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The Battle of the Generation - Day 35

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

Some situations present an extra challenge to our awareness. When we face prolonged battles against desire, it is difficult to keep our awareness for so long. When we are challenged, the yetzer hara makes us feel, “I want it!” over and over. Each time this happens, our desires grow a little stronger and our resolve fades a bit. Thus, as the battle stretches on, our awareness is threatened. As our desires increase, our determination to succeed weakens, and we feel desire overpowering our ability to think rationally. We feel ourselves losing our perspective on what matters, and we are in danger of losing our grip on reality.

Another difficult situation is when we are blindsided by desire. No matter how hard we try, there will be times when we are caught off guard, leaving us with but a split second to stop ourselves from losing our awareness and control. We need special techniques to help us spark our alertness in these situations.

One such technique is to use physical objects as visual reminders to keep you aware. Just as Yosef HaTzaddik envisioned his father’s face when tested with Potifar’s wife (Sotah 36b), you should look at something that will remind you of Hashem. A small sefer or picture of a gadol will do, but the best object for this purpose is your tzitzis. When you find yourself caught off guard or when you realize an intense challenge is coming, quickly hold onto the strings of your tzitzis and keep glancing at them. Hold them for as long as you have to and remember not to lose yourself. Remember that Hashem put you in this situation to withstand temptation and accomplish something incredible. Contemplate that Hashem gave us the tzitzis to remind us not to chase our desires and to instead keep the mitzvos so we can accomplish amazing achievements that are easy only for angels. Doing this might feel strange the first time, but it works.

When preparing ourselves for upcoming battles, we should hold our tzitzis and anchor our thoughts to them. We should also do this when thinking about what we want in life. And we should hold our tzitzis when we learn mussar. Hashem gave us the tzitzis as a tool to help us remember Him and His mitzvos. They have the power to help us keep our perspective on what is best for us. Our tzitzis keep us from losing ourselves by helping us remember what desire so easily makes us forget. They also bring back some clarity if we start to slip. Thus, it is vital that we “power up” the tzitzis. Then, when the challenge comes, we can quickly glance at or grasp them and remember what we thought about earlier. This will help us rapidly regain our focus and defeat the yetzer hara.

Preparing ourselves for challenges keeps us alert so we are not overcome by desire. By being ready for temptation and using techniques to maintain our awareness, we will achieve numerous successes in the battle of the generation.

Quick Recap:

  • Study your life, preferably with a notebook, to determine your susceptibilities and the upcoming challenges that might arise. This way you will be ready for them and you will stay alert throughout the challenge.
  • Build your determination to win these battles so you enter them motivated and committed to succeed.
  • Use physical objects such as your tzitzis to help yourself keep perspective when you are challenged.