Day 45/50: Hesech Hada’as

Day 45/50: Hesech Hada’as

מֵאֵ֤ת כָּל־אִישׁ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִדְּבֶ֣נּוּ לִבּ֔וֹ תִּקְח֖וּ אֶת־תְּרֽוּמָתִֽי

From every person whose heart inspires him to generosity, you shall take My offering.


While the Torah teaches us to avoid purposely fantasizing, Chazal recognize that these thoughts are part of being human, and they are difficult to escape them for even a single day (Bava Basra 164b). However, we definitely want to try and avoid dwelling on these thoughts for more than a few seconds.


So what can you do? Simply ignore them, tend to more important things, or shift your focus to something else. This idea is known as hesech hadaas. And here’s a good way to do it: 


Step 1: Acknowledge that you’re having a fantasy.


Step 2: Remind yourself that the fantasy will go away on its own. There’s no need to attempt to force it out of your mind. Reb Yisroel Salanter wrote, “One should not invest great effort to dispel hirhurim, because the nature of the human mind is such that the more one attempts to push away a thought — the more the mind will resist and cause the foreign thought to flare up. So excessive effort to banish hirhurim will cause them only to intensify.”


Step 3and this is the critical one: Return to whatever you were doing before, and give it your full attention. Obviously, if what you were doing before was not in line with your goals and values, then choose a different activity, such as doing an errand, learning something, or playing a game — It doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as you fully engage in it.


The more we work on the behavioral aspects of shmiras habris and keep busy with good things, the fantasies will automatically become weaker and less frequent. Here’s a good parable for this: 


There was once an innkeeper named Moshkeh who sold wine and spirits to the local peasants. One day, Moshkeh grew tired of dealing with their drunken behavior, and decided to close down the bar. That night, the peasants banged on the door demanding that Moshkeh sell them wine and spirits as usual. “Sorry,” Moshkeh replied, “from now on, the bar is closed.” The knocking continued for a few weeks until word finally spread that Moshkeh had closed his business for good. As time went by, the peasants knocked on his door less and less, until it was only the occasional stranger who stopped by.


Remember, each time you apply hesech hada’as to a fantasy, you accomplish the great Mitzvah of venishmarta mikol davar ra!. So rather than getting upset about the thought, celebrate it as an opportunity to do a mitzvah!

🌤️ Today I shall…

…apply the hesech hadaas strategy when inappropriate thoughts come to mind.