“I heard that basic training is very difficult,” Rami said. “It’s a total change from the comforts of home. Early wake-up time, army-standard food, strenuous drills and repetitive training exercises — sounds really tough!”
“I can’t disagree,” Private Karmi said. “But everything they put you through is for your good and welfare. A soldier needs programmed reactions to save him from harm.”
“What do you mean?” Rami asked.
“If you had to think about ways to save yourself from danger while already in danger, you would be lost!” Private Karmi replied. “You’ve got to react like an animal, using instincts rather than thoughts and calculations.”
“So basic training teaches you to react to situations instinctively. Wow! I never thought of it that way,” Rami admitted.
People were given the ability to think and calculate. In spite of this unique advantage over the rest of Hashem’s creations, many become overwhelmed in high-pressure situations. One must learn to anticipate possibly dangerous circumstances that might arise, and plan a response in advance. Simulating situations before they arise allows one to think them through to positive conclusions. By practicing responses to danger, one maximizes the chances of saving himself from harm. This is the goal of military basic training.
In the spiritual world, much more is at stake than in the physical realm. Therefore, one should spend more time and effort training for situations that are inherently dangerous to the soul and prepare responses that will facilitate escape from negative results. Spend time anticipating what could be harmful before you are confronted by spiritually dangerous activities and locales. Then practice your reaction so that when reality hits, you will be able to escape to safety.
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.