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A Special Bar-Mitzvah Guest

Zohar, Page 165b; translation and commentary by Simcha Treister


And Jacob sent angels before him to Esau his brother, to the red fields of the country Seir. (Gen. 32:4)

Rabbi Yehuda opened his discourse with the verse:
For He will give command of His angels to you, to look after you wherever you will go. (Psalms 91:11)

This verse has been explained by the Companions to mean that at the time when a person comes into the world the Yetzer Hara is already waiting for him.

"Evil Inclination" is the typical translation of "Yetzer Hara". The root of the word "yetzer" is "to create" and refers to how a person's animal drives try to demand "needs" at any particular time.

The Yetzer Hara is constantly ready to entrap a person into doing wrong and then goes to prosecute him in the spiritual world. This is the meaning of the verse "Sin crouches at the door, ready to pounce." (Gen. 4:7) What is it that crouches, waiting to pounce, as soon as a person emerges from his mother into this world? It is the Yetzer Hara. King David also refers to the Yetzer Hara as "Chatat", as he says, "And my sins are always before me" (Psalms 51:5). The Yetzer Hara is constantly ready, every day, to cause a person to do wrong in the eyes of G-d, and he doesn't leave a person from the time he is born.

Now the Yetzer Tov [Good Inclination] comes to a [male] person when he reaches the age of 13 [and to girls at age 12], which is the age that a person is able to purify himself and connect to his spiritual roots by performing mitzvot. At that age, when a person is obligated to perform mitzvot, the Yetzer Tov comes to assist him, and the two inclinations join up with the person, the Yetzer Tov on his right and the Yetzer Hara on his left.

These two inclinations are actually angels - pure spiritual forces - and they are charged with protecting the person from anything that could harm him. They never leave a person. If he decides to purify himself and return to his spiritual roots, then the Yetzer Hara submits to the Yetzer Tov, and the inclination to do good rules over the inclination to do bad. Both of them join together by mutual agreement to guard the person from doing bad wherever he goes.

This is why the verse says, "He will give command of His angels to you, to look after you wherever you will go." The angels referred to are the two inclinations and when a person decides to strengthen his good inclination over his bad inclination then the bad inclination, even against its will, says "Amen".


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Shmuel-Simcha Treister is a lawyer from New Zealand who made aliya to Safed with his family in 1993 to study Zohar. He continues doing so to this day. He also works in the Ascent multi-media center.


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