16 June 2016

The Tactics of the Yetzer HaRa

10 Sivan 5776

Usually, the Yetzer HaRa, our evil inclination, tries to push us from the right path by one of two ways - two extremes. Either he will try to convince us to be bad (go against Hashem and His Torah) or barring that, he will try to convince us to be overly good ("improve" on Hashem and His Torah). You can easily see that the root of both of the two extremes is gaivah - pride/ego/chutzpah.

Right now, as far as I can see, these extremes are the source of all the battles and controversies in the world. The world of Eisav (Western Civilization) is all about "freedom" - to do whatever you want, whatever feels good, no restrictions, no boundaries, no limits. It's weighted to far towards chesed - everything is forgiven. That's one extreme.

At the same time, the world of Yishmael (Islam) is about the opposite - self-denial, self-sacrifice, imposing restrictions, boundaries and limits. "Good" taken to an extreme though, becomes tyrannical. It refuses to recognize anything beneath the standards it has set for itself as legitimate in its own right. It's weighted to far towards din - nothing is forgiven. That's the other extreme.

Our role as Jews is to model the perfect balance of the two as it is expressed and instructed in the Holy Torah. We have no permission to change it. In fact, the Torah itself forbids adding to or subtracting from its words:

:לֹא תֹסִפוּ עַל הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם וְלֹא תִגְרְעוּ מִמֶּנּוּ לִשְׁמֹר אֶת מִצְו‍ֹת יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם

"Do not add to the word which I command you, nor diminish from it, to observe the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you." (Devarim 4.2)

And it's not only in the outside world, but the battles and the controversies between these two extremes are raging within the Jewish people as well, and especially in Israel. 

Here are a few examples from just today's news...

High Court Cancels Temporary Appointments Made by Rishon L’Tzion
...The reason for the lag in appointments is the ongoing machlokes between political parties, women’s rights organizations and the chareidim and the dati leumi communities.

Reform and Conservative Mixed Gender Mincha at the Kosel – Rabbonim Calling on Am Yisrael to Come to the Kosel
...The Reform and Conservative Movements on Thursday 10 Sivan at 5:00PM, will be holding a mixed gender ‘mincha’ at the Kosel Plaza. The event is not planned in the ezras noshim or the men’s area, but the back plaza of the Kosel.

Some feel this is nothing more than revenge for Jerusalem Chief Sephardi Rabbi HaGaon HaRav Shlomo Moshe Amar davening shachris at the egalitarian prayer area earlier this week after setting up a mechitzah.

Vandals Target The Home Of The Man In Charge Of Chareidi Induction Into The IDF
Vandals on Tuesday night...targeted the Bnei Brak home of the head of the IDF enlistment program in the IDF. Family members on Wednesday morning realized the lock on the front door was glued and inoperable. In addition, paint and tar were thrown in front of their door.

A military source explains that the people who commit such acts represent a small minority in the chareidi community and the matter is being addressed by Israel Police. Officials add “We hope police will bring an end to this shameful phenomenon and bring an end to the harassment by these fringe element extremists against those among the chareidim wishing to serve the nation”.

King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, wrote:


"There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is ways of death." (Mishlei 14.12, and 16.25)

Those who dwell at either extreme believe wholeheartedly in the correctness of their chosen path. But, they are dead wrong. Only strict adherence (no additions or subtractions) to the Manufacturer's Book of Instructions (Torah) will assure the smooth and optimal running of Life.

And that's what Mashiach is going to do when the time comes. He's going to abolish the extremes and clearly delineate the perfect middle-ground balance. There will no longer be any confusion or doubt about what is right and what is wrong. And everyone who remains to live in the perfected world will delight in it.