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Thursday, 16 January 2014

Unbridled Passion

Yoma 69

How do I conquer my passions and desires?

The Men of the Great Assembly were bothered by the fact that the practice of idolatry, which had destroyed the First Temple, was still prevalent amongst the Jewish people, and so they cried out to G-d.  G-d answered their prayers and handed them the evil inclination for idolatry which they killed, which is why we don’t have the burning desire to worship idols as in days of yore.  Realizing their power and ability, they then decided to wipe out the evil inclination for illicit relationships.

They proceeded to trap him for three days; however, upon searching far and wide for an egg to feed an ill person, they realized that he held the key to all reproductive relationships.  At that point, they understood that they could not completely destroy him since that would destroy the reproductive ability of the world.  They therefore settled on killing the desire for incestuous relationships, leaving other positive and negative desires intact.

To conquer our passions and desires is unnatural and undesirable.  G-d placed us here in this world to serve Him as mortal human beings.  In the absence of our physical desires, we could not serve Him.  Certainly, on a basic level, this would refer to reproduction, the first mitzvah in the Torah, but on a more general level, the same thing could be said of all our physical desires.

Our challenge in this world is not to destroy our desire, but to shift our passions away from our physical, mortal inclinations and channel them towards our spiritual pursuits. If I have a passion for travel, I should seek out the beauty of G-d’s creations.  If I have a passion to dance, I should utilize it to bring joy to a bride on her wedding day.  If I love food, I should develop my culinary skills to make the finest kosher dishes. 
G-d doesn’t want us to destroy our passions and desires; He wants us to channel them to serve Him.