3 Kislev 5778 / Tuesday, November 21, 2017 | Torah Reading: Vayeitzei
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Honest with Yourself    

Honest with Yourself

Once you are honest with yourself, you get to know yourself. And once you get to know yourself, wait and see how you become successful in everything you do...


Translated by Rabbi  Lazer Brody

The biggest liar is one who lies to himself. Such people are fooling anyone but themselves.
You must be honest with yourself. Be straight with Hashem when you speak to Him - Hashem loves when you speak real, from the heart. Tell Hashem, "Hashem, I'm really having difficulty with the commandment of covering my hair. I know You want me to do it, but I'm having big internal wars with this." Tell Hashem where you're holding. Don't try to hide. This is a legitimate prayer and confession. Hashem won't be angry at you, just the contrary, for He loves candor and honesty. So be honest - be with Hashem! Don't try to hide, because it's impossible to hide from Hashem.
Tell Hashem about your problem with guarding your eyes. Do you know when we fail to guard our eyes? That's when we forget that Hashem is with us. Nobody would do anything improper if they truly felt them Hashem was with them. King David was free of sin because he lived his life with Hashem! He could say shiviti, "Hashem, I always see you! I always feel you!" The worst embarrassment of doing something wrong is that we forgot that Hashem was with us at that very moment. He would be so insolent as to break the King's law right in front of the King! Lucky for us that Hashem is not a flesh-and-blood king.
Our sages say that one of the virtues necessary in acquiring spiritual gain is to know "where we are", in other words, to be fully aware of our current spiritual level without fooling ourselves. A person cannot possibly make teshuva and get close to Hashem if he doesn't know where he's currently holding. How so? Imagine that he thinks he's on level 50, but he's really on level 30. He now wants to move up to level 51, but he hasn't yet performed the requirements to reach level 31. It's like a third grader pretending that he's in an MBA program at Wharton School of Finance. That won't work; it's either a game, a fantasy, or both. But it's no joke. So many people think they can straddle both sides of the fence, that they can have a little bit of Torah and a little bit of web-surfing. We all know that it ends up all web-surfing and no Torah. Be honest with yourself. Ask yourself, "Where am I". Otherwise, you'll never be able to get close to Hashem.
Hashem is truth. We can only connect with Him if we too live the truth. Look how rampant despair and depression are. What are you sad about, that you have an evil inclination? That you don't overcome your lusts and bodily urges. Wait a minute - Hashem created you with that evil inclination and those bodily urges. Why be sad about? Just admit to yourself where you're holding in life and be honest with yourself. Now call out to Hashem to help you. He'll be happy to! Once you feel the sweetness of the connection with Hashem, wait and see how your life takes a dramatic turn for the better. But it all must start with our being honest with ourselves and knowing where we are. Only when we admit to ourselves that we're not perfect, can we identify our shortcomings and begin acting on them, first of all by investing a lot of personal prayer on the matter and eliciting Hashem's help. Without Hashem's help, a person can go nowhere in life; but with Hashem's help, he can do anything.
Tell Hashem the whole truth. "Hashem, I have this lust. And I wish this lust were permissible according to Torah." Tell Hashem where you are. Don't live a lie! Do you know why people are depressed and disappointed? It's because they think they're on a higher level that what they really are. When Hashem knocks them off their imaginary pedestal and they see their real level, they cry. Honest people are never depressed. They mess up, so they confess to Hashem. "Hashem, I'm sorry I looked at the forbidden sight. I still have this lust blazing inside of me. Hashem, I don't want to be like this, but this is who I am right now. Help me refine myself!" Such a person doesn't fall, because he's got both feet on the ground. He doesn't roll his eyes and pretend that he's Moshe Rabbenu. He's Yankel from Flatbush. But he should be proud - Yankel from Flatbush has tests of faith that Moshe Rabbenu didn't have. And who knows how Abaye and Rava would have acted if they lived in North Miami or on Pico Boulevard. Be happy with who you are and don't try to be anyone else. Once we know truthfully who we are and where we are, we can begin serving Hashem and correcting ourselves. That will enable us to get close to Hashem.
How do we apply this practically?
Step One: First, let's identify our most bothersome character flaw, the one that really brings us down. For many people, this will be anger, so let's use that as an example. Like the physicians say, a good diagnosis is 50% of the cure. Once we know what our problem is, we can now work on a solution.
Step Two: Now, let's think of the causes or situations that trigger our temper. Maybe it's a meddling mother-in-law, a tyrannical boss, or an inconsiderate neighbor. Maybe it's one of our children, who knows just how to push the exact buttons that set us in orbit. So now that we've done steps one and two, we've defined our character flaw and the situations where we are most susceptible to failure, we can go on to step three:
Step Three: Ask Hashem for help. Continuing within the framework of the above example, we should say, "Hashem, have mercy on me and help me. I have this terrible anger streak. Please help me overcome this. Let me internalize and strengthen my emuna. Help me feel that everything is from You and that everything is for the very best. Hashem, help me be be a good parent. Why should I fly off the handle every time I see my mother-in-law? I know that saddens my wife and upsets the children, for it's her mother and their grandmother. Bring me close to you and teach me patience. Help me attain my freedom from the chains of anger."
All it takes are the above three easy steps to begin being truly honest with yourself. Once you are honest with yourself, you get to know yourself. And once you get to know yourself, wait and see how you become successful in everything you do, amen.

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