Friday, January 11, 2013

The Evil Inclination

     The Evil Inclination is like one who runs amongst the people with his hand closed, and nobody knows what's in it. He tricks people and asks each one: What am I holding? and each person assumes that the closed hand holds something he desires very much. So everyone runs after him. Eventually he opens his hand and there is nothing there at all.

     "If this lowlife, the evil inclination, meets you, drag him to the study hall" (Kiddushin 30b).
     At times, the evil inclination prays within a person. The person is like a synagogue in which someone is praying.
     At other times, a person is like a study hall in which the evil inclination is learning.
     The superior situation is that of the study hall. Our sages said that "if [the evil inclination] is a stone, it will melt [as a result of one's learning]: if it is metal, it will explode" (Kiddushin 30b).
    This is why our sages began by saying, "If this lowlife meets you." The word used here for meeting refers homilectically to prayer, as our sages pointed out (Berachot 26b). In other words, when this lowlife is praying within you, and you are only like a synagogue, drag him to the study hall, for it is better that one become like a study hall, since that is more efficacious in dealing with one's evil inclination.