Recently, I watched a great lecture by Rav Shalom Arush shlit”a and Rav Amnon Yitzchak shlit”a. It was like watching two superstars on the same stage- I had stars in my eyes. They both had beautiful Torah insights to share, but I would like to focus on one insight in particular. Rav Arush has a talent for getting to the main point, the ikkar, of the general lesson. He said that the Yetzer Hara is as sneaky as they come. One of the greatest ploys of the yetzer is to make you think you’re well on your way to being righteous, if you’re not there already. He makes you proud of yourself that you’re doing so many mitzvot, that you’re studying Torah, that you’re living a spiritually-oriented life.
He does this to distract you from the main point.
The main point, says Rav Arush, is the foundation of who you are. For a man, that means guarding his personal holiness. For a woman, that means guarding her modesty. Everything else is icing on the cake. If a man walks around all day, staring at women and forbidden images, every mitzvah he has done is for naught. He has missed the point. If a woman runs from one Torah class to another while baking challahs for half the neighborhood and helping with worthy causes, yet she’s attracting attention by flaunting her beauty, she has missed the point. All of her mitzvot combined cannot override the fact that she is not modestly dressed.
I know, it’s a hard pill to swallow. But, this is the reality of the situation. It reminds me of something I read on www.dani18.com. Daniel, an autistic young man who communicates by FC, or facilitated communication, says, “A woman can pray Tehilim all day long, but if she eats pork, the Tehilim doesn’t cancel out the pork!”
Guarding a man’s personal holiness includes guarding your eyes and not desecrating the Brit. These are the two main points of a man’s tikkun. HaRav Arush explains that guarding the Brit is equivalent to guarding the entire Torah. It is written in Likutey Moharan that a person who desecrates the brit is considered as if he transgresses the entire Torah.
-He transgresses “I am Hashem your God” because he doesn’t care about Hashem.
-He transgresses “You shall have no other gods before me” because he worships his physical desires more than Hashem.
-He transgresses “Keep the Shabbat Holy” by bringing unholiness into his life.
-In fact, he transgresses the entire Torah, because all holiness in the world depends on the holiness of the Brit.
For all you Gematria fans out there, Brit = 613. Bet=2, Reish=200, Yud=10, Tav=400, +1 for the word itself. Furthermore, Kabbalah teaches that Yesod is the pipeline, the channel by which all of the blessings and abundance from the upper Spheres reach Malchut, our world of physicality. It corresponds to the part on the body where the Brit is located. By damaging the Brit, a man damages and clogs the pipes of abundance that he and his family were supposed to receive, and this effect is transmitted to the entire world.
On the plus side, a man who makes every effort to guard his personal holiness is crowned with the title, “Tzaddik Yesod Olam”- The Tzaddik, Mr. TYO, the foundation of the world. As is this weren’t enough, anything this man asks for, he will receive! It’s amazing how much Hashem loves us. If we only understood it in the slightest.... Can you imagine putting this title on your business card?
Moshe Goldstein, T.Y.O.
“I got connections Upstairs!”
Over the course of several years I have made an interesting observation regarding the ever-deteriorating relationship between parents and children. These days, many parents dress in the same types of trendy clothing that their kids wear. Many dads wear ripped jeans with baseball caps and football jerseys, or flip-flops and surfer shorts with tank tops. Many moms could trade outfits with their daughters- they run around town with skin-tight jeans and shirts that leave nothing to the imagination. Moms all over the country are in silent competition with each other to see who looks the most like their friends’ teenage daughters!
What effect do you think this has on our children? I believe that dressing like them actually lowers their respect for us in their minds. We may want other adults to see us as more youthful; but do we realize that our children will also see us this way? Moms who manage to look like they’re 19 when they’re actually 40 might get a good ego boost. On the other hand, how much do her kids view her as their mother, and not their peer? “I’m your mother, not your friend,” is a statement that’s widely used these days. Honestly, we’re putting our kids in an unfair position by dressing like them. How so?
Think about it- when you went for a job interview, you made sure to dress extra-professional. You made sure to wear your most expensive suit and style your hair in the most immaculate manner possible. Men, that includes you, too. Why was it so important to dress this way for the interview? We wanted to portray the image of someone respectable and successful. Studies have shown that if there are two potential job candidates who are both equally qualified, the better dressed and better looking one usually gets the job. Everyone is aware of the fact that we are judged according to our looks. Like it or not, this is the world we live in. What do we do as soon as we get home? We throw those shoes off and change into our most comfortable overworn, torn set of pajama pants.
Do you think our children are immune to our quick-change acts? Absolutely not. In fact, they’re infinitely more influenced by our exterior trappings than adults are. Think back to when you were a kid. How did your parents dress? Most likely, they wore more formal clothing, which gave off the image of no-nonsense parents. I can guarantee you respected your parents much more than your children respect you. Looking at it this way, can you begin to see that the way you dress has so much to do with how your children look at you? If we don’t want our children to think that we’re on the same level as they are, then we mustput ourselves on a higher level!
Imagine a 13-year-old boy who brings some of his friends over after school. His mom walks in, looking like a Barbie doll. What do you think is going on in the friends’ minds? And don’t think the boy doesn’t know it! He’s probably beyond embarrassed that his friends are having fantasies of his mother! Who wouldn’t be? The Talmud states, “Do not place a stumbling block before the blind.” Teenage boys also fall into this category, not just men! Causing another man to sin is worse than sinning ourselves, and we are held equally accountable, if not more so, than the one who we caused to sin! Not only that, but do we even think for a moment that we may have robbed the boy of his precious innocence? It is a gift that is too short-lived these days.
What if the 13-year-old is a girl? Well, you can be sure that there’s plenty of evil eye going on in that house! Her friends are sure to be jealous of her beautiful mother, with her salon-styled hair, botox-injected face, and other “alterations” done to her body. Furthermore, do we realize what looking like this does to our daughters? It destroys their self-esteem! I can’t stress this enough. Look around- how many times do you see a trophy mom with a teenage daughter who’s overweight or underweight? The daughter’s mind has been sabotaged to think that she must look like a movie star in order to have the life she wants. Mothers who dress and look like centerfolds are setting the stage for their daughters’ major emotional issues later in life, from anorexia/bulimia to potential depression because she thinks she will never be as beautiful as her mother. Or, they create a young woman whose main focus in life is to be as youthful and eye-catching as possible. Incidentally, this is another great reason not to have television in the house. We are exposing our children to unlimited negative messages, the most damaging being that a girl has to look like Miss America by the time she’s 12! The biggest culprit? Disney!
Believe me, there’s nothing I’d rather do than change into comfortable pants and a raggedy old shirt after a long day. But, instinctively, I feel that my kids look at me as their mother and not their peer when I dress in my skirts and long-sleeved tops. The few times that I did wear pajama pants around the house, I was keenly sensitive to the fact that I myself didn’t even feel like their mother! I felt like a kid who’s constantly sticking her head in the fridge, looking for something to magically appear... (Okay, I still do that.) Men, if you’d like to learn more about the exalted level of holiness you can attain, I recommend listening to “Eyes of Holiness”. Ladies, if you’re ready to show the world that you’re a true Eshet Chayil, inside and out, please listen to “The King’s Daughter” and “Your Beauty”.