This Book of the Torah shall not depart from your mouth; rather you should contemplate it day and night in order that you observe to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way successful, and then you will act wisely. Behold, I have commanded you, 'Be strong and courageous,' do not fear and do not lose resolve, for Hashem your G-d is with you wherever you will go (Yehoshua 1:8-9).
Thursday, May 3, 2012
Battling With The Yetzer Hara
When you get to Heaven after your time in this world is up, they will not ask you why you had a Yetezer Hara for all of your different taavot (desires) and bad middot. What they will ask you is why did you just sit back and do nothing about it?
You see, you did not make your Yetzer Hara, Hashem did, and He is the one who gave it to you. So in fact having a Yetzer Hara is not really any different than having arms and legs, it is just a spiritual part of you that Hashem created you with. Not only that, but the Gemara even tells us that it is stronger than us and that there is no way to overcome it unless Hashem Himself assists us.
So therefore, our real job in dealing with our various evil lusts, desires and bad middot is to actually beg and plead with Hashem to help us get rid of them.
There is absolutely no reason to get down and depressed because you think you are a horrible and disgusting sinner, or because you are full of evil thoughts all day long. You are not that way by chance, Hashem is the one who made you that way with precisely all those evil thoughts and desires. In His infinite wisdon, He knows precisely what corrections our souls need to make, and He knows exactly the situaton we need to be in in order for us to get to that soul correction. Just like a good coach knows how to push his athlete to the limits in exactly the areas where he needs the most growth and training.
So now we can all just relax and give ourselves a big hug, ahh, dosen't that feel nice. We are all wonderful people and Hashem loves us all very much, so we need to love ourselves too. Rebbe Nachman teaches us that there is no despair in the world at all, and that our main avodah (spiritual work) is to make every effort to remain happy. With what we have explained above, we have now begun phase one of our soul corrections which starts with accepting ourselves, loving ourselves and knowing the true story behind our Yetzer Hara.
Now on to phase two, getting rid of the Yetzer Hara. As we said above, the only way to do this is with Hashem's help. And the only way to get Hashem's help is to ask Him for it. (It is taught elsewhere that one can only pray properly once they see the good in themselves and bring themselves to happiness, that is why it is so important to feel good and happy and not sad and depressed before we move on and discuss part two which is praying for Hashem's help - see Likkutei Moharan lesson 282 for more).
Rav Arush has mentioned many times that a person needs to take one subject at a time (for many months or even years) and spend 30 minutes a day talking to Hashem about it. He suggests that all men start with the desire for niuf (sexual desire). Women I believe he mentioned should begin with modesty. One can also spend a few minutes on other things like anger, smoking, overeating, gambling, etc. but one has to be very consistent on just one thing for 30 minutes a day first.
The Rav explained that in these 30 minutes one needs to be real with who they really are and the desires that they really have, talk to Hashem openly like He is your best friend or therapist. Remember, you do not have to feel bad or guilty for what you desire or what you have done, it is Hashem who made you like this in the first place. What you really need to do is express your will to Hashem to not have these desires anymore, etc. Ask Him to help you overcome and get rid of them. Talk it out with Him, explain to Him how these desires are destroying your life and preventing you from succeeding in so many different ways, etc.
This is the real work and effort we need to make in the war with our Yetzer Hara. After 30 minutes of heartfelt prayer one can relax and know that they did their part. Now they no longer have to worry or feel guilty about anything, and when they ask you in Heaven why you did such and such? You can answer, "Well what do you want from me, I confessed all my sins, prayed and begged Hashem for help every single day for 30 minutes just like my Rav told me to!" This is the true way to ultimate success against the Yetzer Hara and it is really the path to get you to the ultimate goal of all which is making a relationship with your Creator. It is precisely what you think is bad which will ultimately be the source of the greatest good in your life in both this world and the next. May we all merit.
Two last points:
1- If after praying, you find yourself back in sin or experiencing the same desires again, it dosen't mean that you have failed. It is either because you have gone up to a new level, and at each new level you have to start again from the bottom of that new level. Or it is because Hashem is hinting to you that you have not really been praying to Him enough for help (If the coach sees that you are dropping your guard and he dosen't give you a punch in the face, than how will you ever learn to be a real boxer!)
2- If you find that you are unable to pray or express yourself properly to Hashem, do not despair, I heard once that Rav Berland said it took him thousands of hours of silence before he learned how to pray properly. You can also make your inability to pray into a prayer and tell Hashem that you would so much love to express to Him all of your troubles and feelings like... but you just can't find the words to do it. Ask him for help in opening up your heart. And remember that every effort we make is extremely precious in the eyes of Hashem and not a single word or even sigh or groan is lost.
For a fun game I made up to help you guard your eyes you can go to: