Part 23 - The Commandment Not to Regret
A Jewish man and a Jewish woman who conduct their marital relations in holiness influence the highest celestial channels and cause Divine blessings to flow to all of the worlds. Marital fidelity, focusing on the beauty of ones wife during relations, and making sure to be Shmirat HaBrit for ones wife, as well as for Hashem, benefits your family and the entire universe.
You enable blessings to enter this world from and to the other worlds. Isn’t it amazing that we can have such a positive impact on so many realities by making the good choices right here? If any of us needed an extra reason to get married, stay married, or find even more joy in the union of marriage – the ability to make a positive impact on the entire Universe is a great reason.
One who guards the Brit, it is impossible for him to fall into the desire of money. Earning a living without effort is the concept of “bread, or manna, from heaven” it is possible to receive this through a general rectification which is Tikun HaBrit. Guarding the Brit protects us against the desires for materialism.
From the Jewish mindset, work is NOT our main purpose in life. Our careers are a necessity, not a reward. They keep us from our families. They distance us from focusing on Hashem.
Why do we work?
We work to provide the essentials for the survival of our families.
When did this start?
Having to work is a consequence that resulted from Adam, the first man, eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. In the Book of Genesis, Hashem tells Adam that from then on, “by the sweat of your brow you will eat bread.”
We must remember that having to take 8 hours of your day from Torah, family, and prayer is a curse. Parnussa is important. But a curse is something we want to minimize, not expand.
We work to live – not live to work.
Guarding the Brit enables us to uncover the true wealth in this world. The pursuit of money, while necessary, is put back into its proper context.
This is how powerful this mitzvah is. Desire, like sex, and everything in this world, can be used for good and it can be used for bad. It can be used for Kedusha, and it can be used for impurities. It all depends on the choices we make. It all depends on how we ‘repair’ our souls, our minds, and our hearts to point our most powerful desires in the right direction. Money can be pursued to attain power, or it can be pursued for the sake of charity. Sex can be for the sake of procreation and the sanctity of marriage, or it can be for impurity. Today, we have created a world in where the two greatest desires are money and sex. What if this wasn’t true? What if we were to do such a repair on our souls that we only felt the true realities of the day, and realized that the rewards our society created were merely illusions? What if the mitzvah of Shmirat HaBrit infuses you with so much Divine energy, that you perceive with your feelings, your mind, and your heart a closeness to Hashem which becomes your greatest “possession.” Taking on this mitzvah makes you feel so much better, so much happier, and so much more ALIVE, you internalize that connecting your being to Hashem truly is greater than any physical joy. Closeness to Him, as challenging as it may be, is greater than money.
If you struggle to love your G-d with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your strength, you will repair your soul on such a deep level, you will begin to change the basic assumptions with which you live your daily life. You will be in a state where money provides you with the basic needs for life. You can use that life to pursue Hashem.
Don’t be afraid.
There may be those who say, “I like my career. Why should I be ashamed of working hard? I like making money. The Talmud states that a poor man is like a dead man so why should I give up who I am?” Others may say, “I want to make a difference in the world. I want the world to know that I existed. You need money to make the world a better place. Who are you to tell me how to make an impact on things?”
Both of these arguments are very valid. It is important to remember that to connect with Hashem on a very deep level doesn’t always mean changing your life. It means changing your OUTLOOK ON LIFE. If I work 12 hours a day as a lawyer, I can do it for a variety of reasons. I can do it to make senior partner by age 40, or I can do it so I don’t have to work on weekends and I can dedicate this time to my family. You can generate a six figure salary for a house in the Hamptons and a sports car, or you can give Tzedaka generously. You can work hard to make sure that corporation X, which employs 40,000 people, is insulated from frivolous lawsuits that could bankrupt it, or, you can take great effort to hold a very important important and difficult mitzvah: have faith that all our money comes directly from Hashem and whatever the cost, be scrupulously honest in all your business dealings.
Or you can do both options!
At this point, you have BROKEN THE CHAINS OF THE DESIRE FOR MONEY, POWER, and WORLDLY PURSUITS which run counter to basic Jewish values. This isn’t impossible. There is no guarantee in life that you will become rich. There is also no guarantee that if you become rich, you will attain the happiness that we imagine goes with being wealthy.
The wealthiest men on the planet are great examples to prove the illusion of the relationship between happiness and money.
When Bill Gates was in Israel, he was asked on national TV a very poignant question. He was asked, “Does having money make you happy?”
The richest man in the world answered back, “absolutely not. That is why I am leaving everything I have to charity.”
Warren Buffett’s story is no different. His net value is over $30 billion. He owns scores of companies, and has partial ownership of some of the biggest corporations in the world. Did he try to buy happiness? Instead of moving to Hong Kong, Paris, or New York, Mr. Buffett resides in the town where he grew up: Omaha, Nebraska. Instead of the Upper East Side penthouse, Mr. Buffett lives in the same house he bought for $31,000 in 1958. His workday is over by 8PM.
Take a look around you. There are plenty of wealthy people who are NOT happy. Those that are, generally don’t derive their happiness from their money. What I can guarantee is that if you pursue Hashem through the path of Shmirat Habrit, you will feel a wealth greater than anything money can buy. This wealth, unlike the other kind of assets, follows you into the next world.
This mitzvah is so powerful, it guards a person from the ayin hara, or the evil eye. Who was the first man to perform the mitzvah of Brit Milah? Avraham. Avraham had a child when he was 100 years old. All his life, the astrologers of the nations told him that he would never have a child. Once Avraham performed the mitzvah of the Brit, he was told by Hashem’s messengers, the angles, that he would have a son. We learn from this that while the laws of astrology and fortunes can be powerful when it comes to the nations of the world, they are powerless against Israel. We don’t believe in luck. We don’t believe in the stars. There is a specific reason why horoscopes are NOT printed in the Jerusalem Post. We don’t believe in reading anything to tell ones fortune. Even if these things can be done, they CANNOT be done to us. When we hold to our mitzvoth, and cling to Hashem, the ayin hara, or any of the spiritual weapons the goyim use against us, are powerless.
The most powerful part of the human is the mind. It is where ideas come from. It is where we separate ourselves from the animals. All of our accomplishments, all of our day to day activities, all of our actions emanate from the mind. At every moment, we have the option to use our minds for good, or to waste them. With each decision, we directly affect the health and capacity of our mental abilities.
Rabbi Nachman states the main rectification of the mind is by breaking the desires for sexual thought. The mind is like a burning candle, it feeds off the fluids of the body. These fluids travel to the brain becoming the fatty substance that feeds the brain. The main power of the mind comes from these fatty fluids. When a person breaks the desire for sexual fantasies, and stops excreting seminal fluids from the body, then these fluids travel up to the brain, giving the brain more energy and sustenance, enabling an individual to realize more of his minds power and abilities.
The more and more time I am Shmirat HaBrit, the clearer I can think. Over the years, I am able to grasp concepts on a deeper level than I ever have in the past. I remember more, my mind is faster – I recall information, solve problems, and bring together different pieces of a puzzle from my memory more efficiently. Our minds operate like a computer. Taking on the mitzvah of Shmirat HaBrit is a little like getting a massive upgrade to all systems. You are installing a larger drive that expands your memory storage, and a better microprocessor which makes your “machine” perform more tasks much quicker. This benefits us in everything that we do. Especially in learning Torah.
Rabbi Nachman goes on to say that in achieving a level of shmirat habrit, one merits to receive a double portion of energy from Above. Along with installing better drive and new microprocessors to our systems, we are operating with stronger batteries.
When one is shomer habrit, he receives the ability to pray. There is a story of a Rabbi who would pray for hours and hours in his Shul. Each morning, his minyan would pray with him, and start learning as the Rabbi prayed. One day, the congregants got a little tired. They decided to go home and have a snack. They left knowing that when they got back, their Rabbi would still be davening. They had their midday nosh, but when they returned to Shul. Their Rabbi was nowhere in sight. When they found him, they asked him why he finished his prayers so much earlier than usual. He told them a parable. He told them a story about how once there was a tree. On top of the tree was a panoramic view of the most beautiful sights on the horizon. The only way to get up the tree was for 10 men to stand on top of each other and to hoist one individual on top. That one individual could see the greatest sights imaginable. Once one person walked away, the man on top could no longer see the horizon and all of the wonders it displayed. The Rabbi explained that he was able to pray to Hashem with such fervor and joy because he was praying with such righteous men. Once they left, he couldn’t spiritually stand on top of them and get even closer to Hashem and feel His radiance. The foundation of his prayers started with his minyan. The same can be said for Shmirat Habrit. This mitzvah is the foundation of all other mitzvahs. When you hold to this mitzvah and pray, you are literally standing on the shoulders of a giant. You are much closer to Hashem. Your prayers are filled with more love, energy, intensity. Morning prayers will be less an exercize in reading the words and completing the chore. It will truly become an uplifting experience. In the short time you spend davening, you are filling up your spiritual tank with the energy you need to make the day spectacular. Try it and you will see for yourself.
There is nothing that causes depression more than pgam habrit. This mitzvah very quickly sucks the energy out of you. Imagine how it must have felt for the Rabbi to be on top of the human pile, to see the sights in Heaven, and immediately fall down. Once you go from being shmirat habrit to pgam habrit, your mind loses a lot of its strength. You can’t connect to Hashem like you did before. You lose your energy. You wake up the next morning and feel like half of your being has been amputated. Your whole neshama can perceive the lower level of consciousness you have fallen to. Like any failure or setback in life, you begin to despair. You feel down. If you commit sexual sins frequently, this type of sadness can be constant. It can happen so many times, it feels like an ongoing, or natural feeling. Lethargy, sadness, even depression become an accepted part of one’s daily life.
It is important to realize that this simply isn’t true. Sadness is temporary. It comes from the mind, which originated from the spirit. At any given moment, you can turn things around. You can find out how to leap two or three levels spiritually, and NOT FALL DOWN.
It is such an exciting challenge! Not easy mind you, but very exciting in knowing that Hashem gives us the opportunity to get up off the map and bring so much good in this world, even if you fall down 100 times! You can destroy the power of the yetzer hara, and the power of the satan himself by overcoming the temptation to sulk. Whenever you are sitting alone and you get the urge for self-pity, don’t think of it as a simple decision of buying a pint of chocolate ice cream or not. You are mired in a cosmic struggle between the forces of good, represented by your ability to bounce back, and the forces of evil, represented by the satan and his attempt to pull you further into the pit.
Now is the time to jump! Go for a walk. Call a friend. Listen to a Torah lecture on your MP3. Take a drive somewhere. Read a book at a diner or coffee house. You can smite the Satan, win a cosmic battle for the forces of light, and feel a lot better in an instant!
You are scoring big points in heaven not just for yourself, but for the fate of all of Israel. At every moment, Hashem gives you the opportunity to break through the bounds of your own sadness. It is such a blessing from heaven that HaKadosh Baruch Hu gave so many chances to change the world. We all want to make existence better for everyone. Here is our opportunity! You don’t need money, you don’t need contacts, and you don’t need a grassroots database of potential donors. The physical world is a mere shadow of the spiritual world. Wherever we bring light from Above, we elevate everything around us! In deciding not to be sad today, you bring a spark of happiness to the entire universe.
The Zohar teaches that whoever safeguards the mitzvah of Shmirat HaBrit, will not suffer gehonim for his sins. At the end of one’s life, our mitzvoth are judged against our sins.
Hashem wants us to rise to the highest level of Gan Eden (Paradise) possible. When we are judged, we are “sentenced” to up to 11 months in hell to pay for our sins. Once the time gehenom is complete, we have served our punishment and our sins have been “paid for.”
Our mitzvoth are then judged against NOTHING! Then we go to our place in Paradise. While we all must pay for all of our misdeeds in the next world, how long we spend paying for our transgressions is up to us. How horrible the place we serve our sins is also up to us. We are judged for everything that we do in life. Listen to the near-death experience lectures by Rabbi Yossi Mizrachi and you will be stunned.
What goes around comes around. Don’t believe your eyes when you see people getting away with so many terrible crimes. They ones that don’t suffer are in much more trouble than the ones who go to jail. At least the ones that receive some sort of retribution in this world are spared a little in the next world. In the next world, the simplest joys are far greater than anything we can experience here. The worst horrors are terrifying compared to what we naively call misery in this one. Once our spiritual eyes are opened to this, we will all realize that nobody gets away with it so always do the right thing!
Don’t envy the crooked mortgage bankers, the biased journalists, and the corrupt politicians of the world who commit treacheries against honest men and walk away scot free. The CEO’s get their 8 figure bonuses while thousands of poor families no longer have a place to live. We may think we aspire to be like them now, but you will not want to answer for the things they did in this world to exchange the momentary and fleeting feeling of being on top for a moment in return for an eternity of lying at the bottom.
In Pirkei Avot, 4:21, Rabbi Yaakov states, “The world is like a corridor before the World to Come. Prepare yourself in the corridor so that you may enter the banquet hall.” Hashem Willing, if we “prepare ourselves” today we will merit to enter the banquet hall. This isn’t a wives tale. This is JEWISH REALITY. This is one of the basic principles of our faith.
According to Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto in his book, The Path of the Just, this world is for us to gain merit for the next one. The people who have the most in this world, can easily wind up with the least in the next one. King David was acutely aware of this. He had power, he had money, and he had everything he ever wanted. Instead of championing his greatness, he lived in great fear. He was such a righteous Jew that he feared all of the affluence he had in this world would reduce his share in the World to Come. This life is temporary. What we prepare for in this life is a state of being that is infinite and eternal.
Rabbi Yossi Mizrachi tells a story of a man who has $200 million. This man is told that he will receive a mansion in 85 years. When he gets it, he can stay in it forever. Right now, he lives in a studio apartment. If he spends money to make his studio nicer, he cannot use any of the money towards his mansion. If he enjoys his studio and doesn’t touch his money, he can spend it on the mansion in 85 years.
What does he do? Does he try to make his studio apartment like a little palace, or does he find contentment with his tiny apartment, knowing that very soon he will be living in a mansion which he can furnish with the best of everything and live in it forever? This is what it means to struggle in this life, the limited life. We exist in the studio apartment so we can build the merit to live in Olam HaBa. If you do mitzvoth in this world, the best things in the universe are waiting for you. If you don’t do mitzvoth today, you will regret it. Judgment day will feel like sitting in a classroom where the teacher expects everybody to hand in their book reports. This report counts for 80% of your grade. Everybody has their report but you. You didn’t make yours. You are not prepared. This is what happens if we don’t take advantage of the time Hashem gave us to serve Him with our free will while we still have it.
Rabbi Yitzchak Shashoua of Ohr Sameach tells another story to prove the point. It is about a woman. She wasn’t observant. She has a son who is very young. One day, she gets very sick. She is taken to the hospital where her vital signs suddenly stop functioning. She is clinically dead. A couple of minutes later, she wakes up. Her sickness is completely gone and later on that day, she goes home. While she was clinically dead, her soul went up to heaven to be judged. In the Heavenly courtroom, she stood before several holy men. She told them that she had to live. She needed to take care of her son. She begged and begged, and the judges allowed her to go back to this world. Her soul returned to her body and she woke up. Grateful to Hashem for this second chance, she immediately did tsuva. She took on the Laws of the Mitzvot and she made sure that her son was brought up as an observant Jew. Her Rabbi was amazed at her story. He asked her about what she saw while her soul was in the next world. She said that the mitzvoth are so important. The people on earth who have it the best – like rock stars, and CEOs, but who didn’t do enough tsuva or didn’t live good enough lives, they had the worst places. In the next world, they were like beggars. There was so much happiness to be had in that world, and they couldn’t enjoy it. She said that the people who had to struggle in this world, the Rabbis, the Torah scholars, observant Jews, the sick, righteous gentiles, the poor, had the best places in Olam Haba. The judges in the next world were the sages in this one. This was a near death experience by a lady who wasn’t religious at the time – this underscores that these realities don’t just come from the Rabbis who know the Torah very well, they come from the basic senses of people who knew nothing about Judaism. A couple of months later, this woman went to a family for Shabbat. The family had pictures of great sages of the Jewish People. When the lady looked at these pictures, she screamed and passed out. When the head of the family revived her, he asked her if she was okay. She began to tell the family the story I just told you. When she saw one of the great Jewish Sages, she told them that he was one of the judges she stood before when her soul was in Heaven for those few minutes.
What goes around, truly comes around. You reap what you sow, and nobody gets away with anything. There are consequences for every thought, intention, and action that we do. Everything is written down, and we have to answer for all of it. Just because there are no immediate consequences for the things we do in this world doesn’t mean that there never will be. The RamBam states thirteen fundamental principles of the Jewish faith. Number ten is: I believe, with a perfect faith, that the Creator, Blessed be His Name, knows all the deeds of each individual, and all of their thoughts. The next principle states: I believe, with complete faith that the Creator, Blessed be His Name, rewards with good those who observe His commandments, and punishes those who violate His commandments.
Hashem knows everything. There is no deed in this world, sexual or otherwise, where we can say to ourselves, ‘hey, nobody’s watching!’ Even if you get away with whatever it is you, you will have to account for it. The Zohar states that if we hold to the mitzvah of sexual morality, even if we have to pay dearly for the things we have done in this world, it won’t be in the pits of gehonim. As much as we may have to pay for our misdeeds, and as agonizing as they may be, it won’t be as bad as long as we hold to this specific mitzvah. No matter how harsh the judgment that hangs over us, the decree isn’t sealed. Every day we wake up is a gift from Hashem. It is a chance for us through our thoughts, deeds, and emotions to do tsuva for the wrongs we have done so we can shorten our sentence. It is a Divine opportunity to better our place in the world that really counts. We all need to realize that the greatest kindness Hashem gave us is the ability to serve Him with free will for every day He gives it to us. We can get closer and closer to our Creator in all worlds, throughout all times by what we do right here, and right now – at every moment.
David Fink is the Editor-in-Chief of the daily investment newsletter, Real Wealth Recon. In 2008, his Real Wealth portfolio MADE MONEY, outperforming the three major indices by 38%, and the average Hedge Fund by 25%. For $99 a year, you get David’s daily market commentary, instant emails for every trade he makes, total access to David’s portfolio, and a weekly review of the major articles published around the world. Why hand over your hard earned money to someone in a suit saying “trust me.” Keep your money and trust yourself. Join the elite investors who are making money this year, and tell Wall Street: YOU’RE FIRED!