18 Tishrei 5782 / Friday, September 24, 2021 | Torah Reading: Sukkot
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Meaningful Resolutions    

Meaningful Resolutions

We're all in the midst of making New Year resolutions, asking Hashem to help us improve. Where do we start? One area will not only please Hashem, but please each other as well…


This time of year, we ask ourselves where the very best area of personal improvement is, to direct our teshuva and New Year resolutions. There is one area we all need to improve, where our efforts will not only please Hashem but also bring peace and harmony with our fellow humans. That's the area of lashon hara, the evil tongue and forbidden speech.


A person can't imagine how much he stands to lose by way of evil speech. One forfeits blessings and influences of abundance. Nothing good can ever come out of evil speech. On the other hand, wholesome speech invokes every blessing. A wholesome tongue shows that a person is on a high moral and spiritual level, especially when he or she can traverse life without causing pain or insult to any other human being on earth.


Let's also remember that the prohibition of evil speech applies just as much to the listener as it does to the speaker. One must not listen to, much less believe, gossip and evil speech. One must not sit in the company of those who are speaking detrimentally about others, even if he or she doesn't believe what they're saying. It was said in the name of the Gaon of Vilna that those who create and spread strife and dissension with their tongues are the worst type of criminals and sinners. They are the ones who are delaying the arrival of Moshiach and the Geula, the full redemption of our people.


Sure, these are all nice words; but what do we do to end exile, Diaspora and concealment of the Divine Presence? How do we finally decide to refrain from speaking or hearing anything bad about anyone else, under any circumstance, no matter what?


The evil inclination incites a person to speak badly about others, to see the bad in others and to rejoice in the failures and setbacks of others. That's natural; it doesn't mean that you're evil. It simply means that you have an evil inclination. Yes, the evil inclination incites, but you attain spiritual greatness and character excellence by overcoming it. The fact is that you want to overcome the evil inclination; otherwise, you wouldn't be reading this article…


The struggle isn't easy, but the rewards are well worth it. Remember, though, that without the Creator's help, no one can overcome the evil inclination. The evil inclination attempts to destroy a person every single day; one's only choice is to set aside daily time for prayer and turn to Hashem for assistance. Once you've done that, you've fulfilled your obligation.


That's why it's so vital to set aside at least fifteen minutes per day and ask Hashem, "Master of the World, give me the power to overcome my evil inclination. Give me the wisdom and understanding to realize how much I forfeit when I speak detrimentally about other people. I have a tremendous lust for talking. Help me, because I want to listen to You. Give me the spiritual awareness to realize that my evil inclination is my ticket to greatness…"


In the above manner, people must speak to Hashem every day and compose prayers in their own words that best reflect the way they feel and their own particular challenges. That way, people develop a marvelous connection with Hashem, get to know Hashem and live a life of emuna.


In that respect, having an evil inclination that one cannot overcome on his own is a great favor. If a person could overcome on his own, he wouldn't need Hashem. Hashem does us a tremendous favor by giving us an evil inclination that we can't overcome. This requires us to seek His assistance all the time, so that we're always in contact with Him. This is the deep and sweet rationale of emuna, which makes life good and sweet.


The evil inclination – the bad – is only the outer peel of the good. Our difficulties and setbacks are the catalysts that bring us closer to Hashem. Life is trying and challenging for us where the big rewards are. Therefore, stand in front of Hashem and ask: "Please, Master of the World, You gave me this huge evil inclination that tempts me to speak slander and gossip. Help me and give me the strength to keep my mouth closed and refrain from speaking any evil."


Afterwards, when you succeed in guarding your tongue, say, "Thank You, Father in Heaven, for helping me. Please continue to help me." This way, a person lives a genuine and meaningful life of emuna. If he perseveres, for at least fifteen minutes a day, he has fulfilled his obligation. A person's main choice in life is to pray and ask for the Almighty's help. Make this New Year a year of prayer and Hashem will undoubtedly make it a year of prosperity, L'Shana Tova Tikatevu, amen!

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