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Thought for the Day: Keeping the Yeitzer HaRa Honest

My daughter was reading a Curious George book to my grandson, Henoch.  They are all pretty much the same; this was the one where he messes up the train schedule, causes havoc since no one can find which train is on which track, angry mob runs after Curious George, Curious George saves child, father of said child declares Curious George a hero, mob changes from angry to gleeful, Curious George gets to ride in the front of the train.  You know the script.  Henoch, however, is relatively new to Curious George and so he doesn't know the script.  He looked at his Mommy and said, "That didn't solve the problem; people still can't find their trains."

The problem with us and our yeitzer hara (ok... one of our problems...) is that we know the script.  They say that one cold winter morning in Radun the Chafeitz Chaim was accosted by his yeitzer hara, "You are an old man; it's too early for you to get up."  The Chafeitz Chaim realized that staying in bed would not solve the problem; he'd still be an old man, after all.  Instead of turning over, he answered back, "Rasha!  You are older than me and you are already up!"

Here's another favorite attack: "You want to do mitzvah X?  You hypocrite; you regularly do aveira Y!"  The truth is, there is some sense to that.  One has to be real in his mitzvah observance.  Moreover, Chazal tell us "tafata m'ruba einah tafasta" (if you grab too much, you end up with nothing).  But that's all smoke and mirrors in this case, because is doesn't solve the problem.  Doing X is not a contradiction to transgressing Y and you are not going to be a bigger hypocrite by doing another mitzvah.  In fact the z'chus of doing one more mitzvah might be just what you need to resist the temptation of doing Y.  In fact, the Rambam (brought by the Mishna Brura on the topic of n'si'as ka'payim) says exactly that regarding a kohein who is not shomer miztvos going up to duchan.  Unless the kohain has done something really bad (like killing someone, even by accident) or ignores his special status as a kohein (such as by marrying a divorced woman), then the kohein should certainly duchan.

Don't let the yeitzer hara get you because "I've heard that attack before; how boring".  The yeitzer hara isn't bored, you shouldn't be either.


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