Part 15 – The Internet
Serving Hashem comes from the heart. The heart is the seat of a man’s desire. The heart is at the core of our deepest passions. The Jewish heart is driven like no other nation on earth. We are driven with more natural passion than anyone else. A man can be intensely passionate about serving his King in Heaven. He can dedicate his entire life to loving Hashem with all of his heart, and all of his soul, and all of his strength. This passion, unfortunately, goes in whatever direction we turn it. The most passionate Greeks, Romans, and idolaters, were, regretfully, also Jews.
It all begins with the heart. Our lives are a reflection of where we focus our passions. Do we live like animals, or do we push ourselves? Do we restrain our want for the physical in order to unleash our true potential, or do we pass our existence in this world trapped in our own shells?
We can meditate on this right before we say the Shema. We can ask Hashem, in our hearts and our minds, or with our mouths, for the strength to resist these temptations every day. Our prayer can focus on how badly we want to serve Him. It is an excellent opportunity to do some powerful tsuva and we can do it every day.
Before we pray, we can talk to G-d. It is called hitbodedute. G-d wants to hear our prayers. He wants us to know that He is here with us in everything we do – even in the small matters.
Our greatest sages would talk to G-d the way they spoke to people. They would tell Hashem their goals. They would reveal to Hashem their fears. They would express to Hashem their love for Him.
We can ask G-d for the strength to serve Him. We can ask for help in overcoming temptation. We can ask to become partners with Him in making the world a better place – better for our families, better for all of Israel, better for everybody.
I have a secret.
The first time I learned about the consequences of sexual misconduct, all I could do was think to myself, ‘uh oh – I am in real trouble!’ The sins I am guilty of aren’t light ones, and neither are the punishments.
If you have the same history of sexual behavior as me, you are probably thinking the same thing – we are in big trouble.
The good news is that we can all do tsuva. The good news is that there are a great number of ways we can correct our actions and connect to the mass amounts of spiritual and physical energy Hashem preserved for each of us in fixing ourselves. Because we have fallen so far, the amount of light we can bring into the world through tsuva is immense and maybe even unprecedented.
The Talmud, in Berachot 34B states: ‘Where penitents stand, the completely righteous cannot stand.’
Rabbi Nachman states that the further a person is away from Hashem, the more enjoyment Hashem derives from the actions he takes to get back to Him. A person who grew up in an area where Shmirat HaBrit is taught constantly, and the laws of modesty are kept, has fewer temptations. It is relatively easier to keep the laws of Shmirat HaBrit.
What about everyone else? We are seeped in impurity. Even if we set aside time for prayer and learning, no one can turn on a TV, go on the internet, or drive more than 200 yards without seeing a half naked woman in an inviting pose. You can’t even go from the entrance to the building you work in to your office without passing a woman who is seductively dressed. Temptation and impurities are not even seen as negative anymore. We are all encouraged by our workmates, our friends, family, and TV celebrities, to go out and get, well . . . .get some. We are no longer encouraged by doing what’s right. We get heaps of praise by doing wrong!
Why should we be judged by the same standard as the guy studying Torah in Yeshiva who lives in an area where everyone is modestly dressed?
The Lubavitcher Rebbe said that the greatest sources of Divine Light are hidden behind the most intense concentrations of darkness. Today, we all live among the deepest recesses of darkness. The world that surrounds us is built for sin. It is made for us to fall thousands of times and to remain obsessed with flesh and all physical pleasures. We are literally in the belly of the beast. This gives us an opportunity to fight a greater demon than ever before. This gives us all the opportunity to pull the greatest sources of light into the open with our daily struggles. The truth is that we are in a position to perform tsuvas that are tougher to perform than almost any Jew can.
Every tikkun we do, every tsuva we perform, every time we struggle with our physical selves to look the other way when a gorgeous woman passes by -- we are taking on the whole world. The moment we turn around and decide to go against the grain of the entire world, we are no longer deep into the abyss, looking down into the dark. We are at the bottom of it, looking up into the distant light.
This is the power of tsuva.
Rabbi Akiva was not religious for the first 40 years of his life. He was keenly aware of the physical joys around him. Even as he lived as a Torah Jew, those urges within him were very strong. He had to fight these urges within himself, tooth and nail, all of his life. We are also engaged in the same battle. Even as we grow old and the organs begin to wither, the urges stay there. The mind can remain as sharp as ever – for good, and for bad. Someone who was born a tzaddik, who maintains the very foundations of the earth itself, will not have to fight these battles. The great, great, men who grow up in areas of great Jewish modesty, will not have to fight constant sexual urges like we do. They haven’t experienced the sensual pleasure of the flesh, and won’t have to fight against the constant urge to re-live it.
This is why those who do tsuva have the opportunity to stand higher than those who are perfectly righteous.
No matter how many times you have sinned, you can still make a big difference. Never are you in any way, shape, or form, ‘unworthy’ to correct yourself. Don’t give up while you still sin while engaged in battle. You can study the laws of Shmirat HaBrit, and grow spiritually, do more and more tsuva, bring amazing beams of light unto the world, and then fall. This process can repeat itself again, and again, and again. It’s all right.
You can still do tsuva.
This is something which Hashem gets great pleasure from. It is the joy a father gets when he sees his infant child try to walk. As many times as the infant falls, he continues to get up and try again.
This is the primary purpose of existence!
Do you know that the Jewish faith believes in reincarnation? To say we believe in reincarnation is a big understatement. Reincarnation is an integral part of the Jewish existence.
We live imperfect lives, all the while striving for perfection. Hashem loves us. He wants us to pass all the tests in our life so when we die, we can merit the highest levels in the Next World.
That is why He gives us opportunities. If we fall short of certain mitzvoth in our lifetimes, our soul is reincarnated into another life. The main task of that life is to make corrections for the shortcomings of the previous life; to perform those mitzvoth we failed to do in the past so we can be judged more favorably in the future.
(This is not an excuse to be complacent. Never put off making tsuva with the self-justification that you will simply try again in your next life. Supernatural success is to reach a higher closeness with Hashem, making a ‘next life’ unnecessary. Upon death, the soul separates from the body. This can be a very painful process. Reincarnation guaranteed that this trauma will be repeated. You can also be reincarnated into someone or something not pleasant. It is important to pray, learn Torah, and to ask Hashem what our soul correction is in this world. Once we find out – start working on it without delay!)
The point is that Hashem desires us to grow. Even over the course of several lifetimes, especially over the course of this lifetime, Hashem wants us to do tsuva. He wants us to overcome obstacles in life so we can get stronger. He wants us to taste victory long enough so we can face even bigger obstacles.
He is patient with us every time we fall down. He wants to forgive us for all of our sins – as long as we resolve to get up.
Is this really possible? Can any of us really give up sex? Can we stop going to the bars, checking out women, flirting. Can this really be done?
It’s being done already. Thousands of Jews in the Land of Israel as well as in the United States and all over the world hold the mitzvah of Shmirat HaBrit. Many of these people are single. Many of them work in offices, live in cities, and stand up to the western world.
But Dave, are you for real? Give up all forms of sex, forever?
Nobody is giving up all forms of sex for the rest of their lives. Celibacy is a sin. You are sinning against the First Commandment G-d gave Adam. Adam, and all of the generations that followed, are Commanded to procreate, or at least try. Even not satisfying your wife is a sin. If a husband does not satisfy his wife in this area – she can divorce him. This comes directly from the Talmud. It is an unholy thing to go your entire life without ever having sex. The biggest trap we fall into is letting ourselves be convinced that sexual morality has something to do with abstinence or celibacy.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
So, how do we start to correct ourselves? What’s the first step?
The first step is to learn. Don’t do anything yet – just learn. As you learn more and more, you begin to internalize that sexual morality is all about receiving greater spiritual energy at every moment. It isn’t about what you are giving up, it is about what you are receiving. This is a very powerful mitzvah and you will feel the effects of it very quickly. The benefits are so energizing and revitalizing that you will quickly feel them.
Once you are ready to move from learning to making some lifestyle changes, it’s time to take the next step. This step is 80% of the battle. If you can do this, you are mostly there. The next step is to clean out your home of all inviting materials. With addiction, admitting you have a problem is 50% of the battle. In this case, getting rid of all temptation within the home is the key to defeating inner demons. We are most vulnerable to doing something inappropriate when we are alone. We are mostly alone when we are at home. If we can clean out our homes of temptations, we are in a very good place. When you are ready, you need to get all the magazines you are stacking away somewhere and throw them in the garbage. Don’t rationalize the money you spent on them. Don’t try to say to yourself that you will put them in a place where you won’t be able to get to them. Just throw them out. As embarrassed as I am to admit this, I know that if you want to get to sexual material bad enough, no amount of locks can stand between you. When we get that desire to satisfy ourselves, the energy we have to break the locks or find the magazines far exceeds the energy we have in hiding them. If you don’t trash these things, you will use them again. All posters of women also need to go. The next step is the videos. Any videos you have need to go into the trash. Again, don’t be concerned about their monetary value. Don’t try to sell them on eBay or something because while you are selling them, they are in your possession and you will use them. Just chuck em in the trash. I would suggest getting rid of cable. It is as easy as a click to view porn on cable. I would suggest trying to keep those channels off your TV if possible. If a new on-demand movie is that important to watch, go to Blockbuster and rent it. If a sporting event is so important, go to a friend’s house. I am not telling you to take a bat to your television set, just limit yourself to those channels that have no age restrictions.
Even those channels are suspect. I am not trying to be extreme, just careful. Recently, I saw an episode of Law & Order on a channel I thought was for everybody. One of the commercials that aired during the show was for a local strip club. All it took was an instant and I was overcome with a thousand urges to do something I shouldn’t. I was fortunate. I saw this commercial after striving to be Shmirat HaBrit for 2 years. I was able to control myself. Has I seen this commercial years earlier, I would have acted on these urges that rushed to the surface the moment the commercial hit the TV screen. For all of us who are beginning this wonderful soul correction, be very careful. All it takes is one image and in an instant our animal side takes over and we spend the next hour in an aggressive pursuit of something unholy. It is very important to be careful about what we watch on TV – and when we watch it. The TV is designed to entertain us when we are all alone. The problem is that we are most vulnerable to committing these sins when we are all alone. The one activity we do more than anything else when we are alone is to watch TV.
The last step in cleaning out your home is by far the most important one. You need to sanitize your internet. May Hashem forgive me for saying this, but I have seen people from all walks of life use porn on the internet. Representatives of every facet of Jewish life have complained of internet porn infecting their communities. Families are destroyed because individuals prefer the fantasies on the internet to their spouses. This is the worst temptation of our generation. It is estimated that almost 50% of the internet is porn. Internet porn generates more money than the combined revenues of NBC, CBS, ABC, and FOX. There is only one solution, you have to install a web filter. You have to install more than one. There is no other way. A good web filter will keep out the bad sites, and allow you to use the internet for productive purposes. They will successfully differentiate between a news site and a site with similar words, but offensive content. Even if you get blocked out of longtime sites that you use, it’s okay. Many web filters have a function where you can petition them to unblock a site. When I was doing research for my honeymoon, I was blocked from a website about visiting Kibbutz Wineries. The reason given was that it was a site too closely related to alcohol. When I hit the override function, the web filter administrators checked the site, determined that it wasn’t inappropriate, and unblocked it. The danger of installing a web filter is that you have total control over it. At a bad moment, you can uninstall the web filter, or even manually override all blocks. What you need to do in order to make Kosher your internet is to ask someone else to install it for you. My favorite web filter is called K9 Web Protection. It is free. If you walked away for ten minutes while your friend installed it, and used his email for the account, or even set up a temporary email address on yahoo that you couldn’t access your password, your internet would be safe from porn. As much as I am embarrassed to admit this, I know that when you are alone on the internet and you want to see something, you will do everything in your power to do it. I have heard that the biggest danger of the internet is the fact that most of us surf alone. We tend to be more permissive about our behavior when we fell like nobody is watching. How many of us spend time surfing porn only to quickly hit the X box the moment we hear a door opening?
Many Rabbis have instructed their communities never to use the internet alone. As long as someone else is in the room, it’s relatively safe. This is another way to protect yourself from the dangers of the internet. Give total access to your computer to your wife. Along with adding extra incentive to surf the net in a Kosher manner, you will earn bonus points with the misses!
Taking these steps are a true victory against the satan, his yetzer hara, and the forces of evil. You are bringing to the world a tremendous light simply in rearranging the foundation of your life to serve Hashem. Remember in the Shema? B’shivtecha B’beitecha! Hashem commands us to serve Him in our homes. Could there be a more effective way to fulfill this mitzvah then to clense our homes of impurity? We have established the fact that spilling seed is like spilling your soul onto the ground. You are sucking the energy out of your body and becoming a mere fraction of the person you’re supposed to be. In merely taking away the opportunities to sin in the future, you are guaranteeing that your soul will keep more and more of its strength. You are guaranteeing that your life will be filled with so much more spiritual and physical joy. For every moment you are at home, you are putting the chances of you being holy in YOUR favor! You are sanctifying your home! You are re-dedicating it to HaKadosh Baruch Hu!
Once this is carried out, we should do an accounting. By now, about 90% of our physical lives have been reduced of temptation. Where do we spend 90% of our time? Either at home or at work. At work nobody who wants to stay employed uses any form of porn or even sexually implicit material. When we clear our homes of the same material, we are clearing 90% of our lives of this garbage. The remaining 10% is going to be tough, but at least we put the odds in our favor.
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!