Atomic Habits: What We Can Learn From Noach's Generation

Q: In the beginning of human history, G-d had to create a flood that destroyed the world because it too corrupt to continue, but what caused the generation to steep that low in the first place?

Rashi on Parshat Noach: How did a society deteriorate that much? How did it start? Because they were involved in gezel hachos mishava pruta - people were doing small acts of thievery against each other (potentially so small that it was technically legal)

Just as small steps leads us towards evil, so can the reverse

The Screwtape Letters - C.S. Lewis

  • Premise: series of letters from a devil to a devil in training, seems not so jewish???

    • Change devil to yetzer hara and ‘enemy’ to yetzer ha tov → becomes the yetzer hara describing its tactics to us (which is how we can overcome them)

  • One of the many tactics is subtleties

    • Yetzer hara gets to us by subtly getting on to make wrong choices (ex: waking up 5 minutes later, which ultimately continues until you’ve overslept)

    • Doesn’t try to overwhelm us with temptation, the yetzer hara tries to tempt us little by little so that we don’t even notice (and that inevitably adds up)

    • On the opposite end, the safest road to personal growth is a slow one

מה היה תחלתו של רבי עקיבא. אמרו בן ארבעים שנה היה ולא שנה כלום. פעם אחת היה עומד על פי הבאר אמר מי חקק אבן זו אמרו לא המים שתדיר [נופלים] עליה בכל יום אמרו [לו] עקיבא אי אתה קורא אבנים שחקו מים. מיד היה רבי עקיבא דן קל וחומר בעצמו מה רך פסל את הקשה דברי תורה שקשה כברזל על אחת כמה וכמה שיחקקו את לבי שהוא בשר ודם. מיד חזר ללמוד תורה. הלך הוא ובנו וישבו אצל מלמדי תינוקות א״ל רבי למדני תורה אחז רבי עקיבא בראש הלוח ובנו בראש הלוח כתב לו אלף בית ולמדה . (אלף תיו ולמדה תורת כהנים ולמדה). היה לומד והולך עד שלמד כל התורה כולה

What were the origins of Rabbi Akiva? They say that he was forty years old and had still not learned anything. Once, he was standing at the mouth of a well and he said: Who carved a hole in this stone? They said to him: It is from the water, which constantly [falls] on it, day after day. And they said: Akiva, don't you know this from the verse (Job 14:19), “Water erodes stones”? Rabbi Akiva immediately applied this, all the more so, to himself. He said: If something soft can carve something hard, then all the more so, the words of Torah, which are like steel, can engrave themselves on my heart, which is but flesh and blood. He immediately went to start studying Torah. He went with his son and they sat down by the schoolteachers. He said to one: Rabbi, teach me Torah! He then took hold of one end of the tablet, and his son took hold of the other end. The teacher wrote down aleph and beit for him, and he learned them (aleph to tav, and he learned them; the book of Leviticus, and he learned it). And he went on studying until he learned the whole Torah.

Q: How is it possible that something as soft as water was able to put a whole in something as hard as a rock? How do you think this lesson changed Rabbi Akiva's mindset?

Atomic Habits

"All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. But as that decision is repeated, a habit sprouts and grows stronger."

Have you ever made a small change in your life that grew? What area of your life do you want to create change the most and do you have any tips in how to keep up the consistency?