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Battling the Siege-With Wisdom

“There was once a small city with only a few people in it. And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siege works against it. Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom. But nobody remembered that poor man. So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded. The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good (Ecclesiastes 9:14-18).”


The Maggid taught: “A small city,” city in Hebrew is “Ir,” which relates to the word, “Hitorerut,” which means to be stirred to action. When a person is stirred to action because there are, “only a few people in it,” meaning, he realizes that he does not have sufficient good deeds. Each mitzvah is a complete and strong structure and if he had more mitzvot,, because each mitzvah leads to another, and he would be properly serving God, at the time when, “A powerful king came against it,” meaning the Evil Inclination, which is called, “An old and foolish king (Ecclesiastes 4:13).”

“Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise,” the Good Inclination, “And he saved the city with his wisdom,” the wisdom of the Evil Inclination, for the Good Inclination learned from the Evil all of these strategies and manipulations, and used them to save the person from sin. (Brit Avram, 101a)


The Maggid is teaching us that the best way to prepare for the siege of the Evil Inclination, is a) build solid walls and structures with good deeds and mitzvot, and B) studied the strategies of the Evil Inclination and learn how to use them to battle his siege.

Pay attention to how the Evil Inclination leads you into sin: does he use anger, frustration, depression, confusion, or distraction? Use those very things to fight the Evil Inclination.

Battle him with anger.

Frustrate his plans.

View the Evil Inclination as speaking from a depressed state.

Confuse his arguments by arguing back until he has no clarity.

Distract him from his objective.

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