overcoming your yetzer hara finally!

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Once, when Rabbi Pinchas of Korets entered his Beis Medresh, study hall, he noticed that his students stopped conversing and then started again. He asked them what it was they were talking about. They told the Rebbe that they were saying how they were afraid that the Yetzer Hara, evil inclination, would pursue them. The Rebbe responded “Don't worry. You aren’t on such a high level. You’re still pursuing him!”

When I first heard this story, it really hit home base for me. Every time I have told it over, it has almost shocked the listeners. It’s funny how the simple words of rabbi Pinchas of Korets contain, for most, the antidote for to overcoming much of their struggles with their Yetzer Hara.

The Yetzer Hara, guided by the Satan, is said to get stronger everyday as one grows in their level of Yiddishkite, Judaism. Someone once said to their Rebbe, “I wish I had your Yetzer Hara.” The Rabbi taken aback said strongly, in a stern voice, “Chas V Shalom, G-D forbid.” The student innocently thought that because his rabbi was so pure it must be that his Yetzer Hara, evil inclination wasn’t so strong. The real truth is that the higher ones level of piety, the stronger it their Yetzer Hara has to become. After all, aren’t we supposed to struggle in life with free choice! Without a Yetzer Hara, being a pious man would be easy and therefore have little value to Hashem and ourselves. To value something you must work for it. One should also take precausions to prevent themselves from falling into a trap by their evil inclination.

Rabbi Menachem Mendel,of Kotsk, was walking down the street with his friend Reb Yitzchak, of Vorki, when they encountered an old women who was peddling knives. Reb Yitzchak wanted to purchase a small knife for himself, for which the women wanted four coins. Wanting to save some extra money, he offered her three coins for it. His friend, Rabbi Menachem Mendel, called him by his nickname, “Itshe! The Mishna teaches us: ‘Do not converse excessively with women.’ Now isn’t that worth one copper coin?” This is an excellent example of guarding ones self for falling prey to the evil inclination.

The holy Baal Shem Tov was once taking a stroll through a deserted place. He had paid no attention to where he was walking, since he was very deep in his thoughts as he walked through this desert. He trusted in Hashem that there must be some reason why He had brought him here, as everything in life serves a purpose. Suddenly he saw a huge frog. He asked the frog who it was, and he answered that he was a transmigration of the soul of a former scholar. His original soul had done so many sins that he was forced to wonder in this deserted desert. The rabbi asked him to tell him how he sinned, so he could understand what had happened to bring him to such a state. The frog told how when he was in his human form, he had once washed his hands carelessly. He didn’t have the proper concentration and thoughts while washing and saying the prayer. It went up to the heavenly court and of course this isn’t a terrible sin, but it was enough of a negligence that he needed to do teshuva, repentance. Chazal teach us that one sin leads to another and the scholar didn’t truly repent and was sent the Satan to test him in another situation. One after another the scholar became relaxed in fearing G-D and soon became a great sinner. The Heavenly court now had ruled that he would not be forgiven unless he pleaded long and hard for all of his wrong acts. The Satan once again came and induced him to drink so much so that he could not possibly do any repentance, and he continued sinning until he committed the worse of sins. When he passed on, it was decreed that his neshama, soul transmigrate to the form of a frog. This was because his original sin had to do with water. He was sent to such a deserted place so that no Jew, by chance, would come along and say a blessing, as that would elevate his soul and free him from this transmigration. Rabbi Yisroel said the necessary blessings and praises to Hashem and enabled this soul to be saved, and the frog instantly died.(Sivchei Besht)

One mitzvah leads to another mitzvah. From this story you can see that one avaira, sin, leads to another sin. Reb Nachman said that when you do teshuva you must try and repent for the first time you sinned in a certain action, and then all the rest of the same sin will be forgiven thereafter. No matter how sunk in sin, this person could still have repented completely and never been have been punished. Hashem was patient with him and gave him the opportunities to repent. If only he had reflected and thought before washing his hands to concentrate more, he would have never sunk so deeply. We cannot ignore the little things we do wrong. We must confess and ask Hashem to forgive us, even for what we might think are minor sins. Not saying a blessing over a cup of water, skipping the blessings upon rising from ones bed in the morning, and so on.

The evil urge is similar to a prankster running through a crowd showing his tightly closed hand. No one knows what it is he is holding. He goes up to each person and asks, “What do you suppose I have in my hand?” Each person imagines that the closed hand has in it just what he desires most. They all hurry and run after the prankster. Then, when he has tricked them enough, that they are following him, he opens his hand. It is completely empty! The same is true of the evil one. He tricks the world, fooling them into following him. Everyone thinks that his hand contains what they need. In the end, the evil one opens his hand. There is nothing in it and no desire is ever fulfilled. Worldly pleasures are just like sunbeams in a dark room. They may actually seem solid, but when a person tries to grasp a sunbeam they find nothing in their hand. The same is true of all worldly desires.(Reb Nachman’s Wisdom #6)

Rabbi Noson once remarked, that the evil inclination cares much less about the sin than about the depression that follows it. This is because by means of the depression, it can further trap the person and gain much more than from the first single sin.

The Seer of Lublin, in the name of the Arizal, said the following; “When a person is sunk in a depressive state, no advice can help him. He must simply wait until the anger passes.”

“When the moment of happiness suddenly arrives, all of his problems will then be solved.”(Zichron Zos)

“A happy heart is as healing as medicine”.(Mishlei 17:22) There is only one way to truly have a happy heart and Dovid Hamelech says it in the following posuk; “Cast your burden on Hashem, and He will sustain you.”(Tehillim 55:23) So many of us keep things bottled up inside until we are ready to burst! Tell Hashem of your troubles. Don’t live a life of sorrow for years and years. As hard as it might be, find someone to open your heart up to and get the help you need. Maybe things aren’t as bad as they seem inside and all you need is to share your troubles with someone with a kind heart. The Satan doesn’t have to try so hard with us! We do most of the damage to our souls needlessly and don’t even need his assistance! A person can’t serve Hashem properly when their heart is in pain. There is always help out there and we have to be brave enough to find it. Never forget, Hashem is always with us and there is no sin we can’t completely repent for.

One of the things the Satan has us believe is that we are alone in our sin. We have sinned, and we cannot make amends. This is so not true. Rebbe Nachman says, “If you believe you can damage, believe that you can fix. There is not a sin in the world that you can’t repent for. The Rebbe also says that no matter how far you are from Hashem and Judaism you can always return to the ways of the Torah. Of course the Satan doesn’t want you to know this and even if you do know it he tries to give you doubts about it and make you loose hope in ever truly repenting.

It’s interesting to note that most of us think that the mistakes we make are never done by our fellow piers. We think we are alone in our errors and we look at ourselves with little confidence. Even the greatest rabbis and rebbezins accidentally stumbled in horrible immoral sins and then repented completely. Maybe they were stuck in these sins for years just like you are. You’re never alone my friends, and with perseverance you will overcome your tayvos as well! The first step of course is to stop repeating this sin. If you try and can’t overcome it, then ask for help. For all you know, your friend or rabbi stumbled on the exact same sin. Stop looking down upon yourself for it as this is all the trick of the Satan to make you depressed. Don’t dwell on the mistakes you make but rather use that energy to do something about it. Repent by talking to Hashem and asking His forgiveness. Take a trip to a great tzaddik and confess your sin to him. Ask for a remedy. Confessing your sins in the presence of Torah scholar produces good thoughts. (Sefer Hamidos 69)

The sins a person commits are engraved on his very bones.(Ezekiel 32:27) When he confesses them before a Torah scholar, the entire accumulation of evil engraved on his bones is lifted. All his sins are forgiven and he is granted atonement.(Likutey Maharan I, 4:3)

If you can’t handle going to a living tzaddik, go to the grave of a tzaddik and ask him to pray for you and tell him of your sin. I have met too many people in my life who kept secrets bottled up inside them for their entire life. When they finally release their pain to someone, it gives them new life and vitality.

Many wonder why Hashem created evil in the world as well as good. If we didn’t have an evil inclination then we would be like robots. We would be doing the will of Hashem like it were nothing, without meaning or heart. It is our free will that gives us the ability to be true servants of Hashem.

I think it’s the will of Hashem that I be blunt with you at this point. The Satan knows that if he can get you to be depressed he will defeat you. Do whatever you can to never let this happen! Fight sadness with all your heart and limbs. Force yourself to be happy if that is what it takes.(Rebbe Nachman) If you think to much, keep yourself busy so as not to think depressing thoughts. Spend more time around family and friends who can cheer you up. Whenever I was down, I stayed away from others so as not to bring them down with me and this was a error on my part.

Hashem has just blessed me with an new insight. Every tzaddik is faced with the most difficult tests. Chazal say that the higher ones level the greater their evil inclination. There is no tzaddik that exists that wasn’t tempted and didn’t face sin head to head. We think that because they are righteous they were never normal human beings just like us facing the simple temptations we do. Yosef HaTzaddik covered his face and ran away from the most beautiful women in the world, Potifar’s wife. Rabbi Abraham Abulafia was brave enough in his sefer,Chayay Olam Habah,to admit that he defiled his body from the waistfull admission of seed. He says that for fifteen years, the Satan was at my right hand to mislead me.” Also he said that the numerical value of Satan, 359, is the same as that of Zera Lavan, white seed which is in reference to semen. This goes to show you one of the main goals of the Satan and that is sexual desire.

Rebbe Nachman says that sexual desire is the great test a man faces in this world.(Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom 115) The Rebbe said that he was able to overcome this desire but he had to cry out to Hashem again and again. The temptations were very real for him but he later said, “A man with even the smallest amount of real intelligence, will not find this a temptation at all.” The Satan wanted so much for him to slip on this desire that he was willing to let the Rebbe overcome every other desire if only he would slip up on this once. The Rebbe did the opposite, though, and said he would ignore his other desires and not work to control them at all but the sexual desire he would completely eradicate.(Shevachay Haran 16) As a young man even amidst the fire burning inside him, he overcame this desire completely. He later said, “I do not have any feeling of desire at all. Men and women are all the same to me.” When he came in contact with a woman, he didn’t even have an extranious thought.(ibid)

Another time the Rebbe said, “I am afraid of neither women nor angel”. This deserves further explanation. A person may totally cleanse himself of evil thoughts. However, as long as he has the slightest fear of such thoughts, he is still not completely cleansed. This slight fear he has is a sign that he has not yet attained true complete purity. Therefore, he must fear an angel.”(ibid.18)

One shouldn’t fear the evil inclination, rather they should be aware and cautious of it, so as not to fall into its traps. When you fear anything, you cause yourself to loose control. The only thing to fear is Hashem. Fearing the evil inclination is like giving into it (Sichos Rochel 1b). Rabbi Pinchos of Koritz once said, “When a person is scared of something, he is actually subjugated to that very thing. If he is not afraid, he remains above it.(Imrei Pinchas HaSholem)

King Dovid was the most devout of men, Samson was the strongest, and Solomon the wisest man that ever lived. The reason the Torah recorded that these great men went wrong through women is to show us that women have an overpowering hold over men and that the sexual desire overwhelms even the greatest of men.(Sefer Chassidim 225)

A women, though created differently, has many of the same inclinations as that of a man. They just manifest themselves differently. Today immorality has crawled its way into even the most protected of homes. We think that we have made our homes sealed from outside influences but they still manage to get in. Lets not be neive and not talk to our children about things like this. Don’t just assume they just know what is right and not the wrong as well. Clarify it for them, tell them how to deal with their sexual emotions. If you don’t, then you are more neive then they are! In a society like we have today, you cannot take chances. You must talk to your children and students. Tell them that these thoughts and temptations they might be having are normal and only then tell them the words of Chazal on how to overcome their yetzer hara.

This chapter is Continued here on the next page!



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