The Crushing Crush
Ilan posted a question on the forum:
Hi Reb GYE and the Rest of Us,
About 4 years ago, there was a certain girl who was in one of my university classes. She caught my attention as soon as I saw her, but as a decent observant Jew, I always avoided her like I avoided all girls that I found to be attractive. This particular girl was really pretty, and even many years later as I am starting to date seriously, I still think about her looks and stupidly hope that I will find someone who is as pretty. That will not happen. When I find someone, I am sure she will be attractive, but not in the same way, nor should she be. And unless we live in an absolutely closed environment, we will always see attractive women, but my question is, how do we handle it when we find them to be particularly attractive in the sense that we have a "crush" on them? How does one move on and keep one's mind focused on reality and not sensuality?
You ask a very good question, and even those of us (on this forum) who are married for many years struggle with this issue. It all boils down to learning to differentiate in our minds - and internalize in our hearts - the difference between a relationship built upon shared goals and values, growing together, making each other whole, building a family, etc... VS. ... Steak.
Uh.. what? ... Steak??
Exactly. Because having a crush on a beautiful girl is nothing but that. It is an animalistic desire of lust, based only on self-gratification. We couldn't care less who that pretty women really is, as a person. She may as well just be a juicy piece of steak to our minds.
Ilan, I bless you that you will get married soon and have a lovely wife, and you will be able to build a beautiful family based on Torah values together with her. But like you so wisely pointed out, there will ALWAYS be women that will catch our eyes and make us wish we had some of that "steak" as well. So it is essential to internalize this differentiation very clearly in our minds and hearts. You are lucky that you are addressing these issues at such a young age, before getting married.
PLEASE read "Day 16" through "Day 20" of the PDF file from the translations of "The First Day of the Rest of My Life" to get many more insights into the proper perspective we should have on our "Lifetime Partners". Even those of us who are married already can greatly benefit from reading these chapters, and it can help us achieve a whole new appreciation in the differentiation between a true relationship and Lust.
May Hashem help you find the right one (as soon as you finish reading those chapters! :-)
"Me" answers Ilan on the forum:
It could be that the very word "crush" contains the answer to your question. I don't believe that this word exists in chazal. So I would venture to say, that this word is exactly that; a "crush" is where one's head is really...."crushed".
When we feel a crush, we are NOT using our minds at all, but using only our eyes and hearts to do all of the perceiving. In order to remove our heads from being in "crushed" mode, we need to use our minds. We need to move ourselves - via our minds - to a higher state of perception.
Here are some things to reflect upon in our minds:
1) The Baal Shomer Emunim says that when we see a beautiful women, we should reflect upon the fact that her beauty exists ONLY because Hashem wishes it to exist. As soon as Hashem changes his wish, this "head crushing" beauty will cease to exist. And my mind tells me as well, that the root and source of her beauty is, after all, Hashem! and NOT this mirage that I am being crushed by.
2) Her beauty is only temporary. If, for example, she would crash straight into a wall head first, she would look completely different in one second. (This reminds me of the last picture on this page - you may not wish to look at it - on GUE site. There are pictures there of peoples insides, outsides, etc. WARNING: this is the "last resort" page for people who cannot control their lusting. The last picture on the page is what is left of a pretty young girl's face after it was "crushed" in a traffic accident). However, in a relationship built on holiness, the beauty lasts no matter what happens on the outside (physically). Since it is "real", it continues on and on and is everlasting.
So if we use our minds properly, we will NOT feel a need to focus on this temporary beauty. Because we know that in truth, it is not "real" at all. The beauty we see belongs to Hashem, and as the Baal Shomer Emunim said, don't look at the woman's beauty but rather at it's root, which is the beauty of the Creator - the Artist - to whom all beauty in this world is attributed to.
Yosef Yakov answers Ilan:
I attended a co-ed day school, and I spent four years at an "all-American" college, all with their number of "crushes". I can only tell you that my brain circuits regarding sexuality have been "fried" forever and I am UTTERLY UNABLE to look at a good-looking woman today without being overwhelmed by the most powerful lusts.
I went today to visit somebody in a gigantic nursing home. Those who have been in a nursing home do not need to be reminded that it is quite sobering, to say the least. I am sorry for the language, but just think for a moment that many of the women there who are now demented, babbling, drooling saliva and wearing diapers that are perhaps filled with urine and other things, were once attractive maidens worthy of everybody's crushes and lusts. Just reflect for a moment: Is it for this that I will sell my soul??
This reminds me of the proverbial desert mirages depicted in cartoons, where the character thinks he sees an beautiful oasis with a palm tree, runs to it and jumps into the water, only to end up with no water and a broken nose.