If the tests that Hashem gives us are necessary to acquire greatness – we need these tests to cause us to prove ourselves and achieve perfection – so why do we pray for Hashem not to test us?
This is a question that is asked frequently here and so I’ll explain it to you like I always say. And it’s simple.
If a man finds himself in a burning building, there are two courses. One course is to get out as fast as he can. A second course is to remain and see how long he can endure it and then escape at the last minute. Now it could be that someone might say he’s a hero if he could hang around for a while. But as the Chinese always say, “The hero is the one who runs away.” That’s a hero. If you run away, you’re a hero. To save yourself is a first requirement.
And therefore, when you’re in peril of some temptation, the very best way to pass that test is by running away fast to avoid temptation. That’s the reaction you should have. That’s how you acquire greatness.
Now, sometimes a man is confronted with a temptation that he didn’t seek and there’s no escape. Then he’s really put to the test. And the way he passes that test, that’s his greatness in that situation.
But never look for tests. Always stay out of the way of trouble. And that’s the Jewish attitude, to stay out of places of temptation. As much as possible הוי בורח מן העבירה כבורח מן האש. Just like you flee from fire, so you flee from something that smacks of sin.
A man called me up long distance, a frum man, married, who is working in a certain place. He says there’s a young lady there that took a fancy to him. And he’s somewhat perturbed. What should he do?
So I said, “Drop that job immediately! Don’t report for duty anymore! It makes no difference! You’re in great peril! You can’t afford to flirt with something worse than death!” People don’t realize that.
I had a case once, a woman told me in confidence that the Italian bachelor next door speaks to her every day and she is quite friendly with him.
So I said, “Drop everything and take the first plane to Florida and don’t come back anymore. Let your husband stay here to rearrange all the affairs and when he’s finished he’ll follow you to Florida. You’re in great danger if you don’t do that!”
I don’t know what happened; I’m sure she didn’t take my advice but that’s how you deal with danger like that. A sin is perilous and when it comes to peril, you run away. Let’s say, if a mafia man called you up and said, “I’m coming to your house tonight because you didn’t pay me up and I’ll take care of you. I’ll bring along the cement. I’ll see that you have a kimono of cement.”
Are you going to wait for him? You’ll take the first plane to Mexico and even though you’ll never be able to come back again.
The same is for a sin! It’s worse than a mafia man! And therefore, we don’t seek tests. הוי בורח מן העבירה!
I once knew a case where there was a couple that had a sickly child. And a physician for some reason told them that the child needs the climate of Southern Italy. That was very many years ago; about sixty years ago. I remember that. He needed the climate of Southern Italy. What did they do? They moved to Southern Italy, that’s all. They only had one child. They couldn’t let his life be lost. They moved to Southern Italy. That’s some change! They have to find a home. They have to find a new livelihood. They moved to save the child’s life!
If you live way out near Bangor let’s say, in some country place in Maine, and you see your child is losing religion, there’s only one thing to do. Drop everything and come back to Brooklyn. Nothing to do! You can’t help yourself. You can’t put yourself in sakana of losing your life! You have only one life to live! And you see people are being lost constantly! Intermarriage! Constantly people are going lost because they don’t run away from sin.
And therefore, Jews have to take the most extreme steps to save themselves even if it means becoming a refugee. A refugee drops everything. He leaves all his clothing in the house. He runs out of the house in the middle of the night and he runs down the street as far as he can to get away from home where the peril is threatening. He makes up his mind, “I’ll never come back again to the place of danger. I don’t want to encounter the mafia man in my house! If I come back there, my life is over!
The same way, spiritual peril is much worse! You have to do everything in your power to save yourself!
TAPE # 659