By: Reb Gil Locks
Everyone has an animal inclination. It is the nature of creation. The animal wants to eat, it wants to drink, and not just water, and let’s face it, it also wants to do you know what! The thing never seems satisfied. Every time it gets what it wants, it runs off looking for something else to want. Yuck! What are we to do with this wild animal?
One prominent school of Jewish thought teaches, “Slay the beast!” They say that you have to kill your animal inclination so you can live a holy life. But there is another school of Jewish thought (the one that I belong to) that says, G-d forbid! Do not kill that animal. It is a precious tool. Do not harm it, not for an instant. Train it. You have to train it to become a holy animal, an animal that lives only to do G-d’s will.
This way of thinking explains; we need that animal in order to live. Someone has to have an appetite or we will not eat, and there will be no one here to do anything. We also need that great desire for you know what, or else where are those gorgeous babies going to come from? Yes, the animal can become stirred up easily, and if left free will become wild, but if you train it, it will take you where you want to go.
“Eat animal eat, but eat only proper food. Eat animal, enjoy as much as you want, but stop before you take more than you give. Don’t become fat or you will be too big for comfort. Yes make babies, make lots of them, but only after your marriage celebration.” And on and on…really everything that the animal wants to do can done in a holy way.
And what is the practical difference between these two schools of thought?
The ones who teach that you have to slay your animal inclination will turn you into a warrior, a stern hunter seeking to kill your most dangerous enemy. If you follow this school of thought you will be on guard all day, watching to see if that animal dares to raise it its ugly head, a warrior guarding your holy soul, protecting it from your internal enemy, your animal inclination.
If you believe in and follow the school that teaches that the animal is not to be slain but educated, you will become a teacher, a guide who loves his student and wants only good for him.
The way you understand the problem will dictate how you live your life.
To read more wisdom from Gil Locks, visit him at www.thereisone.com or stop by and visit him the next time you are by the Kotel.