Monday, 06 February 2017

The Itch

by Yaakov from GYE (See all authors)

Every human being has a divine soul. This soul yearns for connection to where it came from, the Almighty Himself--Who is the source of all good, pleasure and oneness. This yearning is known as the “G-d hole”, and it is felt particularly strongly by those who struggle with lust. You see, lust is only the flip-side of the same coin (Rav Tzadok Hakohen of Lublin discusses this in depth). What we are really craving is connection, oneness, and inner peace. But because we are in a body of flesh and blood and don’t know any better, these desires often express themselves as lust. When a beautiful someone walks by or we see a lustful image on the internet, our eyes lock onto that image and the fleeting dopamine release we feel in the brain tricks us into believing that what we yearn for deep in our souls can be found there. “If only I would have that, I would finally have what I really always wanted”. But what a lie this is! We will never find what we seek in lust. Read the hundreds of stories on GYE of people who gave into their every desire for years and years, only making them more and more miserable, depressed and destroying their lives in the end.

The G-d hole inside us can be compared to a disease that we all need to deal with. The symptoms of this disease cause us itching and bleeding, but the more we scratch the itches and try to stem the bleeding with Band-Aids, the disease just grows and gets worse. Every time we look at something we shouldn’t and allow the lust into our hearts, the wounds grow and the bleeding increases. This causes us to feel a terrible need to scratch the itches and keep Band-Aiding the bleeding wounds, causing the disease to get worse and worse.

Instead, we must deal with the disease itself, that hole deep in our souls. We must begin to believe that ONLY G-d holds all that we seek, and that lust can never fill the hole inside us—it only makes it bigger.

So how do we ever fill the inner yearnings – and deal with the disease itself?

The first step to choose: we can’t continue to hold the stick at both ends. As long as we still believe that lust can provide us with what we crave, we can't begin to deal with the real issue. Only when we are ready to surrender this illusion and have FAITH that only G-d – Who created all beauty, love, desire and good—can provide what we need, then we will have the strength to turn away from those things that keep forcing us back into the illusion. However, once we’ve already allowed the lust into our hearts, the illusion is so strong that we can’t fight it. It is almost impossible to see the lie for what it is once we have let the lust in. Even Shlomo Hamelech, the wisest of all men, allowed women to turn his heart away from G-d in his older years, because allowed himself to enjoy their beauty (see the medrashim about Bas-Pharaoh and her dances on the day the Beis Hamikdash was inaugurated). Wisdom can't overcome the power of lust. The only way to fight the illusion is not to look where we shouldn’t in the first place, so that the lie doesn't overtake us.

So instead of scratching the itch and putting band-aids on the ever-growing wounds, we must work instead on our FAITH that G-d is the source of all our soul’s desires. This makes it so much easier – as Chazal tell us to be “Kal Kanesher” (light as an eagle) and turn away from bad, instead of trying to fight these powerful desires each time we are tempted. Once we internalize that it’s one big lie—and that it’s NOT what we are REALLY looking for and it can NEVER GIVE US what we really want, it becomes easy to turn away.

And once we develop this faith and stop allowing the lust in, we will find that the wounds begin to heal on their own. The terrible itchiness begins to fade, and the G-d hole inside us begins to fill up with the light and warmth of G-d.

"Tzadik Be’emunaso Yichyeh" - The Tzadik will live in His Faith (Chavakuk)