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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Breaking free at the brink of utter capitulation to the evil inclination

Yesterday I met with a good Nanach friend who will remain anonymous, and I couldn't help but notice some swelling and bruising, and he had no choice but to tell me what happened. He was hit very hard by a deluge of improper thoughts which took control of him and were just about to sink him completely G-d forbid, so rather to succumb Gf he struck himself extremely hard over and over again sending immense pain signals to his brain and thus banishing the overpowering lust. Badges of honor. And as Rabbainu revealed, he who overcomes such a test will merit miracles.

The Chasam Sofer used to bleed himself out, and a certain chasidishe Rebbe used to burn his thumb or one of his fingers.

We must not forfeit the eternal goodness of Hashem Yisburach for a fleeting indulgence of animal flesh.

On Shabbos parshas Pinchas, a few days after writing this, it occurred to me that this can be the explanation of what we are instructed in the Talmud (Brachos 5a):

א"ר לוי בר חמא אמר ר"ש בן לקיש לעולם ירגיז אדם יצר טוב על יצר הרע שנא' (תהלים ד, ה) רגזו ואל תחטאו. אם נצחו מוטב ואם לאו יעסוק בתורה שנאמר אמרו בלבבכם אם נצחו מוטב ואם לאו יקרא קריאת שמע שנאמר על משכבכם אם נצחו מוטב ואם לאו יזכור לו יום המיתה שנאמר ודומו סלה.
Incidental to the verse, “Tremble, and do not sin,” the Gemara mentions that Rabbi Levi bar Ḥama said that Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said: One should always incite his good inclination against his evil inclination, i.e., that one must constantly struggle so that his evil inclination does not lead him to transgression. 
If one succeeds and subdues his evil inclination, excellent, but if he does not succeed in subduing it, he should study Torah, as alluded to in the verse: “Say to your heart.” 
If he subdues his evil inclination, excellent; if not, he should recite Shema, which contains the acceptance of the yoke of God, and the concept of reward and punishment, as it is stated in the verse: “Upon your bed,” which alludes to Shema, where it says: “When you lie down.” 
If he subdues his evil inclination, excellent; if not, he should remind himself of the day of death, whose silence is alluded to in the continuation of the verse: “And be still, Selah.”

Reminding oneself of death doesn't mean to to simply just remember that eventually he will die, but to actually give oneself an acute taste of that death. As Rabbainu revealed in Likutay Moharan, Torah-lesson 193 that a person can picture in his mind death so well that he can actually feel the pain of death and must be careful to not actually die Gf. So that would be the ultimate reminder of death, but being that the Talmud is talking about when a person is inundated with the craziness of the evil inclination and is probably not in any frame of mind to avidly picture for himself death as described above, therefore his only final recourse would be to bring upon himself some real physical pain which is also an aspect of death.

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