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Seven Levels of Teshuva Moshe Part Three

One of the most obscure legends in the Talmud is that of Hurmin bar Lilit (the female night demon).1 He would run so quickly on top of the parapet of the walls of Mechuza that a rider below could not overtake him. Hurmin was running so quickly on foot, despite being on a thin ledge, that a horseman below could not catch him.  They once saddled to mules for him and placed them on bridges on opposite sides of the river Rognog. He jumped from one mule to the other backwards and forward while holding two cups of wine in his hands. He would pour from one cup to the other and didn’t spill a single drop. This was a stormy day. Ships were going down into the sea. When the government heard what Hurmin was doing they beat him to death.

This is a difficult story to understand. The Sages were obviously dealing with a complex philosophical issue and presented it in this form in order to hide its meaning from all except the greatest of Torah scholars. We can only scratch the surface of the story:

Evil does not possess any power of its own. The definition of evil is chol, a vacuum. It is the absence of God, the source of all power and life. Therefore evil must draw its power from wasted good and potential. We refer to evil as the sitra achra, the Other Side, because it is the mirror image of good. It draws its strength from our potential for holiness. There are times when evil will push a person to do Teshuva so he can energize his good and then evil will have more strength to draw from. This is Hurmin jumping from one side of the river to the other, good to evil, and pouring wine from one cup to the other without wasting a drop.

A person must be aware of this power of evil and destroy it in order to do Teshuva that will turn the bad into good. He must understand that the evil that he did has a mirror image in good. The energy he used to sin was energy stolen by evil, energy that could have been used for good.

Practical Steps:

  • Identify your greatest strengths. See if you are misusing or wasting them. Understand that wasted potential is embezzled by evil and use your strengths constructively.
  • Redirect energies that are now used for sin.

1 Bava Basra 73a

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