See I place before you today blessing and curse. The blessing if you listen
to the Mitzvos of HASHEM your G-d that I am commanding you today and the
curse if you do not obey the Mitzvos of HASHEM your G-d and you turn from
the path that I am commanding you today… (Devarim 11:26-28)
A nervous person is someone that fears change and hates routine! (Anonymous)
When you come to a fork in the road, take it! (Yogi Berra)
The Torah speaks contemporaneously. That means it talks about “today”
meaning “today”.. The verse demands that we see blessing and curse “today”.
Back then, when Moshe spoke these words to the Children Israel, there were
two contrasting mountains on display demonstrating “blessing” and “curse”.
Mount Eival was empty and barren while Mount Grizim was flowering with
exotic beauty. That was then. Now is now. How does one visualize… how does
one “see today”, as the Torah demands from us without such a dramatic visual
Here’s a tremendous exercise of the mind to try. All one needs is a friend.
Can’t find a friend? There’s an easy solution. The Mishne in Pirke’ Avos
advises, “Acquire for your-self a friend”. The Hebrew word for “acquire” is
“Koneh” which also spells “pen”. Read differently the Mishne can be
understood to say, “Let your pen be your friend!” It’s often too much to ask
of even a friend to burden them with the nature of your aching heart and it
might be embarrassing. So for a few pennies one can easily acquire a pencil
and some paper and achieve an equal result.
Here’s the assignment. Ready? Pick a bad habit that’s holding you back and
is really hard to change and to which you may have surrendered in defeat. It
may have to do with food or Loshon Horah or smoking or another legal or
illegal addiction. It’s neigh impossible to get started and feel motivated
or to even entertain success?
Right? Otherwise you would have conquered it long ago. What is there to do?
How does one begin to wake up hope and envision the possibility of victory?
Take a tall legal pad and fold a page in half. Write on one column the name
of that nasty and noxious habit that gnaws away at your happiness. Write on
the other side of the page the title of its opposite.
Now a brief writing assignment for no one else except you! Remember, you’re
not writing to impress anyone else but rather to express yourself. On the
negative side write a few lines that describe as best you can how you will
feel in one year if this harmful habit persists. Next! How will you feel in
five years? Then ten years! Then fifteen and twenty! How will your health be
or the well being of your relationships, your peace of mind or you opinion
about yourself? Describe using vivid colors and picture words, not
nondescript language like “nice” but lively and dramatic metaphors that
growl for attention.
Now turn to the other side of the same page and scribble away about how it
might feel one year from now if that awful action is curbed. Indulge in
celebratory terminology that gives real life to the feelings you would most
certainly be experiencing when standing atop a year of success. Then extend
the scene to five years and ten and fifteen and twenty and beyond. WOW!
Emphatically read those words born from your own fertile imagination in
rapid succession and feel with increasing clarity the hugeness of the
contrasting images. Keep reading it aloud to yourself over and over again
until it penetrates the heart and those picture you painted with words are
etched into your psyche, like Mount Eival and Mount Grizim stood before the
eyes of the Nation of Israel.
So the next time any part of that temptation whispers your name and invites
you to think only about the escapade of the present, visualize the whole
road of curse unfolding before you and the alternative path, the entire
blessed tomorrow - today.