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The Battle of the Generation - Day 7

Our weekly excerpt from the book "The Battle of the Generation"

Let’s not make the mistake of thinking Hashem is waiting for us to stumble so He can zap us. No matter what the yetzer hara tells us, we must remember that Hashem loves us and is our Father. He is not a mean and demanding tyrant who angrily demands perfection and doesn’t realize what we are going through. Hashem understands the great challenge of self-control. He relates to you on an individual level and realizes how hard it is to win this battle. He knows the emotions you experience when you want to give in to your desires. He feels your pain when you sway back and forth and are torn over what to do. Since He created the challenge and put it in the world, surely He understands better than anyone else how difficult it is to overcome.

Hashem is rooting for you to succeed! It would be ludicrous to think that Hashem just sits there and says “Big deal” when you win, or worse, that He is waiting for you to mess up so He can punish you. Hashem created us in this world to give us the opportunity to earn the greatest pleasure (Mesillas Yesharim, Chapter 1). He only made our challenges so difficult because that makes it so amazing when we make the right choice. We are here to accomplish and become great. Obviously, while we are here, we are obligated to follow Hashem’s laws, and of course there are consequences when we err. Nevertheless, our primary purpose is to accomplish, whether by doing good or by exerting ourselves to resist doing wrong. This perspective will keep us strong so we continue to accomplish.

Regarding the first claim of the yetzer hara — that we won’t make it past a couple of days — the Chofetz Chaim informs us that this is simply a lie. Granted, we might slip up here and there, but overall, it becomes easier to control ourselves as we grow accustomed to not giving in. We acquire new habits of self-control, which make us much stronger. We even develop the ability to choose properly out of habit when we are not so motivated.

In addition, the longer we don’t experience desire, the weaker it becomes (Sukkah 52b). And each time we exert control over desire, we strengthen our ability to employ willpower in the future. All these factors make the battle easier once we start controlling ourselves.

Although it isn’t easy, we really can permanently leave the web of sin if we put in the effort. By changing our perspective and using techniques to attain self-control, we will escape the yetzer hara’s grasp and succeed. Controlling ourselves will become progressively easier once we start working on it.

Hashem gave us the greatest opportunity in history by placing us in this world at this time. If we don’t fall for the yetzer hara’s dirty maneuvers, and if we realize what we can accomplish and become, we will go forward with excitement and deal him a crushing blow in the battle of the generation.

Quick Recap:

  • The yetzer hara tries to derail us by destroying our excitement about what we can accomplish, thereby sapping the motivation we need to defeat him.
  • We must realize the foolishness of the yetzer hara’s lies and unleash our excitement for life.
  • Though it might be difficult to realize when we are trapped by desire, we can regain control over the yetzer hara.