Potifar’s Wife

Causing a rift between the Jewish Nation and God.

Tzvi Fishman

Judaism לבן ריק
לבן ריק
For the last several years, come this time of year, I try to invite friends to an uplifting night of Shovavim prayers, which are designed to cleanse a person from the stains of sexual transgression. The people who come along always have a great time, but others reject the idea outright, saying, "That's Kabbalah," "That's Hasidut," or "Where is it written in the Shulchan Aruch [code of Jewish Law]?" For the past month, on billboards throughout Israel, posters in an assortment of bright, attractive colors have been announcing Shovavim Tikun HaYesod prayers.
Click here for brief video of Tikun Yesod gathering (poor sound quality)

The word Shovavim forms the initial Hebrew letters of the six consecutive weekly Torah portions beginning with the Torah portion of Shemot. According to the Kabbalistic tradition, this six week period, paralleling the Torah's account of the Exodus from Egypt, is especially conducive to rectifying sexual misconduct (Arizal, Shar HaYichudim, 4:3). Because this year is a leap year, the Shovavim period includes an extra two weeks, extending until February 16, 2008.
Rabbi Kook writes that the world will come to discover the great refining light inherent in the rectification of sexual transgression.

In his book Orot HaKodesh Rabbi Kook writes that the world will come to discover the great refining light inherent in the rectification of sexual transgression (Tikun HaYesod) and the transcendent value of the fasts, prayers and moral cleansing of Shovavim as revealed in the secrets of Torah (Vol. 3, “Preeshut,” 34).

The saintly Tzanz-Klausenberger Rebbe, leader of the Tzanz Hasidic community and founder of the Laniado Medical Center in Netanya, stressed that even married men and Torah scholars must make a concerted effort to repent during the Shovavim period ("Halichot Chaim," Chapter on Shovavim). To inspire his community, he would give passionate sermons as the weeks of Shovavim approached, exclaiming that it was even more important to put one's whole heart into repenting at this time than during the High Holy Days.

During a recent all-night Shovavim tikun gathering in Holon, the Kabbalist, Rabbi Eliahu Leon Levi, explained that because we are in the sixth millennium of Jewish history, which parallels the sefirah [spiritual channel] of the Yesod, the nations of the world are waging a fierce spiritual war against us, with the goal of blemishing our modesty and sexual chastity, the very foundation of our holiness.

Rabbi Levi said that forbidden sites on the Internet were severing the Jewish people from the G-d of Israel, especially young students who were so polluting their souls with pornographic images that they could no longer focus on their learning. He explained that according to the Kabbalah our eyes are connected to the highest spiritual worlds, and that by looking at forbidden images we bring a great impurity upon our souls. This also brings a terrible pollution to the exalted spiritual channel (the Yesod) that conveys blessing to the nation, severing our connection to everything holy.

This is the most dangerous spiritual threat to the Jewish Nation since Amalek attacked us on the way out of Egypt,” he declared, explaining that Amalek’s strategy was to lure the Jewish People into sexual sin so that the Clouds of Glory would no longer protect them.

A research study conducted at the University of Haifa, regarding the viewing of Internet pornography by teenagers in Israel, revealed that 60% of the young people admitted they regularly visited porn sites. While there was no specific survey for the religious public, several rabbis in the religious-Zionist community have warned that the plague has infiltrated our homes, too.

Rabbi Elisha Aviner has written on several occasions that an intense campaign of education is needed to counteract this danger. Since there is a simple and inexpensive solution – the installation of a censorship filter that prevents entry into immoral websites – one must ask the question, "Why don’t religious parents equip their
The plague has infiltrated our homes, too.
computers with this readily available service?" Perhaps this stems from a lack of awareness. Perhaps from an attitude of denial, as if to say, “This could never happen in our home.” Perhaps parents, no less than their teenage children, are victims of unhealthy viewing themselves. According to Rabbi Elisha Aviner, parents who have Internet in the house without a site-screening service are transgressing against their children.

So grave is the danger of Internet watching that Torah authorities have ruled that Internet surfing without an anti-porn filter is a violation of the Torah commandment not to put a stumbling block in front of a blind man.

Erotic pictures on the Internet, whether in ads on the Yahoo home page or in adult sites, cause a person to violate a long list of Torah commandments, including:

Be holy, because I the L-rd your G-d am holy.”

Do not stray after your heart and your eyes.”

You must sanctify your camp and let no immoral matter be seen there.”

You must guard yourselves from every evil thing.”

Do not turn astray after their gods.”

Do not bring an abomination into your home.”

Our sages have long told us that sexual immorality causes a terrible rift between the Jewish Nation and G-d. Our enemies know this and therefore muster all of their cunning, material resources and technology to bring us to sin. This has been their strategy from the time of Amalek, Midian and Greece, down to the multi-billion dollar industry of Internet pornography today. This terrible enemy has not only invaded our territorial borders, like the Trojan Horse, it has been afforded in an honored place in our homes. A person with an Internet connection is tempted with the test of Joseph every time he sits down at the computer. Thousands of seductive temptations are just a quick click away. Today, the Internet is Potiphar’s wife.

Recognizing the terrible danger of unsupervised Internet viewing has extra significance now, at the time when Israel is surrounded in all directions by an arsenal of lethal missiles.

Rabbi Leon Levi reminded the large Shovavim audience that our real weapon against our enemies is not tanks and war planes, but our connection to HaShem. The holiness of Israel is what overcomes our enemies, not just our physical prowess. It is not merely our military might that protects us from the missiles that threaten from the north and the south, but the Shechinah in our camp, as the Torah attests: “For the L-rd your G-d walks in the midst of
Each of us can play a part in this national sanctification.
your camp to save you and to give up your enemies from before you, therefore keep your camp holy, that He see no unclean thing in you and turn away from you." (Devarim 23:15)

Each of us can play a part in this national sanctification by making sure that the impurity of the nations of the world does not seep into our homes through the Trojan Horse of the Internet. We who don’t have the same exalted fear of G-d that Joseph had, where will we summon the strength to overcome the temptation? For us, Divine assistance comes in the form of an anti-pornography filter.

If you want to join in the fight and help win the battle against our enemies, and save yourselves and your children, then download a filter today. Baruch HaShem, there are many on the market. Many can be downloaded for free.

In our home, we have three for safe measure: Eye-Saver of Bezeq; K9 Web Protection; and the new enhanced Israeli Internet Rimon ISP.

And keep your eyes out for posters announcing the final week of Shovavim prayers. The Kabbalist Rabbi Levi will lead a climatic all-night tikun gathering at the Kotel this Thursday night, 9 Adar Alef (February 14, 2008), starting at 11:00 pm. It’s a joyous, super-charged evening of Torah, t’shuvah and “Tehillim neged tilim.” Several thousand people are sure to be there, many from both the religious-Zionist and hareidi-religious communities.