Enlighten our Eyes - Day 1
Rabbi Y.S. Goldschmidt
Our weekly excerpt from the book "Enlighten our Eyes" (translated from the Hebrew sefer called "Ve'ha'er Eineinu").
INTRODUCTION - CURTAIN CLOSING
The 21st century confronts the Jew with unique challenges as never before. The long years of exile are drawing to an end, and the Satan is in his death throes, fighting with all his might before he is to be vanquished forever.
As the curtain comes down on the very last act - who will finally win the day? The Satan is desperate to prevail. It is now or never, and this is his last shot. No holds barred. Ripped away are all former standards of modesty or decency. And we, who seek to avoid the impure, feel fragile and vulnerable to provocation and assault.
It feels like there's some worldwide conspiracy extant that's out to suck everyone down into the mud. The methods may be subtle and suggestive, or shrill and aggressive, but it almost always seems to aim its barbs towards our eyes. Living in today's race for instant fun, and with the prevailing attitude that ״anything goes", how does a Jew hope to keep his eyes pure and holy?
The commuter packs his briefcase, the hiker packs his backpack. Similarly, the Jew who has Inyanei Kedusha in the forefront of his consciousness needs to be equipped when he's going somewhere. Being well aware of what might lie out there ready for a collision course with his eyes, he'll have a plan, as well as a back-up, for minimizing the danger.
FUNDAMENTALS OF SHMIRAS EINAYIM
Part 1: The Power of Torah
Hashem tells us, His beloved children, "I created the yeitzer hora; I created Torah as its antidote" (Kiddushin, 30b). The Mesilas Yesharim observes that if Torah is the remedy which Hashem prescribed, then that's final. Success will not be possible without it. Torah learning releases profound powers, sheltering the learner from sin. The more involvement in Torah learning, the higher the level of protection.
To strengthen your commitment to Torah study, you could use mussar which turns up your inner fire. Why not start some new subject or research a topic that happens to interest you? This will help you even when you are not in front of your sefer. And when in the street, mentally reviewing some Torah thoughts or listening to a Torah lecture will become your portable protection.
Other Practical Suggestion
Although thinking Torah thoughts is the ideal, this may not always be practical. The following suggestions are no substitute for being absorbed in Torah thoughts, but they will serve as a mental toolbox. Anyone, anywhere need only draw out the appropriate tool to deal with the present Nisayon.
Do you have any currently pertinent or absorbing topic to chew on? Perhaps just keep mentally singing some favourite song. And it often proves worthwhile to put aside some interesting reading for long-distance Travel.
The point is to stay wrapped up in your own thought-world and detached from the stimuli of your surroundings!
If the fancy strikes you, opt for some make-believe. Pick a particularly stirring song or inspirational statement of Chazal. Then, in your mind, sing these words to a huge orchestra of talented players. Over and over, as you advance towards your destination, the majestic words are being vividly etched into your Psyche.
You're untouchable, on your own silvery cloud of chizzuk and yiras shamayim, disconnected from the humdrum streets below. By focusing his conscious mind on this imaginary scene as he goes his way, the Yid is effectively erecting a tamper-proof casing for the priceless Yiddishe Neshama that nestles inside him. Whatever is going on outside soon begins to recede in his subconscious, becoming not much above a hum, whilst his own peaceful little space becomes freer of the indiscriminate bombardment from all sides. Obviously, some days and some parts of the journey are going to be better than others.
Serenely, he bears aloft the ultimate "crown jewels" - two holy Jewish eyes that he is determined to keep clean. Of no interest to him are the blaring billboards, the colourful hubbub of comings and goings. His attention will not be deflected; He is an ambassador of his holy, glorious nation. How very different than Mr. Average's style of travel!