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Positive Vision - Day 91

Our weekly excerpt from the book "Positive Vision"

Chapter 1 - Doing What’s Right

Although the single greatest trigger that has brought the issue of shmiras einayim to the forefront is undoubtedly the ubiquitous Web, we have been careful in this book not to make that the focus. The requirement to guard one’s eyes is bigger than that single permutation. We will devote an entire chapter below to the Internet, but first let us set our sights on other areas of life where we face nisyonos of this nature.

To prevail in these tests, whether at the office, at a business meeting, or on a trip, a Jew must resolve to have the courage of his convictions, to do what is right simply because it is right. In the long run, his colleagues or business acquaintances will come to respect his strength of character.

In short, one must strive to be counted among the גִּבֹּרֵי כֹחַ עשֵֹׂי דְבָרוֹ לִשְׁמֹעַ בְּקוֹל דְּבָרוֹ , the mighty in strength, who perform His word, to hearken to the voice of His word.

Day 1. The Commute/The Office
Day 2. The Business Meeting/The Home/The Vacation
Day 3. The Business Trip

DAY 1 - The Commute

If we are commuting by car or on a community-run bus, we should be safe for a while. But then, of course, we must park our car or disembark from the bus.

One way the obligation of shmiras einayim impacts directly on our commute is the halachah that a man is prohibited to walk directly behind a woman. This ruling is cited in Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 21:1):

If one encounters a woman in the market he may not walk behind her; rather, he should run and pass her, [leaving her] to his side or directly behind himself.

In practice, this is difficult. On a crowded city street, running ahead of one woman just leaves you walking behind another, as noted by Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l.3 The halachah applies to a man who “encountered (paga) a woman in the market” — that is, he “happened” upon her. This refers to former times, when women were not generally found in public. Nevertheless, it is essential that we try to avoid walking directly behind a woman and look down as much as possible.

Certainly, using public transportation presents problems. While the inadvertent jostling that occurs on a crowded bus or subway does not involve any prohibition according to Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (Even HaEzer 2:14), that is true only if there are no improper intentions.

While traveling by subway, we should occupy ourselves with something that engages our mind in a productive way. Torah learning is preferred; but we can also bring along “kosher” reading material or music tapes to distract ourselves from the alternative all around us, actively fulfilling a mitzvah — shmiras einayim.

True story: A successful, midtown-Manhattan doctor living in Brooklyn recently purchased a magnificent $2,000 menorah. He shares the reason for this purchase: “I decided that enough is enough. On my way to work, I was finding myself looking at things that I should not be looking at. So I decided to look away and to reward myself with a dollar every time I did so. In time, I amassed $2,000 and I used it to buy myself this menorah.”

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