web analytics
September 30, 2014 / 6 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Sefira And The Battle With Our Evil Inclination

Front-Page-041312

Well, almost none. I, like every Jew, possessed the spark of Jewish fire called the pintele Yid, which was burned into my neshamah at Mount Sinai, where I stood with my people so many centuries ago.

The Gemara tells us that an angel teaches us the entire Torah in the womb. After that nine-month “chavrusa,” the angel strikes us above the upper lip at birth and, with that shock, we forget all that we learned (Niddah 30b). All the noise and clamor of this world then bombards us, and the voice of the angel is forgotten in the jangle of “civilization.” But perhaps we are unable or unwilling to forget the voice of the malach and that holy Torah we absorbed before we entered this world. Perhaps we are fortunate enough to hear words of Torah during our lifetime. Perhaps we pause and we allow those words to sink in.

“Wait a minute! I have heard those words before!”

That is when we remember the angel who taught us in the womb.

So, though I grew up in a secular world, I knew something was missing. I couldn’t live; I was constantly afraid.

What was I afraid of?

Myself.

Yes, I was afraid of myself.

Decades later, joined by my wife, I was blessed to find Torah. We had followed countless paths. We rejected them all because each turned out to be a dead end. In 1974, in the city of Newburgh, New York – after all other paths had failed us – we met Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, who opened the world of Torah to us. Thus, our life began.

We learned about the yetzer hara, the evil inclination – the force within us that tries to steer us in exactly the opposite direction from the Torah. We learned that the yetzer hara is a tireless opponent, lying in wait constantly in order to deflect us, God forbid, from the Path of Life.

* * * * *

In general, I don’t think we take the yetzer hara too seriously because it is not so clear to us what it is. But perhaps we can use the period of sefirah to come to grips with this opponent that has destroyed so many lives since Adam and Chava fell under its influence in the first days of Creation.

The yetzer hara can be brought under control. As we say every day in davening, “Let the Evil Inclination not dominate us… and compel our Evil Inclination to be subservient to You.” The paradigm for this struggle is the classic encounter between Yaakov Avinu and the malach of Eisav.

Yaakov asked the malach, “What is your name?”

We have to identify our opponent.

I have been thinking lately about the yetzer hara. When I speak publicly about my life, I try constantly to refine my narrative because I want my listeners to identify with my experiences and realize they are not alone; someone has been on this path before. Today many people feel depressed and need to know there is hope.

Why was I constantly afraid as a child?

As I said above, I was afraid of myself. Even as a young child I felt there was some force within me that would compel me to do things against my will, like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Now I realize that this “force” has a name.

Yetzer hara.

This is amazing. As a “sophisticated” frum adult I tend to regard the yetzer hara as somewhat theoretical, but as a small child – without exposure to Torah – not only did I know what it was, I was face to face with it every second. And I was scared stiff!

That doesn’t mean I could deal with it, but I knew it existed. In fact, my entire life revolved around the struggle against it. I tried and failed to overpower it. But that very failure drove me to search relentlessly for a way to dominate it, and – as I said earlier – that lifelong search finally brought me to the gates of Torah, because everything else had failed.

What does this have to do with Sefiras HaOmer?

I would suggest that we try during these seven weeks to look beyond all our myriad problems to the underlying cause of all our tzouris: the ageless struggle against our inner opponent. Instead of letting it remain nameless and formless, let us follow our Father Jacob’s example and seek to identify it.

“Jacob wrestled with him until the break of dawn…. Then [the malach] said, ‘Let me go, for dawn has broken.’ ” (Bereishis 32:25)

An echo of this theme occurs in the writings of Dovid HaMelech, who speaks about the fate of Yerushalayim in the tumultuous days before Mashiach: “God is in its midst. It shall not totter. God will help it toward morning” (Psalm 46 with ArtScroll commentary).

About the Author: Roy Neuberger's latest book, "2020 Vision" (Feldheim), is available in English, Hebrew, Spanish, French and Russian with a Georgian edition in preparation. An e-edition is available at www.feldheim.com. Roy is also the author of "From Central Park to Sinai: How I Found My Jewish Soul" (available in English, Hebrew and Russian, Georgian edition in preparation) and "Worldstorm." Roy and his wife speak publicly on topics related to his books and articles. He can be contacted at roy@tosinai.com or through his websites www.tosinai.com and www.2020visionthebook.com. Roy and his wife speak publicly on topics related to his books and articles. He can be contacted at roy@tosinai.com or through his websites www.tosinai.com and www.2020visionthebook.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Sefira And The Battle With Our Evil Inclination”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Arab terrorists at the traffic circle in Ras al-Amoud May 2011
Breaking: Children Evacuated as Arabs Attack JM Neighborhood of Maaleh HaZeitim
Latest Indepth Stories
FE_PR_100112_22Learning_CableTV425x282

Can teenagers seriously be expected to behave properly when they are surrounded by so much suggestive material? Is it fair to expose them (and ourselves) to so much temptation and then tell them, “Just say no”?

Narendra Modi

Washington remains ignorant of the need to dismantle alliances with various Muslim countries.

ISIS terrorist

Defeating IS requires bombing its strongholds and recognizing the violent nature of Islam.

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas speaking in Ramallah, July 1, 2014.

Abbas again used the UN to attack Israel, distort history, and undermine prospects for peace.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority cannot even agree to move their clocks back on the same day.

Shemita is about relating to each other by temporarily eliminating gaps of wealth power & status

David transcended adversity to become a leader; Who are we to make excuses for a lack of greatness?

sympathy: Feeling sorrow or pity for another’s tribulations; Empathy:sharing an emotional experience

Last week the president announced a four-point plan. Unfortunately, there’s little buy-in from our European and Middle Eastern allies. Here’s my own four-point plan that may be more palatable to our allies.

Rosh Hashanah has an obvious connection to God’s Kingship. We constantly refer to Him during the Asseres Yemei Teshuvah as Melech/King. The nusach of the tefillah, referring to Rosh Hashanah as “a remembrance of the first day” (of Creation), implies a certain dimension of divine kingship operating at the time of Creation and replicated every […]

Yes, God judges, but His judgment is that of a loving father who longs for his child’s quick return.

Anti-Semitism has returned to the mainstream of European society and Israel has become its focus.

Home is Milwaukee where their congregation, Beth Jehudah, and community always await their return.

A murderous uprising is taking place in Israel; On the roads, In the mixed Jewish-Arab cities.

“It’s a lousy column and a dishonest one,” Halberstam wrote. “So close it. Or you will end up just as shabby as Safire.”

More Articles from Roy S. Neuberger

Our rabbis told us it’s going to be very difficult before Mashiach comes. Should we fool ourselves?

Front-Page-031414

The unwarranted hatred among us that caused the destruction of the Second Temple clearly still plagues us.

At the end of the harvest, winter begins. The earth becomes cold and hard, nights are long, and the sun seems far away in the southern sky. The sap ceases to flow in the trees. But in this season of temporary “death” Hashem sends down harbingers of coming life in the form of tal u’matar livrachah – dew and rain for a blessing – upon the earth.

“Logically” speaking, after the millennia of hatred and destruction directed against us, there should not be one Jew in the world today who still keeps the Torah.

They were lining up for gas masks in Israel.

Apparently, at the very time of year we are supposed to be full of simcha, Hashem wants us to be aware of the possibility of danger. Indeed, during the Yom Tov of Sukkos, we read cataclysmic haftaras dealing with the ultimate war, the Milchemes Gog Umagog. Where does that war take place? In the Holy Land, of course, where the eyes of the world are always focused.

At the mikveh they were discussing Egypt.

So many things seem to be unraveling. It’s not just Egypt but the entire Middle East. No, it’s not just the Middle East; it’s the entire world.

What is the relationship between Pesach and Shavuos?
Rabbi Naftali Jaeger, rosh yeshiva of Sh’or Yoshuv, relates in the name of the Ishbitzer Rebbe a striking metaphor:

“In those days, when King Achashveirosh sat on his royal throne which was in Shushan the capital, in the third year of his reign, he made a feast for all his officials and servants, the army of Persia and Medea; the nobles and officials of the provinces being present, when he displayed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honor of his splendorous majesty for many days, a hundred and eighty days.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/sefira-and-the-battle-with-our-evil-inclination/2012/04/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: