18 Iyar 5779 / Thursday, May 23, 2019 | Torah Reading: Bechukotai
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Soldiers of the Honor Guard    

Soldiers of the Honor Guard

How does a commander get his soldiers to cling to him? He makes them absolutely dependent on him and denies them certain freedoms. One who violates those rules gets punished...


An article for men only...


The past few weeks have brought us here in Israel tons of rain. The chilly nights are a strong reminder for me of how it was in the army doing maneuvers day and night. In fact every morning that I manage to make it out of the house early for prayers, my cold cheeks automatically start praying for our soldiers. At that very hour they are being yelled at to get ready and organized for the day. All of them had their sleep interrupted throughout the night in order to do guard shifts. Combat soldiers go through extremely cold and wet nights, and use sleeping bags from the 1980s. It’s no joke, it’s hard and there is no luxury in becoming the best soldier one can be.


But on the path one has a superior. All throughout basic training during the first few months, the soldiers are being trained to become entirely dependent on their officers. Soldiers can’t eat whenever they want to or talk whenever they feel like it. They need permission for everything.  I even remember the moment that I first went into the bathroom and saw there was no toilet paper. Why? Because we needed to request toilet paper every time we needed to use the facilities, and I mean every time. It is a complete breakdown of independence for the purpose of making the soldier totally dependent on and subordinated to his superior. And it works.


To successfully weather the trials, a soldier needs to depend on his superior. If he tries to go at it alone, he won’t make it; he’ll get depressed, want to quit, and might doubt the entire purpose of the army. The superior encourages and guides the soldier to what his individual mission is within the unit. As a soldier, developing a strong bond with one’s superior is a must. There are also trials in creating that relationship. The soldier can’t give up, he needs to prove his worth, he needs to show perseverance, as well as help others who may be less disciplined than himself. But just as the soldier gathers his strength and makes that effort to show his dedication, the officer responds in kind and develops a relationship with his fighter that leaves the soldier knowing he’ll never be left behind enemy lines. This bond is what stays with soldiers for eternity.


This is an analogy of our true mission down here on planet Earth guys. Rabbi Shalom Arush brings from the Talmud in Tractate Kiddushin that every single day man’s evil inclination (the lust for sex, women, bodily urges, appetites, anger etc.) comes upon him. But Hashem cannot help the poor person because he never asked for help to defeat these bad tendencies. Rabbi Lazer Brody once taught me personally that the purpose of life is to get closer to Hashem. So one might ask, how can I get closer to Hashem, I have such terrible lusts (for looking at other women, pornography, coveting other men’s wives, etc). Well that is the whole point. Let’s explain...


Hashem is like our Commander and we are His soldiers. We are here for a tour of duty - not for three years like in the IDF but for 120 God Willing. For the most part it is a terrible battle for a person who has no connection to Hashem. We get these tests for no other reason other than to receive tremendous reward for making the effort to overcome them. But how? How can a man overcome his natural urge to check out a girl on the street? Rav Shalom Arush says ONLY through personal prayer.


By taking a set time each day and talking to Hashem about your desire to guard your eyes, you will see tremendous improvement in your day to day life. You’ll have more control on where your eyes go and less dirty thoughts. You won’t fail as much as you used to. But Rav Arush says that someone who does not take the time to pray about uplifting himself out of the base desires for physical beauty shows arrogance in his contempt for the Talmud’s teaching:  That Hashem only helps a person who is asking for the help!


When we ponder Rabbi Brody’s previously mentioned quote on the purpose of life, things begin falling into place. Here we have a situation where Hashem’s desire in creating the world is for us to cling to Him. How does a commander get his soldiers to cling to him? He makes them absolutely dependent on him and denies them certain freedoms. One who violates those rules gets punished.


The same situation is here before us. Hashem our Commander is depriving us of the ability to go throughout the day in a completely pure way. He wants our prayers, because through prayers, we cling to Hashem thereby fulfilling the purpose of the world. By doing so we also align ourselves to our true path and mission in life. We become more focused on doing the right things we are supposed to do. As Rav Arush puts it, “A man who wants to go in the path of holiness needs to pray day and night that Hashem will eradicate his lusts! It’s true, a man has a natural inclination for lusts, it is his natural state of being, but through prayer one’s nature can change completely. So any man that makes that effort to add prayers for holiness for at least 30 minutes a day will see his nature completely change.”


If you are already on the path of praying daily for your personal holiness may you merit every day to continue to do so. If you are just starting out, check out my article titled: Prayer for Guarding the Eyes. It's not an easy battle but success is entirely possible for everyone. Some other tools that can help you are:


The book: Garden of Purity

The CD: Eyes of Holiness.


As soldiers of the Honor Guard – the ones who guard Hashem's holy covenant – we are surely clinging to the Supreme Commander. May we all succeed!

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