While walking with my 10-year-old daughter the other day, she stopped and said that she wishes the Yetzer Hara operated the way children’s books describe; a sinister character lurking in the bushes, instead of the reality of his being within us.
Perhaps without knowing it, she hit the nail on the head. Fighting the Yetzer Hara is a lifelong endeavor. He isn’t (only) some bad guy trying to get us to do something dumb. He’s right there in our heart trying to get us to feel that we absolutely need to do such and such or that if we don’t say this or that we will not be complete, we just have to!
It’s at that point we need to dig deeper and acknowledge that my feelings are not really what I want. Just as with a diet. The urge to eat feels real but it’s not what we really want. Indeed, we can feel a deep urge to eat something we are extremely allergic to.
On a deeper level, the Yetzer doesn’t just tell us to do wrong. He tries to mix in to anything we do including Mitzvos. Do it because I say so, do it because it feels good. His hope is that once we’re into feeling good he can easily convince us that we should continue to behave based on how we feel…
Put this way, it sounds like an almost impossible task. Except that like in the books, this isn’t who we really are. Each of us already has a perfect Neshama inside that we can access and draw strength from. It’s who we are and the center of our existence. The more we align our lives with it the happier we’ll be.
Mitzvah Goreres Mitzvah, one good deed leads to another. Jumping in even when we’re not in the mood and then again and again will bring our Neshama to the fore and continuously strengthen us in our battle with the Yetzer.
May we very soon enter the time when we will shecht the Yetzer Hara, our mortal enemy and we will be cleansed of him forever. What remains will be a world in which each person is happy with their lot, happy for the other person, and thrilled to connect to our creator 24/7.
Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos,