Friday, October 12, 2007

Eitza from R' Elimelech on Controlling Thoughts - "The Nuclear Option"



A friend and member of my Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh Chaburah pointed out a really powerful eitza from Rav Elimelech from Lizhinsk to completely take control of your thoughts. I think that this eitza is so powerful, I would characterize it as "the nuclear option."

In Tzeitel Koton #13, found in the sefer Noam Elimelech, he writes that one should keep track of and tell over all of his machshavos asuros to either his rebbe, or a very close friend, every day. Not only will this force a person to control and eliminate his forbidden thoughts because he doesn't want to be humiliated in front of his rebbe or good friend, but it also has the bonus benefit that the rebbe or friend may have good advice for him in changing his thought patterns.

This advice makes me think of a couple of things. One thing is that it shows that with proper motivation, we have the ability to control our own thoughts, notwithstanding today's conventional wisdom, which says that one cannot control their own thoughts. For instance, if I knew that my employer would withhold a day's pay from me for every time that I had a forbidden thought, then you could be darn sure that I would lose one, or at maximum, two days pay for the rest of my life! I would know and be conscious of the consequences of my thoughts and I would find a way to control them, notwithstanding the difficulty. Reb Mailech is pointing out that this great truth can be channeled into practical application by creating a similar disincentive by telling over all forbidden thoughts to a rebbe or trusted friend.

The other thing that this makes me think of is computer programs that one can install that monitor one's internet use and them creates periodic e-mails to an "accountability partner," that lists all of the questionable internet sites that he has visited during a certain period. I have not found an effective and fully operational program like this, but the concept is the same. He is essentially taking what a program like that does for one's internet use, and then expanding it into his entire brain! His rebbe or friend becomes his "accountability partner" when it comes to taking responsibility for his every thought.

I hope that someone out there finds this eitza effective. May Hashem help us all to be goveir on our thoughts, such that they should only be thoughts which bring us closer to Him, and not, ChV"Sh, the opposite.

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of LoriWilliamsOnline)

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7 comments:

A Talmid said...

See Likutei Mohoran #4 where he talks about confessing ones sins in fron of a Tzadik.

Akiva said...

A Talmid - that Mohoran is specifically for the tikun for repairing the damage done by the chet. Both to "erase it from one's bones" and to release the sparks of Jewish kedusha that decend to the malchus of the klipah (as described in Mohoran 4).

It is not presented as a practice to control ones traits, confession implies an existing chet, Dixie Yid is discussing controlling ones negative midos (to prevent inapprorpiate actions).

DixieYid said...

Akiva, correct me if I'm misreading Reb Mailech (Tzeitel koton 13), but I think he's talking about confessing the thoughts he actually has to his rebbe or friend. Not just traits. And he does this so that the next time, he will make sure he doesn't let the thought into his head so he won't experience the humiliation of having his rebbe or friend know that he had that thought. Gut Shabbos!

-Dixie Yid

yitz.. said...

Doesn't Rebbe Nachman bring down as well that confessing to your friend or rebbe actually undermines the yetzer hara? because otherwise the yetzer creates pressure on you because you're hiding your past transgressions?

once again its a tool, not just a tikkun.

Neil Harris said...

Most Gadolim encourage having a good friend to share both your struggles and your successes with.

Briliant post.

A Talmid said...

The Rambam actually says something very similar to this. I will try to find the exact location.

DixieYid said...

Yitz,

Yes, and I think you're also undermining the yetzer hara because your fear of embarassment in front of your rebbe or friend will be greater than your yetzer hara to think that forbidden thought. And yes, that does seem to be more of an eitza for avoiding the aveira, rather than a way of being mesaken that aveira. Although, that would be what "Rebbeinu" is talking about in Likutei Moharan #4 that A Talmid was referring to above.

Neil,

Thank you!

A Talmid, if you find that Rambam, I would appreciate the ma'areh makom. Looking forward!

-Dixie Yid