Growing Each Day by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski

Kislev 19
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In those days there was no king in Israel; each man did that which was proper in his own eyes (Judges 21:25).

While people have common sense which can lead them to do right and avoid wrong, they also face another obstacle (see yesterday) that could cause them to stray from the correct path - the drive for immediate gratification.

How powerful is this force? Imagine a car being driven along a highway, which is pulled off its course by a powerful magnet. The "magnet" affecting our behavior is the craving for gratification.

The force of seeking immediate gratification can mislead us. We may yield to it because its lure blinds our perception of justice. In reality, we have been bribed, and the Torah accurately states that a bribe will blind the eyes of even the wise (Deuteronomy 16:19). Thus, we only do what is proper when our "eyes" function well.

The Rabbi of Rhizin gave an antidote for the distorting forces of temptation. He stated that we should go through life the way tightrope walkers maintain their delicate balance: when they feel a tug on one side, they lean toward the opposite side. When we feel tempted to something, our first reaction should be to steer ourselves away from it. Only then can we apply our common sense and decide what to do.

Summing up, once we recognize and control our desire to impress others and our drive for immediate gratification, we will be able to exercise proper judgment.

Today I shall...

try to be on guard against temptations that may affect my sense of propriety and justice.

With stories and insights, Rabbi Twerski's new book Twerski on Machzor makes Rosh Hashanah prayers more meaningful. Click here to order...


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