“Battling the Yetzer Hara”

CMY’s Winter Women’s Bible Study with Rebbetzin Keturah

February 2017

Based on the Teachings of the Maharal of Prague, Rabbi Yehudah Loewe & the Ramchal, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto – studied through the book: “Battle Plans: How to Defeat the Yetzer Hara” by Rebbetzin Tzipporah Heller & Sara Yoheved Rigler

Lesson Objectives:

  • Define the yetzer hara and understand its power
  • Show you that we lack nothing in this life & that All things serve a purpose for our soul correction
  • Discuss how doing chesed leaves no room for the yetzer hara to take place in our lives.

THE YETZER HARA- our evil inclination (a.k.a. “The Flesh”)

The yetzer hara– in its essence, it is the enemy of the soul. When dealing with flesh vs spiritual goals, the yetzer hara is the flesh and its objective is to get you to cater more to your flesh so that you do not listen to your spiritual wants and needs.

The yetzer hara is the “hasatan”  within all of us that allows us to to be lead astray from HaShem. The yetzer hara is not an outside force or devil. It is that inner small voice that tells us to do opposite of what HaShem requires from us spiritually.

The Yetzer Hara, according to the Maharal is:

Evil, uncircumcised, impure, the enemy, a stumbling blocks stone, and a viper

These are the seven names of the yetzer hara given to it by HaShem, Moshe, David and other prophets in our scriptures.

It leads us to act selfish, to bless ourselves with fleshly pleasures. The yetzer hara also allows us to gain knowledge, wealth, and livelihood on our own accord without HaShem. It views life as physical only, therefore we must meet our physical needs of shelter, provisions, sex, desires, the lust of life, and the lust of knowledge. All of these desires are a direct cause that came from us partaking in the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. These things, when unbalanced and unchecked by the spiritual side of ourselves become man’s downfall.

The dangerous thing about the yetzer hara is that most westernized religions like Christianity and even Messianic Judaism teach that all of these bad things are caused by a physical Satan or devil without explaining that the true cause even behind demons and devils physically, is mankind’s desire for forbidden fruits, man’s desire of the eyes for things in which he should not touch or think about. the want and need to always want more than what we have. Once the eyes see something, the desires of man’s heart will either grab it- even if it is not his to take or dwell on it until he masters a plan in secret to grab it later. The desire of the heart, it the true satan, the desire to sin is the yetzer hara’s true nature.

The ten commandments that we have today, you will see that mankind’s inner voice was not so spiritual like it should have been to the point where HaShem had to tell us that no- we should not steal from each other just because your eyes desire what your neighbour has, no we need not want or covet what our neighbour has, no we need not commit adultery just because you desire your neighbour’s wife or husband, No you will not murder your neighbor just because you were angry or wanted to take his property. No, we will not do just want ever we want to do just because we want to. We will look around us and sacrifice some of those wants in order to be more than just a person who only looks out for himself.  We will begin to view others as we do ourselves. So when others hurt, we hurt. We become a community and not selfish. Today’s society is selfish. We only do what we feel, we are a hippie generation – everyone is offended. You can’t say anything, they preach tolerance of all and everyone. 

However, it is also taught by our sages that you can not be either all spiritual or all fleshy either. That you must be perfecting balance. There is no such thing as 100% holy except HaShem. Those who are so focused on the spiritual, end up getting into what is called “false humility” because they are also in their yetzer hara and are selfish. They lock themselves up from the world and become hermits- seeking spiritual paths alone instead of seeking these paths in order to go help someone.

This is also operating in your yetzer hara because you only think of yourself. Example, how many people do we know who attend a church or synagogue only to come on Shabbat and then leave and you never see them volunteer for any causes; you never see them actually doing what is being taught. They will come for bible study to gain knowledge of the Torah but inside they are knowledge hoarders. Seeking knowledge when left unbalanced is also a characteristic of the yetzer hara.

The yetzer hara will seduce you into the pleasures of the physical world to fill the empty space within you. The reason why this is a characteristic is because only HaShem can fill this void or empty space. But the yetzer will tell you that money, fame, shopping will fill it, or a boyfriend/ husband or even children will fill it. These things then become idols. The yetzer hara will never tell you that you can get it filled by learning and living the Torah.

For successful people who do not believe in g-d, the yetzer hara gets them to believe that they alone caused their success. That we don’t need a g-d, we can do anything and all things by our human intelligence and by working hard.

The yetzer hara is also the “holier art tho” mentality. 

This is the illusion and lie that causes the person to believer that they are more holier than someone else. This, in turn, begins a full blast campaign to judge others that are not at the same level or believe the same as the person. Which then brings on lashon hara against others.

Taking this concept further, when we speak lashon hara against others, we then allow our ego to inflate and become idol in the worship of our self. We make ourself judge and lord over someone thru our speech. The yetzer hara gains power from these types of acts because it is hurtful and because we view those we speak against as inferior to ourselves.

HOW TO FIGHT THE YETZER HARA

(YOUR EVIL INCLINATION/FLESH)

Defeating the yetzer hara

To defeat the yetzer hara we have to use strategic intelligence as if we are fighting a war.

This is intercepting the enemy’s communications & decoding them. It involves trying to figure out the enemy’s strategies that are being used and then deflecting them away.

“if your enemy is hungry give him bread, if he is thirsty,

pour out water for him to drink, because you’ll be pouring hot coals

on his head, and HaShem will repay you.”

The yetzer hara is always characterized by hunger, thirst, and lack- lack of food,  lack of money; it is always needing something more.

The message of the yetzer hara is “you don’t have what you need.”

Therefore to defeat the yetzer hara- we must declare that “everything we need, we already have and that HaShem is the provider and will provide whatever we need when we need it”.

Learning halachah defeats the evil inclination. Knowing the laws of speech and laws of ethics (mussar) helps us to know true clarity of HaShem’s intentions when he gave us the commandments.

Examples:

“When you yell at children- we call it discipline, but the reality is- it is the sin of onaas devarim- hurting other people with words

When you complain about another person, we call it constructive criticism but it really is- the sin of lashon hara

Put on the Full Armour of G-d

Finally, grow powerful in union with the Lord, in union with his mighty strength!  11 Use all the armor and weaponry that God provides, so that you will be able to stand against the deceptive tactics of the Adversary.  12 For we are not struggling against human beings, but against the rulers, authorities and cosmic powers governing this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm.  13 So take up every piece of war equipment God provides; so that when the evil day comes, you will be able to resist; and when the battle is won, you will still be standing.  14 Therefore, stand! Have the belt of truth buckled around your waist,h put on righteousness for a breastplate, 15 and wear on your feet the readiness that comes from the Good News of shalom.j 16 Always carry the shield of trust, with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the Evil One.  17 And take the helmet of deliverance;k along with the sword given by the Spirit, that is, the Word of God;  18 as you pray at all times, with all kinds of prayers and requests, in the Spirit, vigilantly and persistently, for all God’s people.  -Ephesians 6:10-18

In addition to what the book of Ephesians says about putting on HaShem’s armour, according to the Maharal, we have a “Master Plan” to win against our evil inclination.

  1. Begin to have a mentality of wholeness & giving. It will stop you from thinking that you need more/that you are lacking something.
  2. Learn Torah- learn the goodness of the word and embed it in your spirit
  3. Recite the Shema- it reminds us that there is only ONE power source- HaShem. Everything that happens to us comes, directly or indirectly, from HaShem. Everything occurs to help us in our daily dying of the flesh (soul correction).
  4. Remember the day of your death, which could be today- this reminds us that before we sin, we are to think about it this sin is the last thing that we do if we were to die right now and if HaShem would be happy with your choices in life.

According to the New Testament, the best way to kill the flesh is by repenting for your sins DAILY, praying and fasting and by pleading the blood of the Mashiach over your life. This breaks any chain that has a hold over you.

Doing Chesed- good deeds

Doing Chesed involves helping others and putting their needs before your own. This leaves no room for the yetzer hara, which is the same thing as egotism.

The New Testament says that when a house has been cleaned out (meaning you) that is you do not fill it with anything of value (HaShem’s spiritual truths) that it will attract and build up more mess than it did before the cleaning (in the form of demonic sins and activity).

The Maharal also advocates filling the empty space with Torah and with acts of kindness. The Torah offers you goodness. It changes the way you think and gives you a RELATIONSHIP to goodness- which is HaShem.

Some examples of charity include:

shopping for your parents, or spouse, running errands when you don’t want tohelping each other with tasks that may seem hard for one person

helping each other with tasks that may seem hard for one person

helping children with homework

When women feel burned-out, they feel that there is no time to do chesed. But taking care of your family is chased. Making sure that you are meeting your families need is killing the flesh and showing us that we are the closest that our children have to HaShem. If our answer and show of love and kindness towards them is not present, they grow up bitter and try to find love in the wrong places. Our ministry as women first is our family. This is an instant yetzer hara killer because helping family promotes spiritual growth and kills the flesh instantly.

If you have time after taking care of your family, you can do things like:

Invite others over for Shabbat dinner, especially singles or others who have never experienced Shabbat,

Go to visit the sick in the hospital or the sick and shut in from your community,

Praying with someone over the phone,

Raise money for a cause/tzedekah for your community

Help someone who is looking for a job