Monday, February 20, 2017

The Benefits Of Guarding Your Eyes

Rabbi Shalom Arush 

If we look at the benefits of guarding our eyes, we see a deal that's impossible to refuse. The first major benefit is emuna, for emuna is contingent on guarding one's eyes and personal holiness. One's health, both physical and emotional, depends on emuna, so guarding one's eyes is conducive to good health as well. The long list of benefits continues with a strong connection with Hashem, wisdom, memory, prayer, Torah, marital bliss, one's soulmate and upright children. Rebbe Nachman writes that a person who guards his eyes will merit having sons who write elaborations on Torah. Since my father, Rabbi Machlouf Harush of blessed memory guarded his eyes, I have had the privilege of writing elaborations on Torah.

We see how the holy Abuchatzera family from generation to generation has succeeded in raising righteous Torah scholars, from the holy "Abir Yaacov", Rabbi Yaacov Abuchatzera to his son Rabbi Massoud, to his son the "Baba Sali" Rabbi Israel, to his son Rabbi Meir, all of saintly and blessed memory, to his sons - Baba Elazar ob"m, and his brothers who are all upright spiritual leaders of this generation, may Hashem bless them. How did they attain such success? The Abuchatzera family is renown for personal holiness and guarding their eyes.

We must all make personal holiness a highest priority in life and make every effort, including extensive prayer and comprehensive learning, to attain it. Every unblemished day is a priceless achievement for posterity.

In daily self-assessment, one must ask oneself: what do I gain or lose by opening my eyes in places where I shouldn't be looking? One loses both this world and the world to come. And what does he gain? Nothing. Nothing would be a good gain, for in actuality, he "gains" purgatory. But if he does guard his eyes, he has worlds to gain and he loses nothing.

Forbidden sights trigger negative desires that distance a person from his true purpose in life - clinging to Hashem, Torah, prayer and good-character development. Sexual lust destroys a person's sense of justice and loyalty, to the extent that he'll neglect and even destroy his own wife and children in the most selfish and heartless manner just to satisfy his lust. The lust all began with the person's failure to guard his eyes.

A person who doesn't guard his eyes lies to himself and lies to others. Anger, jealousy and other negative emotions - which all happen to be lies - stem from the "general evil" of sexual lust triggered by unguarded eyes.

King Solomon called a woman's beauty, "false charm". We must all uproot lust in every way. Healthy marital relations and procreation have nothing to do with lust, contrary to what many believe. Even when a person compliments his wife, he'd be much better advised to praise her good character rather than her physical attributes. With King Solomon's teaching in mind, by praising physical beauty, one lauds falsity. 

A person who makes the vanity of beauty and the falsity of charm into reality succumbs to the lust for women. One who uproots this lust from his heart and cognizance couldn't care less if a woman is interested in him or not. He's not interested in impressing any woman, nor does he try to find favor in women's eyes with all types of gestures, which themselves are lies.

If a person derives gratification in impressing someone who is forbidden to him, it shows that he is neck-deep in his lust for false charm. He should be striving for gratification in clinging to Hashem! One who derives vitality from holiness could care less about impressing women or any other human; he only wants to find favor in Hashem's eyes.

Rebbe Nachman describes the connection between arrogance and sexual lust (see Likutei Moharan I:130): The greater a person is, the greater his evil inclination (see tractate Succa, 52). Whereas a humble person is spared from adultery, an arrogant person ends up committing adultery with a married woman. Many of our holy books link arrogance with adultery. Rabbi Pinchas of Koritz warns that the more a person is arrogant, the more he is susceptible to sexual lust, to the extent that he'll commit outright adultery with a married woman. One must therefore never be complacent. As long as one lusts for women, it's a clear sign that he still has a problem with arrogance.

In addition to praying for personal holiness and ridding oneself of lust, a person should pray that Hashem help him eradicate the terrible evil inclination of arrogance that manifests itself in a man's desire to impress women. He fantasizes that women desire him and he therefore tries to attract them and look good for them, to the extent that women dominate his thoughts. A person like this loses both worlds, this one and the world to come.

The true tzaddikim of this generation have warned that many of our contemporary difficulties and harsh decrees from Above are the result of blatant informality between married people of the opposite sex, when men and women call each other by their first names and freely converse in the bank, supermarket or in the workplace. We have all heard horror stories about the tragic outcome of married women speaking in a more-than-open manner to cab drivers or store owners or male salesmen. No G-d fearing or self-respecting woman should allow a male shoe-salesman to put shoes on her feet. Every man must pray that he shouldn't become an obstacle to holiness in any way.

 We must appeal to Hashem's mercy in asking for help in closing our eyes and in avoiding the many pitfalls that threaten to ensnare us daily. A person must literally shout to the heavens and beg Hashem to guard us from allowing forbidden images to enter our brain and to help us erase those forbidden images that already contaminate our brain and usurp so much of our memory capacity.

[translated by R' Lazer Brody]