Wednesday, 10 August 2016

From Mourning to Morning

Part 1/3 (to see other parts of the article, click on the pages at the bottom)
By YKS

by GYE Member (See all authors)

During these Three Weeks, in addition to mourning the destruction of the physical Yerushalayim, we must turn our focus inward and dig deep with ourselves, to mourn our own destruction. Who could we have become if we hadn't let sin take root? What happened to that innocent little child that once peered back at us in the mirror? What has happened to our spirit, our focus, our connection to the Creator?

It is no secret that we live in a decedent world where the moral standards of global society have reached incredible lows. Just as a wrestler desperately gathers all his strength and exhausts every battle maneuver he knows right before he goes down for good, the yetzer hara is fighting his last stand. In our generation, at the doorstep of Moshiach, the forces of impurity are using every means at their disposal to knock us down. The night is darkest just before the dawn. We thus find ourselves constantly assaulted by mighty temptations which send ripples through the very fabric of our existence.

And there is nobody who is spared. Everybody is dealing with these issues, from the OTD teen on the street to the community Rabbi in his office and every Jew in between. Everybody knows for himself what he has gone through in his battles up until this point. His wins, his losses, the shattered Luchos of his own being and his futile attempts at putting the broken pieces back together. But looking forward, we must ask ourselves, as we mourn the destruction of our inner Yerushalayim: "How can I prevent this from happening again? How can I begin to rebuild my inner Yerushalayim without taking one step forward only to fall, yet again, two steps back?"

It is important to understand that the whole process starts with the forgetfulness of the Heart Knowledge we hold within. The biggest weapon in the yetzer hara's arsenal is the "Spirit of Folly" he is able to inflict upon us. As Chazal state, "A person does not succumb to sin until a spirit of folly has entered him." (Sotah 3a) At the moment a person is in the clutches of temptation, all the Torah he has learned upon which his Yiddishkeit is based, all the Halacha, Gemara, Hashkafa, Mussar, Chassdus, etc. is consigned to Head Knowledge alone which cannot stand up against the heart-pangs of the yetzer hara. It is this "Spirit of Folly", the spirit of forgetfulness, which brings us to sin. (Obviously, as we have mentioned above, the sin itself causes further forgetfulness of the heart, sparking a vicious cycle. Thus Chazal have taught "Aveirah gorreres aveirah".)

Thus, the main weapon we have to counter the yetzer hara's attacks is to battle to retain our Heart-Knowledge even as he ravages our spirit with that of Folly and forgetfulness. If, at the time of sin, we can not only 'know in our head' ("v'yada'ata hayom"), but 'draw that knowledge into our hearts' as well, ("v'hashivosa el l'vavecha"), we can be saved from the bite of the snake. [The rashei teivos of the words "V'hashivosa E'l L'vavecha" spells "Lav", "a negative commandment". This hints that the concept expressed in these words is the counter attack, which can prevent us from slipping and transgressing the Torah's negative commandments.]

This being so, I have decided, with Hashem's help, to draw up a concise list of some concepts and advice I have seen in various sources which can be helpful in retaining the Heart Knowledge which the yetzer hara so valiantly fights to rid us of. Though some of these ideas may seem simple (d'varim yadu'im), keep in mind that at the moment of temptation, when a person is caught in the powerful feelings cast upon him by the yetzer hara, these "d'varim yadu'im" become the least known bits of information in the entire world.