Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

27 Elul 5759 - September 8, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
A Lasting Impression

Right up front in the second chapter, the Mesilas Yeshorim gives us an important clue to one of the chief stratagems of the yetzer hora. " . . . his cunning is to make everyone work constantly, very hard and to weigh on people's hearts so that there will be no opportunity to contemplate and to see the path they are following, because he knows that if they but pay the slightest heed to their way they will no doubt immediately begin to regret their deeds, and their regret will become stronger until they abandon the sin entirely."

In the old days, as the Mesilas Yeshorim notes, the favored method of the yetzer hora was hard physical labor. "Let the work be laid heavy on the people," was the approach of Pharaoh (Shemos 5,9). They will work so hard they will not be able to think.

Today the yetzer hora, adaptable and quick to adopt new methods as always, has more sophisticated and even attractive tools. Today there are intellectual and emotional tasks that are at least as demanding as the physical labor of yore, but they are so attractive for one reason or another that today many of us voluntarily undertake so many obligations that we can no more contemplate our ways than could our forefathers who slaved for Pharaoh.

The Torah provided opportunities for contemplation: the Yomim Noraim. They break the routine sharply, and give us food for thought and the time in which to digest it. The extra time spent in tefilla, the unusual prayers themselves, which treat in the broadest and grandest terms the relationship of Hashem as King to ourselves as His subjects, provide an invaluable chance to think about the important things that we usually have no time for. Over and over, and in very inspirational terms, the prayers stress that Hashem is King of all, and there is nothing more important to us than acknowledging this, and nothing more important to the world than spreading this awareness. If we take it, it is an opportunity to remember what is important in the world at large, and to contemplate what we can accomplish in our own lives.

But perhaps the yetzer hora will object: Of what value is our contemplation and resolve on a few days of the year, when we know that we have to (do we have to?) plunge back into all our demanding and absorbing activities when it is all over? Is it really worth all the effort?

The answer is a resounding yes! Whatever we achieve is not lost. HaRav Chaim Vital, the main talmid of the holy Arizal, says many times that where divrei kedusha are concerned, everything that ever is leaves a lasting impression, forever. Whatever good thoughts we think, any insights we achieve, even after they have long gone, leave a permanent residue -- on ourselves, on our families and even on the entire world.

This also explains the common concern expressed about the fact that we go through the teshuvah process every year, only to go through it again next year.

From the perspective of HaRav Chaim Vital's insight, it is clear that what we do this year, whatever we accomplish in divrei kedusha which should be the focus of our thoughts during this period, is much more enduring than the distractions of the rest of the year.

Kesiva vechasima tova to all Beis Yisroel.

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