Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
In life, are we meant just to go with the flow or also to grow? To do only what we feel like doing or to make borders for ourselves? This week’s Torah portion opens with this demand: “You shall appoint judges and law enforcement officials for yourself in all your city gates.” Our commentators explain that the intention is not only that we should appoint judges and police but that each of us should supervise our own actions. We need to place judges and guards on all the “gates” of our bodies — mouth, eyes, and ears. In other words, to pay attention to what we say, see, and hear. Not to allow everything that happens outside to enter into our consciousness by way of our eyes and ears and not to allow every possible word that comes to mind to leave our mouths. This is a call to live a life in which we do not do whatever we feel like doing, but rather place boundaries on ourselves of moderation and restraint.
Rav Avraham Weinberg, founder of the Slonim Hasidic sect, enunciated the following penetrating idea to his students: “A day when a person does not take action to override his desires is not considered a day of life.”