“Man has been placed in the midst of a raging battle. All
affairs of the world, whether they are good or bad, are trials
to man: Poverty on the one hand and wealth on the other; serenity
on the one hand and suffering on the other. The battle rages
from both sides. If he is victorious on all sides, then he can
become a ‘Whole Man.’”
(R’ Moshe Chaim Luzzato, Mesilas
THE “RAGING BATTLE” of life
surrounds us every moment, every day. Good and bad, suffering
and serenity, health and illness,
all challenge us alike. How should a person react to life’s
tests—to nisyonos? Why, indeed, are we subjected to these
never-ending tests? And, perhaps most important, how can we emerge
victorious in this lifelong battle, so that we become, as the
Mesilas Yeshorim says, “whole?”
The force behind
our power to overcome it
There is a force within us that creates these challenges.
It brings the rich to miserliness and the poor to despair, the
to doubt and the untroubled to complacency. It possesses the
power to take each human condition and turn it into a test of
faith and strength. It is the Yetzer Hora—the evil inclination,
the unwelcome guest in the soul of every human being. It is the
inclination with the power—and the purpose—to challenge
us to sin. The time will come when the Yetzer Hora will lose
its power. The Gemara tells us that at the end of days, Hashem will slaughter the Yetzer
Hora in front of the tzaddikim, the
righteous, and in front of the resho’im, the evil. In the
Olam HaEmes, the World of Truth, the Yetzer Hora will appear
in its true form, unmasked by human misinterpretation. Still,
it will appear in different forms to different people.
To the tzaddik, the Yetzer Hora will appear as
a mighty mountain, and to the rosha, as a thin hair-like strand.
But in the World
of Truth, both the righteous and the evil will know beyond a
doubt that what he sees is the very force that has challenged
him throughout his life. And, interestingly, the Gemara tells
us that both tzaddik and rosha will cry at the sight.
How can it be, asks Rabbi Kolonymus Kalman, the
that the same entity, the Yetzer Hora, will appear so differently
to different people? How can the tzaddik see it as a mountain
and the rosha as a hair?
It is because each person will see the Yetzer
Hora as the challenges he was presented with. The tzaddik, presented
with difficult tests, will see the mountain of challenges he
overcame. He will recall the trials and tests he faced, each
one meted out to him according to his ability to overcome it.
He will understand the power of his faith, and the way each test
strengthened it to massive proportions. And when faced with the
greatness of his efforts, the har govoha—the mighty mountain
he battled, he will cry, overwhelmed with emotion at his success.
Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser is a noted author,
lecturer, and Rabbi of K’hal Bais
Yitzchok, Brooklyn, New York.