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Va'eschanan

Thursday, 15th August 2019

The posuk (verse) (6:5) commands that you shall love HaShem (G-d) with "all" your heart (be’chol levavcha), which Rashi reveals refers to loving HaShem with both your inclinations; the yezter hatov (good inclination) and the yetzer hara (evil inclination). How can one possibly use the yetzer hara - that force which attempts to hijack one’s spirituality and pull one away from HaShem - for good? 
In Alei Shur (page 35), Rabbi Wolbe quotes Rabbi Tzaddok HaKohen who writes that the area with which the yetzer hara tests/entices a person is that same area where we have the greatest potential for growth in serving HaShem. 

For example, one might have a big yetzer hara test to say brochos (blessings over food) really quickly and get on to eating the food - here Rabbi Tzaddok is telling us that since the yetzer hara is attacking your area of brochos, it must be that you have great potential to say brochos properly and with the correct intentions and mindset. 

It is much like war; the enemy will focus their attention on attacking the area most potent and useful to the other side. So too will the yetzer hara attack each person’s individual strength and area of growth - and this area will be different for each individual for each person has their own unique strengths. 

Rabbi Wolbe comments on this that we learn from here that one is not to merely ignore one’s yetzer hara, but to confront it and realise one’s area of greatest potential. Thus, this is one way we can use our yetzer haras for the positive - by noticing which area they attack and thus using it to identify our strongest area of growth.  

Alternatively, one can use the yetzer hara to fuel one’s performance of mitzvos (positive commandments). For example, if you are competitive by nature then use this to become better at learning Torah than the next person. Or, if you are stingy then use this to motivate you to commit to give a certain sum of money to charity. 

Each bad middah (character trait) can be turned round to spur on and promote the development of a positive middah or mitzvos.

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