Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Importance of Guarding the Eyes

by Rav Yaakov bar Nahman

Parshat Vayeitze

“And Yaakov went out from Beer-sheba, and went toward Haran” [ 28:10]

Sorry folks time is short, too short to polish this one up at all. So here are the basic notes for the lesson. I hope you will be able to find the messages for you all.

Yaakov did not venture out and get involved in all kinds of worldly things. He saw his family members and his studies. His eyes were purely guarded. This is known as Kedushat Einayim or shmirat einayim.

Kedushat Einayim … / Kedushat Hayehudi …./ feel the kedusha in limud [Torah study], in mitzvoth in Shabat etc.

A little less of a sin: Elifaz was sent to murder Yaakov and instead robbed him and so is praised. What, we praise a robber? He could have told “Don Esav” his mafia boss that he killed Yaakov without doing anything to him. He could have used a ruse to “prove” it too. So why did he rob Yaakov?  Face it he was Esav’s son, so staying clean handed was not an option apparently. However since he had been brought up in Yitzhhak’s presence and had sat and learned in Yitzhhak’s presence, he had enough of a refinement to do the lesser sin/crime and “only” rob Yaakov instead of the more serious one of murder.

This difference is sufficiently significant to have Torah point it out to us. An example in actual halalkha is that back in the days of the Sanhedrin there were two separate sectors in the cemetery for those who had been executed by the Beit Din. There are four types of execution, two more serious than the other. One sector was for the lesser two types and the second for the more severe type. The reasoning was that just as we do not bury an evil person next to a good person for it is sorrow for the soul of the good one, we do not place a more evil person next to less evil person so as not to cause the lesser one’s soul sorrow. Yes it is that significant.

We also heard from the Steipeler Rav [Rav Yaakov Kanievsky zassa”l] a hhidush [Torah insight].

A real life example of the significance of a small change is from what was heard from a past Av Beit Din in Antwerp. There came before him one day a diamond trader and a broker of precious stones. They had made a deal but there was a dispute as to what the precise commission they had apparently agreed upon was. The one said 0.006% and the other said 0.005%. Now that seems really silly to be arguing over 0.001% doesn’t it? The dayan was about to toss them both out with words like stop being so childish when he stopped himself and asked what was the sum of the sale that this dispute came into with. Are you ready? Sit down. It was a “mere” $150 million. Now you can see why 0.001% was significant.

Now consider the mitzvoth. What is the value of a single mitzvah? Can you put a price tag on it? One single mitzvah is worth many times that diamond sale.

So the Steipler said see how it is that a less severe commission of a sin is already a partial mitzvah, because the person made an effort to break his/her bad habit/trait. Like a person who had a chance to steal $1,000 but took only part of the loot, you have the 0.001% difference as above.

From this we can get to what Rebbe Nachman zassa”l said in his lesson A 282, “ a little more and there is no rasha [evil one]”. A little less of a sin, and then a little less, and a little less yet and so on until there is no more evil left and only good.

Yaakov, the mild meek bookworm, was able to roll back the immense stone lid of the well that took several strong shepherds heaving together to move. Now how did he do that?

He also foresaw that his chosen wife Rachel would die young and be buried far away from him. This a great sorrow and he cried when he met her and recognized her as his true mate. How did he see all that? How did Yaakov know how to outwit his thieving father-in-law?

All was in the merit of his guarding the kedusha of his eyes. The secret of the strength of a Jew is exactly there, kedushat einayim, the guarding of the holiness of the eyes. The eyes are windows of the soul. That is not only for seeing what is inside the person, but also what affects the soul.

Rabbi Shalom shlit”a teaches us that without guarding one’s eyes one cannot fully feel the kedusha of prayers, or Torah, of Tehilim, of the mitzvoth, of Shabat. It’s a totally different sensation.

Hear too what guarding one’s eyes can accomplish. A few decades ago the son of a high ranking police officer in Israel disappeared. All the most professional searches did not find anything except for two points. The boy was kidnapped on the way home from school as revenge by a crime gang he had broken up. The boy had been sneaked out of Israel to some unspecified foreign country. Not even the connections in Interpol, CIA, MI5, Suretei etc helped beyond that.

Oy willi wy.

The father went to the rabbi of his neighborhood Beit Knesset [synagogue] to ask for guidance. He took him to Sidna Baba Sali, Rabbi Yisrael Abuhhassira zassa”l. The Baba Sali said he could not find the child however his son Baba Meir could. Yet the Baba Sali knew his son’s humility and told them also, “He will deny his ability, since he is so humble, he does not even recognize how big he is, how much he is treasured in heaven. Tell him that I his father orders him to do it and he will.”

They went to Baba Meir zassa”l, and all went exactly as Baba Sali had said it would. Rabbi Meir sat, pondered a while with his eyes closed. Then opened his eyes and asked for paper and a pen or pencil. He proceeded to draw a street map. He labeled a couple of streets, looked at the police officer father and said, “I have never studied maps of the world or of any country or city. But you have. The neighborhood is called Soho, this street is called … house number is …. In the back room of a 4th apartment on the 3rd floor your son sits alone, unwatched. Go take him. No one will interfere with you.”

A couple of quick phone calls and within 20 minutes the boy was in the hands of the Mossad agents in London and on his way home back to his family in Israel.

When asked later by the father and rabbi how he managed to do that, to see all that, Baba Meir zassa”l replied, “I place upon you an oath to not tell of my accomplishment until I pass from this world. Accept that and I will tell you how I did it. Recall that HaShem created a special light before the sun and then hid it for the use of tzadikim later. This light exists and one who can see it can use it to see anywhere in the world. However this requires guarding one’s eyes from improper sights. Those things block one’s ability to use that light. This is like if you would paint the windshield of your car black.”

Wow that’s phenomenal! Think about it. Realize the importance of guarding your eyes.


Anonymous said...

WOW... how HaShem must love His People very much... You are so Blessed... for all of us in the world... Thank you.

Anonymous said...

a wonderful lesson for all. not an easy one, but definitely not impossible for each at his own level. thanks so much for the lesson.

Tali said...

I loved every word of this. Thank you.