Positive Vision - Day 23
Rabbi Avrohom Neuberger
Our weekly excerpt from the book "Positive Vision"
Day 23 - The Doctor Knows Best - Barasi Torah Tavlin
In 1977, a seven-year-old boy, Joey Hofbauer, developed a lump in his neck and was diagnosed as suffering from Hodgkin's disease. His prognosis was excellent, with a 95-percent chance of complete remission according to expert oncologists. But his parents decided that there must be a more "natural" way to cure their son than toxic chemotherapy and radiation. They refused standard treatment and opted to "treat" their child with something called "laetrile," a supposed cancer cure extracted from apricot pits. The state of New York tried to take custody of Joey but lost the case because the parents found a "doctor" who agreed to administer laetrile, and who added other completely irrelevant ingredients as well.
Unfortunately, the boy died three years later at the age of ten.
The point of this tale of woe?
It is a variation on the Mesillas Yesharim's mashal as to how one should deal with his yetzer hara. He writes as follows:
Chazal state expressly, "I created the yetzer hara and I created the Torah as the antidote." This much then should be obvious. If the Creator created nothing but this therapy to treat this problem, then using this therapy is the only possible way to solve this problem. Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional ... The yetzer hara is very strong, and without one's awareness becomes increasingly powerful and takes control. One can try anything in the world; if he fails to take the therapy that Hashem created, namely the Torah, nothing will work. He will not even realize how sick he has become until he dies with all his sins and loses his neshamah. This is like a sick person who goes to a doctor, is diagnosed, and is prescribed a certain medicine. Then, without any medical knowledge, this individual decides not to take that medicine but chooses instead to take some other medicine that he dreams up. He will most certainly die. So too here. No one knows more about the yetzer hara malady and its power than the Creator; He created it. And He Himself informed us that the antidote is the Torah. Anyone who decides not to use that therapy and tries something else instead, undoubtedly allows the blackness of his physical being to overtake him. He will not know what happened until he is completely mired in evil and very distant from reality, to the degree that he will not even think about coming back to the truth.
But, by involving oneself in Torah, and learning its ways, commandments and restrictions, he will ultimately be moved to return to the proper path. As Chazal teach, "If only they would leave Me, but still guard My Torah, its light would return them to good.
How the Torah cures us from the yetzer hara will be discussed later. But this much is clear. If we are to take control of our yetzer hara, it is all about Torah, Torah, Torah.