Part 5 - The Greatest Feeling in the World
When G-d decreed that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah would be destroyed, Avraham contested the decree. “Perhaps there would be 10 righteous men in the city? Would You save the city in the merit of those ten righteous men?” G-d consented to Avraham’s request. If there were to be found ten righteous men in the cities, He would spare everybody in their merit. Such is the power of tsuva. If G-d would spare an idol worshipping place in the land of Israel filled with evil gentiles in the merit of 10 righteous men, think of what He would do for us if we would perform tsuva and pursue good.
It is said that Moshiach will come in the merit of those who guard the laws of sexual morality. I believe it. Through this mitzvah we can really establish ourselves as one of the great Jewish generations of all time.
Do you mean to compare us to the generation that fought against seven Arab armies to establish the first Jewish State in 2000 years, and won? Or the generation that created the Talmud? Or the generation that received Hashem’s word directly as Sinai? It was said that when the Jews received the Torah at Sinai, even a maidservant had a higher level of Divine Revelation that the greatest of prophets in all proceeding generations.
Are you to tell us that we can honestly be compared to them?
Let’s start with a story from Sefer Bereshit (Book of Genesis). Many biblical commentators openly compare Noah with Avraham. Noah was described as being perfect in his generation. Noah was a righteous man and he literally saved mankind. Hashem commanded Noah to build an ark and bring into the ark his family and the animal kingdom while Hahsem would wipe out all of mankind with the flood. When G-d told Noah about the flood, Noah followed G-d’s instructions. When G-d told Avraham that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were about to be destroyed, Avraham argued with Hashem on behalf of the cities inhabitants. He pleaded with G-d. He asked if there were righteous men in the city. If there were, he pleaded with G-d to spare all of the inhabitants in the merit of these men.
Our sages compare the actions of Noah and Avraham. Some say that the generation of Noah was more evil. For Noah to be a decent man, it was a lot harder in his generation. Had Noah lived in Avraham’s generation, he would have been as righteous as Avraham. Others take the other argument. Some say that Noah was a good man, but not a great man. They claim that had Noah lived in Avraham's generation, he would be a decent person, but not ‘perfect in his generation’, as the Bible describes him.
Which argument is right?
I think that Noah and Avraham were equals. They both rightfully deserved the title ‘righteous men’ for their generation. I believe that the effort that Noah had to put in to being a good man in his generation was equal to the effort Avraham had to put in to be a great man in his.
Judaism rewards effort, not simply results.
What if our generation is one of the hardest in mankind’s history? The Talmud talks about our generation. It says that our generation is the one that comes right before (or during) the coming of Moshiach. It is a very exciting time, but they wouldn’t want to live in it. The sages talked about our era. They say that any and all basic standards of decency will completely fall apart in our times. If you were a Torah sage 2,000 years ago, you would be given the honor by our community that Ben Stiller enjoys today. In our generation, those who pursue Torah are seen in the worst light.
Therein lies our opportunity. Just like Noah, who had to fight the entire world just to be a decent man, we all have to fight everything around us just to live. In order to perform the mitzvah of sexual morality, we have to fight everything we see on TV, everything we see on the internet, and everything most people tell you about how great it is to ‘get some’ or ‘hook up’. Today we are all blessed with the opportunity of Noah. G-d has given us all the chance to rescue the world by just being good.
There is so much Divine light that we can bring to ourselves, each other, and the entire world by learning about and following this mitzvah. We can blind the angels in heaven with the amount of light we can bring to earth with our tsuva. Never has sex been so accessible to so many people on so many levels. Not only is it all over the TV, the internet, the newsstands, it is actively encouraged by the very people who should be teaching us our values! We are the first generation in American history, where all social and cultural mores allow, and even encourage, all forms of baseless sex. Gone are the days where the parent generation tells you to wait until you are married. Gone are the days where a man and a woman get married and stay that way for 50 years. We don’t even see anything emotionally uplifting on television anymore. Every main character has casual sex. Every main character from Sam Malone to Tony Soprano gets heaps of praise for doing everything that spits in the face of our spiritual and personal growth. Even the voices that try to help are silenced. Anybody who suggests that a sexually responsible lifestyle is a good idea is automatically seen as a fanatic, a racist, or a hillbilly. What chance do we have to be human beings? It is as if every force in the world today is pushing us to become garbage.
THEREIN LIES THE OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL OF US!
Therein lies the chance for all of us to perform a tsuva that even our great forefathers didn’t have the chance to perform. They didn’t have the level of impurity to combat like we do. They didn’t have to exert themselves the way we do just to be human beings. This is our contribution to Jewish history. We will fight a larger impurity, and in doing so, bring closer a greater light.
I am a part of this generation of Jews. I became a Hozer B’Tsuva (returnee to the faith) when I was 19. I have also been committing sexual transgressions for a very long time. I committed these transgressions before I became a Hozer B’tsuva and after I became one as well. I recently did tsuva for this sin. Spiritually, I have traveled to the lowest depths of darkness with this sin. Baruch Hashem, after I did tsuva, I have experienced levels of light and strength beyond anything I ever imagined. I want to relate to you my experiences. I want to share with you how much this tsuva has made my life immeasurably better. I thought the greatest tsuva I ever did was the first tsuva – bringing Hashem into my life.
I was wrong. This has been the greatest tsuva of my life. This tsuva has brought Hashem into my existence to a level I never dreamed possible. Everything is brighter. The inherent spirituality that is invested into everything on earth is so much clearer. The power of connection to Hashem’s Universe get’s stronger with every prayer. I have been fortunate to learn by firsthand experience why this mitzvah is the foundation that all others rest upon. In taking on this mitzvah we are elevating our souls to such a higher place, every other mitzvah you do will be done on a greater level of spiritual awareness. You become energized with the spiritual energy of everything that you do to a greater degree.
To those of you who feel as if your life is fine. That you are doing enough. I have some good news – as high a level you think you are on, the moment you actively take on this mitzvah and fight this battle – you ain’t seen nothing yet! THE BEST DAYS OF YOUR LIFE LIE AHEAD!
Unfortunately, most of us have been unable to be Shmirat HaBrit, so we don’t experience our true spiritual potential. We do the other mitzvoth and leave it at that. I have heard stories of a ‘612 club’ where people follow every mitzvah in the Book except for this one. In the end, we pass up so much in life. The spiritual joy of following this mitzvah far surpasses any pleasure you can get from breaking it. Remember, I am someone who has experienced all of the physical enjoyment of casual sex. I have also experienced the spiritual joy of observing the laws of sexual morality. I have the experiences of both paths and I am telling you that the joy of sexual focus is one of the best joy’s there is on this earth. I know how hard it is. We are sold a bill of goods in this world. We are convinced by cable TV that the greatest pleasure is to indulge in the images we are inundated with – both physically, and mentally. As impossible as it may seem – this is a national lie. Modern society dangles over our heads the worst part of humanity in return for forgoing on the best parts of life. We settle for an egg salad sandwich because we have never gotten a bite of the sirloin steak!
Okay. Maybe asking individuals to restrain their sexual impulses is asking a bit much. When we think about sexual morality, the first thing that comes to mind are monks who have taken an oath of celibacy. This is nonsense! The first commandment in the Book of Genesis is to be fruitful and multiply. The Talmud requires a man to satisfy his wife. It is a mitzvah to have sex on Shabbat! Jews don’t buy into this Catholic abstinence crap – all it leads to is horny priests, irrevocably damaged children, and a feeling that using our bodies in a way that G-d created them for – and commanded us to do – is in any way, shape, or form, wrong. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
All I am asking from this point on is to forget your previous stereotypes about what sexual morality is (and is not), and to read on with an open mind. You will be very surprised to learn what our faith has to say about sexual conduct.
Let’s start with terminology.
What is Shmirat HaBrit? Shmirat comes from the word Shomer, to guard. It is the act of guarding a mitzvah over a period of time. We can be Shmirat Kashrut, or keeping kosher. This is something we don’t do as an individual act, but a mitzvah we keep at every moment. We can also be Shomer Shabbat, or guarding the Shabbat. This is a mitzvah we keep for a 24 hour time period. We can also be Shmirat HaLashon, or, guarding the tongue. Holding to the laws of not talking loshon harah, or gossip.
What is the Brit? Why is this specific term used? The term Brit, means covenant. It is the basic agreement between Hashem and the Jewish people.
Why do we use this term to describe sexual morality?
What is the first mitzvah a man performs in his lifetime? The first mitzvah a Jewish baby performs is to accept the covenant of the Torah by performing the mitzvah of circumcision. The act of circumcision is performed on the organ where the foreskin is removed. To be Shmirat HaBrit is to continue to keep our covenant with Hashem by constantly guarding against misuse of this organ. We maintain our covenant between Hashem and His children by exerting ourselves against misusing all passions and desires that are related to the organ of the brit.
The mitzvah of Circumcision brings a Jew into our covenant with Hashem. It serves as the foundation for all other mitzvoth. You can’t perform the mitzvoth properly without first fulfilling this one because without this one, you aren’t part of the Jewish people and there is no spirituality involved in keeping Commandments deriving from a Covenant you haven’t properly accepted. You need to constantly guard this covenant and the organ of the sign of your acceptance of it throughout your life in order to continue to perform all other mitzvoth properly. Shmirat HaBrit is a lifelong extension of the first mitzvah you performed in your life that spiritually made you a Jew. Trust me on this: When you perform this mitzvah, you really experience the true spiritual meaning of what it means to be a Jew. Spiritually, being a Jew is the greatest thing there is in this world. In our generation, the Jewish people have focused on the ethnic, historical, and political features of being Jewish. After taking on this mitzvah, I have come to believe that they are so wrong on who we really are. We are, at our core, a spiritual people. Our spirituality is the greatest gift from G-d and our spiritual contributions to the world far eclipse anything that men like Einstein, Freud, or Marx have ever made.
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!