Positive Vision - Day 90
Rabbi Avrohom Neuberger
Our weekly excerpt from the book "Positive Vision"
Day 90 - Who’s Embarrassed? - Courage in a World Run Amok
It is undeniable that, at times, maintaining shmiras einayim will require one to act, for lack of a better word, unusual. The nature of this nisayon is so prevalent, and treated so lightly by society, that one who wishes to maintain standards will quite often find himself swimming against the tide.
In some measure, it has apparently always been that way. Here is a quote from the Sefer Chassidim, written by R’ Yehudah HaChassid, in the 12th century:
The most powerful [expression of] piety is [where one is consistent] from beginning to end. Even when people ridicule him, he does not relax his piety … He refrains from looking at women, even when he is among other men who are doing so, for instance, at weddings where women are dressed stylishly. Since others are all looking and he does not, he merits the great good that is stored away, as it is stated: “How great is the good that You have stored for those who fear You; [You have made it for those who take shelter in You in the presence of people].” His eyes will then be satiated from the radiance of the Shechinah, [as it is written]: “Your eyes will see the King in His splendor.”
In fact, Rama feels that courage is so essential for one’s service of Hashem that he includes it in the very first halachah of Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim: “One should not be embarrassed of those who ridicule him in his service of Hashem.”
This is not advocating that one “make a scene.” Certainly, one should avoid drawing attention to himself and his conduct. But one must have the courage, where no option exists, to do what must be done.
Rabbeinu Yonah instructs one how to conduct himself out of doors:
Do not tarry too long on the road. Do not place your kerchief over your eyes because you will be ridiculed. Do not walk standing very erect for walking in this manner seems to be removing from yourself the fear of Heaven. Walk, instead, in a humble manner, not too erect and not too hunched over … If you should happen upon an immodesty dressed woman, whether married or single, Jewish or non-Jewish, shut your eyes or turn to the side to avoid seeing her, for as the wise man said, ”There is no better safeguard against lust than shutting one’s eyes.“
Imagine the following scenario:
You are in a hospital and a woman is in labor about to give birth. You cannot see into the room but you can clearly hear the voices. Many doctors and nurses are inside and there is a palpable fear in the air. You hear them murmuring to one another. They are concerned that the baby will be grotesquely deformed just as the woman’s previous children were. One senior doctor assures them, however, that he has monitored the situation and the child will certainly emerge healthy. The woman is now giving birth … and then there are cries of horror!
“No! Nooooo!” you hear the woman cry out, and then the expert doctor is apologizing. “I am so sorry. I really thought I had solved the issue.” The woman is sobbing.
The nurse leaves the room carrying the baby and you find yourself looking at a beautiful, cherubic child.
She apologizes and hands the baby to the whimpering father.
You now notice the faces of the doctors, nurses, and parents. Each one has the most fearsome, grotesque-looking appearance you have ever seen.
This is the world we live in, a world in which the grotesque and the repulsive has become the norm, leaving those who wish to maintain kedushah as the “weird” ones.
But we know the truth.