19 Iyar 5779 / Friday, May 24, 2019 | Torah Reading: Bechukotai
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War of Negative Thoughts    

War of Negative Thoughts

All the mistakes we made were because we weren’t thinking about what we were doing. It’s not that we didn’t care, but extraneous thoughts came into our heads...


Translated by Aaron Yoseph
Fighting negative thoughts is a fierce battle. A thought comes to mind, and hijacks a persons thoughts for days and nights. He can’t shake it off. He can’t come to learn or pray – his mind is too preoccupied. Sometimes it’s a thought of despair or depression that takes hold of a person’s mind – “Since I haven’t learnt or prayed properly for so long, I’m worthless.” He doesn’t realize that this is his tikkun – what he needs for his souls correction. If this is what Hashem has arranged for you, this is your tikkun. Sanctify yourself as best you can where you are – seek closeness with Hashem where you are. But when these thoughts come to mind and he accepts them, he lives in Gehinnom.
Thoughts enter a person’s mind and he starts to worry. He lives in a state of confusion, he has no inner peace. Hashem should have mercy – thoughts of physical appetites enter a person’s mind and he doesn’t know how to break them. Overpower it – throw it out! Put in its place a thought of truth. It’s an illusion, it’s against Hashem’s will. So do Hashem’s will – throw it out, however you can. Realize that it’s all illusions.
Sometimes a person wants to come back, but without the advice of the Tzaddikim, he won’t know how to do it, and he may just become more depressed and despairing. He’ll start to think that there is no way for him to come back. What the Tzaddikim teach us is to be happy with what we have, and know that we can always come back. There’s no despair.
The main teshuva of Elul is our thoughts. All the mistakes we made were because we weren’t thinking about what we were doing. It’s not that we didn’t care, but extraneous thoughts came into our heads, a cloud came and carried us away, and we forgot about keeping Shulchan Aruch simply, we forgot about being careful. Teshuva is to come back to Hashem – “I forgot, but from now on I’ll remember to sanctify my thoughts, and think about Hashem’s sovereignty." That kills the enemy the negative thoughts. Just focus on Hashem and not on them. 
The main teshuva of Elul is to concentrate in our prayers. The gates are open for us to come in. Whatever a person needs – to do teshuva, to learn – we pray to Hashem that He should help us. We aren’t guaranteed immediate results. Often there are tests, and it looks like nobody is listening. Sometimes things get worse. Wait, be patient. Ninety-nine percent of people stop praying at this point, “I tried and it didn’t work.” This is the No.1 extraneous thought – that prayer doesn’t work. People don’t wait long enough. Hashem can give success to everyone.
Pray to Hashem simply. Ask Him for things. “But it’s too late,” or “I did it already". I said, “Give me a candy!” "You see – I did it.” Everything depends on our prayers. We can draw all the blessings and mercy down into the world. This is Breslev, and this is our Rebbe Nachman – to bring the world to prayer. Hashem can and wants to give us everything – we need to be close to Him. If you don’t feel close, don’t run away. Run back to Him. Pray to Hashem for an hour every day for five years – at the end you’ll definitely get out of all your sorrows. If you don’t start now, you’ll have to start the five years in five years time!
Teshuva is to come back to prayer – to ask Hashem for everything. Instead of “Give me!” we can learn how to tell Hashem about all we’re going through. The Rebbe said it’s all up to us. But don’t get drawn in by thoughts about how things aren’t going well, and the past. A person gives up, because he asks “Why?” He prayed for something, and didn’t get it, so he gives up, and then he can’t pray any more. It’s all extraneous thoughts. We need to come back to Hashem with humility, and renew our prayers to Him. A person forgets how to be baki b’shov – he forgets how to encourage himself and pick himself up, to find Hashem with him, wherever he is.
There is a universal extraneous thought before Rosh Hashana – “Last year I also promised to be good on Rosh Hashana, and the year that’s passed has proved that I wasn’t serious, so what will it help to promise again now?” People think this sincerely and seriously – if I’m anyway going to forget the rest of the year, what point is there in getting aroused now? In truth, this is faulty thinking, it’s the Yetzer Hora tricking a person. The answer is that Hashem is King over this world, and particularly during these forty days. Hashem wants to see in these days who really cares about Him. If you show that you care – you’re in, and you get life for another year. Never mind what rectifications you may have to go through in that year.
There are other thoughts too. A person sees that he promised, but wasn’t able to live up to it, so he concludes that he just isn’t capable of anything. He thinks he hasn’t improved at all. The reality is that he did change – a few drops, but this is how most people change. It takes time, it’s a slow process. The Yetzer Hora works flat out to stop us improving.
You should be so happy – you’ve learnt one word from the Rebbe, you have a part in the Tikkunim of the Kibbutz on Rosh Hashana. “But I don’t understand what this tikkun is.” Another thought. It takes times. The Rebbe is helping us – slowly slowly we’re improving. Each year we get a bit further away from depression, despair and stubbornness. In Elul we start to come out from our thoughts and put ourselves into our prayers. We remember that we always have an eitzah, a good piece of advice. You thought you fell down and that it was all over – no. You can start again. L'Shana Tova Tikasevu!

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