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Jewish Thinking

The Yetser Knocked you Down? Time to Get Up

Published on Tuesday January 14th, 2020

You fell? So, what now?

Climbing spiritual heights is like sports’ competitions. You may stumble and fall, receive blows but that doesn’t mean you should give up and resign.

Over the last few weeks, Jonathan does not respect Shabbat anymore. It’s too difficult for him. In fact, for a while, he had managed to keep the basic Shabbat Halachot.  Up until his peers came into the picture and suggested a trip to the beach that he couldn’t resist, so he took the car and drove down to the shore. In fact, Jonathan was seduced by the Yetzer Hara.

Ever since poor Jonathan is not motivated to try again. On Friday, he diligently buys an extra pack of cigarettes to avoid withdrawal symptoms on Shabbat. On Friday evening, he sits on the couch to watch TV and goes to the beach the following morning. He feels if he tried to keep Shabbat again he would certainly fail. So, best not to retry the Shabbat system. He already failed once.

But at the beach, Jonathan is a different man. A real fighter. He stands on his surfboard, faces gigantic waves, manages to surf over and sometimes, takes a fall. So, what now? Jonathan doesn’t lose hope. He climbs back on the surfboard to combat the perpetual waves that crash on the beach. Why is surfing such an audacious sport? Because one fails the first time, as well as the second, and the third. It isn’t an easy sport to practice. But this is the challenge of surfing.

So, what are we dealing with here? Does Jonathan like challenges or is he a scary cat? He can fall multiple times and get up again to succeed at surfing. On the other hand, the minutest difficulty deters him from practising the game of Shabbat.

The answer is that Jonathan likes challenges and is perfectly capable of facing them. But when it comes to spirituality, such as respecting Shabbat or guarding his eyes against glancing at improper images, he loses track. The Yetzer Hara paralyzes him and one must believe he is unable to overcome these difficulties.

We must give him some sound advice to battle the Yetzer Hara and internalize it ourselves. Climbing spiritual heights and conquering new spiritual levels is like physical and material climbing. When confronting an opponent in the boxing ring, you may experience getting knocked down before you manage to get back in control. Your opponent may well be able to knock and hold you down even if he is weaker than yourself. This does not mean he is stronger than you. So, get back in control, get up and hit him like you have been trained to do. Without this, there can be no victory.

If only Jonathan knew that the war against the Yetzer Hara is like an audacious sport and that even when one stumbles, it's not the end of the world. The important thing is to get back up, strengthen one's spirit and continue trying.

This is the meaning of the verse: "A Tzaddik falls seven times and rises again".

Please internalize this message: if you haven't fallen seven times, it seems that perhaps you are not a tzaddik. It is impossible to become a Tzaddik unless you gathered the courage to get back on your feet and put up a fight after receiving multiple blows from the Yetzer Hara. Of course, one should avoid getting beaten up as much as possible. Nobody likes to get blows. But once we have been beaten, it is our job to get up and put up a fight.

The Torah-Box Team - © Torah-Box

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