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Thought for the Day: The Yeitzer Hara Gives Purpose to Our Creation

Pesach is a wonderful time of year.  We are, bli ayin hara, this year celebrating with all of our descendants.  Sunday afternoon, as we were enjoying our last pizza and beer of the year, I raised my glass to toast everyone for the beautiful Pesach we had experienced together.  Everyone looked at my quizzically and my son-in-law (a fine lawyer) pointed out that Pesach hadn't even started yet.  "I know," I said, "but right now we're all happy to be together and I don't want to lose the opportunity."  It was a joke, but we are all working hard to make sure things continue that way.  So far so good; bli ayin hara, pu pu pu, etc, etc, etc.

Both s'darim were a roaring success.  What's a successful seder?  First, we covered the hagada.  Second, and just as important, the children asked questions, told us what they learned for pesach, and sang songs.  Even so, how am I so confident that we were so successful in transmitting the m'sora?  My eldest granddaughter told me how much she was looking forward to the third seder.  That's success.

There is another kind of success for which we are preparing now -- we are counting the days of the omer toward kabalas hatorah.  Without success in kabalas hatorah, any other success is transitory and, ultimately, only an exercise in futility.  As Rashi brings on the pasuk of "yom ha-shishi" (the -- ie, a specific -- sixth day) that the world was trembling waiting for that future 6th of Sivan after y'tzi'as mitzrayim hoping that Klal Yisrael would be successful in receiving HaShem's precious gift, our beautiful and holy Torah.  Had we not been zoche to be offered and to accept the Torah, Chazal tell us, the entire creation would have simply ceased to exist.

Given that, one is led to wonder why the name of the holiday we have to commemorate that momentous event seems to completely miss the point.  Chag haMaztoz/Pesach certainly is self-describing, as is Sukkos.  The Kli Yakar says that not only is there no reason for wonder, there is a very important lesson to be learned from that seeming omission.  There is no "day" of kabalas haTorah, says the Kli Yakar, because kabalas haTorah is an ongoing process.  Chazal tell us when you learn Torah it is like an infant suckling at its mother's breast.  Just as the mother's life force, her blood, is turned to milk for the infant to digest, so to is the life force of Creation turned into Torah for us to digest and incorporate into our very being.  (There are those who say, in fact, that is the reason we start with a dairy kiddush on Shavuos.)

The Kli Yakar adds a beautiful insight into why the korban for Shavuos is davka from chameitz.  Chameitz is compared to the yeitzer hara.  When Moshe went to bring the Torah down to this world, the malachim tried to stop him.  With HaShem's help, Moshe was able to win the debate to bring the Torah down to us because, said Moshe, we have a yeitzer hara and "bara yeitzer hara bara torah tavlin" (HaShem created the yeitzer hara and HaShem created the Torah to tame it) Kiddushin 39b.  While there is much to say on this Chazal, the Kli Yakar notes that HaShem (so to speak) needed to create the yeitzer hara in order for to Torah to be brought down into this world.  The chameitz of the Shavuos korban is our reminder for that exalted ultimate purpose of the yeitzer hara.

May we all have success in our preparations for utilizing our yeitzer hara for its true purpose -- to bring us close to HaShem by allowing us to make His Torah our Torah.

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