To effect teshuvah, the Nazir abstained from permissible things, like wine & grapes (among other stipulations).
This teaches us the significance of placing boundaries around permissible indulgences, which help us avoid things actually forbidden.
Doing so also refines our personality in a way that feels joyful & liberating.
And so, if you can train yourself to be a porush from speaking even when it’s permissible, you can consider yourself a pelehdikeh person – you’re already remarkable.
As much as I enjoyed Torah Judaism & found meaning in it, I struggled with some of the restrictions (which now ironically feel liberating & stabilizing).
For my personality, life already had always felt so constrictive.
For example, while many people recall childhood as a time of freedom, I always felt shackled as a child, bound to all sorts of rules & obligations (like, among other torments, attending public school & attending those dreaded afternoon Hebrew schools & insufferable summer camps run by the Movement for Conservative-which-is-actually-way-too-liberal pseudo-Judaism) and longed for the freedom of adulthood.
I felt resentful when more insightful Jews pointed out the ideological problem of all the kosher substitutes for their treif originals—or delved into the finer details of the spirit of tsniyut.
And so on.
(But now I understand & even agree.)
Indulging in food, movies, music, going out, reading, long meaningful conversations with friends, cruising, etc. felt great!
Why impose upon myself all the old resentful restrictiveness of childhood?
Especially since I was already dressing tsniusly, keeping kosher, and keeping Shabbat in a world that didn't even appreciate such values.
Why narrow my world even more?
Interior Decoration of the Brain
A person free of taavot is one of the happiest people in the world — halevai I'll one day get there!
Prishut helps a person declutter the mind too.
"Abstaining from superfluous things
is the function of clearing the mind
of things that are not necessary."
– Rav Avigdor Miller
And because there are so many pictures, so many ideas and ideals that we have to move into our minds, that’s why it’s so important to remove the clutter from your head.
If you don’t create room to move in expensive furniture, there’s no extra space, no space to move in the thoughts that are truly valuable.
So imagine now that on the way out of this room tonight you want to get started on this project — you want to be a person of higher nature so as you you walk out the door you make a decision:
“From here to the corner, I’m going to spend that one minute in picturing the creation of the universe.”
Now, one minute of thinking is not the most expensive piece of furniture but it’s a good start.
But what happens?
As soon as you walk out the door you’re already thinking about what’s going to be for supper tonight.
Or you’re thinking of some other puny thing, of some argument you had with someone, let’s say.
And that cheap furniture in your thoughts prevents a beautiful picture from entering your brain — it’s the law of physics that two objects cannot occupy one space at the same time.
The 3 Main Problematic Influences
- Bad friends—keeping the wrong company & marrying the wrong person ("If you marry the wrong person then the influence is going to break you"), sitting with the wrong person in shul, learning with the wrong chevruta, etc.
- Joking around & looking for enjoyment & entertainment all the time.
- Being too busy to think.
The third, says Rav Miller, is the trickiest.
Whether it's demanding schedules or all sorts of distractions along the way that tug at our eyes, ears, and minds, modern life is full of busy-ness.
The media also keeps everyone on their toes by encouraging dissension & self-righteous anger.
The Shabbos Eye
Rav Miller says that our natural inclination should be to celebrate with fireworks & enthusiastic festivities.
Yet Hashem made the celebration a time for using your mind.
Rav Miller recommends thinking about Yetziat Mitzrayim (including the mann) & the Creation of the World on Shabbat while you:
- walk to shul
- sit in shul
Also, Rav Miller quotes Gemara Brachot 43b, which states that a hasty step takes a way 1/500th of your eyesight.
He explains it to mean the rushed walk of nervousness or anxiety that results from fear of missing something, like an appointment or a bus. He extends this to encompass the constant anxiety people develop when needing to make phone calls, catch a customer, parnassah—all this weakens the eyes.
But it weakens the spiritual eye too, adds Rav Miller.
All the distractions make it hard to concentrate, make it hard to see what we really need to focus on in This World.
And kiddush is the remedy.
Kiddush reminds us that nothing in the world existed prior to Hashem.
Everything only exists because Hashem wants it to.
This heals our eyes, both physically & spiritually.
On pages 13-15, Rav Miller explains exactly how to do this.
And therein lies the the secret of the Nazir and how to emulate the Nazir in our world today.