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A Timely Torah Message By Shaya Gross

Breaking Bad Habits
The Gemara in Avodah Zarah tells us that in the future, Hashem will give the Goyim one last chance at preforming a Mitzva. He will give them the mitzvah of Succah. They will build their Succos. Hashem will then make the sun beat down on them, and they will all kick their Succos and leave. Thus, they will blow their last chance to do teshuva. [Of course we also leave if it’s boiling hot, but the Goyim’s sin is that they will kick their Succos when they leave.]

A question that bothered me was, why does the Gemara say that ALL of the Goyim will kick their Succos? Any Goy who knows this Gemara [and nowadays Gemara is very easily accessible in many languages] should be prepared to make sure not to kick their Succa when they leave, in order not to blow their very LAST chance at fulfilling a Mitzva and gaining Olam Haba.

Perhaps this Gemara is teaching us a very profound psychological lesson. Very often, people fall into bad habits, and they know full well that they are making huge mistakes, [improper relationships, drugs, smoking, anger, overeating …], yet they can’t break their habits, and they continue to ruin and destroy their lives.
This may be the explanation for the Goyim. They are so steeped in their terrible Midos and habits [with the exception of course of Chaseedei oomos ha’olam], that even though they know there will be ENORMOUS ramifications, they still won’t break out of their bad Midos and they will fail the test.

[The Steipler says a similar idea by the plague of frogs in Egypt. Rashi learns that all of the frogs came from only one frog, just the Egyptians kept hitting it and every time they hit it, it would multiply. The Steipler asks, “didn’t the Egyptians learn their lesson after hitting the frog a few times that continuing this action would prove to be counterproductive? If so, why didn’t they stop?” The Steiplers explains the same idea. Even though the Egyptians knew that the effects would be terrible, but they were so angry that they couldn’t control themselves.] This is the lesson of anger and all bad Midos. If you let them get the better of you, they will control you and absolutely ruin your life.
So how do we break our bad Midos & habits?
Chazal explain, ‘all beginnings are difficult.’ I think this definitely applies to breaking bad Midos and habits. In the beginning, it can be VERY difficult, but if you persist at it SLOWLY BUT SURELY when it’s tough, it will gradually become easier and easier. And then just like when one falls into a bad habit, it’s so hard to ‘kick out of it,’ so too, with good midos when we get accustomed to doing the right thing, it becomes second nature to maintain those good habits, and it allows us live much happier productive lives!

Hatzlacha Raba & Chag Kosher Visomeiach!

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