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 aid?
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. DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.