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Understanding Shemiras Habris

How do I understand the concept Shemiras Habris?

GYE Corp. Sunday, 06 May 2012
Part 1/2 (to see other parts of the article, click on the pages at the bottom)

Someone wrote us recently a list of questions on Shemirat Habris and we tried to answer as best we could. Perhaps we can all learn something from this exchange....

1) How do you know that you have rectified the brit if you have done Teshuvah after wasting seed?

Teshuvah is a lifelong job. When one repents through the love of G-d, his past sins become changed into merits. The Ramba"m says that true teshuvah means that you have the same opportunity to sin as you did before -- and the same desire, and yet you don't. If you reach that, you will know that you have done true Teshuvah.

2) Why is the shemirat habrit considered so important to Hashem?

Shemiras Habris is important to Hashem because the bris represents "Yesod". Yesod means foundation. The foundation of a building is underground, nobody sees it - but it holds up the whole building. The same applies to Shmiras Habris. It is what you DON'T DO and what no one sees that holds up the entire spiritual structure of a Jew. If a person is not Shomer Habris, then even if he davens and learns Torah, the whole building is shaky, weak and in grave danger of collapse.

3) Similarly, why is something that is done so easily (wasting seed) considered to be murder and come with so many punishments?

Precisely because it is so easy to fall, if the sin wasn't considered so severe by G-d, it would be almost impossible for us to stop.

4) If you wasted seed, does it automatically mean that you are going to Gehinnom?

If you did true Teshuvah for wasting seed, you will not go to Gehinom.

5) If the sin of wasting seed is so severe, why don't more people talk about it and know about it?

A Jew answers a question with a question... "If G-d created everything and fills everything, why do only 1% of humans live with him consciously every day?"

All the holy books are full of sayings and hints about how important Shmiras Habris is, the Talmud, the Halacha, Kabbalah and all the Chassidic masters...

6) Even though wasting seed is a severe sin, isn't it better to waste seed than to go and have sexual relations with women?

See here for an answer to this question.

7) What is the Tikkunim if someone had relations with a non-Jewish woman? It is scary, because I read that if you do this, then you get reincarnated as a dog.

I didn't hear about getting reincarnated as a dog, rather, her soul is bound to the sinner's soul like a dog, in the world to come.

The Tikkun for every sin, no matter how great, is Teshuvah. Always focus on the future, not the past. If you work hard on Tikkun Habris today, G-d will wipe your slate clean. Don't let the past get you down. That is a trick of the yetzer hara to stop us from doing teshuvah.

8) How severe is the sin of wasting seed if the person does not even know that it is a sin? Most people don't know about it or think that it's a minor sin.

Obviously one is judged more lieniently for sins he did when he was not aware that they were sins. But again, the key is to look forward and not worry about the past.

9) What if someone is ill and can't stop wasting seed? Does the sin become a less severe sin?

An ill person must seek help. He may not be in control now, but that is no excuse for not seeking help. The most ill person is still responsible for his recovery. See here for various therapy options

10) I read that Rabbi Nachman had written that wasting seed is mostly due to depression. What does Rabbi Nachman say about things that will help you so that you don't fall into depression?

Read this parable from R'Nachman to help. Indeed, the Yetzer Hara's biggest tool in getting people to sin, or in stopping them from doing Teshuvah, is depression. See Tip #8 on our "Mind Tips" page.

Remember, G-d is ultimately the one to fight our struggles for us. He just asks us to start, by "wanting", "praying" and "surrendering" to him.

May G-d be with us all!

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