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Midot Hayom: Day 24: Tiferet in Netzach

Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar said a parable explaining how to deal with the evil inclination: The Evil Inclination can be compared to a bar of iron that is held in a flame. As long as it is in the flame, it can be shaped into any object one wishes. So too, the evil inclination can be subdued through the words of Torah, which are like fire. The words of Torah will cause the Evil Inclination to become your friend. Avot of Rabbi Nathan 16:4

There is a basic balance, or Tiferet, to all of creation. Even those things we perceive as evil can be shaped, and even transformed into tools of good, even friends. The victory, or Netzach, over the evil inclination, can only be achieved through learning. This does not mean that Torah study guarantees victory over the Yetzer Harah. Rabbi Shimon is not only teaching us that we can shape and redirect our Evil Inclination, he is also pointing out the necessary ingredients to achieve this victory of balance: 1) The Torah must be studied with fiery passion, 2) We must search the Torah for ways to redirect and redefine the Yetzer Harah, and 3) We must understand that the Evil Inclination is a friend in the sense that it always points out what we need to fix and perfect.

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