Crimes of Neglect

September 21, 2015 at 1:41 AM ,

“….For sin we committed before you with the Yetzer Hara….” (Yom Kippuer Prayers)

״…..על חטא שחטאנו לפניך ביצר הרע….״ – נוסח תפילת יום כיפור

Yetzer HaraThis phrase in the Al Chet, the itemized confession list read in the prayers of Yom Kippur, seems out of place and misleading. Aren’t all sins committed with the Yetzer Hara, our evil inclination and impulse? What is the specific sin we committed with the Yetzer Hara, a term which indicates that the others sins listed here are not necessarily committed with the Yetzer Hara?

In Kiddushin 30b, the Talmud exclaims: “G-d says to the Jewish people, “My children, I created the evil inclination, but I created the Torah as seasoning for it”. This statement tells us that our goal must not only be to abolish or suppress the impulsive Yetzer Hara, but to treat and season it. Like a bitter food that is made edible through proper seasoning, the Yetzer Hara must be seasoned and tempered, channeling its drive and passion toward the service of G-d.

Accordingly, the above phrase from the Yom Kippur prayers can be interpreted not as confession of the sins we committed by complying with the Yetzer Hara, but as regret and repentance for our neglect of the Yetzer Hara itself! We may have defied its temptations, but we must still repent for not refining and transforming the Yetzer Hara. We must overcome the negative elements of the Yetzer Hara and then reveal within it its true potential as an impetus for goodness.

—Toras Menachem vol. 8, pp. 229-230






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