It's My Way or G-d's Way!
“Perhaps there is among you one whose Heart turns away from being with Hashem”
פן יש בכם איש או אשה ...אשר לבבו פנה היום מעם יה-וה
For some of us, this time of year reminds us of December 31st. You know that crazy night when everyone is at a party or at a bar counting down the hours, the minutes, the seconds of the end of the year. Then the clock strikes midnight and we all yell, "Happy New Year!!" Everyone sings together, drinks together and shows lots of affection for one another. It's a very joyful scene!
Of course, don't forget that most everyone is also making their so called, "New Years' Resolutions." Where we make an oath, a vow, a commitment to get rid of all our negative behaviors of the past year. We make commitments on how we are going to change in the New Year...how we are going to eat, to exercise, to work, to kick those "bad habits" or even how we are going to conquer our addictions. And sometimes, we can keep our New Years' Resolutions for about a month, a week or not at all. So what happened? Why can't we really change? What happened to MY POWER to change?
And here WE are, as Jews, we come to the end of the Jewish Calendar Year 5777 and to the end of the Torah/Five Books of Moses. We are also making our own New Years' Resolution, with more of a commitment to how we are going to make not just a physical change, but also a Spiritual change. And we are also getting all excited and prepared for 5778! We have attended or listened to every Shiur/Lecture we can get our hands on. We've said our Selichos... we will say our Vidui... we will pound our chests... we'll kneel to the floor... and so much more!
C'mon. Do we really think that all these lectures, resolutions, confessions and prayers are going to make a difference? Is 5778 really going to be any different than 5777?! How long will I be able to maintain my angelic loftiness and commitments in the New Year? A month, a week or not at all!
If any of us want to understand why we don't really succeed with our commitments to change, then all we need to do is to look at this week's Parasha. We can learn tons from simply listening to Moshe Rabbeinu on his very last day of his life. He had assembled all of us, from the most exalted to the lowliest, the old to the young, the men, the women and the children. And he gave us the most powerful message of all. So...
Let’s consider how the Parasha addresses this issue:
In Devarim, Chapter 29 Verse 17, Moshe warns us about The Threat of IDOLATRY. This verse states, “Perhaps there is among you one whose Heart turns away from being with Hashem, to go and serve the gods of the nations. And he will BLESS HIMSELF IN HIS HEART, saying, Peace will be with me since I walk as my heart sees fit - thereby adding the watered upon the thirty!”
Indeed this may seem like really cryptic language. What was Moshe telling us? Fortunately, Ramban helps us bring this message right into our lives today. He teaches us that this weird statement that those of us who "walk as my heart sees fit - thereby adding the watered upon the thirsty" is a warning that people should control their desires before they are overcome with lust, because once they give in to curiosity to savor the forbidden, the craving becomes stronger and stronger, until it requires ever newer and more exotic perversions to satisfy it. Thus, the message of the verse is that we should beware of the creeping addiction to sin, for if he sins when he is "watered" i.e. without a strong desire - then those sins will be supplemented by a more serious degree of sin which becomes a "thirst" for stronger stimulation and more intense pleasure!!! (Wow - please know that I am quoting word for word what the Ramban says about this verse! Amazing isn't it?!)
So what's our only hope and solution in the face of this powerful warning? As Bill Wilson writes in the Big Book on page 14,
"The solution is SIMPLE, but NOT EASY. It meant destruction of Self Centeredness. And I must turn in all things over to the Father of Light, who presides over us all!
So let me ask you as we are counting down the final days to finish 5777 and enter our Jewish New Year, do you really want to fight the Enemy of Addiction? Do you really want Sobriety? Do you really want to live a life of Freedom and Recovery?
Then as we learn from our Program, we can take the simplest step of all - just Let Go and Let God!
Please pay special attention to how this simple quote says volumes! I’m pretty sure that most of us, would be very pleased to Let God take care of all our problems and our enemies. BUT FIRST, the biggest hurdle we have to overcome is making the decision and taking active steps to LET GO!
Thanks to Nitzavim/Vayeilech, now I really understand the piece of advice I received from a Program buddy who taught me:
No G-d…No Peace
Know G-d…Know Peace