“I’m having a hard time with my resolution not to speak or accept lashon hara,” Mrs. Fiedler said. “It’s reached the point where I’m realizing I just can’t do it so I might as well give up trying.”
“Don’t be hasty,” Mrs. Rubinstein replied.
“Hasty? I’ve been at this for almost a year and still this past week has been a disaster in my battle against the yetzer hara,” Mrs. Fiedler said. “A few hot community issues have arisen and I see that I’ve not only taken sides, but my ability to avoid violating the laws of lashon hara is very weak.”
“I still think you shouldn’t give up,” Mrs. Rubinstein insisted. “Don’t you have an IRA account?”
“Yes,” Mrs. Fiedler replied, “but what’s that got to do with lashon hara?”
“The task of breaking a behavioral pattern or fixing a character trait is not unlike the stock market. It’s a series of ups and downs. The main thing is to see upward movement over time. You can’t let a ‘drop’ discourage you from holding on until the next uptick,” Mrs. Rubinstein explained.
Our Sages have described life as a series of ups and downs. Great people are those who grow from failures by correcting flaws. The Gemara (Gittin 43a) says: “One does not succeed in matters of Torah until one first fails in that matter.” After failing, one is expected to analyze the reason for the defeat and then correct it.
A person will not prevail against the evil inclination all the time. On the contrary, one should expect to fail sometimes and to win at others. The battle is ongoing. One is expected to persist, and eventually the rise in “stock value” over time will be obvious. At that time, one should use the growth to persist to perfection.
One More Second: Another Thought for the Day
A person’s dignity commands the highest priority in Torah law. The Talmud warns that even a Torah scholar, possessing many mitzvos, who humiliates someone publicly, forfeits his entire share in the eternal world. It would therefore appear that if one can prevent someone from embarrassment, he has fulfilled the greatest of mitzvos. (Rabbi Abraham J. Twersky, MD, Smiling Each Day, p. 171)
Rabbi Raymond Beyda serves in the Sephardic Community in Brooklyn, N.Y. He lectures to audiences all over the world. He has distributed over 500,000 recorded lessons free of charge. He is author of the book 1 Minute With Yourself: A Minute a Day to Self-Improvement, Sephardic Press, 2008.