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Rabbi Dovid Hochberg

Inspiration strikes at the strangest times. The idea for this class came to me in the middle of a workout. You know the point when the clock says ten more minutes, and you feel like you can't last ten more seconds? You know you just have to keep going but ten minutes seems like an awfully long time. Your arms and legs ache, your chest is on fire...How do you do it?

I'll tell you what I did. I told myself, "I can last for one more minute. One more minute and I will quit. I'll end early today, just hang in there for one more minute. Anyone can do one more minute." I pushed myself for one minute and at the end of that minute, I repeated my pep talk. "One more minute. It's easy, just one more minute and you can quit. No more games, just one minute. Come on, you can do one minute..." It worked and I completed another minute. Can you guess what I did next? Needless to say, the ten minutes passed by relatively easily.

Why does this approach work? I set up a reasonable goal and promised myself a reward. "Only one more minute and than you can quit." Anyone can push oneself for one more minute and the promise of quitting sounded very exciting. The trick is to break formidable tasks into small pieces and focus on each piece, one at a time.

Let me give you a powerful way to apply this idea. The Torah tells us that every day, the Yetzer Horah (Evil Inclination) tries to destroy a person and, without Hashem's help, he would be successful. We all know how strong and cunning the Yetzer Horah can be. Just take a look at your day. Did he try to convince you to do anything wrong today? Of course. He's very, very good at his job.

Here's how you can beat him at his own game. Give in to him. That's right, surrender and indulge yourself. But indulge yourself after an hour. Tell yourself, "yes, I have a tremendous desire to do XYZ which is wrong. And I will do it. However, I will do it in an hour, not now." You will suddenly find it much easier to fight off the desire. After all, it's not like you aren't going to do XYZ...you are just going to wait an hour. It will feel as though a weight has been lifted from your shoulders. The hour will pass relatively easily.

Now what happens when the hour is up? You know the drill: "Give me another twenty minutes and I will really do XYZ. I will completely indulge myself. In twenty minutes. Anyone can control himself for twenty minutes." After the twenty minutes are up, try to push further. You may not be able to control yourself, but look at what you accomplished. You were ready to do XYZ immediately. Now, you controlled yourself for an hour and twenty minutes. You should be very proud of yourself!

This technique can be very difficult sometimes, depending on how strong your desire for XYZ is. Keep in mind, however, that every second you avoid doing an aveirah, you earn incredible reward. Reward you can't even imagine. Even if you give in at the end.

Play around with this idea. Vary the times. You will discover that it becomes easier and easier to apply. Also, you will find that more and more frequently, events will take place that will prevent you from doing XYZ. This is called "Siatah D'shmaya", help from Heaven. It is a sign from Hashem that you are on your way.

We welcome your comments.

Copyright 2000 Rabbi Dovid Hochberg and Project Genesis, Inc.

 


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