Day 1: The Goal: Self Mastery
This is the first day of my journal. I've never done this before - writing down things that happen to me and what I think about on a daily basis - but I'm willing to try.
My best buddy, Dave, told me it's "essential" if you want to improve yourself. And I do have a particular challenge I want to overcome. Sometimes, I'm distracted by immodest sights. I am a good Jew; but with all the visual challenges in the city, I didn't think there was a way that I could always control my eyes.
Dave and I work near each other in Manhattan, so we walk together from the train to our offices. The sights along the way are getting bolder and bolder. When I brought up this topic with Dave, I thought he would agree with me that there's nothing much I can do about it.
But he didn't agree. He said there's plenty I can do. That's not exactly what I expected to hear, but the more I thought about what he said, the more right he seemed. When I said, "I feel like I'm alone. Nobody can really help me," you should have heard him! He practically shrieked at me. He actually stopped walking and turned to face me.
"You can't think that way! Don't you know who you are? Your great-grandfathers are Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. You've got the spiritual genes to overcome any challenge. Besides, you don't have to do it alone."
"Hashem will help. The Torah promises us that if we really aim to rid ourselves of bad habits Hashem will help us succeed. The more you want it, the more He'll help. You'll see."
"Do you think the Torah is talking about this kind of habit - something this personal, I mean?"
"Especially with 'this kind' of habit. Listen, that prohibition not to 'stray after your eyes,' is one of the six mitzvot t'mediot, one of the six mitzvot that we have to keep in mind at all times, all day long.First, you've got to commit to the idea of improving yourself, of course..."
"Okay, okay, I really want to try.'"
"Nice going. Now you have to start a notebook, some kind of journal so you can keep track of your progress."
When he said that, I was ready to get off right there. It sounded like too much work already. But I really do want to improve myself, to elevate my thoughts and really gain control over my eyes. I said I'd give it a try.
So here goes. I hope Dave knows what he's talking about.
These e-mails are excerpts taken from the book "Windows of the Soul" by Rabbi Zvi Miller of the Salant Foundation.