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Rebbe Nachman of Breslov tells us the following in Sichos HaRan (#6):

“The evil inclination (In Hebrew, yetzer hara, the evil in man.) is like a prankster running through a crowd showing his tightly-closed hand. No one knows what he is holding. He goes up to each one and asks, ‘What do you suppose I have in my hand?'”

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“Each one imagines that the closed hand contains just what he desires most. They all hurry and run after the prankster. Then, when he has tricked them all into following him, he opens his hand. It is completely empty.”

“The same is true of the evil inclination,” says the Rebbe Nachman. “He fools the world, tricking it into following him. All men think that his hand contains what they desire. In the end, he opens his hand. There is nothing in it and no desire is ever fulfilled.”

“Worldly pleasures are like sunbeams in a dark room. They may actually seem solid, but he who tries to grasp a sunbeam finds nothing in his hand. The same is true of all worldly desires.”

As we enter a new year and approach the awesome and holy day of Yom Kipper, let us take this fact to heart and internalize it deep into our subconscious minds. By knowing with certainty that the evil inclination offers us nothing of substance, we will be able to mean what we say on the Day of Atonement and truly become ba’alei teshuva in the coming year.

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Rabbi Nosson Rossman is a rabbinic field representative for the Orthodox Union. He can be reached at nathanlrossman@gmail.com.