Mazal Tov to "ClearEyes613"
It's not about fighting the Yetzer Hara head on and winning all the battles. It's about living a better, more connected life with Hashem.
Last night during maariv I almost started to cry. Yom Tov was over. The days of Elul - "ani l'dodi v'dodi li" are over. Aseres yemei teshuva is over. Succos is over. Shimini aseres is over. Simchas Torah is over. The days when Hashem is closest to us are over. I felt like a person in recovery learning how to walk with the help of crutches, and now, without warning, those crutches were kicked away!! The days of special siyata dishmaya are over!
In the past, feeling like this may have gotten me down. But not anymore. I have changed so much since I started. I feel like a new person. Instead, I realize how lucky am I to have this feeling of worry after Simchas Torah! Oy vey to me if I left Yom Tov feeling confident! How can I expect to enter the long winter months being overly confident and expect to stay clean? Obstacles will come. B"H that I have a healthy fear that keeps me grounded in recognizing my constant need for Hashem.
So how will I manage this year? I don't need to go far for that answer. After Elul, Rosh Hoshana, Aseres Yimei Teshuva, Yom Kippur and Succos - Hashem says don't leave just yet, stay for ONE more day, a special day 'lachem - for you' before taking your leave back to your 'regular life'. And what do Chazal do with this final day? We celebrate, Simchas Torah. What are the lessons of this "one last day" that we can take with us into the winter? I clearly see three important lessons:
1) When Hashem tells us to stay for one more day, he is giving us an attitude to take with us for the whole year: Take it ONE day at a time:
How do we take this close relationship that we attained during the holidays with us throughout the year? We leave our succah's, put aside our arbeh minim. How do we make this impression last? Hashem imparts this lesson to us by telling us to spend ONE more day with Him. We are being told to take it ONE day at a time. This is the valuable lesson of shmini atzeres.
2) The gift of giving:
Hashem gave us shmini atzeres to be a holiday - "lachem" - for us. A day of parting that we are to enjoy. But what do we do? We give this day to Hashem by dancing and celebrating with His torah. We make a Simchas Torah. True enjoyment does not come by taking, but by giving. Can you imagine a Shmini Atzeres without a Simchas Torah? All the giving that we do, is what makes the Yom Tov so great.
If we want to have an enjoyable year, we need to stop focusing on "me, me, me". By focusing on others and by giving, we are on the path to a happy year (and beating our addictions!)
The need to learn Torah every day! The last thing we do before starting our year is strengthening our love for the torah. "Barasi y"h, barasi torah tavlin". Torah keeps the Yetzer Hara at bay. A day without learning, and the Yetzer Hara will be on top of you. Torah will always be part of the cure, no matter what society we live in. If we want to continue our connection with Hashem, we can't forget His Torah even for ONE day!