I Promise Freedom. ‎

Mattos

Many an hour is spent by the musician practicing his scales. Over and over, again and again their digits run ‎up and down those faithful keys, polishing his use of the instrument. An expertise, nay, a mastery is ‎attained and their fingers can play almost of their own accord. Sports professionals exercise a similar ‎devotion to their chosen vocation, they too believe in the adage: Practice makes perfect. They will ‎diligently spend hour after hour shooting hoops, dribbling, running passing and jumping. And this is just a ‎part of perfecting their art, additional time is spent on their physique at the gym toning their bodies and ‎building stamina. The result is their professionalism and proficiency in their craft. This engenders much ‎adulation. Artisans and athletes are known for bathing in adoration and admiration for the products and ‎entertainment they deliver. ‎

Despite the fact their honed skill does not come with ease, their grit and resolve is viewed with an ‎unwarranted indifference. To the dilettante, the constant practice, the meticulous replaying and ‎painstaking correcting and recreating appears to be overly tedious. The truth; it is tedious, even for the ‎acclaimed expert, but this hardly hampers their drive or curtails their discipline. Regardless of the boredom, ‎their self limitation is liberating. The short term restrictions provide far reaching successes. The singer who ‎applies himself preparing for a faultless performance will sing with more confidence and freedom. He is in ‎control. ‎

Spiritual control is no different. To achieve power over mental choice is occasionally (but not always) best ‎attained by self limitation. The Torah actually builds this into developing its human framework, with a ‎special commandment empowering man to create his own environment. An individual has the authority to ‎impose restrictions that are equally weighted with G-d’s designated boundaries. For instance, if a person ‎were to undertake a vow – a Neder – of vegetarianism, meat would now be forbidden to the degree lobster ‎is outlawed. The rationale why a person can create these new regulations is similar to the confinement of ‎those wishing to excel, it enables man to generate greater self control. ‎

Analyzing and applying this to a classic weakness such a hankering for ice-cream will illuminate the power ‎of this tool. An individual can modulate their intake of ice-cream, achieving moderation with the Neder ‎technique. The effect of this Mitzvah brings more freedom and greater discipline. ‎

Although swearing oaths and taking vows are modalities which are frowned upon by our Sages, the ‎message is not. Growth can occur by limitation. It is not necessary to undertake a pro-forma oath with all ‎of its severity. With a strong resolve and an honest attitude most people will achieve the same goal.‎

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