Inspired by Reb Kalonymos Kalman's ideal of a group of people coming together with the common goal of enhancing their service of God, increasing their sensitivity to all things spiritual, strengthening their love of acheinu kol beis Yisrael, and unlocking the enormous potential that we all have to cleave to the Almighty.

Interaction and discussion of practical ideas and concepts toward this end, culled from any Torah true source is welcome and appreciated.

Observations and personal experiences are also welcome; the point is to grow!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Do Battle With Strategies.

In honor of Rav Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler's yahrtzeit (earlier today, the 25th of Teves):

Rav Dessler was a non-stop smoker for quite some time while serving as the mashgiach in the yeshiva in Gateshead. Once, the bachurim noticed a sign on the door to Rav Dessler's office with an announcement that the mashgiach had officially quit smoking. Mystified, one of the faculty members approached Rav Dessler and questioned him about the sign. After all, the mashgiach wasn't known for being ostentatious, so why the proclamation.

Rav Dessler turned to his colleague and replied (paraphrasing):

I know that it isn't healthy to smoke, and I really want to quit. However, I know that the urge - the taivah - for a cigarette may be too strong to resist, and I will never really quit. By putting up that sign, I'm performing a little test, to see which is stronger - my taivah for a cigarette or my taivah of pride? If people read that sign and then see me smoking again, they might think less of me for not being able to commit to something so trivial; I am confident that my ego won't allow for that...
 Obviously it takes a special Gadol, one whose self-awareness is intact to such an extent to make such an evaluation, but the ingenuity of Rav Dessler's strategy is amazing. Utilizing one middah against another middah can be a powerfully effective way to fix negative traits and stop unhealthy behavior.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful, Yashar Koach.
    Last night my 11 yr old and I went to our shul's parent/child learning program and I was able to shmooze a bit with him abour R Dessler's view on bechira and what free choice really is.