Friday, February 25, 2011

No Hero Like a Hopeless Man - The Yetzer Hara of Erev Shabbos

Quick summary of Rav Moshe Weinberger's Shabbos shiur this morning:

Why is there such a big yetzer hara for fighting, stress and machlokes in families right before Shabbos? "Ein gibor k'misyaeish."

The biggest hero is the one with no hope left. Meaning: If someone's in a battle and they feel they have no hope for survival, they'll tap into hidden kochos to simply cause as much damage to the other side and go out with a bang. On Shabbos, the time for the yetzer hara for that week will be gone. "Kulan shvikin u'shvisin." When that is about to happen, the yetzer tries to create as much stress and machlokes about naarishkeit as possible in order to destroy whatever it can destroy before *it* is wiped out on Shabbos.

Similarly, this time before bias Hamoshiach, before "v'sa'avir memsheles zadon min ha'aretz," the sitra achra seems stronger than ever because it's on its way out when the yom shekulo Shabbos l'chayei olamim begins.

This is why the sitra achra makes tuma more accessible than ever before even b'chadrei chadarim of Jewish homes through computers, Blackberries, iPads, iPhones, and Droids. It's also why the koach of Yishmael seems to be taking over the world. Pretty soon the "memsheles zadon" will be removed from the world so they are trying take as much as they can with them by blowing up as much of the world as they can before being blown into nonexistace themselves.

It's a big chizuk to know that our big nisyonos are the expression of the last gasps of the sitra achra, rather than a sign that the other side is so strong. It's the final act of strength of the dying "gibor hamisyaeish."

May we merit to bring the yediah, the oneness of Hashem, and the ein ode milvado of Shabbos into the six days of the week and may we merit the speedy end to the nisyonos of this world and entry into the world of "v'chol ha'aretz deiah es Hashem" speedy-quick!


micha berger said...

WADR, I find on-line divrei Torah that emphasize the internet's potential for destruction sadly ironic.

The internet is a powerful tool for harbatzas Torah. The notion that "tzadiqim yeilkhu bam, uposh'im yekashlu bam" (Hosheiah 14:10) means that Torah is sometimes presented to those who take it seriously even at the expense of others. It's already a well-established principle. The internet is a sandal for the Or haTorah. Its abuse speaks about us, not the internet.


Shmuel said...

I remember the first time I heard this concept of the Yetzer Hora getting his "last licks" in - it was an eye-opener and helps me put things in perspective when things get stressful in the waning moments before Shabbos.

Reb Micha - I don't believe that there's anything ironic per se. Dixie isn't ranting about the Internet being evil - as you put it, he's observing that there is tremendous potential for destruction; what you and Dixie and other bloggers are helping to do is counteract that negativity by shedding some light in cyberspace...

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...


It is indeed as Shmuel pointed out. That's why I pointed out the sitra achra making tuma more accessible b'chadrei chadarim. that is indeed a new feature of modern times whose reason is explained by the teaching I was posting about.

I would agree with you that the misuse of the internet is our chisaron and is not pe se inherent to the internet.

That being said, some tools, though they be only tools which can be used for good or for the opposite, are more dangerous or more prone to be misused than others. I think that's why some people look at guns differently than cars, even though cars kill more people in the U.S. than guns do.

yaak said...

Nice idea, Dixie.

See also the concept mentioned here.

micha berger said...

I see value in reifying the yeitzer hara. It allows us to identify with the yeitzer hatov, and consider the yeitzer hara a nachash, an outsider trying to convince basically-good me to do something rotten. (See this contrast between Adam haRishon and Pinocchio.)

But here you're taking a tool and fixating on its abuse. That reduces our ability to use it constructively. The point of my quoting "uposh'im yekashlu bam" was to defend the gestalt that tools are basically good, and shouldn't be blamed on the sitra achara. No matter how prone they are to abuse.

The yeitzer hara may be rooted in qelipos, but I object to saying a tool that could be used for harbatzas Torah comes from the sitra akhara.

I think there is an underlying Besh"t / Gra machloqes here. If I see Shmuel over Shabbos, maybe we'll talk it out to the point that I have something developed enough to write. For now, there is just this inkling.

Realize that in his 10 Kelalim the Gra says that sheviras hakeilim (and therefore I would surmise the resulting qelipos as well) is "just" a second metaphor for the same concept as tzimtzum. It is therefore very likely that qelipos and sitra achara take a much more minor role in Nefesh haChaim (whence I formed my first impression on these things) and the Leshem's Haqdamos uShe'arim haQadosh than they do to you chassidishe types.

But here it feeds my MO upbringing and its attitude toward modernity as well.


DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...


This is definitely a worthy discussion for this blog or the Avodah list. But it is a separate discussion from what Rav Weinberger was actually addressing. He has certainly said before that it does us no good to ban all of the various tools that can be used for good or for bad.

What I think he was explaining was the fact that notwithstanding the truth of the assertion that the internet is a tool which is neutral in essence, the reality is that most of us use it negatively. It is therefore a very very useful tool of the sitra achra and this explosion of use in this way is what he was explaining.

While we may use it for work or other practical uses, or for Torah learning and sharing to one extent or another, it has also enabled much more tumah into our homes and lives than was ever possible before.

It was only about 15 years ago that a person would have to go to a seedy neighborhood or subscribe to some unsavory magazine, risking being caught, to actualy access serious tumah. Now all one has to do is pull his blackberry or iPhone out of his pocket.

On a practical level, it has created an explosion of accessibility to things that were much harder to get ahold of.

That's also not to mention the fact that its has created a new subjects for widespread addictive behavior. That, however, is not new as there are always going to be things with which people express their addictive tendencies (cigarettes, food, etc.) Now many of us can't sit through a chuppah, without checking the blackberry 50 times, as Rav Weinberger points out.

micha berger said...


You write: "What I think he was explaining was the fact that notwithstanding the truth of the assertion that the internet is a tool which is neutral in essence, the reality is that most of us use it negatively."

Depends who "us" is. Do you really think this is true of most of the people reading this blog entry?

Instead, what all this talk about the internet and evil does is scare those who are capable of using it constructively away from doing so. (Personally, I think access to alone is enough to justify its creation! Never mind the sefarim on, the discussions here and elsewhere, the outreach of or, the audio on or, etc, etc, etc...)

How many of those who are more likely to become enmired in the evils of the internet are hearing and listening to the shmuessing about it?

This is why I think it's wrong to talk about the sitra achara bringing the internet into our homes. You have aligned a tool with evil, rather than placing blame where it belongs -- the person abusing it. And that distances the people who can use it productively from the tool.


micha berger said...

We can't rely on building ever-stronger fortress walls to keep us safe, we need to build stronger people.

"Ufortzu chomos migdalai... Uminosar qanqanim, naasah neis lashoshanim..."

Had we given up hope when our protective walls fell, we wouldn't have kept on looking, and the qanqan shemen tahor wouldn't have been found.

We need to be shoshanim.


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