Translated by Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum
PURITY OF MIND AND HEART
When a person repeats a lie twice, it becomes the truth for him. Having repeated it twice, he believes it is the truth. Not only does he deceive himself; he even has the power to deceive others and to cause such intense concealment that it seems as if even God agrees with him.
Chayey Moharan #550;
Likutey Halachot, Choshen Mishpat, Genevah 5:11
You may think you are far from certain major desires, such as the lust for wealth. Yet you may be in a worse position than someone else who is sunk in that desire, because you may be deeply sunk in some other craving that wholly overshadows even the lust for wealth. If you are so deeply immersed in some craving that is powerful enough to overshadow another strong desire such as the lust for wealth, you are surely worse off.
It makes no difference that the desire in which you are sunk is less than the one from which you are far, because you are so deeply immersed in it that it overshadows another strong desire.
This is like a stubborn child, who can literally bang his head against the wall just to spite his mother. Similarly certain people are capable of throwing away everything, including all other desires, for the sake of one stubborn overpowering desire.
Sichot Haran #56
When I was a boy I was very afraid of death. Exactly when I was most frightened of dying, I would ask God that I should die sanctifying His name. This lasted a long time - I don't remember how long - but I know it was a long time, maybe a year. I would constantly make the same request. There was not a prayer or conversation with God in which I did not ask to leave this world sanctifying His name. I was so afraid of death that it was like a self-sacrifice for me just to pray for what I was so afraid of.
In order to serve God, you must overcome precisely the thing that preoccupies you the most.
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might" (Deuteronomy 6:5) . The Talmud ( Berachot 61b) says that "with all your soul " teaches that one should give one ' s very life for God. "With all your might " means that the same applies to one's money - because some people value their wealth more than their lives!
Sichot Haran #57
The main cause of attacks of lustful cravings is depression. You should therefore make every effort to be happy at all times.
Even if you fall into thick mud and find it extremely hard to escape, just scream and scream and scream.
Some people also worry over the very fact that they have such thoughts. But "Trouble is bad enough when it comes" ( Berachot 9b) . There is no need to let the fact that you have such thoughts disturb you, whether because you have had an attack of them in the past or because you fear they may strike again in the future.
Sichot Haran #129
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You cannot always prevent bad thoughts from entering your mind. However, you do have the power to reject them once you become aware of them. This is very important, because this is how you can make amends for sins you may have committed earlier on in your life. Perfect repentance has to balance the original sins exactly, and this is literally what happens here. Before, when you sinned, it was because the desire entered your mind and you succumbed to it. Now the same thought is in your mind , but this time you reject it.
Do not let yourself become discouraged if you constantly find all kinds of desires and fantasies pressing in on your mind. They actually provide you with the opportunity to repent and make amends for damage done in the past. Today you have the power to master your thoughts and temptations. When you do so, the sparks of holiness that fell because of your earlier transgressions are released and you can purify yourself. Your mind and your voice will be purified and you will find harmony and peace.
Likutey Moharan I, 27
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Someone who fills his mind with lustful thoughts is a fool.
Even a simple, ordinary person would not want to be caught doing this. Even if he has no fear of sin, he would still not want the shame of being caught with a strange woman.
Why engage in lustful thoughts? Why trouble your soul for nothing? Man has the power to control and direct his thoughts as he wants.
Sichot Haran #303
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When a person falls and is sinking in the mud and mire, he must not allow himself to stay there. He must have one leg outside even while one leg is inside. One leg outside, one leg inside. until the other leg is also outside!
Siach Sarfey Kodesh 1-1
Your thoughts are completely in your power. You can turn them in any direction you want. Sometimes your thoughts may run wild and fly to areas from which you should keep away. Nevertheless, it is within your power to take your thoughts in hand, even against their will, and direct them to the true path.
Thought is like a horse that gallops off the road and tries to go in the wrong direction. The rider controls the horse with the bridle, forcing it to go in the right direction. As soon as you see your thoughts pulling in the wrong direction, take them in hand and bring them back in the right direction.
Likutey Moharan II, 50
When a person is attacked by negative thoughts and doubts but fights and struggles to overcome them, this is very precious in God's eyes and gives Him the greatest delight.
Royal celebrations sometimes include spectacles of wild beasts fighting each other, with the delighted onlookers watch ing the strongest beast win. Similarly, our thoughts derive from the Chayot - the "beasts" of the divine Chariot (Ezekiel 1) . Holy thoughts are pure species of animals while evil thoughts are impure beasts. Through God's design , they are pitched against one another, and He has the greatest delight when man succeeds in his struggle to overcome the impure beasts.
It is a basic principle that two thoughts cannot be present in the mind at one and the same time. You can therefore easily banish negative thoughts by sitting doing nothing - by not pursuing the bad thought but concentrating instead on a different thought, be it one of Torah, devotion or even business. For it is impossible to think two thoughts at one and the same time.
There is no need to make a war and shake your head from side to side in order to banish bad thoughts. This does not help at all; quite the contrary, it makes them attack even more strongly. Simply pay no attention: do your part and think instead about Torah, prayer or business. Don't glance back at the bad thought at all. This way it will go away by itself.
Likutey Moharan I, 233
Immoral lust is the comprehensive evil. It is the root of all the different kinds of evil found in the seventy nations of the world. Each of the seventy nations and languages is associated with its own particular form of evil - a negative trait or desire with which that nation is especially identified . However, immoral lust is the sum of all evil: all the different desires found in the seventy nations are, as it were, gathered together and included in this. They all burn together, and the effect is a flaming furnace that fires men with lust.
But God has separated us from the nations and exalted us above all languages. We are therefore obliged to distance ourselves from all the different kinds of evil found among them. More than anything we must guard ourselves against immoral lust, which is the sum of all evil. Separating ourselves from this is the foundation of the holiness of Israel . For man has the power to uproot this impulse completely from within himself, and herein lies our sanctity.
The key to subduing and breaking your appetites, especially immoral lust, which is the main challenge, is to strive to gain mastery of the holy language. This means sanctifying your tongue with words of Torah and prayer - both the set prayers and your own personal prayers. Even when you speak in your own native language, your words are considered to be the holy language. The point is to sanctify your tongue by always speaking in a way that is holy. This is what is meant by gaining mastery of the holy language. Through sanctifying your speech you will have the power to subdue immoral lust, which is the comprehensive evil.
Moral purity and mastery of the holy language are interconnected. The more words of holiness you speak, the more you will succeed in purifying yourself, and in this way you will make amends for any immorality in the past. By the same token, the purer you become, the more your mastery of the holy language will grow. Conversely, immoral lust is bound up with the abuse of language: each feeds the other.
One who guards the Covenant in purity will come to perceive the source of all the blessings that flow into the world, spiritual and material. This root is pure, radiant light. When one attains this perception, all gross material desires simply disappear.
Likutey Moharan I, 19
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Sexual temptation is man's main test in this world.
Sichot Haran #115
Lustful desires are man's main test in life: they are sent as a challenge to refine us. When you are subjected to this test it puts you in a kind of "exile". You should cry out to God: scream and cry out to Him over and over again, like a woman in labor who cries out from the pain of her contractions. Seventy times she cries out ( Zohar III, 249b) . You must do likewise and cry out to God again and again until He takes pity and helps you to strengthen yourself and break your desire. New ideas and new perceptions will be born within you. Previously guarded secrets of Torah will now be unveiled for you. The greater your determination to with stand the trial, the greater the revelation you will receive in Torah and devotion to God. You will be able to see the seventy faces of the Torah.
The remedy for lustful desires is to say the words of the Shema, "Hear O Israel, HaShem our God, HaShem is One", together with the verse, "Blessed be the name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever". The six Hebrew words of each of these two verses add up to twelve, corresponding to the twelve tribes of God. By saying these words you attach your soul to the twelve tribes and separate it from the "mixed multitude" that went up with the Children of Israel from Egypt ( Tikkuney Zohar , Introduction) . The mixed multitude derives from the "harlot woman", the "evil maid". This is the source of lustful desire, which is the root of all bad character traits.
When a person merely has one stray thought of lust or desire, it is sufficient to recite these two verses. However, some people are constantly plagued with lustful desires and find they cannot get rid of them. They must then bring themselves to tears when they take on the yoke of heaven: they should literally weep as they say the words "Hear O Israel" and "Blessed be the name of His glorious kingdom ".
As soon as a person conquers his lustful desires he can easily control all his desires. This is why the remedy for sexual impurity is called the general remedy. The more a person distances himself from lust, the closer he comes to the radiance of Torah. The converse is also true. This explains why, before a person can receive a new revelation of Torah, he is first tested in the crucible of this craving. If he with stands the test and breaks his desire, it is like breaking the shell before partaking of the fruit, and he will be worthy to receive the revelation.
Likutey Moharan I, 36
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By Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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