In 1845 Rabbi Mendel of Satanov (Ukraine) published a little book titled “Cheshbon ha’Nefesh,” which means an accounting of the soul. Rabbi Mendel included a parable about a strongman who bears a calf upon his shoulders for a few hours daily, beginning on the day the calf is born. As the months and years pass, the calf grows and grows until it becomes a very heavy heifer.
But the strongman can bear the burden, for he has conditioned himself, day by day, to carrying the ever bigger bovine.
We must employ the same strategy in our fight against the “yetzer ha’ra,” the evil inclination, which entices us to follow our baser impulses. During these holy days, we ought to commit ourselves not only to crushing the yetzer ha’ra immediately, but to battle it continuously. If we fight against it each day – tirelessly and faithfully – we will gain strength in the fight against our lower selves. And the yetzer will neither rule nor ruin us. Hazak! Strength to all in this epic battle!
Gmar Chatima Tova. May you and yours be sealed for a year of abundant blessings!.
Rabbi Jeffrey Weill