Thursday, July 26, 2007
How the Yetzer Hara Tries to Dry Us Out
I was introduced to a piece in a sefer called Darchei Noam, דרכי נועם. It gave over a heart-rending pshat on the famous gemara in Kiddushin 30b, "ואמר ר"ש בן לוי יצרו של אדם מתגבר עליו בכל יום ומבקש המיתו," that one's Yetzer Hara renews its fight against you every day and tries to kill you. He asked what the part of the Gemara that says that it tries to kill you is really coming to teach. If it means that it is trying to physically kill you, then that is not truly the role of the Yetzer Hara. It is the role of the Malach Hamaves. (And even though they are one in the same, it doesn't kill physically when its wearing the "Yetzer Hara Hat," only when it's wearing its "Malach Mamaves hat.")
He goes on to explain that its effort to kill the person along the lines of the Yerushalmi that learns that a dried out Lulav is pasul (unfit) for the mitzva of Lulav and Esrog from the pasuk, "לא המתים יהללו י-ה," "The dead cannot praise Hashem." In other words, something that is dried out is called "dead" by the pasuk. Therefore, when the Gemara in Kiddusin is saying that the Yetzer Hara is trying to kill you every day, it means that it is trying to make your Yiddishkeit dry. The Yetzer Hara knows it cannot get you to do out-and-out aveiros every single day (although it can do this with many). It always tries to say to you, "Listen, you can keep the halacha, but let's keep it at that. If you get too into it, you'll just look silly to other people and you're probably faking it anyway. Just do what you have to do and get on to the next thing."
The yetzer hara tries to make Yiddishkeit dry and tasteless, merely something for me to get through till I can get onto things I really enjoy in life. Chassidus comes to inject warmth and Chiyus into my Avodas Hashem, so that it isn't dry and without feeling.
May Hashem help you and me do the mitzvos with feeling and excitement, and not out of habit and cold dryness!