Over Pesach, when I had neither time nor opportunity to write, I was filled with meaningful and powerful things to say. The words were dancing in my head. Yesterday, with Yom Tov over and life returning to normal, my mind was wiped clean. Not a thought or even a word to be found! That yetzer hara is such a tease!
We are each blessed with a yetzer hara (evil inclination). Yes, blessed. Without a yetzer hara, we are not challenged. Without challenges, we cannot grow. As I tell my kids, well, mostly myself, when trying to see the good in a situation that has gone very wrong, the bigger the yetzer hara, the bigger the yetzer tov (good inclination). That kid who was so difficult, so trying, so very draining, will be the one to turn his energy and passion to his service of Hashem. He will shine. He will sparkle. He will forge a strong and lasting connection to Hashem.
The yetzer hara is proud and isn’t satisfied with anything less than a worthy opponent. Yes, the yetzer hara will resort to trickery, kicking you when you are down, seeking out all of your weak spots. But if we were so easily won, the yetzer hara may not bother to fight at all – where is the thrill in an easy victory?
All of the muscles in our body are strengthened through use. The same is true of our spiritual muscles. When we need to enlist our spiritual resources to fight the yetzer hara, we are strengthening our yetzer tov. When something is important to us and our relationship to Hashem, you can be sure our yetzer hara will put in an appearance. The yetzer hara, knowing the incredible power of prayer will often show up as distracting thoughts in order to disrupt our concentration during prayer. When we push it away and maintain our focus, we win the battle and strengthen ourselves for future encounters. When we are feeling inadequate in an area of our life, the yetzer hara will point out to us how accomplished our sister/brother/friend/neighbour is in that realm. When we react with joy for our fellow rather than jealousy, our yetzer tov grows in strength. The more meetings with the yetzer hara, the stronger our yetzer tov becomes.
With each battle, we are blessed. Each encounter is an opportunity for growth. Each episode an invitation to connect with Hashem.
So, next time your yetzer hara comes knocking, draw your swords and know that you can slay this dragon. You are worthy.