Positive Vision - Day 19
Rabbi Avrohom Neuberger
Our weekly excerpt from the book "Positive Vision"
Day 19 - Toxic Environments - External and Internal
So which environment generates a laxity in kedushah?
This issue can be divided into two categories, the external condition and the internal one.
The external condition - aside from the obvious, such as being in a place where people are not dressed properly or where access to improper images is a click away - is being alone. When one is with friends, he realizes he is being watched and is unlikely to transgress.
When Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai was on his deathbed, his disciples entered and asked for a blessing. He responded, “May it be that your fear of Heaven be like your fear of people.” They responded, “Is that all?” He countered, “Halevai! For whenever a person sins he says, ‘I pray that no one saw me!’ ”
Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai was the preeminent leader of his generation at the time of the Churban. The Gemara tells us that he understood the language of angels and demons - but evidently he also understood what makes people tick. The embarrassment one feels when he is caught doing an aveirah is a powerful impediment against sinning. If only we would be as embarrassed in front of Hashem.
In this vein, Chazal prohibited yichud; one is allowed to be with a member of the opposite gender only in the presence of other people. It can be argued that this same prohibition should be applied to anyone using the Internet. By partnering with someone who monitors your computer, you are not alone. Your “buddy” is watching your actions.
The internal condition that leads to a breach in kedushah is atzvus, depression. We are not talking about “clinical” depression, where one cannot pull himself out of bed; rather, we mean the “blues” or just boredom. One who lacks joie de vivre, the simple joy of being alive, is vulnerable to compensate for this with the thrill of looking where he should not. Of course, the thrill is fleeting and he will be left more depressed than he had been - but for those few moments life is exciting. If you are experiencing these negative emotions, be on guard. And of course try to find a productive and engaging activity. Tomorrow we will discuss a general plan to pull oneself out of the “blues.”
"I will pay attention to my internal environment - my mood - and be even more vigilant not to trust myself to be alone where a nisayon exists when I am feeling down."