Friday, December 16, 2016

Mussar Drosha: Vayishlach

Mussar Drosha - Vayishlach:

This week’s parsha is Vayishlach, and in it, we have the famous “meeting” of Yaakov Avinu and Esav.  First, Yaakov Avinu sends messengers to Esav with certain things to say, and they return and report that Esav is coming towards him with 400 men.  

Now, this sounds like he is looking to perhaps kill Yaakov Avinu.  And Yaakov prepared.  He sent gifts to Esav to appease him, split the camps into two, and Davened to Hashem to protect him.  

As we know, Esav represents the Yetzer Hara.  And he is always trying to get us and ruin our lives.  Even though sometimes it seems like the Yetzer Hara is telling us something that is good for us and letting us do what we want, that is a false notion.  If you just think about it for a little while, you should realize what is going on:  

Hashem wants you to keep His Commandments and get the awesome rewards that He will give us.  He wants us to get everything good!  And what does our Yetzer Hara want?  He wants us to break the Commandments (Chas V’Shalom) and not get any rewards.  He wants us to chase after our fake desires and ruin our Life and Afterlife.  

Not only that, but the desires that he gives us and the things that he tries to make us think we want are not even what we desire and want!  As the Rambam zt”l tells us; every single Jewish Soul - meaning our true selves - only wants to do Hashem’s Will and nothing else.  

So let’s get this straight:  Our Yetzer Hara is trying to make us have a bad Life and Afterlife; not keep the Commandments so we get no rewards; make us do what we don’t want to, and we would listen to him, Chas V’Shalom?! 

But; the problem is that the Yetzer Hara knows his stuff.  He knows our weak points, so he knows how to make doing the right thing hard.  But we can beat him, and there are ways to!  We see how Yaakov Avinu did many things to prepare (I am not saying to do the exact same things with the Yetzer Hara that he did with Esav, but the general concept is the same) for Esav.  So too, with our Yetzer Hara we must do things in order to beat it.  Like Gemara Kiddushin says; if our Yetzer Hara wages war with us, drag him to the Beis Midrash/House of Study (i.e. learn Torah)!  

So we must take action often to stop our Yetzer Hara - just like Yaakov Avinu did with Esav. When it makes an attack we have to do something - whether it is not listening or learning Torah, etc.  This we can learn from Yaakov Avinu in this parsha.  

But, B’Ezras Hashem/with the Help of Hashem, I would like to go further:  You see that one of the things that Yaakov Avinu did was Daven to Hashem to save him from Esav. And we should understand that this is what we need to do with the Yetzer Hara as well. Alone, we cannot fight it.  We need Hashem’s Help!  And He is right there - just call out to Him to help you!  We must fight the Yetzer Hara, yes, but we also need to Daven to Hashem to help us with it - and He will.  

Those are a couple of lessons we can learn from the Yaakov-Esav encounter about the Yetzer Hara.  And the Divrei Yisroel (the first Modzitzer Rebbe; Rebbe Yisroel of Modzitz zt”l) teaches us that there is another one in it 

Yaakov Avinu, as we know, split up his camp into two saying that if Esav hit one camp, then (at least) the other would escape, and he would not get it.  Says the Modzitzer Rebbe zt”l; this teaches us a great lesson in fighting the Yetzer Hara: 

If, Chas V’Shalom, your Yetzer Hara does get to you and you fall and sin; don’t get depressed.  If he, Chas V’Shalom hits you in one “camp”, then at least try to make sure that he does not get the second. The thing that the Yetzer Hara wants you to do most is to get down on yourself and depressed. Sometimes you might, Rachmana Litzlan/may the Merciful One save us, fall.  But you know what; you can get back up.  

The worst thing to do (except for maybe to continue doing bad things) is to get depressed and down on yourself.  You should regret the sin and do Teshuva for it, of course, but you must try to make sure not to get depressed, Chas V’Shalom, as that is exactly what your Yetzer Hara wants you to do.  

Yaakov Avinu, with his approach to facing Esav teaches us a lot of things in beating our Yetzer Hara.  Including the fact that we must use the methods that we have been taught to beat our Yetzer Hara, such as learning Torah and Mussar, etc.  But also the fact that we must use individual methods for beating our Yetzer Hara, because each person has their own unique challenges and temptations. 

Just remember that this is the real war in life, and that the Yetzer Hara will not give up - on the other hand, you won’t either.  We must do our part in this battle, and may Hashem help every single person to always beat their temptations and their Yetzer Hara, Amein vi’Amein.  And in the merit of winning our personal wars (with the Yetzer Hara), Hashem will send Mashiach very, very speedily in everyone’s days, and then, as Gemara Sukkah tells us, He will take away our Yetzer Haras.  May He do so very speedily, Amein vi’Amein, so may it be His Will. 

Have a wonderful Shabbos full of Kedusha and inspired, warm, Avodas Hashem! 

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