Man Versus Beast

There’s really only one thing a man needs to do to gain a woman’s respect. He needs to be a man.

The good news is that women want a man. The even better news is that there aren’t many to go around—which means that if you can be one, you‘re at the head of the pack.

What is a man?

A man is a multi-storied, burning furnace withA man is a multi-storied, burning furnace with a cooling system on the roof. a cooling system on the roof. A two legged, upright, impulsive, passion-driven beast with a brain that keeps him in check.

If there’s no beast—well, why would a woman want one of those?

If the brain on top is not doing its job—then what is there to respect?

Which means that being a man is mostly about not being the animal you feel you are.

Men, you get that. Women—I know it’s hard, but you just have to believe us.

Perhaps a woman can be a woman just by being her natural, human self. Having never been a woman, I can’t really say. But I can tell you that a man is someone who is constantly not being the beast that drives him.

The beast says, “I want! Now!” The man says, “I’ll decide.”

The beast says, “Grab it! It’s yours!”

The man says, “Nothing is mine but my own free will. And with my free will, I choose to ignore you.”

The beast says, “Everything is yours! There is nothing else. Everyone is yours! There is no one else. They are all just objects, there to do your bidding!”

And the man says, “There is the Creator who made me and gives me life. There are the people with whom I live and put their trust in me. There is the woman of my covenant whom I respect and love. They are not me, I am not them. She is not me. I am not her. I am a man, and regardless of all the fury with which you may burn, I will act as a man.”

The Fair Maiden’s Hero

“Who is a hero?” asks Ben Zoma in the ancient Mishnah. “He who conquers his own desires.”

Man is made to conquer. The beast inside a man desires to conquer. But the man cannot conquer a thing until he has first conquered that beast within.

The beast remains a beast, a bull, a horse, a goring ox. The beast may desire, but the man is not a slave of those desires. The man must be the one that tells the beast where it can go and where it cannot, where it can look and where it must not, when it should speak and when it should keep its mouth shut tight.

Indeed, the beast is the father of the man.Indeed, the beast is the father of the man. For only once a man has turned his back to his own maddening passions, resisted the rush of adrenaline pumping through his veins, ignored the screaming amygdala hijack, and just coldly walked away, only then has he touched that which defines him most deeply, that which separates him from beast and angel, that which makes him most divine.

A woman desires a man.

But if a man does not know what makes him a man, how can she know that he is one?

If a man can’t leave space for another, why would she want to stand in his presence?

If a man can't stand up to the fight, why should she respect and admire him?

Many are the men who have never been there. Many are the men who spend an entire life barely cognizant of the power that enables them to become a man.

Because it is not easy to be a man.

The Guide to Being a Man

To be an athlete, you need a trainer. To be a man, you need a guide.

Many guides have been written by many great sages. If you’re looking for the most potent Jewish classic on being a man, look in a small book called Tanya. It’s also known as “Sefer Shel Beinonim”—meaning “The Book for the Everyman.”

In Tanya, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, a great teacher and disciple of the Baal Shem Tov, teaches us all we need to know about our beast inside. True, the guide is for both men and women. But once you see the advice it contains, it is hard to imagine how anyone could be a man without knowing its teachings well.

In Tanya, the authorTo deny the power of the beast over your heart and mind is the height of conceit. To surrender is the height of foolishness. teaches: To deny the power of the beast over your heart and mind is the height of conceit. To surrender is the height of foolishness.

So that life is an ongoing wrestling match. The beast will never throw in the towel. It will grow stronger each day, devising yet more strategies to escape its reins, taking yet more devious gambits to declare victory over you.

Your principal strategy is to ignore its wails and tantrums. But the beast is stronger than the man. To win, you need a fire yet more fierce than the fury of the beast. You must find the divine fire from beyond that breathes secretly in a hidden chamber within your heart.

That is your mission. That is why you were thrown into this ring. So that each day, with that fire, you will bring your beast as an offering upon an altar of divine light.

No wonder a woman admires a real man. The One who made him admires him even more.