Thursday, July 03, 2008

Torah is the ONLY antidote to the yetzer

I have slowly been making my way through some of R' Elchanan's ma'amarim and found an interesting thought in the name of the Chofetz Chaim. "Bara'si yetzer hara, barasi torah tavlin" means, says the C.C., that Torah is the only antidote to the yetzer hara.

R' Elchanan explains: Contrary to popular belief, the yetzer hara does not really mind if you do mitzvos. What community does not have a bikur cholim, a chessed fund, tzedaka organizations, etc.? And people give time and effort to these projects! The reason why it is so easy to dedicate time and effort to these causes is because the yetzer hara does not mind. But, when it comes to talmud torah, the yetzer hara is on guard; the yetzer knows that only talmud torah can bring his downfall. Someone who truly devotes himself to torah study [and I assume he means a regular guy, not someone in kollel who has nothing else to do] is a rare trasure and an uncommon sight even within our frum communities.


  1. Torah learning is also supposed to serve as shield against temptation, though. So a yeshiva student (now married with kids in the Holy Land) who used to get set up with very committed girls explained to them that it was safe for him to read the newspaper (even if they felt it was damaging to their own spiritual state) because he had the protection of his Torah learning.

  2. I have seen this applied successfully only by individuals that are truly "ahraingetohn" in learning: people who are up till two in the morning learning, who try to be among the asara rishonim on the yamim nora'im, and then let loose during bein hazmanim, or sometimes sneak out to a ball game, those are the ones who can trust the protection. The run of the mill ben torah, who comes to almost all sedorim usually on time, who understands the whole shiur, who occassionally asks a good question, these guys end up leaving yeshiva, with the bad habits and without the protection of limud hatorah.

    Also: this is not always true, but often, Reb Akiva Eiger's wife is to some extent like Reb Akiva Eiger. There are notable exceptions, where the wife of a gadol is just a ignorant pest. But Eishes Chaver KeChaver is not just a kavod protocol, it recognizes a reality, that real yiras shamayim tends to spread to one's spouse.

  3. By the way, the Chazon Ish in his igros says that the best shmira from a particular yetzer hara is to learn the dinim of that issur be'iyun. I've never tried it; but it sounds really right. Of course, the same yeitzer that pushes you to do the aveira will create barriers to stop you from learning the dinim.

  4. The chazon ish in emunah u'bitachon also pushes learning halacha and is otherwise anti-mussar.

    >>>are notable exceptions, where the wife of a gadol is just a ignorant pest. But Eishes Chaver KeChaver is not just a kavod protocol, it recognizes a reality,

    This is very true and many examples come to mind. But by the same token, a person who thinks of himself as a 'chaveir' but thinks the goal of marriage is to have someone to do the dishes and other chores while he lifts the intellectual and spiritual weight in the family perhaps reveals that he is less of a chaveir than he might think.

  5. arnie draiman3:57 AM

    very interesting point. i am a big tzedakah educator and tell people that doing mitzvahs is the antidote to the horrible stuff that goes on in our world.

    but, the antidote to the yeter harah, tzedakah is not enough. has to be combined with Torah. as hananya ben akashya says: Hashem wanted to 'L'zakot' yisrael, so He gave us lots of Torah and lots of mitzvahs....

    keyn yirbu!

    arnie draiman