Thursday, February 14, 2008

Understanding the Yetzer Hara - The Screwtape Letters

Several years ago, I read "The Screwtape Letters," by C.S. Lewis. In it, he presents a series of letters from a senior devil, Screwtape, to his nephew, a younger devil, assigned to his first "patient." In this series of letters, C.S. Lewis takes readers on a tour into the mind and strategy of the yetzer hara, the evil inclination, as he sees it. It's a very very insightful, short book. Reading it has made me think, over the past few years, of writing a Jewish version of the book, taking some insights of his, and others from various seforim, and applying that style of writing to a Jewish audience. I thought this would help me and others better understand the manipulations and illusions created by the yetzer hara, done to fool us into either doing aveiros, or making our avodas Hashem dry, and done for ulterior motives.

Here is a dramatic reading (about 3 minutes) of one chapter from the book:

Recently, I read something that said that such investigations into the workings of the Yetzer Hara would not be a good idea. It said that focusing on such things, even if done for good motives, brings a person down, and it is therefore a dangerous endeavor. I was unable to find what I had read, though, in order to see the source. In response to my inquiry about this idea, Rav Micha Golshevsky offered up some ideas, which I will post in a couple of days.

Although if I were to seriously consider such an endeavor, I would consult with my rebbe, I'd be interested to see if any of y'all have any thoughts about whether or not such a project would be ill-conceived.

-Dixie Yid

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yitz said...

today's tanya might be said to hint at why it could be a problem...

for the same reason we can't raise up our own machshavot zarot-- how can we raise it up while we are tied down here?, and more importantly whoever involves himself with a menuval, becomes one himself.

but that's just my 5 seconds of rumination on the topic

Anonymous said...

Please write that book!

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

Yitz, I appreciaet your rumination. I don't do the tanya yomi so I didn't see that, but it definitely sounds quite appropriate.

Anon, thanks for your vote of confidence. We'll see!

-Dixie Yid

Neil Harris said...

Actually, the Juggler and the King (on your sidebar) is pretty informative about the ways of the Yetzer Hara- even though it's based on the GRA :)

Anonymous said...

Absolutely, do it. We must know the enemy before tackling him.