#18 But I Caused This Mess

Every once in a while you may say to yourself how could I possibly face Hashem when I’ve created such a deep pit? And even more than that, how could you possibly tell me that I’m given reward for controlling myself when I created this desire. When I was younger I didn’t have it. If I didn’t read those things, if I didn’t go to those sites, if I didn’t look at those pictures, I wouldn’t have had this situation. I made it, I created it; it’s my fault. How could I face Hashem? And surely how could I expect to get reward for winning this fight?

I’d like to share with you that those words are not said by your yetzer tov (good inclination). They are not said by anyone other than the Soton (Satan). Number one, you did not choose to be born into this generation. I guarantee had you been born in Europe 100 years ago or 200 years ago and the only woman you ever saw was your cousin one time, you would not be in the situation you’re in. The generation that we were born into is very, very difficult. And I no longer say it, but I used to say to my kids all the time baruch Hashem (thank G-d) that I was not born in your generation. Because people born now face such a bitter, bitter battle. You didn’t choose the battle, you didn’t choose to be born into this generation. But even more than that, did you choose desire? Did you wake up in the morning and say Hashem, I wish I had this lust, this all-encompassing hunger and drive that constantly gnawed at me and bothered me and wouldn’t let me a moment of rest? I doubt you chose that. As you didn’t choose a generation, you also didn’t choose desire.

But there’s one more step, and I have to bring the chazal (statement of our rabbis), because I don’t believe that you’d fully accept it until you saw it directly from a Rashi. When Lot was in Sedom, the entire city was supposed to be destroyed, Lot as well. Nevertheless, Hashem had mercy on Lot and Hashem saved Lot. Rashi explains why. Because when Avraham went down with Sarah to Mitzrayim (Egypt) Avraham said to Paraoh this is my sister. Lot was there. Lot could have easily spilled the beans; Lot could have easily said no, that’s not his sister, that’s his wife. Had Lot said that, Avraham would have been killed. The only reason Lot was following Avraham anyway was for his money. Since Lot was the natural yoreish (inheritor), had Avraham been killed Lot would have had it made in the shade. All of Avraham’s wealth would have belonged to Lot. Yet Lot didn’t say anything, and because he didn’t say anything Avraham was not killed. Therefore Hashem paid him back many years later. When it was time to destroy Sedom Hashem did not have Lot destroyed.

This Rashi is very, very perplexing. Let’s focus on what he’s saying. Avraham took care of Lot from the time he was a little boy. Avraham taught Lot and Avraham brought Lot up. Everything that Avraham did for Lot was for Lot’s benefit. And Lot was in the proximity of this great tzadik (righteous man) and they go down to Mitzrayim. And there’s a moment of vulnerability. Could you imagine what a lowlife Lot would have been at that moment to his uncle, who was also his borther-in-law, had he spilled the beans to Paraoh and Paraoh killed his brother-in-law? Could you imagine what a lowlife creep that would be? And for what, for money? You’re going to have your brother-in-law, family, killed for money? And you’re telling me that Lot didn’t do it and he’s given a reward for that? Years later his life was saved because of that great thing? What great thing? All he did was not act like a lowlife.

I believe the answer is that to Lot it was a major nisayon (challenge). Money was central in Lot’s life. And this was an opportunity to gain a lot of money. And the reality is he was tempted, and he would have liked to have said it. And it almost slipped out, but he held back. And because he held back he’s given reward. What do you mean he held back? All he did was what any sane, normal human being would do. Yeah, but he was a different human being. He had trained himself for years and years to desire money, and therefore to him it was a tremendous nisayon.

I believe that what this Rashi is sharing with us is that yes, Lot was depraved, Lot spoiled his very nature, but because he was in that situation, if he resisted he is given reward. Because Hashem does not hold back reward from any one of Hashem’s creations. And even though he made himself that manner, he made himself crum (crooked), for the fact that he faced that nisayon and resisted, he’s given reward. And I think Rashi is sharing with us a fundamental principle. You did not make yourself depraved. You were born into a generation that’s incomparable to any other generation in the course of history. Never before has there been this much tayvah (desire). And you didn’t create desire. If you were the biggest tzadik in the world, if you were Shimshon Hagibor (Samson the Strong Man) is it true that you would have been different? Maybe yes, maybe no. But one thing I do know: You didn’t choose it, you didn’t choose this generation; you didn’t choose desire.

So even if we say that you created this trap, the bottom line is that you’re given tremendous reward for every moment that you resist. Even if you blame yourself and even if you think that you created it and you made it, you’re given tremendous reward. If Lot was given a reward for making himself into such a depraved person yet he resisted so he’s given a reward, surely a Jew who fights a battle lema’an Hashem (for the sake of Hashem) is given a reward. Every minute you resist you’re given reward. Even if you think you made yourself into this, you didn’t do it, you didn’t choose the generation, you didn’t choose desire, and even if you did, you’re given tremendous reward for every moment that you battle the fight, every moment that you put in a real effort.

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