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SHEMIRAT EINAYIM - GATE 3


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GATE 3 / SHAAR 3  - THE LAWS OF SHEMIRAT EINAYIM

CHAPTER 1  - THE LAWS OF SHMIRAT EINAYIM – GUARDING THE EYES
1)  When someone first hear or read about the laws of Shmirat Einayim he might think, "This is impossible! There's no way a normal human being can be this careful." But you will quickly change your mind, as you study and grow in the knowledge and the understanding of the wisdom of these laws. And you will gain great motivation when the unquestionable light of Talmud Torah (Torah Study) begins to boost your neshamah, you will start immediately reaping the benefits for obeying them. Besides if you have already learned to follow the restrictions of Yichud, you will find it so much easier to develop the trait of watchfulness in regards to guarding your eyes. But if not, be aware that if you are violating the Law of Yichud and you are hanging out with friends from the opposite sex, the Yetzer Hara (Satan) will use them against you and cause you to fail in your attempt to grow in your  Avodat Hashem (Serving G-d). 

2)  The Primary Laws related to man Looking at and thinking about women are summarized below and their relevant rulings. We must familiarize ourselves with these laws in order to be ready and equipped with the right and practical guide to live a clean and pure life guided by the Torah (Shulchan Aruch Even HaEzer, Chapter 21, Law 1).

CHAPTER 2 THE LAWS OF SHEMIRAT EINAYIM
(1) It is forbidden to look at a woman if she is dressed immodestly. This is not referring to one's own wife. There are different laws regarding one's wife.

(2) It is forbidden to cross or walk by an area known to be a hangout for immodest women:

a. If you know of an area where immodestly dressed women are
present, it is forbidden to enter this area. An alternative
route must be taken.

b. If there is no alternative route, or the alternative route is
impractical or costly, you are permitted to pass through the
area provided that you make every reasonable effort to avoid
seeing the immodest sights.

(3) It is forbidden to have thoughts of desire for any woman that is not one's wife. (Whether she be married or single female)

(4) It is forbidden to derive pleasure from looking at the beauty of a woman, even if she is modestly dressed. (We are only allowed to enjoy the beauty of our own wife).

YOU CANNOT SIN AND THANK G-D FOR THE OBJECT OF YOUR SIN
5)  I remember a very problematic teaching by a world famous non-Jewish religious organisation, in which some of their teachers advise their members to thank G-d for the fact that He has made such irresistible beauty, when they are looking at women that they find pretty. Such an attitude would be completely inappropriate for a Jew. Given that it is a sin to enjoy or draw any benefit from looking at the beauty of any woman that is not our wife, mother,  or daughter. This attitude would be like eating pork and seafood or any non-kosher food and then doing a Birkat Hamazon to thank G-d for the feast we have just enjoyed. This would be very wicked and we could be drawing upon ourselves, Chas veShalom, serious repercussion from Heaven. For G-d himself created these prohibitions. It would be like mocking the Bore Olam (The Creator), Chas veHalila (May Hashem have pity).

6)  After reading this laws for the first time, any normal man would feel overwhelmed and powerless about this. Because it is obvious that these laws are not easy to apply, especially in situations where women cannot be avoided, such as a workplace setting, Secular schools or University, etc.  

7)  Some might ask, how can any normal man realistically fulfill these laws? It is very true that controlling your eyes is a tremendous challenge. The Torah does not expect that we gain total and instantaneously control over these. However, we are expected to make the efforts. Changing ourselves takes discipline, study and the persistent practice of new behaviour - until it becomes second nature.

8) Hashem made us, He knows our nature more than we know ourselves and He made the laws and the challenges to the laws, but He also provided the most effective solution to this problem, it is called “Talmud Torah” (The study of Torah).  Chazal teaches (Bava Batra 16a), "HaKodesh Baruch Hu created the yetzer hara as well as its remedy, the Torah." Learn Torah with clarity and activate the healing powers of Torah. According to Messilat Yesharim, by Rav Chaim Luzzatto (RAMCHAL) ZTz’’L, the study of Torah will instill in a man the habit of watchfulness (fear of sin). The religious duty that we must perform as commanded by G-d and the severe punishment that we risk if we neglect our responsibility in that regard is what make us watchful of our conduct, especially in regards to the sins related to women.

9)  We must be sincerely motivated, we must study Torah, as says Rav Ron Chaya from Leava and the Yeshiva Yeshuot Yosef in Yerushalayim: “Talmud Torah is the remedy (The solution)”. These guidelines should be used to educate ourselves on the matter and to learn how to apply its principles. However, to win the "battle of the eyes”, we must be busy studying Torah, Talmud Torah is the best remedy for the temptations via the eyes.

10) Know that like every law in the Torah, the laws of Shmirat Einayim were designed for real people, just like you. Resolve to review these laws periodically in order to strengthen your observance of them. Read Moussar books on the subject to strengthen yourself, there are also very good teaching online on video such as those found on Leava website of Rav Ron Chaya.



CHAPTER 3  THE TZADDIK (RIGHTEOUS) MUST PROTECT THEIR EYES

WINDOWS OF THE SOUL
The eyes are the window of the soul … This proverbe which can be traced back to thousands of years in human history, has been proven to be true today more than ever. Both science and religion have their say in that regards. From Roman philosophers to the great William Shakespeare, and to modern science this quote has been validated. According to a new study by Yale University psychologists, most people intuitively feel as if their "self" — otherwise known as their soul, or ego — exists in or is somehow connected to their eyes. And so they say: Our Souls Are accessible via the eyes, Psychologists Claim. Just as the cheesy pickup line suggests, your eyes may really be the window to your soul.

Yes, The Torah tells us clearly that our eyes activate our emotions, feelings, passions and cause our hearts to desire that which we see; thereby seducing our senses towards trespassing the forbidden and many times the unlawful.  Watching forbidden sites pollutes the soul and disconnects a person from the Torah and from Ha’Kadosh, Baruch Hu (the Holy One Blessed Be He). The damage is especially alarming concerning our young men, who are so often innocently lured into the world corrupt wisdom, and very often they don’t have the tools to fight or escape the trap.

A study conducted by Haifa University revealed that over 60% of our young men watched pornography on a regular basis. A person shouldn’t think that he is wiser than the Torah; however, the whole society has set them up against the wisdom of the Eternal in the Torah; although the great Talmudic rabbis have labored hard to explain the dangers of straying after one’s eyes, this society has placed them in a collision course against them. If someone thinks that he can watch improper sights as much as he likes and nothing will happen to him,” he is
tragically mistaken. Gazing at attractive women whether it is on Pictures, videos, or at the Malls or on the streets or on the Internet, the movies, or in provocative magazines, this causes more damage to the spiritual world of a Jew than eating forbidden foods such as pork or seafood. Eating non-kosher foods pollutes the nefesh, the lower physical soul of a man. Gazing at women, however, pollutes the higher, more spiritual level of the soul, which, because of its loftiness, damages the highest spiritual realms, and cuts off the person from the flow of Divine blessing emanating from Above.

The Tzaddikim that possess the likeness of the image of G-d on their face, are careful to turn their faces away from looking at forbidden places and when they talk to women their eyes are closed.  (The Alshich, Noach)

If a Jewish person must work in an environment frequented by immodestly dressed women, he should consider the account in the Talmud (Ta'anit 21b) that tells us a story about Abba: “Abba was a doctor and we are told that he received daily greetings from the Heavenly Academy.  What was his special merit for this? He had prepared separate rooms for his Patients, one for his male and another for his female patients. Moreover, he would take special precautions to guard his eyes when he treated women.”

A person who is regularly confronted with improper sights and controls his eyes is considered a mighty warrior in Heaven. If women frequent your shop or office, do your best to avert your eyes from looking at them in an improper way. HaShem will praise you and reward you with great blessing in this world, as well as in the World to Come.  

LO TATURU ACHAREI LEVAVCHEM U ACHAREI EINECHEM
Watch Over Your Eyes & Watch Over Your Heart
Shemirat Einaim could also prevent someone from the seduction of the heart. The Eyes sees and the heart desires what the eyes see. That is true in all the sense; whether it is the desire for women, or the property of others. Example: We find in the ten expressions (Asar Ha’Diberot) better known as the Ten Commandments, that HaShem commanded us not to covet the wife of your neighbour, or his maid, or anything that belongs to him. So obviously if we practice Shemirat Einaim, and by putting a guard upon our eyes, we will not explore with our eyes to see and take advantage of the beauty of the women that are not our Spouse, and trough that we will save ourselves from the seductions of the heart (our emotions), that might end up desiring the beauty that our eyes see. This concept is further explored in Parshat Shlach which contains one of the most famous incidents in the Torah, an incident that has repercussions until this very day.  The parsha begins with: “HaShem spoke to Moshe saying, ‘Send forth for yourself men, and let them Tour around (explore) the Land of Canaan (v’yaturu et Eretz Canaan)…'” [Bamidbar 13:1-2]. The parsha ends with the commandment to wear fringes (tzitzit) in which the Torah says “…and you shall not Explore after your hearts (v’lo taturu acharei levavchem) and after your eyes after which you stray.” [Bamidbar 15:39].

The irony of using the same word based on the root “tur” (Tour / explore / Spy) at the beginning and the end of the Sedra is not lost on Rashi.  In fact, the word “tur” (as in v’yaturu et Eretz Canaan; va’yashuv m’tur ha’Aretz; and v’lo taturu acharei levavchem) is not a very common Biblical expression.  Rashi [15:39] notes the repetitive use of the word in our parsha and comments, “The heart and the eyes are ‘spies’ for the body, procuring sins for it. The eyes see, the heart desires, and the body commits the sin.”

However there are certain difficulties in the pasuk “And you shall not ‘explore’ after your hearts and after your eyes.”  The connection between the “exploring” at the beginning of the parsha and the “exploring” at the end of the parsha is more than mere semantics.  Technically speaking, if we were to write this sentence in Modern Hebrew, we would not write v’lo taturu acharei levavchem (plural); we would write v’lo taturu acharei libchem (singular).  We all know that we have two eyes. Therefore, it is proper to use the expression v’lo taturu acharei eineichem (plural) regarding straying after our eyes. However, we only have one heart.  Therefore, the more correct language should have been v’lo taturu acharei libchem – do not stray after your heart (singular). Why use plural when speaking of heart?

Furthermore, if as Rashi says, “the eyes see and the heart desires” then the sequence of the pasuk is also incorrect.  The pasuk should read “Do not stray after your eyes and after your heart” rather than “Do not stray after you heart and after your eyes.”  All these issues raise the question of what the Torah means.

The Shemen HaTov (from Rabbi Dov Weinberger) in part two of his Torah commentary suggests the following connection between the spies at the beginning of the parsha and the “spies” at the end of the parsha and also provides insight into what the expression “acharei levavchem” really means.

Chazal say that when the Torah says (in the Kiriat Shema [Devarim 6:5]) “with all your heart” (b’chol l’vovcha) it is teaching that a person must serve the Almighty with both his good inclination and his evil inclination.  It is true that anatomically we have only one heart, but Rabbinic teaching views this anatomical organ as being “two hearts” – our yetzer haTov and our yetzer haRah – the good in us and the evil in us, the part of us that wants to do good and the part of us that wants to do bad.

Therefore after someone has learned to watch his eyes, his heart, his ears and his tongue. Then the saying from the Master of Chassidut, Israel Ben Eliezer applies: “* Everything that a person sees or hears is an instruction directed to him to help improve his service to God (Avodat HaShem)."  Cita del Rabino, Ba’alshem Tov*

SHEMIRAT HA’BRIT - CIRCUMCISION (BRIT MILA)
Shemirat HaBrit means guarding the Brit or the Covenant. While our connection to G-d, and to Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel), are eternal, the Torah warns our forefather, Avraham, that Shmirat HaBrit (guarding the Covenant) is of paramount importance in ensuring that the Covenant between G-d and the Nation of Israel remains constantly active.  Which covenant? 

“And I will give it to you, and to your offspring after you, the land in which you are sojourning, the whole land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their G-d.”  And HaShem said to Avraham; therefore you shall safeguard My Brit (my covenant), you and your offspring after you, in their generations (What is that covenant?).

This is My Brit (my covenant) that you shall safeguard, between Me and you, and your offspring after you, every male among you shall be circumcised” (Bereshit, 17:8-10). Yes the circumcision is the covenant that gives us the right to the land of Israel.  However, the meaning of Shmirat HaBrit, as the Zohar stresses, is not merely the obligation to circumcise our children, but also to safeguard our sexual purity. This is what differentiates us from the gentile nations, and this is what guarantees our settlement of Eretz Yisrael.

Yes indeed, our Sages have long told us that sexual transgression causes a terrible rift between the Jewish Nation and G-d, causing exile and national destruction. And the fact is clear, our enemies know this very well and therefore they muster all of their cunning, material resources, and technology to bring us to sin. This has been true in ancient times as it is today, and it is the main strategy from the time of Amalek, Midian, Greece, throughout history down to the zillion dollar industry of Internet impure sites in our days. Today, this terrible enemy has not only invaded our territorial borders – rather, like a Trojan Horse, it has been afforded an honored place in our homes. 

So in order to effectively win this battle we first need to know our weapon, the Torah, yes the very laws of prohibition is our most effective weapon. Talmud Torah. Let’s look at the prohibition: 

“You shall be holy, because I the Eternal your G-d am holy!” (Vayikra 19:2)
“You shall not turn astray after your hearts and after your eyes which lead you astray.” 
(Bamidbar 15:39)

“Therefore shall your camp be holy, that He see no unclean thing in you and turn away 
from you.”(Devarim 23:15)

“And you shall guard yourself from every evil thing.”(Devarim 23:10)
“Do not turn astray after their gods!”  (Vayikra 19:4)
“You shall not walk in the customs of the nations.”  (Vayikra 20:23)
“You shall not bring an abomination into your house.”  (Devarim 7:26)
 

WATCHING OVER THE BRIT TO KEEP IT = GUARDING & KEEPING THE LAND

The Torah warns us that Israel’s success and security is dependent on guarding our holiness,  specifically in the area of sexual purity:

“When you go out to encamp against your enemies, then guard yourself from every evil thing. If there be among you any man that is not clean by reason of an impure emission of semen at night, then he shall go abroad outside of the camp, he shall not come within the camp” (Devarim,  23:10-11).

“Because the Eternal your G-d walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you, and to give up your enemies before you; therefore shall your camp be holy, that He see no unclean thing in you and turn away from you” (Devarim 23:15).

This demand for sexual purity applies not only to the soldiers of Israel, but also to community life in general. The Torah commands us, “You shall be holy, for I the Eternal your G-d am holy”  (Vayikra 19:2). And that holiness goes from the simple hygiene of the camp to sexual purity; bathroom, modesty, idolatry, etc.

On a national level, our ability to conquer and settle all of the Biblical borders of the Land of Israel, depends on the holiness with which we lead our lives, both for soldiers in the Israeli army, and civilians in their private lives. This is the key to victory. By guarding our holiness, the Shechinah (Divine Presence) stays with us, fighting our battles alongside our soldiers and tanks. So how do we safeguard the Brit? By watching our eyes and heart, our mind and tongue; by cleaning our surroundings and our homes; by not causing others to sin, by having our women dress with modesty, by not arousing our senses with the wrong person at the wrong moments. And so preventing the wasting of seed, or spelling the seed in vain even while we sleep.

“For the Eternal your G-d walks in the midst of thy camp, to set you free, and to 
deliver your enemies in your hand which is before you; therefore shall your 
camp be holy….”

To ensure the day-to-day holiness of the nation, the Torah and its Sages set forth guidelines to prevent a man from succumbing to the temptations that can easily cause him to err.  In addition to the prohibition of gazing at erotic images, Jewish Law demands that a man exert special care to distance himself from interaction with women (Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer, 21:1). This warning is not because women are evil, G-d forbid. Rather, it comes to guard a man from falling into transgression.

Regarding the prohibition (of yichud), against being alone with a woman, Jewish Law states:

“One must not be alone with any woman, whether she is young or old, a Jew or 
non-Jew, a relative or not, except in the case of a father with his daughter, a 
mother with her son, and a husband with his wife” (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, 152:1).

DO NOT GAZE AT WOMEN - WATCH YOUR EYES
Not only is physical contact with women prohibited, gazing at them to enjoy their beauty is also a serious Torah transgression (Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer, Ch. 300, Section 100:2).  Regarding the Torah commandment, “You shall not go astray after your hearts and after your  eyes” (Bamidbar 15:39), the Talmud explains: “After your hearts – this refers to idol worship.
After your eyes – this refers to sexual immorality” (Berachot 12B). The eye and the heart are the two instruments of sin. The eye sees, the heart desires, and the body completes the action (Rashi on Bamidbar 25:39).

“Whoever gazes at a woman forbidden to him, and says to himself that there is nothing wrong with this, for he hasn’t had intimacy with her, or even touched her, he is mistaken. Gazing at women is a serious wrongdoing, for it brings a man to sexual transgression, as it says, “You shall not go astray after your hearts and after your eyes”  (Hilchot T’shuva of the Rambam, 4:4).

The Gemara teaches: “You should guard yourself from every evil thing – this means a man should not gaze upon an attractive woman, even a single one, nor upon a married woman, even if she is ugly” (Avodah Zara 20A).  This is because, “A man should not have sexual thoughts in the day and come to seminal impurity at night” (Avodah Zara 20B).

SPILLING THE SEED IN VAIN - A POLLUTION OF THE BRIT (A BREACH IN THE COVENANT)

Wasting semen is a grave Torah prohibition according to all authorities; and it is punishable by Karet, by death at the Hand of Heaven (Niddah 13A). In other words, a person is not sentenced or even tried by an earthly court for this transgression. Rather, it is left to G-d to pass judgment and execute punishment.
While in several places, the Zohar indicates that there is no repentance for this transgression, the meaning is that ordinary repentance, stemming from the fear of punishment, does not suffice, but that a course of higher repentance, stemming from a great love of G-d, is needed (Baal HaTanya, Letter of T’shuva, Ch. 4). The Talmud compares all sexual offenses, including self gratification, with adultery (See Niddah 13A and B).

The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch,” states: “It is forbidden to discharge semen in vain. This is a graver sin than any other transgression mentioned in the Torah (Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer, 23:1). Those who practice self-gratification and cause the issue of semen in vain, not only do they commit a terrible sin, but they are also under a ban, concerning which it is said, “Your hands are full of blood” (Yishayahu, 1:15), and it is equivalent to killing a person. See what Rashi wrote concerning Er and Onan in the Portion of Vayeshev (Bereshit, Ch. 37) that both Er and Onan died for committing this same fault. Occasionally, as a punishment for this sin, children die young, G-d forbid, or grow up to be delinquent, while the sinner himself is reduced to poverty. 

A man is forbidden to willfully cause an erection, or to think about women until he is aroused. If a lascivious thought comes to one spontaneously, he should divert his attention to a subject of Torah; which is the best antidote for this spiritual poison. Lewd thoughts prevail only in a mind devoid of wisdom.”
In summary, we can see from the warnings of the Torah, from the admonishments of the Talmud, from the exacting prohibitions of Jewish Law, and from the inner understandings of the Zohar and Kabbalah, that Shemirat Ha’Brit is indeed the foundation upon which all of life is based.

AT ALL TIMES WE ARE LIABLE TO LOSE THIS WORLD AND THE WORLD TO COME

Whoever goes out into the street is liable to lose both this world,  and the World to Come, Chas VeShalom (G-d forbid).

Losing your life in this world and being sent to Gehinnom (Hell) could happen as easy as looking lustfully at women that go by you on the sidewalks while on the streets, or while shopping in the mall.  This danger is continually in our face, with the constant images that the Yetzer Hara is using to trap our soul daily on TV, on posters, in catalogs, magazines, Internet, etc. And the lewdness that is all around us and that contaminates the brain and the soul.

Rav Ron CHAYA from Leava and Yeshiva Yeshuot Yosef in Yerushalayim says, “man is harassed continually in this society, non-stop everywhere he goes. Whether he is walking down the streets to go to shul or to work, the Yetzer Hara has pictures on the ground on the sidewalks for him to look at; when he is driving home from work or to do some errands, there are large posters with naked women or immodestly dressed everywhere to meet the eyes of the drivers. And when you try to avoid what lays on the floor by rising the eyes up to the ceiling there is something else up there. If you look straight ahead in from of you as you go, there is a billboard, when you turn your eyes to the left you will see immodesty, turn back to the right the trap meets you there as well, finally overwhelmed by this, you raise your eyes up to the sky to talk to the Creator and even there in the blue of the sky flies a small plain dragging a sign with a naked woman’s picture, may Hashem have pity on us.”

And as the Rambam writes in Hilchot Teshuva (Chapter 4, 4), most people don’t realize that it is what the eyes see that later leads a person to the act of sin. The Ohr haChayim wrote that if a person will not be careful in restricting what he sees, then it will be impossible for him to avoid sinful thoughts and come to sin. It is impossible not to fall into sin, if you are always playing around with your female friends, or socializing with all your female partners in Yichud by yourself.  If you are always trying to be Mister nice guy, driving around with females alone in your car or their cars, being too close in friendships with any female that is not a relative, will not help you stop your wet dreams, or your sinful surge of desire for immediate intimacy which you will not be able to feed, ending sadly into the inevitable and dangerous sin of spilling your seed (semen) in vain, whether involuntary or willingly by doing the wickedness learned in this corrupted society, and with your own hands. 

While reading this some might think, I am not that weak. Or I can control myself. However, it is proven that no man can resist feeling some kind of attraction toward some of the females he meets daily and with whom he doesn’t care being in Yichud with or a total stranger he has never seen, met in the elevator. It is also proven that even in situations when he had never had any interest in that female friend with whom he hangs out in Yichud all the times, one day something in her looks different or circumstantial events or emotional changes will inevitably somehow bring him down the road of attraction or lustful desire in her regard, as her naturally god-given sex-appeal is projected at you unwillingly, unless he has homosexual tendencies.  It is also proven that this is how most cases of infidelity, cheatings mostly happen, among friends and coworkers; it is also even proven that some cases of incest incidents sadly occur in the same manner, by being in Yichud with a step-sister (cousins, young auntie, step-mother, etc.) too long the inevitable happens, Chas VeShalom (G-d forbid).

Our wise Sages in the Talmud further said (Nedarim 30) “All those that think that they will have no problems when looking at women their end is to come inevitably to sin” . Only those that are humble enough to lead a life of watchfulness, and with the fear of Shamayim (heaven) will be safe from the traps of the Yetzer Hara (Evil inclination).

It would always be of a great benefit for anyone when he goes out into the streets to spend a few minutes of his time reviewing the things written here so that he’d be able to guard his eyes, thereby bringing benefit to his body and soul, for as the Benei Issachar wrote (Derech Pikudecha): “We have a tradition from our fathers that the Yetzer Hara (Satan/evil inclination), desires more than anything to attack the person through sexual sins, because included in this lust are all the others.

And also among the Rishonim (As the Chinuch writes, Mitzvah 387) we know that through observing the Mitzvah (commandment) in the third paragraph of the Shema found in the book of Deuteronomy and Numbers:  “And you shall not go astray after your hearts and your eyes…after which you are prostituting yourself”. A man must always be watchful to guard himself from sinning against Hashem all his days. And be always aware of this saying,  if one transgresses any sin once, he will again do that sin and /or many others over and over again, because after the doors are open for Satan to attack, he will be relentless and as it is written in the Torah: “AVERAH GORERET AVERAH, A Sin brings in its wake another sin”. Just as performing a Mitzvah (commandment) leads to performing other Mitzvah (Sefer Tikkun Ha Brit, Shaar Shemirat Einayim).





Yichud Rabbi Howard Jachter
Talmud -  Gemarah
Rabbi E J Mansour / Rabbi Zvi Miller : Window of the Soul
Rav Ron Chaya: Yeshivah Yosef; Leava
Messilat Yesharim, by Rav Chaim Luzzatto (RAMCHAL)

THE PROHIBITION OF YICHUD
אסור להיות ביחוד
ASSUR LEHIYOT B’ YICHUD
Copyright:  © 2015 ABA - EYBO

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