Sunday, February 03, 2013

A Small Act of Enormous Consequence

Walking the sidewalk, a man spots an oncoming woman with a feature he finds attractive. As she walks towards him, he can avert his eyes from looking at her, or he can take a closer look at what lured him.

The intentional effort of diverting his eyes, letting the woman pass without the additional glance, has no vital import - were he a Gentile. But as a Jew, that small but purposeful effort not only rescues him from a spiritual deterioration, it also alters the spiritual state of the entire world. That's the power inherent in a Jew.

That diversionary tactic of turning his head or eyes to avoid the additional glance, however slight it may seem, achieves a transformation of spiritual darkness into a spiritual light; Because such behavior is the currency with which God and Jew negotiate reward and punishment.

God's ultimate goal in this world, which will manifest as the Era of Redemption, is "to feel at home" among His people on earth. Tiny, effortless gestures is really all God requires of His people so He can feel at home among them.

As innocent as that extra "look" might seem, it is enough to take the man down, no matter how trivial the instance can be rationalized away. In fact, that may be the evil inclination's only way to sneak his way into the psyche's domain, through that which ostensibly appears to be an insignificant crack.

Even if the man does not let his eyes "follow" her, by turning his head to "feed his eyes" a little longer, as is common in Gentile culture, or as would a dog in heat, that extra glance can begin the slide downward. A tiny submission can lead to immense deterioration, as sure as an inadvertent pornographic pop-up window on a browser that holds the eye an extra second can lead to catastrophe that may take years to recover from.

The Torah tells us this propensity for transgression is, in fact, natural and built-in, as it says,
"אשר אתם זונים אחריהם".

Nevertheless, Torah asks us to please conquer this animal-like nature by: "ולא תתורו אחרי לבבכם ואחרי עיניכם".

The eye follows the lead of the heart. The emotional, lustful heart sends a signal up to the brain, and the eye contact becomes the action that may oblige. However, the brain, as easily as it can fall prey to indulging the emotion, can just as easily consider God's will and direct his eyes elsewhere.

Averting the eyes cancels out the heart's provocation. Only the fool will feel deprived of an "opportunity". When man controls that slight urge, he slams shut the door on his evil inclination. He will feel better for it, more noble and with more fortitude, to go on his merry way. Chalk one up for that person because that small gesture converts darkness to light, by providing that much more space in which God can "feel at home". Disregarding God's wish makes God "feel" unwanted. And chalk one up for all of the world, which thereby advances another step towards the blissful, eternal Era of Redemption.

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