"And it shall be that these matters that I command you today"
Shema Yisrael-- Hear O Israel-- the credo of the Jew. In it are contained
the basic principles of our faith--the acceptance of G-d's sovereignty and
allegiance to His misvot are the hallmarks of our religion. The Sages teach
that the 10 Commandments are also hinted to within the words of the Shema.
The Hafetz Haim in his work Ahabat Hesed says that the verse quoted above
is a great lesson in the strategies of the evil inclination and in advice
to us in how to counteract his wily ways.
The first tip is to not let yourself get overwhelmed by the vast sea of
knowledge called Torah. One may walk into a study hall and see the
hundreds or thousands of volumes filling the shelves and say to themselves
that there is no way I can learn all of this and that life is just too
short for this project called learning Torah. Know clearly that it is your
evil inclination that is making you feel inadequate.
Another common situation is that when the opportunity to do a good deed is
presented, many people are struck with the bright idea to transfer the
responsibility to someone else. "Have you called Bikur Holim?" they ask.
"Do you know Mr. so and so? He is very good with these types of
situations," they advise. End of the day the misvah that one could have
deposited in one's Heavenly bank account is never earned.
One of the most often-used tricks is the tactic of delay. The evil
inclination realizes in his wisdom that if he were to try and stop a Jew
from doing good deeds, most of his attempts would result in failure. His
"plan B" is to get the well-intentioned Jew to delay the performance of his
good deed. "As soon as I finish this little errand I will be back". "I'll
just go to the store for something and then I'll be able to meet you
there". "How about I meet you in 20 minutes?" Don't be fooled it's not your
organized sensible self-telling you this idea. It is your evil inclination
with one of his many variations of the word "LATER".
So what does Shema have to do with these stratagems? Pay close attention to
the words of the verse.
"And it shall be that these words"-- a person should understand that
success in Torah learning comes from paying close attention to the piece of
Torah in front of you NOW. It is THESE words that you must master and don't
be distracted by all else that the sea of Torah knowledge encompasses.
"That I command you". Remember that when a misvah opportunity comes your
way it is not an accident. You were chosen by Hashem to do this misvah or
to miss out-- it is your personal, individual test. "I" Hashem command
"YOU"-- imagine that there is only he and you.
"Today"--is the only time on which one should focus. Yes. It is important
to correct the past and plan for a successful future. But the time for
accomplishment is now--"Today".
Starting today keep these three strategies for beating the evil inclination
on your mind and remind yourself of them with every Shema Yisrael that you
recite. The words of the Hafetz Haim will help you beat your enemy at his
DID YOU KNOW THAT
If one mistakenly started saying the weekday blessings in their Amidah
prayer on Shabbat, they should complete the blessing that they are saying
when they realize their error and then begin the Shabbat prayer that they
should have said in the first place.
This applies to all the prayers of Shabbat except Musaf. In Musaf the
person should stop wherever they realize their error and begin the Shabbat
Musaf immediately. [Source Shulhan Aruch siman268 and Aharonim]