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.


  1. AMEN to that last paragraph! Maybe just at least one of the reasons for all this mess and all the strife between our own people is that we learned after 2000 years of galut from either the West or the East (Xtian & muslim worlds) and became influenced by the West's freedom and G-Dlessness (i.e., doing what you want and not what H' wants) or from both the east & west, much strife and cruelty. Any which way, it is that we abandoned Torah and only because of the minority within us who held true to Torah that we have survived. Only Moshiach Tzdkeinu will be able to make us whole again and set us on the right path, together with the rest of the world that will realize there is only H' and His Laws. nili

  2. This is the outside perspective, but in reality esav is inside overly strict and hatefull and tries to prove himself by being overly free and ismael is inside full with selflove, non discipline and chesed of the sitra achra (sima, etc.) and tries to prove himself by being overly extreme. We have to counter their source by being kind to the other and strict with ourselves. This makes very fast the biur. If we strive for pleasures we strengthen ismael, if we follow hatred and dispute we strengthen esaiv. Its time to balance.

  3. "You will come to worship gods of wood (Xtianity) and gods of stone (Islam)." Wood and stone are spiritual opposites. The perfect stones, precious gems, known as birthstones are tied to the cycles of the moon and the cycles of strict judgement in the world. In Jewish life the Kohen Gadol wore them as principle elements of his Choshen HaMishpat. A purely 12 month lunar calendar such as the Islamic calendar only reflects the cycles of strict justice in the world. The cycles of true Chessed are ignored.

    god of wood: The flowering and foliage of wood is totally tied to the 365.2425 day solar calendar. The earth which is tilted on its axis moves around the sun cycling its tilt between north and south then back to north once every 365.2425 days. The last day that one could offer wood to the mizbeach in the Temple in ancient times was on HaShem's Festival of boundless Love, Tu B'Av. After all the judgements of the three weeks, HaShem has boundless love for us on Tu B'Av. It does not negate the judgements on Tisha B'Av, but Tu B'Av comes after we have already suffered enough.

    In Islam all of their principle symbols are tied to their inflexible lunar calendar of 12 lunar months that never is adjusted for the fact that HaShem shows His chessed to Mankind by allowing us to grow crops which are planted, mature, and are harvested totally in concert with the cycles of the sun. Or with fruit trees who bud, flower, and grow fruit and ripen fruit also totally in concert with the cycles of the sun. Islam seems totally disconnected to HaShem's Chessed built into the cycles of Creation.

    Xtianity and its crosses of wood has the opposite problem. Its calendar utterly ignores the cycles of the moon, and the monthly judgement which waxes and wanes with the lunar cycles. It is totally solar and therefore natural and practical without the spiritual element of Divine Judgement when at the New Moon, the spiritual world is judged for each facet that that particular lunar month represents and with the full moon the judgements of how those spiritual judgements on either Rosh Chodesh or Rosh HaShanah are manifest in Olam HaZeh in the physical world. Judaism reflects both attributes of G-d in total harmony with both how the world is judged, how the world is created at the beginning of every solar day with love, and ultimately how the world changes when our sins are forgiven, so much so that in a year with 13 lunar months, HaShem shows more forgiveness on Rosh Chodesh during the winter months because He displays all 13 of His attributes as opposed to just 12 of His attributes on Rosh Chodesh in a regular year. Read the nusach for Musaph Rosh Chodesh to see this. Neither Xtianity nor Islam have this balance. Each one seems totally ignorant of whatever knowledge that the other simply takes for granted. Xtianity it totally tied to G-d's cycles of Chessed, and Islam is totally tied to His cycles of strict justice. It is therefore impossible that one would ever understand the other. So at the end of days, they have to destroy each other.

  4. Am concerned about those among the Jewish people who either in response to the unrestrained permissiveness of Edom or seduced by the power of undisciplined Din of Yishmael, constantly add to the word of Hashem to the point where the foreign influenced innovations of Chumra has virtually replaced authentic Halacha in some communities, whilst still maintaining to follow the ways of our forefathers.

    All the more reason we need Mashiach to speedily restore balance and heal the exilic influenced divisions based on either extreme mercy (even to the cruel / enemies) or extreme judgement (rooted in gaivah, ascetic elitism, disdain for the world Hashem created and the growing arms race of false piety where Jews seek to outdo each other on embracing the latest in stringent innovations / customs mostly of foreign origin), which have both plagued us and only served to give ammunition to our enemies whilst sowing confusion for those seeking out authentic Torah True Judaism that our forefathers actually practiced.

  5. Thanks to everyone for these very thought-provoking comments!
    Shabbat shalom!

  6. The West looks at the East's desire to cover women from head to toe, even including their faces, and thinks "extremists". But, they don't look at their own women stripped off nearly naked and understand that this is just the other "extreme". Only Judaism prescribes the appropriate balance between the two extremes where a woman maintains her modesty and her dignity without being either subjugated or exposed.