15 Tamuz 5781 / Friday, June 25, 2021 | Torah Reading: Balak
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HomeFoundations of JudaismHitbodedut (Personal Prayer)The Power to Win
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The Power to Win    

The Power to Win

In order to overcome an addiction, a bad habit, or any other difficult challenge in life, one must first meet the truth face-to face…


People fail to overcome addictions because they lack the necessary self-composure to meet the truth face-to-face and acknowledge that their current path in life leads to ultimate self-destruction. If they would only clarify the truth in their own minds and realize that they are living a lie as slaves to their evil inclination, they’d have a ray of hope in overcoming their problem. Acknowledging the problem is already a good part of the solution.
We now see the importance of daily self-assessment. A person must constantly ask himself what’s true, while assessing his current actions in light of the truth. If he would do so, he’d say to himself, “My actions are incompatible with the truth! My bad habit (overeating, drinking, smoking, looking at lewd images, plug in your own…) is detrimental to me – the truth is that I’m doing damage to myself!” Once a person comes to such a conclusion, the result of truth clarification and self-assessment, he’ll now be ready to turn to Hashem and ask for help in overcoming his bad habit or addiction. He’ll also be receptive to outside help if need be, such as counseling, participating in a support group, or seeking rehabilitation. But, without truth clarification and self-assessment, he’ll remain a slave to his evil inclination.
Daily self-assessment and truth clarification are prerequisites for living a good and satisfying life. We encounter new stimuli every day, some good for us and some detrimental. Just as an airliner constantly assesses its navigational accuracy, we too must make sure that our lives don’t veer from their productive course. Otherwise, we waste valuable time and energy while reaching wrong destinations. And, if we haven’t yet established our goal and optimal path in life, we critically need a minimal hour a day of truth clarification and self-assessment to do so.
Imagine spending eight hundred dollars to get on an airplane: you ask the pilot if he’s flying to Miami or to Los Angeles, and he shrugs his shoulders saying, “I don’t know.” Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Millions of people wake up every morning not knowing where they’re going. What’s worse is that they don’t admit to themselves that they don’t know where they’re going.
Rabbi Levi Yitchak Binder of blessed memory used to tell us constantly, “It’s OK if you’re not on the right path as long as you admit to yourself that you’re not on the right path.” Let’s stop fooling ourselves. Let’s stop rationalizing improper behavior and blaming our problems on other people. A good part of acknowledging the truth is attributing our shortcomings to ourselves.
Here’s an example: suppose a man hears a Torah lesson that looking at any woman other than an immediate family member is a severe violation of Torah and therefore spiritually detrimental. Since he currently makes no effort to guard his eyes, he might try to discredit the lecturer or ridicule the lesson. As such, he is ridiculing the Torah rather than acknowledging the truth.
But, if the young man would acknowledge the truth even if he’s not yet on the level where he lives the truth, he’d be opening the door to immediate personal and spiritual growth. By attributing his spiritual shortcoming to himself, the young man would now be in a position to implement what he learned. He certainly couldn’t implement what he considers radical or ridiculous.
As soon as one acknowledges the truth, one acquires the desire to pursue the truth. Since truth is Divine illumination, by pursuing the truth, we illuminate our souls and become immediately happier. Just imagine how good you feel when you eat an apple instead of a slice of cream pie. Imagine how terrible you feel after you eat that slice of pie. The truth is readily apparent for those who seek it.
To attain the truth, one must believe in himself and in his power of prayer. The truth is not somewhere up in the sky and out of our reach. If we sincerely ask Hashem to help us find it, we surely will.
All of personal growth and self-improvement depends on the truth clarification and self-assessment that lead to acknowledging the truth. Those who acknowledge the truth live better and more successful lives while making much fewer mistakes that those who fail to acknowledge the truth.

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