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Secret of Brit Book - Chapter 5: Rectify The Brit II
Written by Michael   
Tuesday, 09 May 2006

The Road To Rectification

3. Love For The Torah

An initial step in setting out on a path of rectification is overcoming sexual fantasies and temptations. The medicine for this is the Torah. Instead of being preoccupied with unsavory thoughts and pursuits, a Jew should feel a ravishing love for the teachings of the Torah, and a burning desire to come closer to G-d.
The Rambam writes:

“It is forbidden for a man to bring himself to think about forbidden sexual matters. If a sexual thought enters his mind, he should turn his heart away from lewd and polluting matters and focus on matters of Torah which abound with love and charm.” (Rambam, Laws of Forbidden Relationships, 21:19.)
The Rambam further advises:

“One should turn one’s thoughts to matters of Torah and expand one’s knowledge with Divine wisdom, for thoughts of lewdness grow only in a heart void of the knowledge of Torah.” (Ibid, 21: 21.)

This same sound advice is found in the Zohar:

One day, Rabbi Hisda saw a student whose face was unnaturally pale. He said to himself, ‘This young man is undoubtedly assailed by sinful imaginations.’ So he took him in hand and interested him in the words of Torah until he returned to a better frame of mind. From that day the student resolved not to give way anymore to evil thoughts, but to study the Torah for its own sake. Rabbi Yose said, When a man perceives that evil thoughts are assailing him, he should study the Torah and that will drive them away. (Zohar, Vayeshev)
Torah study is not only the way of overcoming temptation and cleansing one’s mind. It is also a major part of Tikun HaBrit. This is because the Torah, the Tree of Life, is integrally bound up with the sefirah of Yesod.  Sexual transgressions that damaged the Yesod can be can be rectified by attaching oneself to the Yesod through the purifying fire of the Torah.

“The violation of the Brit though the wasting of semen - to say nothing of stark immorality or sexual relations prohibited by the Torah or the sages, for the words of the sages are even more grave - causes a blemish in the mind. Therefore his tikun is that he occupy himself with Torah that derives from Divine Wisdom.” (Tanya, Igeret HaTshuva, Ch. 9)

“If one has strayed into transgression and has incurred the penalty of death at the hands of Heaven, what should he do that he might live? If he was wont to study one page, let him study two; to read one chapter, let him read two.” (Vayikra Rabbah, 25:1)

The Mishna Berurah states:

“It is known from books that the main tikun for someone who has fallen in this matter, G-d forbid, is to increase his Torah study for the rest of his life. Then the merit of Torah will protect him, as it says in Midrash Tanchumin, if a man sins and is deserving of death at the hands of Heaven, what can he do to save himself and live? If he is used to learning one chapter, he should learn two; if one page, then two. If he doesn’t know how to learn, he should busy himself with charity and good deeds. And the main point of his learning should be to practice what he learns… for if not, his learning will not have the power to protect him, G-d forbid.” (Laws of Yom Kippur, Prohibition Against Sexual Relations, 4215b, Section 3. See there, Shar HaTzion, 5 and 6)

Since the entire Torah is comprised of the Names of Hashem, all Torah study brings about profound tikunim. Additionally, it is proper to study the mussar books of our sages dealing with self-improvement, like “Messillat Yesharim.” In atoning for sexual transgressions, a person has to not only change his deeds, he has to change his midot, or character traits. If he was easily provoked into anger, he has to learn to bear insults and abuse without striking back. If he was prone to depression, he has to learn to face every new day with an orientation of joy. Transformations like these require intensive learning, self-discipline, and the ability to start over with each setback and fall. The tshuva involved in sanctifying one’s life is not a onetime thing, but a challenging, lifelong project.

The love of Torah and the fervent performance of good deeds elevate a person to a higher realm of existence. Instead of focusing on the selfish, personal pleasure of sexual gratification, he now strives to please others, and to please G-d by dedicating himself to His Torah. In doing so, base desires no longer hold him captive. Instead of being driven by a quest for physical pleasure, the baal tshuva finds true joy in higher, holier spheres.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 09 July 2006 )
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