Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Slaughtering the Yetzer

The Beis Yisrael of Gur, zt”l, worked incessantly to encourage others to use every ounce of their strength to fight the yetzer hara. For tens of years, he acted like a general, imbuing his chassidim with the fortitude that enabled them to overcome many bitter tests.
Many chassidim remember his penetrating gaze that would sweep the room filled wall to wall with chassidim. It was when they had just finished saying the ten chapters of Tehillim that they recited after every Mincha since the Yom Kippur war. His face radiated a glowing fire as he would intone, 'זובח תודה יכדנני!'
Every man present knew exactly what he was referring to. Our sages use this verse as the proof of a very striking statement. “Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said, ‘Anyone who slaughters his yetzer by doing teshuvah and confessing his sin is considered to have honored Hashem in this world and the next. As the verse states, 'זובח תודה יכדנני!'”
But of course, it takes a huge effort to overcome one’s natural inclination to minimize and rationalize our flaws away. Yet this effort is well worth it. The Toras Avos of Slonim, explains this in his insightful way. “First one must be slaughter his yetzer by mustering up all of his strength to force himself to overcome his evil inclination. Even though he is filled with longing for what he knows to be wrong, he forces himself to abstain, even though in his gut he doesn’t yet feel his behavior was so negative. But if he forces himself despite his inability to grasp why in much more than an intellectual way, the Mishnah in Avos is fulfilled in him. ‘Nullify your desires before Hashem’s will.’ After bending his yetzer to Hashem’s will, he will begin to feel how truly reprehensible his old ways were and he is able to say viddui from the bottom of his heart.”

No comments: