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Written by Michael   
Sunday, 23 December 2012

Just this one last time...
Can you explain the commandment not to stray after your hearts and after your eyes? What kind of things are forbidden?


At the end of the Torah portion, “Shelach Lecha,” the Torah states [Numbers 15:39]: “You shall not stray after your hearts and after your eyes which lead you astray.” This means that we are not to think forbidden thoughts and look at forbidden matters.

The book, “Sefer HaHinuch,” explains the commandments of the Torah in a detailed fashion. Regarding the meaning of “not to stray after your hearts,” it explains that this refers to ruminating on opinions or beliefs that are contradictory to the foundations of Torah, since this can lead to heresy. If it should occur that a person finds himself thinking about heretical teachings, like those inherent in false religions, he should cast them from his mind and replace them with thoughts about Torah.

In a similar light, a person is not to chase after the deceptive visions and lusts of this world that lead him away from the Torah.  The Talmud categorizes these forbidden visions as “znut,” meaning erotic, sexual imagery. This commandment applies to both men and women alike.        

The “Sefer HaHinuch” states that this commandment is a great foundation of the Torah. Evil thoughts and fantasies are a prime source of spiritual impurity, and they lead to evil actions. Our Sages caution us that one wrongdoing leads to another subsequent wrongdoing, until the transgression becomes a habit. If however, when a person is pulled after a physical lust, he restrains himself, overcomes his passion and averts his eyes - even one time - from looking at a forbidden sight, this will give him strength to avert his gaze on future occasions.

For lust leads to more lust, and the cravings of a lustful heart are never satisfied until a man is trapped by his passion. When a person succumbs to his lust, his evil inclination grows stronger and stronger until it possesses him completely.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 23 December 2012 )
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