16 Kislev 5781 / Wednesday, December 02, 2020 | Torah Reading: Vayishlach
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False Charm    

False Charm

A person's innate curiosity tempts him to look all around him wherever he goes. One must therefore accustom himself to channeling curiosity into a positive direction...


A person's innate curiosity tempts him to look all around him wherever he goes. One must therefore accustom himself to channeling curiosity into a positive direction, namely, to Torah and spirituality. He must restrain his negative curiosity by not concerning himself with other people and their affairs, except in the process of performing a mitzva. Many people don't live their own lives because they're too busy meddling in other people's lives. Once again, we're not talking about concern for others, such as helping them or giving them charity. We're referring to the curiosity that leads to jealousy, gossip and other transgressions.


The holy Zohar calls this world, alma deshikra, which in Aramaic means, "the world of lies". King Solomon referred to this concept as well when he said, "the lie of charm" (Proverbs 31:30). The material world is very deceiving; by looking at seemingly beautiful women in this world, one falls under the power of lies, fantasies and the dark side's concealment of Divine light, losing all connection with Hashem and with truth. One cannot simultaneously grasp the lie of charm and the truth of Hashem, for they are mutually exclusive. Insofar as the lying charm and vain beauty of this world take a person from Hashem, nothing could be uglier. What's worse is that the entire material world is built on the quick-sand foundation of false female charm and vain beauty - advertising, the media, movies and modern society.


With the above in mind, guarding our eyes becomes all the more urgent. We should even be teaching our children to guard their eyes; we don't describe the forbidden sights that they should avoid, for we don't want to introduce them to anything that's not pure, but we tell them the importance of clinging to Hashem and to His Torah.


Our entire task in this world is to cling to Hashem. Hashem gives us free choice - one can either cling to the fantasies, lies and vanity of the material world and bodily lust, or cling to Hashem and follow in His ways. A person who thinks that he can enjoy both worlds simultaneously is fooling himself. The physical world, in truth, is as deceiving as a mirage in the desert - things gleam in the distance, but they're not real. Even worse, the amenities of the physical world are spiritually contaminating, like a contagious disease.


The physical world, though, when used as a means to help us get closer to Hashem, is beneficial. We partake of this world not for the sake of bodily enjoyment, but for the sake of doing Hashem's will. A person who lives his life with the intention of getting closer to Hashem will find life in this world much sweeter. Not only will he taste the sweetness of Torah and prayer, but he'll enjoy marital bliss and wonderful children. Once his orientation in life is serving Hashem, even making a living is easier. These blessings are the wonderful outcome of guarding one's eyes and of personal holiness.


Guarding eyes is also important for women and children. In addition to the aspect of personal holiness, which pertains more to men, guarding eyes saves women and children from such transgressions as jealousy and coveting. It also frees one's mind from the nonsensical meddling in other people's lives.


Rebbe Nachman of Breslev warned, "Don't let this world fool you!" Minute by minute, we're bombarded with temptations from every direction. By closing our eyes, we become immune to and protected from the bombardments. We spare ourselves the wasted time and mental energy of looking at this world's lies and fantasies. Women and children are especially enticed by what their eyes see: notice how women stop and glare at the showcase window of a women's clothing store, even if all the clothes are immodest and unacceptable. Notice how children will stop in front of a toy-store window and gaze at the electric train, even if the window is garnished with idolatrous icons. So once again, we see that we have a choice between the enticements of this world and between Hashem.


Jewish women should also rise above the lies of false charm and vain beauty. They should rethink their priorities in life and stop seeking flattery that praises external masquerades. Rather, they should follow in the footsteps of our holy matriarchs, who were modest both on the outside and on the inside. The Divine Presence yearns for such modesty. Rebbe Nachman of Breslev says that feminine modesty will hasten the coming of Moshiach.


Every man should encourage - in a positive way, of course - his wife and daughters to act, dress and speak in a modest fashion. He should lavish them with positive reinforcement, especially praise and compliments, when they do. He will not only succeed in uplifting his family, but he will hasten our national redemption, soon, amen!

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