Enlighten our Eyes - Day 30

Our weekly excerpt from the book "Enlighten our Eyes" (translated from the Hebrew sefer called "Ve'ha'er Eineinu").

Some individuals may have a particular immoral fantasy that has been challenging them for years. Again, this is no cause to feel hopeless. This could actually be the purpose of his having being created. It is his personal task that Hashem has entrusted him - to privately keep on championing kedushas hamachashavah, and raising its flag ever higher.

The Baal Hatanya continues that if the unwanted sight keeps vividly re-appearing and replaying itself in your mind, the way to dismiss those unwanted thoughts is to completely ignore them and turn your mind to a totally different subject. Strike up a conversation with someone, sing yourself a song, or just distract yourself in some other way. Concentrate on something else completely - anything! That’s far healthier and more practical than trying to push those images out of your mind. If there is a person standing in a cyclist’s path, the cyclist would not confront him with logical arguments. He will but swiftly swerve!

Never try to deal with undesirable thoughts directly. Just as touching mud gets your hands all dirty, so too struggling with evil brings you in close contact with it. Just focus your thoughts on something else. Engross yourself in your chosen topic; with Hashem’s help, you will succeed.

In conclusion, the Baal Hatanya sheds light on something that poses a real riddle, an occurrence we meet up with all too often. Why do bothersome thoughts often choose to present themselves right in the middle of our learning or davening? What do we really want to do - approach our Creator or, l’havdil, follow our base desires? Can we assume that our avodah is therefore worthless? Surely, if my davening or learning would be of worth, these forbidden thoughts would not be popping up. This phenomenon calls for some clarification.

Two distinct, yet co-existing, forces are at work here. Thoughts of Torah and yirah emanate from the Godly soul within us, while desires for materialism have their source in our animalistic nefesh. The two opposing forces are permanently engaged in a power struggle, vying for control.

As soon as our Yetzer Tov takes charge, Satan’s side feels threatened, and rushes desperately to entrench itself deeper into the mind. This explains those unsolicited, distracting thoughts that arise out of the blue. It doesn’t mean something’s wrong; it’s just the Satan having an allergic reaction to our spiritual sincerity.

The two combatants function simultaneously, yet independently. Hence, despite the tzad hatumah reacting so fiercely against one’s learning and davening, it is a separate entity; one cannot therefore conclude that his service to The King of kings is unworthy. Our mitzvah, though under attack, remains of immense value and has in no way gone down the drain.