Clint Eastwood’s Invisible Seat for Rosh Hashana
Why are we here? What is our purpose in the world? A big question, but one that we all know the answer to. Our purpose in this world is to do good.
The real question is what is “good?” That question has many answers, and it is different for every person, for every time, and for every situation.
But we can all agree that our purpose is to do good. And most of the time, if not all of the time, it is clear what good is.
So do good.
Life would be that easy, if not for one thing – the yetzer harah. God created something called the yetzer Harah whose only job is to prevent us from doing good and entice us to do bad.
Every minute of every day is a battle that we all fight against the yetzer harah in our quest to do good.
In fact, he is sitting here in this chair – and I have a few questions for him.
Disclaimer: this sermon is not meant in any way to imply that President Obama is the yetzer harah.
So, Yetzer Harah, here is the question that I have for you. How strong are you compared to your ancestors? By knowing how our generation’s yetzer harah rates we can gain an idea of how strong we need to be to fight him.
Now there was a yetzer harah!!
The Torah says that he was the shrewdest of all creatures that hashem had made.
And he had to be! Can you imagine how hard his job was?? First of all, his only two opponents were Adam and chava. Part of the yetzer harah’s strategy is to get us to somehow forget about God. How could you get them to forget about God! They were created by him directly!!
Before he died Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai blessed his students that they should fear Hashem as much as they fear man. How many sins are prevented because people are afraid that someone might see them?
We used to have shame. Twenty years ago if a person wanted to buy pornography he had to get in his car, drive into a populated area, walk into a store that sold it, pick it up off the shelf, walk to the register with it, hand it to the clerk, and take money from his wallet to pay for it. Then he had to hide it so that his friends and family did not find it.
Not today. Today it is as easy as closing the door and click click click. Done.
And there are many sins that we can now do because of the Internet with no shame.
Thank goodness today we do not deal with the same problems they had: destitute poverty, domestic war, pogroms, common illnesses that are now easily treatable.
Hashem created the yetzer harah. he did so for our benefit. So that we could achieve virtue. And if Hashem said that we can beat him, then we can beat him!!
You are trained in the art of warfare. You prepared for your vocation from the earliest of days. The vagaries of time and troubles of old age do not confound you as they do us. So therefore, we must adapt to your methods.
environment, create spaces and times where we will be more aware and less likely to succumb to his tricks.
And like every war, after all of our preparations are done, we turn to Hashem and ask for his help.
Hashem teach us your ways and lead us on the right path – because I have enemies!
Hashem, help us beat this guy. Help us concentrate and focus so that we can steer clear of bad and do good.
Rabbi Jonathan Gross is a rabbi in Omaha, Nebraska. Follow him on Twitter at @Jon_Gross.