Positive Vision - Day 2
Rabbi Avrohom Neuberger
Our weekly excerpt from the book "Positive Vision"
There is a well-known legend about the inhabitants of an island who developed a most creative means to support themselves.
When a ship would draw near their island, the residents would play a magical tune that would drive the listeners into a crazed frenzy. The sailors would begin singing and dancing and would steer the ship straight to the island. The locals would then raid the ship, murder all its occupants, and plunder all the cargo and supplies.
Eventually, the captains of these ships became aware of this ruse so they took steps to prevent it from occurring.
Three strategies emerged.
Some captains ordered the sailors to stuff their ears before they came within earshot of the island, to block out the sound of the music.
Others ordered that everyone on the ship be tied down, to prevent them from redirecting the ship toward the island.
Yet other captains played loud festive music on their own ship to drown out the magical music issuing from the island.
There are similarly three ways of dealing with the yetzer hara, all of which are effective, and all of which should be employed.
We can do our best to try to "stuff our ears" in an effort to block exposure to the yetzer hara's stimulus, in this way avoiding the nisayon in the first place. Ideally, this is a great plan, but in today's environment, it is not always possible. Virtually every trip to the store, every commute to work, and every time we open the computer we find ourselves squarely in the line of fire.
We can also try to metaphorically "tie ourselves down" by placing ourselves in a position where even if we are drawn toward the aveirah, we simply cannot afford to fail. Yiras Ha'onesh, as well as programs that report the sites we have visited on the Internet, work on this level. Although we may be attracted to the aveirah and are "straining against the ropes" to commit the sin, the fear of punishment or exposure ties us down and prevents us from doing so. This is certainly an effective strategy, but it does not resolve the struggle. It merely scares one into doing what is right.
In conjunction with these first two strategies we must add the third: fighting the yetzer hara with "festive music." We must make doing what is right attractive and rewarding so that we will be drawn in that direction.
We will i"yH demonstrate that maintaining kedushah is extremely rewarding not only in Olam Haba, but even here and now, in this world, and it enhances our daily lives in a very real and tangible way. As such, we will more willingly choose it over its alternative.
To do this, we must first understand what kedushah really is.