Kenneth Cohen

Turning After Eyes and Heart

One of the 613 Mitzvot comes from the chapter that discusses Tzitzit. Our fringes worn on our four cornered garments are meant to remind us to think in the right way.
The specific commandment is not to turn after our hearts and after our eyes. The explanation of “after our heart,” is that we are to refrain from allowing heretical ideas from entering our hearts.

We need to carefully monitor what we read or hear. If that information is contrary to true Torah thought, we must distance ourselves from it.

The fear is that we might be negatively influenced, and it will cause us to turn away from G-d. We are only permitted such things if our goal is to understand it, so that we can refute such heretical ideas.

The other half of this commandment is not to turn “after our eyes.” The basic idea here is that we should not allow ourselves to be drawn towards various lusts. Such lusts cause us to be pulled down towards materialism and physical pleasures.

Ultimately, we will become more obsessed with the physical, rather than the spiritual.
Both of these areas have proven that they do turn a person away from his task of serving Hashem, and getting closer to Him. We must be aware of the obstacles that might get us off track.

A Torah Jew should have the humility to realize that his own opinion is not significant. When a person wants to know how to react to a particular situation, he needs to find a traditional source to guide him in his thinking.

The goal is to get to the point where he is knowledgeable enough to be able to back up any viewpoint with the source for that view. In other words, one’s opinion is not his own, but he learns to act on every level, according to what is expected of him as a Jew.

Achieving this goal is helped greatly by remembering not to “turn our hearts and eyes” away from Hashem.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at