Filed under: Controlling one's passions, Holy deviation, Holy Pleasure, The Guide
We need to set boundaries upon our desires so that we desire only permissible things. The rest is out of the picture and as inconceivable as a king wanting his son to marry a thieving harlot. Rebbenu Bachyah teaches that one may train himself through abstinence to see things that are forbidden to us but desirable to most, such as eating forbidden foods and improper sexual relations-things people are usually fond of doing-can become no longer a temptation but actually abhorrent to them, as repulsive as eating mice7 -resulting in the total abandonment of desire for and instead disgust of transgression. The hatred of evil is the revelation of the will of Hashem. Ultimately, we must reach the level of soul of man called Yechida. To reveal Yechida one must depart from the corporeal matters that one is immersed in, the most obvious and those hidden from the surface, meditate much upon the Torah, and do acts of tzedakah (charity), thus creating the
6. Duties oj the Heart 2:295.
7. Ibid. 2:315.
Godly feeling of one being drawn to Hashem. But before one can have the reward of this feeling, he must first depart from the corporeal matters that he is immersed in, which are not beneficial.
In identifying these the Malbim teaches that the difference between a pleasure and a tempting desire exists in the fact that the temptation exists even when the object of desire is not present.s It is by the same power that the animal soul is led astray that one may be driven to the opposite perspective. toward holiness. As the animal soul uses the intellect to rationalize temptations of pleasure, so can one be made to see there are pleasures of divine contemplation, as taught by Rebbe Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn. Just as there is deviation into foolishness so is there also into holiness, and this is reached by recognizing the levels of pleasures. The animal soul recognizes pleasures in deviant behavior and so too will it also recognize pleasures in higher things. For example. a deeper and more lasting pleasure may be found in music than in eating, and a greater pleasure from intellect than from emotional satisfaction alone. Only by recognizing the higher levels of pleasures is one truly a man and not an animal. It is taught by the Malbim that the essence of life is the life of the intellect and serving the Creator. and this is called human life, rather than the life of sense and instinct, which is a life of animals. 9
8. Malbim parsha Bereshith.
9. Malbim parsha Chayah Sarah.