By: Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui
Even if one fails many times and we feel like a hypocrite, good resolutions have great value. Conflicting feelings we feel because of the choices we make or failed at, is normal. Sometimes we feel torn apart and guilty so we decide to do away with trying anymore and ignore the guilt. Guilt is good. If you don’t feel guilty that’s really when we need to start worrying. Good resolutions are always good. They come from a good place and ultimately will get us to an even better place.
Each one of us has two comprehensive and complete identities within ourselves, somewhat schizophrenic. We all have what’s mysticism calls, the animal and evil soul. This soul energy and identity pulls us to do bad and evil, all the time. It never changes its colors or stripes. Yes, it does come up with many ingenious ways to lure us into its trap, but basically it’s always in the direction opposite the way of true ultimate happiness and meaning.
We also have within ourselves a G-dly identity. Like the animal and evil soul, it’s an entire spectrum of self and character. It is always making every effort to influence and convince us to be a better human being by becoming more selfless and dedicated to the purpose we were created and the overall reason G-d created the world. This G-dly soul inspires us to think universally rather than selfishly and narcissistically. This soul brings meaning and value to our lives and as a result it gives us true self esteem
And then there is the “I” within, with the unadulterated free choice.
Up to the age of adulthood, 12 for a girl and 13 for a boy, the animal and bodily soul reigns and controls. From the age of maturity, the G-dly soul and the G-dly light within, comes on full blast and has the task of chasing away the darkness and tendencies of childhood so the person evolves into a developed mature person, advanced to the full potential a human being can reach.
Throughout all of life we always have within and can never escape in its many forms the lure of the animal soul. The desire, the temptations the cravings for those things self-destructive is always there to the last moment.
However, G-d says to Kayin at the beginning of creation .” Why are you angry and why is your face dejected? Surely, if you improve yourself you will be forgiven. If you do not improve yourself, however, then (your) sin is crouching (in wait) at the entrance (of your grave. The evil inclination) is longing (to entice you) but you can rule over it (if you want).”
G-d tells Kayin – it’s a choice, your choice.
Light by nature is stronger than darkness. The G-dly and good inclination that operates out of our mind is by nature stronger than the temptations of the heart. The will to do good can overpower the feelings to do bad.
Every time we make a sincere resolution to improve and be better we are giving strength to the good side and most importantly we suppress and weaken the left and bad side. G-d says, “In the direction a person wants to go, he is led.” In the eyes of G-d every time we make a good resolution we are reminding G-d in what direction we would like Him to help take us to.
When we fail and feel guilty this is the good side expressing its pain over this temporary fall. Ignoring the feelings of guilt is like ignoring the feelings of pain when one hurts themselves.
The feeling of hypocrisy and despondency is the trick and trap of the evil inclination doing its job hoping we will give up.
Maimonides says, a person must view every choice they are faced with as if, this were the only choice there is. That’s because the bad within always remains bad and the good always remain good, and every time we decide to do the right thing we have at this very moment succeeded to strengthen in a positive direction the overall good and light within.
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