Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Channeling the Yetzer Hara and the Power of an Hour

Great stuff as usual from today's Hahkel email:

Special Note Four: In last week's Perek (4:1), the Mishna teaches "Who is a Gibor? One who quashes his Yetzer Hora." Rashi to Sanhedrin (111 B) provides a great insight as to the higher form of Gibor one should strive for. Although one can simply deflect the Yetzer Hora--much like one distracts a baby in order to get him to stop crying, one can also channel the Yetzer Hora's seemingly patented drive and desire to sin into zerizus and hiddur in the performance of a mitzvah--just as the baby may be led to stop crying not by a petty distraction but by giving it a challenging, new or more interesting or learning experience. With this approach, the legs which are running to do an aveira--rather than simply stopping in their tracks--instead run to do a chesed or to get to Shul early; the tongue ready to speak sharp or biting words instead recall a d'var torah from the previous week's Parsha or speak gentle and calming words; the mind pondering something waste-filled or evil instead contemplates redding a Shidduch or figuring out how one can best help a neighbor or friend in need with a thoughtful measure of dignity and respect. In all of these circumstances, the vanquished Yetzer Hora is not merely put into prison to rot--but instead is used to build the very fort and castle of the Mitzvos and Ma'asim Tovim so necessary for one to realize his potential. It's great to beat the Yetzer Hora--it's even greater if you take his assault and turn his plans into a part of your offensive and success! If you are already ready to be a Gibor--why not try taking it to the higher level suggested by Rashi -- not only subverting the sin-- but converting it into your Neshama's delight!

Hakhel Note: Chazal taught us as well in last week's Perek (4:21) that one hour of Teshuva and Ma'asim Tovim in this world is 'yofeh'--better than all of Olam Haba. Let us contemplate the awesome nature of this statement. One hour of good deeds in this world is greater than the goodness of a World to Come that is go great that our corporal being cannot even fathom or imagine. The Mishna does not qualify its reference as to an hour of good deeds by clarifying that it is referring to one hour of Rashi or the Ramban's life, or the good deeds of Rebbe Akiva Eiger, the Vilna Gaon or the Chofetz Chaim. Rather, it clearly refers to any one's hour and any one's good deeds. Here, one is on common ground with the Gedolim of all previous generations and of his generation--he has the same potential to make the next hour shine more brilliantly than, using the Tanna's words, 'all of Olam Haba'. Can we find *at least one hour a day* which we consciously choose to make more 'yofeh' --better than all of Olam Haba? The greatness resounds within us --as we hoist up and elevate an Olam Hazeh that is sinking so low to all the world all around us to a very, very special place in the Highest of Heavens above. When someone asks you-- "Do you have the time? You can answer--"I have even more than that--I have the hour!"

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