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Nisan 28

[The yetzer hara] is an old, foolish king (cf. Ecclesiastes 4:13).

The Rabbi of Rhizin was imprisoned by the Czarist government. He said that until his imprisonment he never fully understood the above description of the yetzer hara, the evil inclination within people. "A king, yes," he observed, "because he rules over so many people. Old, yes, because he is as old as creation. But why `foolish'? He seems to be very sly and cunning.

"When I was in prison, however, I found that the yetzer hara was there with me too. Now, I had no choice about being in prison, because gendarmes took me there at gunpoint. But no one forced the yetzer hara, and if he came there of his own free will, he is indeed a fool."

We must be aware that the yetzer hara never leaves people but will follow them into the most undesirable circumstances. People may be gravely ill and in pain, hardly a desirable condition, but the yetzer hara will stay with them. Soldiers may be at the battlefront under mortal fire, yet there too, the yetzer hara will accompany them.

The yetzer hara has his assignment and does not take "no" for an answer. He never leaves his post, even under the most dire circumstances. In this respect, he should serve as a model for us, that we too should never defect from an assignment, regardless of adverse conditions.

Today I shall...

dedicate myself to doing my assignment irrespective of what circumstances may be.

With stories and insights, Rabbi Twerski's new book Twerski on Machzor makes Rosh Hashanah prayers more meaningful. Click here to order...

Published: May 21, 2009

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