Monday, February 13, 2012

Spirit of the Law: Parshas Shekalim

Hidden Thoughts

The Alter of Kelm, zt”l, explains the avodah of purifying one’s thoughts. “Just like gold is very precious but is worthless until it is separated from the dross which is the majority, the same is true of the human psyche. Although we have an abundance of proper feelings and good character traits these cannot shine forth properly until the dross of bad middos and illicit desires are removed. Before one has smelted gold it remains dull and lusterless; the same is true regarding good character traits. “Although we know how to smelt gold many are puzzled at how they can remove the bad within themselves. The answer is that we must stand strong in the furnace of temptation, when we are pushed to follow our heart’s desires. The first and most important place of tests which burn away bad desires is in one’s thoughts. We must remove illicit thoughts especially of licentiousness. In terms of middos one who has a bad temper must accustom himself to speak softly. A person who feels unhappy about his friend’s success should work to save another from harm. “In this manner he will slowly remove the bad and the wondrous middos will shine through and be recognizable to all.” [חכמה ומוסר, ח"ב, ע' רי"א]