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7 Ways of Fighting our Yetzer Hara

Published on Monday June 3th, 2019

We all aspire to receive divine help in our daily struggle against the Yetzer Hara, but in order to deserve this help, we must act in order to show Hashem our deep desire to improve ourselves. The Gaon of Vilna asserts that man can receive divine help only after he has done everything in his power to combat his evil inclination.


Method 1: Silence the Bad Inclination

The first method of combat is to silence the evil inclination by rejecting his suggestions. It is said that Rav Mevorky was lying in bed when he felt the urge to smell the tobacco powder that was in the next room. He then spoke to his bad inclination: "If I get up and go to the next room to look for the box of tobacco, you will have won, because I will have followed my desire. If I stay in bed, you will have won, because I will be lazy! The Rav then went to the next room without touching the tobacco and he returned to his bed, in order not to follow his desire and not to be lazy.

 

Method 2: Postpone the Fight Until Later

In most cases, the Yetzer Hara urges us to act immediately, without thinking, therefore we can conquer the Yetzer Hara by postponing the fight to another day or time. This method is especially effective to limit pleasures (sleep, food, etc.), to gain zeal and overcome laziness or to control one's anger.

When the Yetzer Hara makes you sin, postpone the action until later.

On the other hand, if it prevents you from doing a Mitzvah by reinforcing your laziness, start acting immediately and repel laziness.

 

Method 3: Proceed in Stages

In general, if you start to slightly progress, the Yetzer Hara will attack you in another way: he will discourage you by showing you all that you have to improve.

If you find yourself facing an ordeal that seems insurmountable, try to change your point of view. It is possible that what Hashem expects of you, for the moment, is to overcome only part of the ordeal. Break it down into smaller parts to fight Yetzer Hara.

 

Method 4: Divert Bad Thoughts

For example, when distant thoughts disturb your prayers, do not think, "I must not let them in, I must not let them in". Seek instead to divert them: Think that you are standing in the palace of the king, the angels are dancing around you with enthusiasm. ...

Method 5: Do Not Give In

The Yetzer Hara always starts attacking us by influencing us to transgress minor sins. Then, when he gets stronger, he makes us commit more serious sins. This is the reason why it is fundamental not to give in, even for something small to the bad inclination.

 

Method 6: Flee the Yetzer Hara

One day when there was no one around, Potifar wife, who was trying to seduce Yosef, tore his garment. On this subject it is written: "He left his garment in her hand, and he fled outside''.

Now, it is hard to understand that Yosef left his clothes with Potifar wife, since he knew that she was going to use this false evidence to accuse him to her husband and thus take revenge. Our Sages answer that he feared that the Yetzer Hara would surprise him, so he fled as quickly as possible, despite the risk of being accused unfairly.

Like Yosef Hatsadik, take flight as soon as you sense an attack by Yetzer Hara. This can be used to save oneself from all kinds of situations, such as to run out of bed in the morning in case of laziness, etc.

 

Method 7: Two methods of Mussar

The two methods previously discussed have in common the use of the power of the imagination. The Yetzer Hara uses our imagination without the intervention of reason. The following methods use the imagination guided by reason.

 

Fear of Others

In the event of an attack by the Yetzer Hara, imagine that someone you respect is watching you, or that your sin will be revealed to those around you.

 

The Merit of Our Ancestors

The Yetzer Hara sometimes convinces you to be believe that the Mitzvah you wish to accomplish is only for tzaddikim, and that you are not at the level of your spiritual aspirations, etc. The response to this attack is contained in the Mishnah: "Know where you come from." Remember that you are the descendants of Tzadikim: Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov, and that you are at the level to perform all the Mitzvot and to become a Tzaddik. On the other hand, if the Yetzer Hara of pride attacks you, the answer is in the end of the same Mishna: "Know where you are heading [...] to a place of dust, worms, and vermin".

We have presented in this article several tips and methods to fight the Yetzer Hara. You should not be discouraged. Tzaddikim themselves make mistakes, as it is written: "A Tzaddik falls seven times and gets up". They know that falling is part of their progression in the Divine Service, so they do not get discouraged and learn from their failures.

The value of the accomplishment of the Mitzvot depends on our efforts and each of our struggles against the evil inclination has value.

The Torah-Box Team - © Torah-Box

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