Question & Answer With Rabbi Lazer Brody - Part III - Shmiras Einayim
A Simple Jew asks:
What is the modern application of the ruling in Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 152:8 that states, "He who gazes, even at the small finger of a woman in order to enjoy its sight, commits a very grave sin."?
Rabbi Lazer Brody answers:
The KSA 152:8 is based on a deoraissa commandment (Num. 15:39), "Velo sasuru", that you should not go astray after the [sights of the] eyes. The Chofetz Chaim gave paramount importance to this commandment, and included it as one of the six perpetual mitzvas that a person must fulfill always (see Mishna Brura, Be'er Halocha, "Klal gadol", Shulchan Aruch 1:1). The Rambam explains that gazing eyes lead to actual forbidden deeds, and therefore prevent a person from making Tshuva (see Rambam, Hilchos Tshuva, 4:4).
The Gemorra states (Brachos 24a), "He who looks at a woman's pinky finger is as though he looked at her private parts," equating looking with outright arayos. Our latter-day poskim, including Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, differentiate between seeing a woman and looking at her. While the former is permissible, the latter - especially when the intent is for personal gratification - is strictly forbidden.
Looking at a woman with the intent of enjoyment blinds and blemishes the soul, according to the leading mussar sforim, particularly "Reshis Chochma" (see Shaar Hayira, Shaar Hakdusha), thereby severely damaging a person's ability to learn Torah and to believe in Hashem. Rebbe Nachman of Breslev writes that impurity enters the soul much faster via the eyes that in does via the mouth. Also, looking at other women weakens a person's relationship with his own wife, according to the Melitzer Rebbe shlit'a.
When a man carries the images of other women in his mind, especially during conjugal relations, he risks having children with terrible character traits (see Gemorra, Nedarim 20b).
The Chofetz Chaim writes that it's preferable to lose every worldly possession rather than transgressing one deoraissa commandment. Therefore, we must execute extreme caution in the use of our eyes. One who watches television and movies almost surely transgresses "Lo sasuru" frequently, heaven forbid. Therefore, the modern application of KSA 152:8 is no movies, no TV, and no pleasure-gazing at women. Those who guard their eyes will surely merit seeing Moshiach tzidkeinu and the rebuilding of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, amen.
Visit Rabbi Lazer Brody's website here.
Question & Answer - Part I can be found here.
Question & Answer - Part II can be found here.
A Simple Jew's thought on Shmiras Einayim can be found here.