He was in Florida in a spooky neighborhood late at night. He saw a person that seemed friendly enough. He spoke with them and invited them to talk with him & his friend in his hotel room. He told them to make themselves comfortable. When they took off their shoes, he noticed they had the feet of a chicken. He found a way to excuse himself. “I’m sorry – it’s getting late and I really have to go to sleep.”
3 Demonic Forces
- Yetzer hara – the evil inclination is an entity that tells you to do the wrong thing. Remember when a cartoon character had an ethical dilemma – a little angel and a devil resembling the character, appeared on each shoulder. The angel would tell him to do good, the devil bad. He usually listened to the devil and something bad happens to him. This concept is a Torah concept. A person has a Yetzer haTov – a good inclination and an evil inclination. One tells him do good, the other bad. If he does good he is rewarded and the opposite if he follows the advice of the bad.
The Reason for Temptation
The reason for these two inclinations is to give a person freedom of choice. If a person only did good – we would be robots and thus we would have no merit for choosing good. G-d gives us the ability to choose the good to be able to reward us. Thus temptation is an opportunity to become greater. Overcoming each one we become greater and greater.
Temptation is here to help us overcome it and be rewarded. Every time we overcome it we become a greater individual. We become closer to G-d and happiness. When we fail we become farther from G-d and our soul is tormented.
Pinpointing the Unknown Cause of Suffering
This is one reason why people suffer – yet do not know why – because their values are not aligned with Torah values. They satisfy their bodies and simultaneously torment their souls. They feel the sadness of the soul but cannot pinpoint where this sadness comes from. They try drugs, psychologists, alcohol. The simple solution is to align ones values with Torah. Obviously one with problems should consult with a competent and reputable Orthodox rabbi.
It is not doing what you feel is good that will make you happy. It is doing what the Torah says is good that will make you happy. Because you are your soul. Some things you think are good are not actually good according to Torah. Thus what you think may be good – but the Torah does not – may give sadness to the soul.
G-d knows what makes us happy and sad. He created us. And he is our Father. A father wants the happiness of his children. G-d does too. Thus he gave the Jewish people the Torah as the guide to find lasting meaning, happiness and good.
A person might think that having an affair is good. If one does – he or she will torment their soul. They may think they had a good time physically but their soul is “bleeding.” Thus, a person becomes depressed. Not to mention all the negative repercussions that following the Yetzer HaRa attracts – divorce, hatred, sadness, broken friendships, quarrel, saddened children. Baruch Hash-m / Thank G-d, He gave us the opportunity for Teshuva / Repentance.
Solving Ethical Dilemmas
If it was only so easy that an angel and devil would appear on one shoulder for us to decide. We would just choose the “angel” and be happy. However, the Yetzer Hara / the evil inclination disguises himself as the angel. He tries to convince you that what is bad according to Torah is actually good and what is good according to Torah is actually bad.
Thus a person who does have an ethical dilemma, would be prudent to ask a respected Orthodox rabbi of the Torah’s position of a particular issue. Many people are flying around with values of the newspaper or their political orientation or their heart. Sometimes they are on target with what Torah says – sometimes not. The smart person, who wants to truly do right – will align their values to the will of G-d.
Torah Truth – the Million Man Proof
The only divinely given document – witnessed being given by millions of people is the Torah. No other religion claims this. Only Orthodox Judaism adheres strictly to the precepts of the Torah. Other movements and religions – will say “G-d changed his Mind” or “it is OK to change Torah”. Apparently they think they are smarter than G-d. Rationally speaking, G-d changing his mind is irrational. G-d who is omniscient / All knowing of past present and future will change his mind? Not rational.
The Religion Litmus Test
Some people search for a religion to follow. I always give the advice, if one is a Gentile – they should follow the & Noahide laws from Torah. If they really have an affinity for Judaism – so they should speak with a reputable Orthodox Rabbi to learn what how to go about a proper Orthodox Jewish conversion. A Litmus test to determine the veracity of a religion is to compare it to Torah. If a religion is saying “It is proper to make human sacrifices” and the Torah Says “It is forbidden to Kill” obviously the religion is not G-d’s will.
The Yetzer HaRa wants to kill a person in this world and the next. Thus he implants in him or her all kinds of negative thoughts and messages – “I am a nobody”, “I am worthless”, “no one likes me”, “I have no future”, “I have no hope for becoming better”, “It is important that I stay with this person because I love him”. He will pull you in all sorts of directions like a magnet pulling metal. The smart person will call his game. The smart person will think.
Overcoming one’s Negative Messages
Regarding Negative messages also – don’t accept things on face value. If the thought enters your mind – “I am a good for nothing” challenge it. Is that really true? I have many good qualities – I help old ladies with their shopping. I hold the elevator door. I say good morning to people. Perhaps its only the Yetzer HaRa talking to you. Discern, what is true and what is your yetzer Hara. Many suicides could have been prevented by a person countering these negative thoughts with positive ones.
Also if you do feel you are bad – because you did something – so improve. It is not a dead end street. You did something bad. OK. Now do Teshuva / Repentance. The four steps: 1. Confess to Hash-m. 2. Regret what you did. 3. Commit to doing Good. 4. And don’t do it again.
Changing Negative Messages to Positive
Some have a personal rule of – every negative comment they make against their spouse or children they must make five positive comments. Perhaps a person should adapt a similar rule for themselves – for every negative message they think – they should think five positive messages. That would prevent many suicides. Being positive, is what the Torah wants from a person. Implant positive messages into your thoughts. “I am smart.” “Help people.” “I learn Torah.” “I help others.” “I am smart.” “I am a good child.” Force yourself to smile. Being happy is what the Torah wants from you.
Overcoming the Yetzer HaRa
The greatest defense against it is to think things out. Discuss it. Speak with a Torah Scholar. Is it really good to give a terrorist nation a nuclear bomb? Am I really as bad as I think I am? Is it really in my best interest to follow a man or woman who is not your husband or wife? Is it really smart to bungy-jump over a river?
Some live in the past. I remember the good old days. I used to be so happy. I was an engineer, now I am a cashier. I was so happy as a youth… I used to be able to shoot a basketball … Ok. Thank G-d for the past and move on.
Poor Me Syndrome
I know someone who feels badly for himself. He doesn’t have the Job he wants. He feels badly because he is still living the dreams of his youth. It is good to dream. Dream big. But do something about it. He tells you of his dreams and sulks of why he didn’t accomplish them. I told him – change your “Poor Me” in “I Can.” By feeling badly for yourself, it won’t change your situation. Take your life into your hands and start the day anew today. Don’t complain. Do practical things that will bring you closer to your goal. Instead of sulking that you have a dead end job. Take some adult education courses and make yourself more marketable. Sulking is another – tool of the Yetzer Hara to make you depressed and curtail your growth.
The Path to Happiness – Giving Happiness to the Soul
But Torah gives you the path to Happiness. But it is not always the easy path. At times it is challenging. In the long term a person achieves that. At times a person has to purge themselves from the bad.
The Torah even gives a simple formula. Remove [yourself] from bad and do good. First however one must know what is bad and good in G-d’s eyes. Sometimes what feels good is not good in the eyes of G-d. So a religion based upon what feels good or right – might be totally off. Totally against G-d’s will. Thus to really know a Gentile studies the Noahide laws and a Jew studies the Shulchan Aruch.
2. Real Demons – Apparently there are physical demons and others that are invisible or perhaps they can make themselves visible. I don’t know.
In the Talmud it teaches how to see demons. I seriously suggest you not try it. One person who did was so scared he almost went insane – until the Rabbis prayed for him and he lost the ability to see them. Apparently animals can see them. If you hear dogs bark when you pass the might either see you as a predator or they see the evil forces surrounding you. But I don’t want to scare you too much.
King Solomon was replaced by a Demon that made himself look just like him. King Solomon wandered for years until he got back to the palace. When he returned, His advisors did not know who was the real King Solomon. The King – who looked like a pauper – told his advisors – to find out if someone saw the imposter’s feet. They verified and found out that he hid his feet – to avoid showing the chicken feet.
If divorced, don’t start trying to check your former spouse’s feet. They are most likely human.
Once I was in France. I was sleeping alone in a room. I put on the light. I was a bit reassured, because the great Torah commentator Rashi, said “There are no Demons in France.” So I wasn’t so worried.
Later I learned that it is possible that previous to Rashi, there were demons in France. But Since the great Rashi declared that there are no demons – they were banished from France. Another thing I heard – France at the time of Rashi had different borders then than it does today. Thus check out the borders of then before you stay alone in France. Just Joking. Demons don’t like noise or light.
Some don’t take hot showers after mid-night (the mid point between dusk and dawn – not necessarily – 12:00 am), because they say that they hang out in the plumbing outlets of the sink and tubs. Pouring hot water on them may get them angry.
Superstition? I don’t know? In any case, a Jew is not to follow superstitions. So one must sort out what is true and what is superstition.
3. “Friends” who Give Bad Advice – Someone I know was planning to get engaged to a nice young man. The friend who had a bone to pick, possibly jealous of her, convinced her to decline the engagement. She did. The girl regretted sorely listening to her friend.
I heard another story of a woman married to a Cohen. A Cohen is not allowed to marry any divorcee. So, Once he divorces his own wife, she can never remarry him. A regular Jewish man is allowed to remarry his former wife. Provided she did not marry anyone else in the interim.
Her Friends convinced her that she should divorce her husband. Her father-in-law tried to dissuade her. She was adamant. She got divorced. She regretted. She could never remarry her former husband. She listened to friends and lost, living the rest of her life in solitude.
A lesson – listen to those that care for you. Take Torah advice – from those knowledgeable, pray to Hash-m that you find His truth and G-d will help you banish all your demons.