Thursday, 26 April 2012

Overcome the Yetzer Hara

by GYE (See all authors)

The core of the famous "12-Step" program and the secret to its great success, are the first 3 steps:

1. We admitted we were powerless over lust, and that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God.

All wisdom can be found in the Torah, and Rabbi A.J Twerski has a book called "Self improvement? I'm Jewish!" which shows how the 12 steps are essentially the same strategies described by the Sifrei Mussar.

To understand what makes these 3 steps so profound, someone pointed out to me a beautiful piece from the Maharal (Netiv Koach Hayetzer, Perek 4). The relevant Hebrew text can be downloaded here.

The Maharal writes something that sounds very simple, yet he claims that it is the deepest secret to understanding the battle with the Yetzer Hara. The Maharal writes, that as long as a person believes he can overcome the Yetzer Hara himself, he will fail. This is because he is pitting his strength against the strength of the Yetzer Hara, like two people who are fighting with each other. The Yetzer Hara is an angel of G-d, and we are mere mortals. Obviously, the angel will overcome the mortal. The only one who is stronger than this angel is Hashem himself. He alone can help us overcome the Yetzer Hara.

This is the secret to understanding the great success of the 12-Step program. Even the Non-Jews were given the enlightened wisdom to understand this secret. It is only when we acknowledge that we are powerless (on our own), and turn our will and lives over to the care of Hashem that can we begin to see victory over this powerful angel.

And the key to this, is prayer. Every day, and especially when the Yetzer Hara strikes, we must cry out in our hearts to Hashem: "I am powerless without you Hashem. Only you can take these burning desires away from me. I give my addiction over to you, Hashem. Help me to see the beauty in you, not in flesh and blood. Help me to transfer my lust and love to you. I give my life over to your care".

See this page as well, for more on this fundamental secret to success.