How to win the war...
It's a battle every day and some times it can become downright nasty. How do we, how can we, deal with it.
Inside each one of us there is a G-dly soul and a G-dly inclination. We also have inside of us a bad and animalistic inclination. One is telling us to use our lives in a worthwhile way, not to waste away our lives, and the other just wants to have fun and enjoyment, NOW, at any expense. The animal inside is always trying to stop us from reaching the optimum level that as a human being we can and should reach.
The problem is, that the good inclination and soul never gives up and is always making the person feel guilty, empty, meaningless, inadequate, unless it gets its way of living for a purpose, higher than mere existence. Sometimes, it's possible a person can become so totally numb and insensitive to higher values it's "as if" there is no more care in the direction of the good and noble. The animal soul, never gives up its effort. It strives constantly to get us drawn into the temptations of the eyes and immediate gratification. The animal inside is all about, I and me.
A person's world is in his mind, and if a person is all the time in a G-dly world, in prayer and the study of the bible, if a person has the awareness of G-d constantly on his mind, it is very unlikely for him to have to battle the animal inside. Since he is only feeding the G-dly soul, giving it constant strength, and there are no animals in sight in this world, his battles if any at all, will be infrequent and relatively weak ones.
The problem is when we leave or drop this G-dly world for whatever reason, be it weakness, business, curiosity etc. This is when we encounter the battles and struggles of staying on the proper path. Ethics and proper moral behavior seem to become fuzzy and blurred. How do we battle this enemy?
The Bible gives us the best advice, since it comes from the designer and architect of the entire universe. The Bible tells us, when you go out to war against your enemy, your approach should be above and higher than your enemy. Your attitude should not be one of getting down to the level of the enemy, but one that puts you mentally and spiritually on a much higher level than engaging with the enemy on their deprived convoluted level.
Let's says the animal and evil temptation inside is saying to eat something improper or to take something not yours. Knowing that you have this weakness inside, you can wait until you are in a full fledged hand to hand struggle with these thoughts and feeling and at this point you stand the chance of losing the war. Or, you can take the preemptive, high ground approach.
To begin with, you avoid the situation of war with the negative, with the thought in mind, it is beneath me to be on the level of my enemy. You say to yourself, "I see myself and I consider myself on a higher more refined level of human being than this type of behavior," you avoid being drawn into a fight.
As you are walking in the store or situation where you have a pretty good feeling that temptation may be lurking somewhere in the background, you take the preemptive decision to do whatever is necessary before being dragged into war, to avoid or deal from a prepared and higher position with the challenge.
The Bible assures each single one of us. When the proper approach is used against our enemies, and we approach our challenges with absolute faith and trust that G-d always "prepares the cure before the malady", and "only expects of each according to his and her ability," nothing in life is too difficult to deal with. With this in mind, we are guaranteed to succeed, and not only win, but also take captives.
Match made in heaven.....
It Once happened.
Reb Daniel was your stereotypical "Litvak" (Jew of Lithuanian extraction) who lived in the holy city of Jerusalem. Reb Daniel's entire life was devoted to Torah study, despite the extreme poverty that had plagued him ever since leaving his native Lomzha. He and his wife were raising their seven children in a dilapidated two-room apartment. Nonetheless, at almost any time of day or night you could find Reb Daniel poring over a thick tome. He rarely went out.
All of Reb Daniel's neighbors were aware of his habits, and recognized him as a great scholar. In fact, Reb Daniel's wife had once told them about the promise her father had extracted from her before he passed away: that she always be a true "helpmate" to her husband, and never disturb his learning.
Reb Daniel's wife was very scrupulous in fulfilling her father's wishes. Her husband was virtually never seen on the street. He never went to the marketplace or ran an errand. Rarely did he even step outside for a breath of fresh air.
Sightings of Reb Daniel were so unusual that when he was spotted one day hurrying through the marketplace with a large sack on his shoulder, everyone took notice. What was Reb Daniel doing outside, of all places?
It turned out that the day before, a peddler had come to the door selling secondhand clothes. Reb Daniel's wife was about to purchase a few garments when
her husband reminded her about the mitzva of shatnes, the prohibition against wearing clothes woven of wool and flax.
Immediately she ran to fetch her neighbor, Reb Shmuel Zanvil, who was an expert in such matters. When he examined the clothes and found that several did indeed contain shatnes, she declined the purchase and the peddler left.
The next day Reb Daniel happened to ask her about the clothes, as he had been immersed in study in the other room and hadn't overheard how the problem was resolved. "Oh, there was shatnes in them so I gave them back," she replied. "What?!" Reb Daniel cried out rather uncharacteristically. "G-d forbid, another Jew might inadvertently buy them!"
Reb Daniel raced from the house in search of the peddler, and eventually located him in the marketplace trying to sell his wares. When he learned that the peddler hadn't succeeded in selling even one garment, he was so relieved that he purchased the entire lot just to get rid of it. (This, of course, was no small sacrifice, given Reb Daniel's financial state.) That was the type of pious person Reb Daniel was.
Then one day, people began to notice a sudden change in Reb Daniel's habits. Several times he was recognized entering the home of the renowned tzadik Rabbi Elazar Mendel of Lelov. For hours on end the two of them would sit and discuss Torah...and Chasidut! And if that wasn't enough to raise eyebrows, Reb Daniel was observed studying a book written by Rabbi Nachum of Chernobyl, a disciple of the Baal Shem Tov. Tongues began to wag.
"What is happening to Reb Daniel?" people asked. "Is our acetic Litvak suddenly changing into a Chasid?"
Again, it was Reb Daniel's wife who explained what was happening:
A few months previously, Reb Daniel had started to notice that his eyesight was failing. All those years of studying the "tiny letters" were beginning to take their toll. At first he could almost convince himself that it was simple fatigue, but as the days passed he realized that the problem was more serious. Reb Daniel sought the help of several doctors and apothecaries, but none of their remedies helped.
Reb Daniel's wife, who came from a Chasidic background, would have immediately suggested that her husband go to the great Rabbi Elazar Mendel for a blessing, but she was well aware of his attitude toward Chasidim and tzadikim. Thus it wasn't until his eyesight had deteriorated even further that she decided to take matters into her own hands. Without her husband's knowledge she went to the tzadik's house and explained the situation to his Rebbetzin, with whom she was friendly, and asked her to intercede on her husband's behalf.
The Rebbetzin knocked lightly on her husband's door, opened it a crack, and saw that he was in the middle of praying. Apologizing for the interruption, she started to tell him about Reb Daniel's failing eyesight when he nodded his head. "I know already," he told her. "I know."
The next day an emissary from Rabbi Elazar Mendel arrived at Reb Daniel's house with a package. Inside was the sefer Me'or Einayim [literally "Light of One's Eyes"], the work of Rabbi Nachum of Chernobyl.
Also enclosed was a short note in Rabbi Elazar Mendel's own hand: "
Study a portion of this holy book every day and I promise you that the 'light of your eyes' will return."
At first Reb Daniel was hesitant, but when his eyesight became even more impaired he decided to take the tzadik's advice. A few days later he noticed an improvement. In the course of time his vision was completely restored.
From that day on Reb Daniel's attitude toward Chasidut changed dramatically. He became an ardent follower of Rabbi Elazar Mendel, and always kept a copy of Me'or Einayim on his desk.
A Little Humor
In an all-Jewish school, a Russian man decided to disrupt a math class.
He stormed in and cried, "You Jews think you're so smart, try and answer this! There are seven trains going all around the country with sixteen cars on each train. There are thirty-three people on each car. How old am I?"
No one responds. A boy in the back stands up and says, "48."
Amazed, the Russian says "Yes! How did you know?"
The boy replied, "There's a man in our villiage that's twenty-four and is only half meshugah." (as crazy)
Morty Zimmerman had serious hearing problems for years. He went to the doctor and the doctor was able to have him fitted for a set of hearing aids that miraculously allowed Morty to hear again - perfectly.
Morty went back a month later to the doctor and the doctor said, "Your hearing function is near 100%. Your family must be really pleased that you can hear again."
Morty replied, "Oh, I haven't told my family yet. I just sit around and listen to their conversations. I've changed my will three times!"
Rebbeca had just finished her fish dinner. She was, however, not at all happy with it, so she called over the waiter.
"I've tasted fresher fish," said Rebbeca.