Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai states in the Zohar that preserving personal holiness is life’s greatest challenge. The lust of fornication began with the primeval serpent when the world was first created. We see that the evil in the world and the root cause of death, sufferings, and life’s difficulties all stem from the “filth of the serpent,” the lust of fornication and all other desires.
Our generation’s obsession with debauchery in every form, plastered publicly and all too easily accessible, appears to be the height of history’s obsession with lust. We must realize that without uprooting the lust of fornication and promiscuity, one’s yetzer hara, evil inclination, remains intact. The purpose of Torah study and mitzvot is to empower us to fulfill Hashem’s will that we become holy, because we are His children and He is Holy (Leviticus 19:2).
It is impossible to be truly attached to Hashem as long as we are even slightly blemished in the area of personal holiness, and not working on correcting ourselves. Our prayers, Torah study, performance of mitzvot, and avodat Hashem, service of Hashem, will all be severely affected.
Most people seem unaware that sexual lust is the prime manifestation of the evil inclination. Rebbe Nachman teaches (Likutei Moharan I: 36) that we can overcome lust and bad habits only after we overcome all sexual lust, because sexual lust in the general “all-inclusive” evil. Personal holiness is the “general remedy” — the tikkun haklali — and the key to character rectification.
We can learn Torah all day and night, never miss a minyan for davening, attend every possible shiur, Torah lesson, in person or on-line, but as long as we harbor lust for debauchery, we cannot truly love Hashem! As long as we have not begun truly working on the main problem of sexual lust, we will remain completely severed for holiness. May we each begin our fight for personal holiness!
Based on The Garden of Purity, by Rabbi Shalom Aruch, The Main Challenge.