by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths
Everyone has a yezter hara, an evil inclination. Sometimes ones inclination is a straightforward force, a surge of bodily desires – for food, for pleasures, etc. But the Torah teaches us to control our desires, to channel them into the allowed, at the proper time, with appropriate blessings. If (IF) we’re doing things the right way with the right intentions, we’re a little less susceptible to this attack.
Ahh, there are less direct desires the yetzer can engage. A little bit of laziness, to share a juicy bit of gossip, to complain even when things are ok. Normal human emotional desires with just a little nudge. But the Shulchan Aruch teaches us ways to direct our energies to strengthen this area. Less easy than the first, but again if we’re doing what we should (BIG IF), we’re a little less open to this attack.
Ahh, but the Yetzer Hara is also called a wily fox. He brings one to protect the “kovod” (the respect) of his rav, rebbe, shul, yeshiva or chassidus. This one will consider something said by others to be threatening and speak ill of those others, to protect the kovod! Another is trying to do good, build something for charity or Torah, and will bend the rules, take loans that can’t be repaid, even crush people that get in the way…because it’s for Torah and good! These are doing bad in the name of good and is why one must consult those of wisdom for direction in such areas.
Ahh, the yetzer has other tricks up it’s sleeve. We put men and women on pedestals, seeing men (and women) of Torah and declaring them to be perfect. Every rav with a good word must be A HOLY MAN, every rebbizten with a little leadership must be A HOLY WOMAN. Then when the yezter gets them (for nobody is perfect)…we judge Torah for their failings! We must understand, our rabbi’s are people too. Hopefully with more Torah and wisdom, but still with stinky feet like everyone else.
There are some special men (and women), tzaddikim in every generation. But even for them, those that surround them are just people too. With a holy purpose but with a yezter hara just like the rest of us.
Occasionally our rabbis fall. We shouldn’t let the Yetzer Hara drag us down because we believed they had no failings. That’s our failing, not theirs.
Nor should we protect our holy men when they fall. There’s teshuva, they are responsible to pick themselves up (and as an example to us) and fix it. We should not pretend or fool ourselves into thinking their holiness prevents them from the possibility of doing any bad. Everyone, except perhaps a few in every generation, has a yetzer hara and WILL do some level of aveyrot.
Personally I can forgive people for many things. But someone cloaking themselves in holiness and stating they are beyond such errors (and beyond the yetzer hara) or stating that their holy purpose overrides such concerns…this I cannot forgive.
Nor as a religious society should we accept such STUPIDITY. We only harm ourselves and open the door wider for the Yetzer Hara by doing so.