Harness Your Evil Inclination (and put ‘im to work)

When a car hits an icy patch in the road and begins to skid, drivers are told not to turn against the skid.  If the car is skidding rightwards and the driver yanks the steering wheel immediately to the left, there would be too much friction and the car would flip itself over, wheels spinning in the air.  Drivers are taught to start to move the wheel in the direction of the skid, and then, once they gain control of the steering wheel, then they move the car back against the skid.

This principle sometimes helps with Chinuch [pedagogy] – when a child is slipping, we stand to lose total control of the child when we try to yank control quickly opposite the will of the child.  Sometimes, you need to go along with some Mishigas [craziness] to gain control of the child and be able to safely bring the child out of the skid.  Not completely should you go with the Mishigas, but to gain control of the child by seeming to start off with the child’s direction, and then easing the child back into the direction that is right.

This concept is not just for the Chinuch of our children – we need it for our own lives.  Dovid HaMelech says that his Yetzer Harah [evil inclination] would tell him to go to places where he shouldn’t, to “have fun”.  If he were to have fought it fully, he would have lost the battle.  Therefore, Dovid HaMelech lets us know how he tricked his Yetzer.  He would say, okay, let me go “huhtzkeh”[party], and he would get up and get ready to go.  It is quite the reality that when our evil inclination is pushing us to go places where we shouldn’t, we are motivated to get ready fast.  So, chick-chock, Dovid HaMelech was up and dressed and ready to go.  Once he was ready to go he would run to the study hall quickly, outsmarting the Yetzer HaRah.    We need to learn how to go with our skids and take the control of ourselves back from the Yetzer HaRah.  We can even use our Yetzer Harah to bribe ourselves to do the right thing. Rav Dessler describes how he loved a hot coffee in the morning – and he used that desire to get himself going to morning prayers – if he was up on time, he got his coffee.  He used a “ta’ava” [desire] to push himself to Zrizus [alacrity to good].

The question is, if we are “going with the skid”, using our Yetzer Hara into getting control of ourselves, is that a copout or is that the way things were meant to be?

G-d says, “I created the Yetzer Harah, I created the Torah as the spice for it.”  The Yetzer Hara could be harnessed, should be used, can be an ingredient in our worship of G-d.  Those desires which might seem bad can be used for good.  That is why in your Shema, you say that you will serve G-d “Bechal Levavcha” – and there is a double Bais letter even though only one is called for in the spelling of that word.  We are taught that one Bais represents the Yetzer Tov, which naturally turns towards good, and one Bais for the work we do to serve G-d with our Yetzer Harah.  Know your Yetzer Hara.  Know your children’s Yetzer Hara.  Then harness that Yetzer Hara, put it to work in doing good.


Rabbi Dessler’s ideas can be read in Strive for Truth.  You can read a bit more about this Torah philosopher here:  http://www.jewishmediaresources.com/290/rav-dessler-the-life-and-impact-of-rabbi-eliyahu

For an interesting Q&A about this quote of the creation of the Yetzer Harah, read here: http://ohr.edu/ask_db/ask_main.php/27/Q2/


About jewishspectacles

Jewish Spectacles-the kind you look through, not the kind you create!
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