Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Dealing With Ever Changing Challenges

If you liked the movie, "Karate Kid", you'd probably also like "Ip Man" (and "Ip Man 2").  Nice message, great martial arts.  After having shown himself to be the greatest kung fu master in China, then in Japan by taking on 10 attackers at once, and even defending himself and a student against dozens of attackers with knives, Master Ip faces his toughest challenge: the world's heavyweight boxing champion.  We are all thinking this is a drop kick, but Master Ip almost succumbs before finally winning a decisive victory and leaving us with a message of peace and mutual respect.  (Yada, yada... I liked the fight scenes.)  Why did he have some much trouble with the boxing?  I think it is because a martial arts fight is really just sparring to demonstrate to each other who has the great skill.  The one with the greater skill wins.  Boxing, on the other hand, has a single goal: bludgeon your opponent into unconsciousness.  Skill, shmill -- the one left standing wins.  When faced with this new kind of opponent, Master Ip was drawn away from his expertise and calm into a frenzy of trading punches -- a battle he could not win.  It was only after regaining his center that he we able to triumph.

While watching Master Ip's dramatic victory snatched from the jaws of defeat, I began to wonder mussar haskeil I was meant glean.  Certainly, l'chatchila, the director was going for more drama to increase his box office, but b'di'avad, since I am watching this, there must be a lesson intended for me.

Chazal tell us (quoted by Rashi on Bereishis, 4:7) that the yeitzer hara has but one intent, an intent that is both fierce and constant: to cause to you sin and bring you to destuction.  What is your single hope?  Learning Torah (kiddushin 30b).  What kind of learning Torah?  The kind that brings one to action.  Learning without taking it all the way to the "l'ma'aseh" is like sparring.  It certainly sharpens your skills, but until you are really challenged to be able to apply everything you learn to every moment of your life, you are still in danger of falling into sin.  The yeitzer hara is a skilled and experienced opponent.  The yeitzer hara doesn't study you just to know how you think; it studies you to know how you think in order to be able to more efficiently bring you down.  The yeitzer hara is not sparring with you, it's looking for every opening to bring you down.  You must be equally diligent in learning to both deflect its challenges and mount your own attack.

L'chatchila it certainly would have been easier to have never entered into this battle.  B'di'avad, now that we are here, we have no choice but to use the antidote provided by the Creator.  Not just learning, but learning that brings you to action.  To being ever watchful and carefully about issurim.  To being enthusiastic and energetic in looking for positive mitzvos to fulfull.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…

Thought for the Day: Prayer II -- How?

Now that we know that the obligation to pray is nothing more (nor less!) than a divine decree, we are going to also need instructions from heaven on how to implement that decree.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to have instruction from heaven how to implement heavenly decrees.  One only needs to look at the shambles that one modern ism has made of the very important Torah principle of תיקון עולם/improving and fixing the world.  They have taken words out of context and used them to support their own nefarious schemes.  (To the point that Google Translate actually translates -- not transliterates -- תיקון עולם as Tikkun Olam.  Amelia Bedelia would be proud; we are not amused.

The Torah teaches us how to pray in two complementary fashions.  One is the way in which the concept is presented as an obligation, the other is by giving us examples of how to practically implement those instructions.

The obligation is introduced in the second paragraph of "sh'ma" -- וּלְ…