The yetzer hara (evil disposition) in man seeks to weaken this consciousness. It tries to convince man that his imperfections or sins disqualify him from any bond with G‑d. The yetzer hara thus strives to make man feel depressed and despondent, in order to make him think that his service of G‑d is unacceptable and futile. Feelings of atzvut (depression) over our status and assumed sinfulness may appear motivated by spirituality, by honest introspection. In truth, however, they result but from the seductive wiles of the yetzer hara trying to prevent man from serving G‑d and performing mitzvot. The excessive self- deprecation underlying those feelings are but a subtle form of self-assertion, a disguised obsession with the ego:"I am no good! Of what value or significance would or could be my deeds. Any involvement with Torah and mitzvot on my part would be tantamount to hypocrisy." This attitude then serves as a conscious or subconscious excuse to move in the opposite direction of crude self-indulgence.

To be sure, there is nothing wrong with feelings of regret and contrition, with self-deprecation. The principle of teshuvah, of repentance for improprieties and a return to G‑d, demands these. But the authenticity and sincerity of such feelings, to discover whether they derive from the yetzer tov or the yetzer hara, is tested by their consequences: if they lead to self-improvement, to an intensified attachment to G‑d and Torah, they are good; if not, they are clearly from the sitra achara

Atzvut - melancholy, depression - is rooted in evil, in egotism, regardless how noble the accompanying thoughts may appear. Here, again, enters the concept of bitul hayesh. For regardless of a person's status, regardless of whatever he may have done in the past, when it comes to serve G‑d, to observe Torah and mitzvot, he must say to himself:"Never mind myself! The service of G‑d is not for my sake, but to fulfill the will of G‑d. While I must indeed do teshuvah, nonetheless, right now I must forget all about myself and do that which the Almighty wants me to do!"

In the words of the Maggid: "Turn away from evil and do good" (Psalms 34:15). When it comes to matters of Torah and mitzvot, it is incumbent upon man to repel any thoughts of `Who do you think you are, you lowly creature! You have done such and such, thus how dare you presume to enter the inner sanctum of Divine service!' One must realize that such thoughts are but the wiles of the yetzer hara waylaying him to harm him and to make him neglect his service.

Scripture thus advises: "Turn away from evil - i.e., from those thoughts that remind you of your evil deeds, and "Do good." Do not allow any weakening of your service, but rise to pursue it as if you had never done any wrong.

(Ze'ev Wolf of Zhitomir, Or Hame'ir, Shabbat Teshuvah. R. Israel ibn Al'Nakawa, Menorat Hamaor, Perek Hamitzvot (p. 394; also appended to Reshit Chochmah): "A person must never think and say to himself, `I am a sinner and have committed many iniquities, thus of what use would it be for me to observe mitzvot (Shabat 31b; Kohelet Rabba 7:17).' On the contrary: if he committed many transgressions then he should now perform many mitzvot against these. Thus it is stated in Vayikra Rabba (21:5) in comment on (Proverbs 24:6), `Conduct your war with tachbulot (discerning steering)': if you have committed bundles (chabilot) of transgressions, counteract them by performing corresponding bundles and bundles of mitzvot... and as the Midrash notes that man should make an effort to perform mitzvot with the very same limb which he used for sinning..."

See also Sefer Chareidim, Mitzvat Teshuvah, ch. 4: "Though a person may be depressed because of his sins, he must be joyful in the service of G‑d..." The Great Maggid, pp. 191-3.)

This bitul hayesh, rooted in the consciousness of Divine omnipresence and hashgachah peratit, with their implicit cause for faith, trust and joy in G‑d on the one hand, and the realization of the cosmic significance of man's behaviour on the other hand, leads of itself to a rectification of that which is in need of mending. Thus it prevents any going astray.

Pnimiyut haTorah penetrates and transcends the body and garments of material reality, the evil and darkness that appear to the physical eye. It does so by emphasizing, seeking and unveiling the good and the positive, the soul and light, in everything. Evil is overcome by doing good, by redeeming the Divine sparks inherent in everything, and not by direct or indirect involvement with the evil itself. For `he who wrestles with a filthy person is bound to become soiled himself.' The proper approach, then, is to follow the old proverb that "even a little bit of light banishes a great deal of darkness" of itself and by itself. Hence the emphasis on optimism, on bitachon (trust in G‑d) and simchah (joyfulness), and on the principle that "the actual deed (of Torah and mitzvot) is the most essential thing."