Shlomo Ezagui

Overcoming Addictions

According to several studies, addictions are a disease. The truth is, that other influences drive a person to become an addict, but in the end, the individual always retains the power of control over his choices. 

I have also read that, according to one author on the subject, while a person may intellectually understand that something is bad for them, the association of the imagery and, emotions with pleasant feelings, will many times trump what sound logic dictates. To overcome this problem, a person, with his mind must change the associations of certain bad decisions with good results to the bad and harmful results they cause in reality.

This research says nothing new. The Bible talks of two spirits that are built-in within a person: an animal soul, which in some people is stronger and more inclined to certain animalistic tendencies, and a Godly soul, which in some people is stronger in certain areas than others. The Godly soul, compared to light, dwells in and manifests itself through the mind, and it will always have power over the darkness and animal soul. As strong as emotions can be, the mind and reason (when leveraged correctly) can overcome those emotions and the animal within.

Our sages tell us that a person predisposed to bad habits but overcomes the temptation has a depth of goodness that might never have been realized if not for his predisposition to internal weakness and the trials he/she endured because of it. When facing an internal battle, the greater strength is always there to overcome and make us stronger and wiser.

Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch once told his son, “The evil inclination inside each one of us, even though it is called an animal, can at times act slyly and can clothe itself in the guise of a straightforward, humble, righteous person, requiring one to use much cleverness to uncover its tricks. The evil inclination manifests itself in each person according to his/her nature and weaknesses. One person might feel a powerful desire to do a good deed, yet it comes from the evil animal within, trying to prevent him from doing something necessary, positive, and good at this moment.”

“Take this as a general rule,” said the Rabbi. “Anything that leads to an actual performance of good and self-refinement and is met with opposition, even the noblest, comes from the evil inclination.”

Rabbi Meir of Premishlan once relayed the following story: “One wintry day, while I was traveling with my teacher, our horse and buggy reached an incline, and it seemed to me that the carriage would topple over at any moment. I was prepared to jump out hastily, full of youthful courage, when my teacher placed his hand on mine and said, ‘Sit down calmly; no bad will befall you.’ So it was. After some time had elapsed, suddenly, driving on flat and snowy terrain, we hit an ice patch. The carriage turned over, and we all fell on the snow. My teacher said, ‘Nu, do you now see when a person falls?’

This experience taught Rabbi Meir that sometimes the danger of succumbing to the evil inclination is not when danger is apparent. If we remain calm and collected, if we do not act in haste, and if we act with a focus on our goal, we will reach where we need to be.

When we least expect it and are overly confident, we unexpectedly reach the ice patch and go sliding down. We must always be on the lookout for the enemy because the enemy never forgets and is forever wired to carry out what THEY were created to do, to challenge our good side.

Chapter 66

About the Author
Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui is an author and lecturer. "A Spiritual Soul Book" ( & "Maimonides Advice for the 21st Century" ( In 1987, Rabbi Ezagui opened the first Chabad Center in Palm Beach County, Florida, and the first Orthodox Synagogue on the island of Palm Beach, Florida.
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