – a real chance to give up something that ‘feels’ truly precious to us.
We all know the truth in our minds that it’s all hot air, but Hashem does a great chesed by fooling us into feeling a great “need” for these things. He does this so we can get the zechus/reward/chance of giving up something that really feels substantial (even though we know it really isn’t, as we all experienced so many times when we “gave in” in the past).
So from now on when we feel these desires tempting and beckoning us, instead of feeling resentful about it, let us THANK Hashem for fooling us into feeling these strong desires so that we have a chance to show Him our true direction in life. When we “feel like” we are giving up our deepest desires, it is an awesome chance that we - who struggle have, more than anyone else, to truly demonstrate and declare that our lives are really about HIM and not ourselves.