“If you don’t get the best one available, you might as well not have any.”

“You can’t do it. It’s impossible; they’re expecting too much from you.”

“Why do you trust them? The whole thing is questionable and unclear.”

Do these doubting comments sound familiar? We may hear them often, from those around us or even in our minds. Sometimes we may recognize them as false, while at other times we may see some truth in them.

The Ohr HaChayim HaKadosh (Ber. 3:1) writes that these same three critical remarks were first made to Eve by the Snake of the Garden of Eden. G-d told Adam he could eat from any tree in the garden, with the exception of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Snake, the classic symbol of the force of evil (Yetzer Hara), said to Eve, “He’s withholding the finest tree from you. All others pale in comparison. You heard that only this tree is forbidden? Well, I heard that all the trees are really derived from this tree and they’re all forbidden. You can’t possibly be expected not to eat from any of the trees! Adam told you it was just this tree? These conflicting reports must be confusing. Who even knows if any of them are true. It could be that in reality, you’re allowed to eat from all of them!”

We often know the truth, even when it’s not something we particularly want to hear. Chocolate really is fattening, buying a luxury car can load a person with risky debt, and watching YouTube clips for hours wastes precious time. But these and other truths are under attack by a barrage of persuasive advertising in the media — and in our minds. The lesson derived from the story of Eve and the Snake is that these “enemy forces” are programmed into our world by the Creator Himself. Why are we thrown into these constant battles? The Al-mighty wants us to achieve greatness and enjoy the fruits of our efforts, but that can only be attained through the hard work of overcoming the seductive forces that try to halt our growth. “In accordance with the challenge is the (spiritual) reward!”

Good Shabbos!
Rabbi Mordechai Dixler
Program Director, Project Genesis – Torah.org

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