There she sat: my Yetzer Hara, my Evil Inclination. She wasn't as glamorous as the last time I had seen her. Hara used to display a magical and dazzling beauty while manipulating my life from behind the curtains there in Emerald City. Of course, I had been younger and so much more susceptible to the call of the Yellow Brick Road while searching for the Rainbow located Somewhere, Someplace Else. And always, when I was in Oz, the scent of poppies seemed to lull me into some sleepy sojourn of sensation or emotionality, which at times, I could not overcome. At least I usually felt guilty enough to repent when the heady clouds blew away, and I could tap my Ruby-Slippered-Self back to Kansas. But, this morning I didn't think I was in Kansas anymore.

"Eat it," she said. "Your body needs the nutrition."

I had spent last night completely alone in the emergency roomI was hungry. Just a month after my first seizure and diagnosis of brain cancer, I had spent last night completely alone in the emergency room with a second seizure. Even food and water had been prohibited until the doctor approved in the morning, so no one had poked a head in to say hello or ask if I needed any physical comforts.

Just twelve hours before I had feasted and danced in joy and companionship to celebrate Rosh Chodesh, the new Jewish month. It had felt wonderful. Now, however, just as in the case of my first seizure, I wasn't able to speak; nor could I write or explain a process. In fact, I was far more confused—and scared—this time around. During the night, I was given more tests and had my medications adjusted. (It turned out that radiation treatments had caused my brain to swell, thus causing the second seizure.) Slowly I regained the ability to speak just a little bit, and around 4:00 AM, I was taken to a room where I fell into an exhausted sleep. Awakened early, I was taken for another MRI. Still not able to fully express myself and thus ask for proper food, I assumed that I would at least find a package of cereal on my breakfast tray that I could eat to temper the hunger.

Instead, when I returned from the MRI, two lukewarm slices of bacon sat on the plate in my hospital room. And I wanted them. Really wanted them. I also wanted the buttery eggs and French Toast that lay next to those little bits of prohibited pig.

Now, Yetzer Hara knew that I hadn't eaten bacon in over seven years, when I had given up such food choices. I hadn't even been tempted to eat pork or shellfish in at least five years. Now however, that bacon was all I was thinking about. I wanted that plate of food so much, I lusted after it.

"Eat it," Hara said. "You have a good reason. You're undergoing radiation, chemotherapy and experimental infusion therapy all at the same time. Plus, your body is being pumped full of a host of other medications: steroids, anti-seizure meds, anti-nausea pills, laxatives, anti-acids, anti-histamines, and something you inhale for asthma too. Who could blame you for giving into a food craving or two when your defenses are so down, and you're so emotionally stressed?"

I looked at Hara and considered what she said. It was true. I had been unprepared for these specific food cravings. Having never been able to get pregnant, I had known only a brief monthly, hormonal craving for chocolate, which disappeared after menopause. When I began these cancer treatments, the doctor had warned me that I would want "to eat" because of the medications, and my appetite had surely been "good" thus far. I hadn't even tried to limit my appetite, and my exhausted Yetzer Tov, who spent most of her time asleep after treatments, didn't seem to consider it worth worrying about either.

When I returned from the MRI, two lukewarm slices of bacon sat on my hospital plate Most of the stuff I wanted was what we would call "good" stuff. Something inside of me craved walnuts, pecans, Mandarin oranges, lemon Jell-O, bananas, berries, pineapples, orange juice, carrots and broccoli. Although I had always liked these foods, I had never craved them before the tumor treatments. I researched these foods and discovered they were all good for fighting cancer. And here I was craving them instinctively. Lucky me.

But now, Hara had placed a plate of bacon in front of me. How could bacon be good for me? Even aside from the obvious that it is prohibited in Jewish law, I knew it was full of nitrates, trans-fats and carcinogenic elements. I tried shaking my Yetzer Tov, my Good Inclination, awake to ask her opinion. Her eyes wafted open briefly, and she made some comment about how observing the physical commandments properly with one's body allows the person to rise to a higher spiritual consciousness.

Hara expelled one short, grunt of harsh laughter. "A lot of good that will do if you don't have a body. You have to stay alive to experience G‑d and His commandments. And you have to eat in order to stay alive."

"She's right, actually," mumbled Tova, before falling back on the hospital bed, asleep. Hara nodded at Tova and smiled. I followed her glance and saw Tova snoring away on the pillow. I felt a little sad for her. The cancer treatment process had just been overwhelming for Tova. I really didn't blame her present condition too much. She was more ethereal than Hara and didn't seem as strong.

But what was I supposed to do now? I was so tired and hungry. I had little resistance and my Yetzer Tov was equally exhausted. Still, it was her job to help me. I scooped a few ice chips from the cup on the hospital tray and put it on her face. That dirty little trick ought to wake her up, I thought, smiling.

Tova's eyes flew open, and she sat up. "Why did you do that?" she asked. She seemed annoyed.

"Because I need your help. This is no philosophical question. Look over there on the table. That's what Hara wants me to eat. And I want it. I'm hungry."

Tova glanced at the hospital food and gasped. "But it's not kosher!"

"Duh," answered Hara. "Imagine that."

You're the one who's supposed to have the controlTova seemed to become a bit more animated. "You know, Hefzibah (my Hebrew name), it's your life's challenge to subdue your animal nature and make it G‑dly, even if it doesn't want to go in that direction. You're the one who's supposed to have the control. Here before you," she said, waving toward the plate of bacon, "is another opportunity to raise your consciousness to G‑dliness."

"I'm tired of Consciousness Raising. Did enough of that in the 1970's," I pouted. "Besides, it's too hard."

"When was the last time you truly trained your mind on an area of your life that needed improvement and attacked Hara's tactics?"

I shook my head slightly, and my eyes began to fill with tears, my heart with remorse. "I'm just so tired, and life is so hard. I don't want to work on this area of my life. I've already given up so much. It's just not fair."

Tova stared at me with a relentless gaze. I felt like a bug pinned to a biology display board. My legs seemed to be wildly squirming without getting anywhere, and I had a tremendous pain in my chest. Yet, I could not look away.

"Oh give her a break," said Hara. "She's sick with brain cancer. How much more do you think she can take?" With that, Hara picked up my breakfast plate, walked over to me, and slapped it down on top of the hospital table. "Just eat it, and get it over with," she said.

Like the rebellious child I still was, saying no blessing and washing no hands, I crumbled the bacon over the cold, concealed eggs and scarfed down every bit of food on the plate. It was delicious, but now my stomach hurt.

"Well, my job's done," stated Hara, dusting off her hands and turning to go.

"For now," said Tova, "You only won this battle, you know. We still have a declared war between us."

Hara laughed. "Guess so. You know what they say. 'It's not over until the fat lady sings.' And that one there," she said, pointing to me, "is getting pretty fat. Hey, I wasn't the one who said, 'The heart is more deceitful than all things, and it is weak.'" Hara replied. "That came from Torah, just so you know."

"Hara," said Tova, "Torah also said 'Bread satisfies the heart of man,' and Rabbi Sholom DovBer Schneerson equated bread with Torah, and said Torah endows the G‑dly soul with strength and power, [enabling it] to overcome the material nature and the coarseness of the body and the animal soul, and thus '[to] enable a prisoner to escape from captivity.'"

"You only won this battle, you know. We still have a declared war between us.""Yeah, yeah, yeah," Hara interjected sarcastically, waving her hands in a dismissive manner. "I've got to go. I just love our thrilling discussions though. . . Not!" she exclaimed, right before snapping her fingers and disappearing from the room.

I curled up next to Tova on my hospital bed. I didn't think I could stay awake another minute. In a motherly gesture, Tova ran her fingers over what was left of the hair on my shaved head.

"It's okay, dear. G‑d loves you, anyway. And 'Tomorrow is Another Day' as they say down here in the South."

"I know," I mumbled, somewhat mollified. "Right now though, I think I can only concentrate on getting well."

"Yes," said, Tova. "And after that, we're going to feed you a lot of Bread."