3. Yetzer Hara:
3:1 “Praiseworthy is the man who did not walk in the counsel of the wicked, and the path of the sinful did not stand, and in the place of scorners did not sit. Rather in the Torah of Hashem is his desire and in His Torah he meditates day and night.” (Psalms 1:1,2)
Why does it say, “do not walk, do not stand and do not sit…” Wouldn’t it have just been enough to say, “Do not stand with those not doing the will of Hashem”? The message we are being told here is, do not be naive thinking that the ways of the goyim won’t affect you. Do not walk, stand, or sit like the goyim. Do not assimilate in anyway shape or form in order to look good in their eyes. Rather be occupied with fulfilling Hashem’s desire and meditate on how to come close to Him through the Torah.
3:2 “You shall slaughter it of your own free will.” (Leviticus 19:5)
Hashem is telling us that we should not think that He is going to destroy our evil inclination for us. We are the ones who must make the initiative to slaughter it using our free will. Hashem has given us the tools necessary to accomplish this difficult task.
3:3 “Woe to those who carve out engravings of sin.” (Isaiah 10:1)
One sin leads to the next and piles up to become an overwhelming burden. These very sins are etched upon ones bones. They become engraved in ones soul and being. The way to rectify them, Rebbe Nachman teaches, is to repent for the first sin of the bundle and then all those that followed will naturally be rectified. If you cannot mend your sin or recall its every detail, say these passages of Psalms in the following order, as they have the ability to rectify the first sins of a bundle. 16, 32, 41, 42, 59, 77, 90, 105, 137, 150
3:4 “The path of the upright is to stay away from evil; he who guards his soul will preserve his way.” (Psalms 16:17)
If we were guarding a treasure, certainly we would not travel in places where we could accidentally slip and break the treasure. We would stay away from robbers and bandits, not placing ourselves in their path. In the same way we must guard our souls scrupulously as if we are caring for a valuable treasure. We should not take chances by taking roads we know might be slippery.
3:5 “Tremble and do not sin, reflect in your hearts upon your bed, and be still Selah.” (Psalms 4:5)
Whenever you get into a confrontation with your Yetzer hara, awaken your good inclination. Reflect upon the final resting place given to man and still your heart. If you are patient, the thought will pass and you will not sin.
3:6 “If your enemy is hungry feed him bread.” (Proverbs 25:21)
Instead of fighting head to head, the smart one utilizes strategies that would wear out his opponent. The Yetzer hara will not back away until you feed him something. Therefore, tell him you will feed him soon. Walk away from the sin and then feed him the bread of Torah until he flees.
3:7 “And do not go astray after your hearts and after your eyes.” (Numbers 15:39)
Why does it say, do not stray after your heart before it mentioned the eyes. Don’t we first see things and only then pursue the yearning in our heart to continue after the evil? The truth is that it isn’t our eyes that lead us astray, if our heart were properly purified, we wouldn’t even see that which we shouldn’t.
3:8 “I made a covenant with my eyes not to gaze on a maiden.” (Job 31:1)
Just like a person has made a covenant by having a circumcision, so must they make such a pact with their eyes not to gaze at anything unsuitable.
3:9 “And against you is its desire, but you can prevail over it.” (Genesis 4:7)
At times the evil inclination arouses itself to such an extent that there seems no window in which to slip out. Even during these times you can prevail should you truly desire too. It may seem like an army is rising up against you but even so, you can still prevail. The sword of your mouth can meet any uprising, should you arouse your heart and mind to pray to Hashem.
3:10 “Will a man draw forth fire into his lap, and his cloths not be burned? Will a man walk on coals and his feet not be scorched? (Proverbs 6:27,28)
The way of the evil one is to reason with a person saying, just taste a little and it won’t hurt you. It’s so obvious that you are going to get burnt from this evil action. So why are you doing it?
3:11 “For you are not a Hashem who desires evildoers; evil shall not dwell with You.” (Psalms 5:4)
At the time of sin we do not even consider the consequences of our actions. We are about to walk away from truth and give up a tremendous accent forward should we overcome this temptation. Hashem certainly does not desire these actions and we will be separating ourselves from our bond with our creator. This bond is our life force and the greatest asset we have, let us not loose it.
3:12 “Bruises and wounds purge away evil; so do stripes which reach the inward parts.” (Proverbs 20:30)
Sometimes the only way a person can be purged of their evil transgressions is through physical suffering. It is very beneficial many times to endure the uncomfortable wounds as it might help lead you onto the right path once again. More difficult can be the pains of the heart when it is broken. This too is very cleansing.
“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come” (Ecclesiastes 12:1)
One should not say, when I am older I will work on my evil inclination. Now is the time to overcome all negative traits, when they are burning inside one at their fullest. If you wait, the flame will return later on in life and you will not have the strength to put out the flames.
3:14 “If you do well, you shall be lifted up. If you do not do well, then sin will be crouching at the door; and unto you will be its desire, but you may rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7)
you serve Hashem righteously then you will be drawn close and elevated. If you
do not do his will and even let one sin slip by then the Yetzer hara will never
let you find a moment of peace. Constantly your desires to do more wrong will
increase until there is nothing left of you. None-the-less, even then you may
take control back and rule over your inclination once again should you truly
desire. Many times we wait till we reach rock bottom to pull ourselves up but
don’t wait this long. It is a great rectification to stop oneself even if
already in the middle of sin.
3:15 “For you are dust and to dust shall you return.” (Genesis 3:19)
If we are something made from dust, then how can we even thinking of sinning? Who are we to go after pleasures when we are literally nothing? Maybe that is the problem, we think we are something when we are not.
3:16 “Visit your neighbor sparingly.” (Proverbs 25:17)
If your neighbor has a beautiful wife or daughter that you find attracting, then visit them sparingly. Should some of your fellow peers speak gossip about others then visit them less often. Only visit those whom you can lift up or those who will lift you. Don’t visit for the sake of visiting, it leads to frivolity.
3:17 “Hashem tested Abraham”. (Genesis 22:1)
We each think that we have been tested through and through by Hashem. We sometimes hear of the sufferings of the Tzaddikim in our generation but truly we know little of the suffering they truly endure. When an army approaches a castle to overcome the King, the soldiers on the front lines are sure to have to endure the most tribulations of war. The same is true of the righteous of our generation, they are on the front lines and we are following behind. If not for their strong endurance ahead of us, we would not be able to bare the confrontation of the Satan’s opposing forces.
3:18 “A master of his passions is better than a conqueror of a city.” (Proverbs 16:32)
Today we think of a great man as being someone with money and power. Little do we realize that a true man is someone who has control over his self. Very few have this and few seek this as their true goal. What could be a greater victory then overcoming oneself?