9 Kislev 5779 / Saturday, November 17, 2018 | Torah Reading: Vayeitzei
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Thanks to My Evil Inclination    

Thanks to My Evil Inclination

We humans, in contrast to the angels, have been blessed with an evil inclination which gives us more importance in G-d’s eyes than the angels have...


We all have an inclination to do good and an inclination to do bad. There are no exceptions. The Creator gave us the inclination to do bad as well as the inclination to do good because He knew that we need both and that we must learn to serve Him even with our inclination to do bad.  


My good inclination is my higher spiritual self, my soul, my faith – it is the highest point of closeness to the Creator that I have reached so far. It is my humility, my ability to love unconditionally, and my desire to cling to the Creator eternally in the world to come.  My evil inclination is rooted in my body and its primitive instincts and desires. The demands of my body can cause me to be arrogant and self-centered - filling me with an insatiable desire for immediate gratification and the fulfillment of my will – not the Creator’s.


How does the Creator expect us to serve Him with our bad inclination? First let's realize that these two inclinations are hardly created equal. Rabbi Arush says that the real you is your good inclination which includes your good intentions. If your evil inclination isn’t really a part of you, who is he? Simply speaking he is an adversary who was sent to help you be actualized and bring out your inherent goodness. By tempting us to make the wrong decisions and take the wrong actions, the evil inclination helps us to become better than we would be without him.


The holy Baal HaTanya says that the evil inclination doesn’t really like the role he was given by the Creator. He is frightened of the Creator and knows that the Creator is ultimately judging him on how well he can assist us in becoming good and not on destroying us completely. So deep down, the evil inclination is fighting a fight that he really hopes in the end to lose.


On Rosh Hashanah night in Uman this year, I heard Rabbi Shalom Arush say something quite incredible. He said that the Creator gets no real satisfaction from the Angels, whom He created to be like “machines”, programmed to always do good. He said that the Angels don’t have an evil inclination and they have no choice but to think, speak and do everything with perfect purity and goodness. For this reason, the Creator doesn’t derive any real joy and satisfaction from the Angels.


We humans, in contrast to the Angels, have been blessed with an evil inclination which gives us more importance in G-d’s eyes than the Angels have. A person with an evil inclination who prays to overcome it daily gives tremendous satisfaction and fulfillment to the Creator - even if he’s still repeatedly failing to control it.


In addition to daily self-assessment and repentance, a very powerful way to enlist the Creator’s help in subduing my evil inclination is by having a dialogue with him during my personal prayer sessions.  I find that when I give my evil inclination an opportunity to present his arguments about why I shouldn’t serve the Creator or why I’m not capable of serving the Creator, I can better enlist the support, wisdom and power of my good inclination to counter him.  By inviting my evil inclination to speak, it brings greater honestly and clarity to my daily self-assessment and repentance. For that reason, I dialogue before I repent.


I usually begin by giving the two opponents who are living within me permission to debate each other on any issue, conflict, or problematic situation that comes up in my life. Of course the more that I read and learn about emuna, the more confidence I have that my good side will prevail and overpower my evil side. By learning about emuna, my good side has answers ready for practically any silly objection that my dark side might put forward. My good side can anticipate the arguments of my dark side which become fewer and weaker.


For example I might start by giving my evil side the honor of speaking first. He proceeds to list his litany of discouragements, enticements, false claims and lies about my life. I wait patiently until he’s done and then give my good side the chance to “answer” my evil side. When my good side is done, I have them switch places and give my evil side a chance to “answer” the objections and arguments of my good side. We can easily go back and forth like this for an hour of very focused and lively debate – but in the end I always feel better.


It’s so amazing to me that my evil inclination (who is no dummy) doesn’t seem to understand that he would have much more power over my good side if he refused to speak at all. He doesn’t seem to understand that his greatest power over me would be keeping me in the dark about the tactics and tricks that he has up his sleeve to discourage me and defeat me with. Why does he agree to dialogue?  I can only credit the Creator with this amazing occurrence.  The Creator protects me from my evil inclination by leading him into the same trap every day – He talks too much for his own good. The more I hear his evil philosophies out loud the more my good inclination shines the light of Truth on his lies and the more ridiculous he sounds to me.



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