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The Battle of the Generation - Day 32

Our weekly excerpt from the book "The Battle of the Generation"

We must prepare ourselves to stay alert and not be overcome with the feeling of “I want it, and nothing else matters” at the initial moment of challenge. Desires can radically change our perspective in an instant. We must be ready in advance to stop our desires from increasing and overpowering us. This is different from willpower, when we have been affected and try to stop ourselves from doing something we want to do. With awareness, we try to stop the desire from getting out of control in the first place. We try to keep our perspective and stay in control when our desires ignite.

How do we do this? The basic way is to anticipate being challenged and prepare yourself not to get lost. In your rational state, you commit to sticking to your decision not to give in. You tell yourself that you know you will experience surges of desire to indulge, but you will stay calm and not fall for them. You ready yourself so that when your mind says, “I want to give in,” you will respond, “No I don’t. I want to win!” You prepare yourself mentally to stay alert no matter how long the battle rages on and how much your desires increase. Then when you are challenged, you stick to it and stay calm. This stops your desires from going out of control.

We can do this even better if we think before the challenge about our desire to win and become great. This makes it easier because we will want to win even more than we want to give in. If our will to accomplish is strong, it will carry over into the challenge. (See Part 6.)

The time to work on staying alert is before we are affected by desires. Although the battle must be fought at the moment of challenge, it is the preparation that determines how much strength we will have. Thus, we must set our foundation before we are challenged. We must work on keeping our perspective, be ready for the yetzer hara’s various tricks, and prepare to use techniques during battle.

We must also do what we can to anticipate challenges. Being surprised by desire puts us at a huge disadvantage. Often, it even allows our desires to penetrate our defenses before we realize what is happening. At that point, our weapons are weakened, and we fight a losing battle, struggling to hang on while our strength wanes. These kinds of battles are difficult to win. It is much easier when we notice the challenge we will face, set strict guidelines of what we won’t do, and prepare ourselves to do battle.

No matter how strong we become, we still need to work daily to stay alert and ready for the yetzer hara, who can strike at any moment. If we are unprepared, our feelings will instantly change, and we might even desire what we thought we would have no interest in. We cannot know exactly how the yetzer hara will make us feel. We must be ready so this does not happen.

We must note that the awareness required to overcome desire differs from the awareness needed for other mitzvos. For example, to avoid lashon hara, a person must pay attention to everything he says so nothing slips from his mouth before he realizes it is forbidden. He must also be alert about what he hears. But for desire, the awareness we need is different. Desire works by shutting off our minds and altering the way we think. By becoming alert instead of just reacting, we will catch the yetzer hara before he starts. We will stop our perspective from changing, and we will stay focused on what we want in life. We can prevent our desires from taking control, but only if we are ready for them.

Staying alert keeps us from being overwhelmed by desire and enables us to use all our techniques to stop the yetzer hara. Thus, it is vital that we prepare ourselves for battle. This will bring us astounding success in the battle of the generation.

Quick Recap:

  • Staying aware enables us to keep our perspective and to use techniques to win our battles.
  • We must put in effort and preparation before we are challenged so we are not caught off guard.