How Can We Stop Sinning?

By Gavriel Eleff, Beachwood, OH
Essays 2017

MyLife Essay Contest 2017

We are in a world full of atrocious things, but they are so cleverly integrated in our life that it is extremely hard to realize them for what they are and not do them. I have written this essay to help a person stop sinning. There are sources from the Talmud
and Chassidic sources of ways to stop sinning.

Realizing How Our Actions Affect Others
In Pirkei Avot it says that Rabbi Yehudah Hanassi’s said: Keep your eye on three things, and you will not come to sin: Know what is above you: an eye that sees, an ear that hears, and everything is written in a book. The Mezritcher Magid says the word
mimach literally means from you, if you read it like that, it reads everything above is from you. All blessings from above are dependent on each individual person’s actions. Each individual gets rewards for himself by doing the right thing and when he does the wrong thing, he affects everyone by furthering the coming of Moshiach and the final redemption. If a person is going to sin, he must realize he is affecting everyone not only himself, but everyone. If he thinks that he will be able to stop himself from sinning. There is a story about the Frierdeker Rebbe when he was in a Russian prison. A Russian secret agent pointed a pistol at him and said he would shoot him if he continued to preach and work for the Jewish religion. The Frierdker Rebbe answered him, this toy may frighten one who has many Gods and only one world, but I have one G-d and two worlds. If you take this one away from me, I still have the next world whichis the eternal one. My life is to teach the Torah to my fellow Jews and if I can not do that my life is worthless to me. The Frierdeker Rebbe knew that every action we do affects the blessings down here, he therefore made his goal to spread Yiddishkeit to bring Moshiach. If he was not able to help others make a dwelling place down here for Hashem, then there was no point of him being down here in this world. The Frierdeker
Rebbe might as well enjoy the pleasure in the next world. This shows each action we do should be for Hashem and this will bring Moshiach closer. If something is not for Hashem you have affected everyone in the world by affecting the coming of Moshiach.

Everyone’s Actions Matter
Now you might ask that is about the Frierdeker Rebbe who was an extremely great man, but me, who is a lowly person what is the difference what I do? How will my actions affect the coming of Moshiach? To this the Rebbe said many times quoting the
Rambam, a person should consider the world exactly equal on good deeds and sins. The Rebbe also said a similar point another time. The Rebbe said, an atom bomb, a person need not be a great scientist to set it off, even a small child could change the
world irrevocably. If you do a good deed, then Moshiach will come, but if you do the 1 wrong thing, then you further away Moshiach. Of course afterwards you are able to repent for your sins and they will be forgiven, but there are specific times to repent and afterwards you should completely rid them from your mind. You should not dwell on 2 them to realize how bad they are so you won’t do it again. In fact usually when you dwell on them it is because you want to do that again. To stop yourself from sinning, it is better to completely rid it from your mind. This way you will never think to do it again. If one does have bad thoughts he shouldn’t get depressed and think he will always be a sinner and be a righteous person. Some people’s life is to subdue their desires and that is all they have to do. He must also realize just subduing and not having a bad thought 3
could be the good deed that brings Moshiach, as small as it seems to be. Each person can make a difference no matter how low he is. It says in Pirkei Avos: Be careful in the performance of a minor mitzvah as of a major one. Each little act can bring Moshiach, so you must be very careful with it as a very big act. For all you know being careful in this small act can bring Moshiach. If you realize how great just this small thing is, you will do that and stop yourself from sinning.

Stopping The Spirit Of Folly
The Talmud says a person does not sin unless a spirit of folly enters into him. This spirit of folly covers up the fact that he is connected to Hashem and it makes him think this little act will not affect me or Hashem or anything else, it is just a small act.
The person does not realize how far that is from the truth. Each person is connected to Hashem and when he does a sin, he weakens this connection. No one however, is willing to completely sever himself from Hashem by doing an unforgivable sin of
completely denying Hashem. A person must realize that even a seemingly minor sin disconnects him from Hashem, this will stop him from sinning. You might ask what should I do with this energy that I was going to sin with? The Talmud says a case where a great and venerable sage used to go in front of the bride and groom by their wedding and juggle hyssop branches in front of them. He used his energy to make other people and got a great reward for that. The Talmud says a pillar of light separated him from everyone else, when he passed away for making a bride and groom happy. When we do good we get a very great reward, sometimes you will even get something that is not in nature. Therefore we must realize that if we just use our energy from our bad desires for good, we will help ourselves since we will get an extremely great reward.

Our Instructions From Hashem (In Simple)
It says many times in the Torah: If you do good you will get a reward, and if you don’t do good you will get a punishment. This is a very simple concept that even little kids understand, they know that if they do good they get a treat and if they do bad they will get some form of punishment. Why can’t we as adults understand this simple concept that Hashem does to us? Hashem tells us if you do good you will get these rewards, and we find most good people have very happy lives. If you don’t do good you get a punishment, even if it seems a bad person is prosperous, that doesn’t mean he is happy. Most of the times a rich person’s life is messed up in divorces or never getting married and not having anyone to actually care for them. Also we must realize there is a next world, if someone gets punishments now, he will get less punishments in the next world. If someone gets rewards that means he will get less rewards in the next world.

Why Does Hashem Test Us
In the Torah it talks about a false prophet who tells us to do the wrong thing. He proved himself to be a prophet by saying something would happen and Hashem makes it happen and helps this terrible person. The question is, how can Hashem help him to try and mislead us? The answer is Hashem is testing us to see if we actually love him. If we love Hashem we will not listen to this false prophet who tell us to sin, even though he seems to be able to predict miracles. The next obvious question is, why can’t Hashem read us like an open book why does Hashem have to test us. The Tzemach Tzedek answers, Hashem is showing us success is from Him even though it seems otherwise. We need to remain firm and realize Hashem runs everything even though it seems some people can control things. We must follow Hashem’s Torah and not anything else no matter how tempting it seems. We must realize Hashem in everything and follow what Hashem says. We shouldn’t go after tempting things but do what we are in the world for, that is to follow Hashem’s Torah and bring Moshiach. If we do that we get amazing rewards in this world and the next world, but if we don’t do that and we follow after our heart we will get punished, for listening to the false prophet instead of Hashem.

Now It’s Your Turn
Now that you realize what each sin does, before you do something think a little. You have to think would Hashem want me to so this. If you do the wrong thing it doesn’t only affect you, but everyone else. You even affect your connection with Hashem! We
should do what Hashem sent us in the world to do and fulfill Hashem’s commandments. Through doing this, we will make a dwelling place for Hashem and bring Moshiach and the final redemption speedily in our days.
Sources and Footnotes
1 Torat Menachem 5746, volume 2, pg. 457
2 Lekutei Amarim Tanya, Perek 26
3 Lekutei Amarim Tanya, Perek 27
4 Basi Legani 1950, Perek 3
5 Chumash Bereishis, Perek 4
6 Chumash Devarim, Perek 13