Kenneth Cohen

Lifetime Battle

Rabbi Twerski pointed out that there is only Mitzva in the Torah that is specifically directed to the Yeitzer Hara, evil inclination. This is the case of the beautiful woman taken captive.

Permission is reluctantly given to the captor to have relations with the prisoner once. After this one episode, she must be treated as a potential wife, with dignity. The Rabbis reason for this procedure is that “the Torah has spoken opposite the Yeitzer Hara.” If this procedure was not implemented, the captive would be taken anyways, in a much more undignified manner.
We are to be aware that there is an ongoing battle every person has with the Yeitzer Hara. It tries to take away our joy, creates doubts, and entices us to sin. It is described as being very cunning, sneaky, and powerful.

Rabbi Twerski, in his experience working with drug and alcohol addiction, saw the Yeitzer Hara at work. When one realized that his addiction was causing him harm, and he wanted to be rehabilitated, it became very difficult. It was as if there was a constant voice in his head, convincing him why it was okay to start his rehabilitation, “tomorrow.” One more day of drugs or alcohol, wouldn’t be so bad. And the process continues on and on, with tragic consequences.

The realization that there is a force that wants us to fail, is very important. Rav Shlomo Mann used to say that we should even speak to the Yeitzer Hara when we are feeling down. We tell it to leave us alone, because it has no business with us, and it will fail.

All of the books on Mussar speak of this battle, and we should not take it lightly. For winning this battle, gives us peace of mind, and allows us to focus on what is truly important, with enthusiasm and optimism.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at
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