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Tzava'at Harivash 13-14

Tzava'at Harivash 13-14


When tempted to commit a sin, [Heaven forbid,] recite the [Biblical] verses pertaining to that sin. [Recite them] with their intonations and punctuation, with fear and love [of God], and [the temptation] will leave you. 1

When tempted by an evil trait, Heaven forbid, recite with all might, with fear and love [of God], [the names of] the six nations-the Canaanite etc. 2 Thus it will depart from you.

Connect that trait unto the Holy One, blessed be He. For example, if tempted by sinful love, Heaven forbid, channel all your love to God alone and concentrate all your efforts in that direction. When [tempted] by anger, which is an expression of sinful “fear” and derives from the attribute of gevurah, overpower your yetzer [hara] and transform that trait into a chariot for God. 3

When you hear someone preach with fear and love [of God], attach yourself strongly to his words to become united with the preacher. His words will then become thoughts in your mind and [the sinful thought] will leave you. 4

Torah, in general, is the antidote to the yetzer hara, the impulse and temptation to sin (see below, beginning of sect. 138). Reciting the specific verses that relate to the subject of the sinful temptation, in the manner prescribed here, will negate the temptation. (If the sin has already been committed it will correct this in conjunction with teshuvah; see Maggid Devarav Leya'akov, sect. 223).
All aspects in the realm of holiness and purity have corresponding counter-parts in the realm of evil and impurity (see below, sect. 139, note 3). Thus just as there are the attributes (Sefirot) of holiness, so there are the attributes of impurity (Zohar III:41b and 70a). In terms of man, therefore, there are the “good” traits of chessed and gevurah (manifested in love and fear of God, for example; pursuit of the good, and self-negation or avoidance of that which is forbidden). Their corresponding “evil” traits would be, e.g., love of, and attraction to, the mundane or the forbidden; to be afraid of that which one should not fear, or negation of another human as expressed in anger and hatred, and so forth. (Cf. below, sect. 87.)
Seven nations inhabited the Land of Israel before the Jewish people came there after the exodus. As they were morally corrupt, they were to be expelled from there (Deuteronomy 7:1ff. and 20:16ff.). In Kabbalistic terminology they correspond to the seven midot (emotive attributes of the ten Sefirot chessed, gevurah, tiferet, netzach, hod, yessod and malchut) of sitra achara (as opposed to the midot of the realm of holiness); see below, sect. 87, and cf. Maggid Devarav Leya'akov, sect. 110 and 147. In our context, temptation of any sinful trait or emotion in man is rooted in them. Thus reciting their names “with fear and love of God” leads to an awareness that sinful desires derive from evil, must be conquered and expelled, and this will remove the temptation.
Our text refers to “six nations.” In the Torah, too, we find that mostly only six are named, omitting the Girgashite. According to tradition, the Girgashite fled the land before the Israelites entered and, therefore, there was no need to expel them. In our context, the Girgashite, signifying the attribute of malchut (kingship; sovereignty) of the realm of impurity, is of no concern: malchut, the last of the seven attributes, is merely like a “filter” for the compound of the first six; thus as the earlier six are “corrected,” the seventh is dispelled of itself.
Sinful thoughts or desires are overcome in one of two ways: (i) Driving them away by diversion of thought, i.e., disregarding them altogether and filling your mind with positive thoughts. (ii) Elevation or sublimation of the evil thought or desire to goodness. This is a frequent theme in early Chassidic teachings of which this paragraph is a typical example (and see also below, sect. 22, 87, 90, 101, 120 and 127).
Chassidic texts, from the earliest onwards, caution emphatically that the second method is a hazardous technique that should be employed only by those who have reached spiritual perfection. Others may be led yet further astray by it, thus must not even attempt it.
This last paragraph is another way to rid yourself of sinful thoughts: concentrating on, and filling your mind with, positive thoughts of holiness will of itself dispel the negative thoughts.
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