By: Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui
When dealing with bad habits, bad thoughts, anything negative in our lives, disease, viruses and bacteria’s, what is the preferred, ideal strategy, one should use to address the problem?
Some people will say, it is imperative for one to take the time, make the effort to discover and analyze the problem down to the root of it. This must be done diligently and thoroughly. Then, we must devise the best most effective strategies and tactics to eliminate and cut out the cancer. And then, we must go to war.
Others might tell you. Stay focused on the positive. Keep in mind where you want to reach, and what you want to become. Introduce right away better habits. Overwhelm the negative, and not only will you have no more of the bad automatically, you will have the added benefit of having introduced in the process, and put into place, positive, constructive, good things. You will already be there, or if anything you will be way closer than with the first approach.
In the Bible, everything, is presented to serve as a guide for our lives. The laws and stories are presented in an intentional order, by G-d, to teach us a lesson. When it talks about the disloyal and unfaithful wife, immediately afterwards we are told the rules of the Nazarite, who vows to abstain from drinking anything related to wine and grapes.
Our sages tell us, the lesson and reason behind this order, is to teach us, that when a person hears and/or witnesses the bad behavior of a woman, he should be triggered to improve and take necessary precautions and resolve to abstain from what many times is the cause of such foolish and unwise behavior. The frivolity that comes, as a result of imbibing on alcoholic beverages.
However, when it comes to the order of the different volumes of the legal code, as they have been set up in the Talmud, first the rules of the Nazarite is presented and only afterwards the volume that deals with the unfaithful wife is presented! This seems to be in the reverse of the above!
The ordinary path a person is advised to take in life, is to first clean and rid himself of any bad behaviors and bad influences. First, recognize the problem for what it is. Only afterwards when the awful and the dirty is eliminated, we can then focus and introduce positive behavior and the good elements.
However as time progressed, people became weaker and the darkness becomes thicker, the problems become more difficult to deal with. People became stuck in the darkness, trying to cut it out. Not enough emphasis was being put on inculcating positive habits and behavior. Therefore, the Rabbis decided to put the second step, first. The emphasis and focus these days must be first, to improve and increase the level of goodness and holiness, and only afterwards, if there is any more time, and the negative is still there, we should deal with it, then.
Once the Lubavitcher Rebbe was asked. “Why is it that in his schools, there is not a strong emphasis on the study and rules of talking gossip and being insensitive to others?” The Rebbe responded. “In our schools, our emphasis is on the importance of loving each other. Automatically, there becomes no need to deal with the negative traits of hurting each other.”
On another note, but in the same vein. The Rebbe once said, “The best antidote to winning an enemy, is to be so strong, the enemy is afraid to start up with you.” Putting most of the emphasis, and starting right from the start on strengthening the good, is the most successful way in dealing with all that’s challenging and negative.
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