The Original Fight Club

The Baal HaTanya teaches that the Yetzer Hara is like a wrestling opponent, the more we put up a fight the more it tries to defeat us. This leads to the question: Why fight? No matter how hard we try to fight it, it (the Yetzer Hara) will only try harder. How will we ever win? Simple, the Baal HaTanya quotes Chazal who explain that it's only because HaShem intervenes and gives us the upper hand that we are able to overcome the Yetzer Hara.

Ok. Great. So if we fight the Yetzer Hara and do mitzwoth rather than sin we will get a nice portion in the world to come. Makes good sense. The world to come is forever and this world is 120 years tops, so it makes good economic sense as well, a little investment over a relatively short period of time with a payoff better than the best pension you could possibly imagine.

Wait. Thus far it all makes sense and I'm on board. But: Chazal say in Pirkei Avot: It's better to serve HaShem not in order to receive a reward. Huh? What's the point? If I'm basically just treading water, breaking even against the Yetzer Hara, and HaShem is the one pushing me over the top... Wait a minute, why am I getting rewarded for this at all? Because it's hard to fight the Yetzer Hara, especially when you know you can't win.

Right, so we don't really deserve the reward, the reward is only there to get us to persevere in our hopeless fight. So to hell with the reward! Why fight? One more question: If we don't really deserve the reward, it's only HaShem's way of convincing us to continue with the fight, why does He want us to fight? What's in it for Him? (not much, He's already got everything) It must be in our best interest. But what could be in our best interest about it? The reward? But He's already giving us the reward anyways even though we don't really deserve it, He can just give us the reward without our having to go to all the trouble.

Why does HaShem want us to go to all this trouble? What could be of benefit to us to fight with the Yetzer Hara knowing full well our only chance to win is that HaShem will intercede on our behalf? Well, wait a second, every time we fight with the Yetzer Hara HaShem intercedes on our behalf? So, you mean that whenever we struggle against the wishes of the Yetzer Hara, HaShem will show up to save us from the imminent train wreck?

So basically, if we are fighting the Yetzer Hara all day long it means HaShem is there with us all day long, helping us out in every little conflict? HaShem is spending every day, every minute with us? Wow.

So basically, whenever we want to feel HaShem's closeness we only need to fight the Yetzer Hara, that's it? We don't need to go anywhere? We don't need to make any special preparations, just jump into whatever mitzwah is at hand rather than whatever self-indulgent distraction might be currently within our grasp? Wow.

So, I guess maybe that's what the Baal HaTanya means when he says this world is better than the world to come, because we get to be even closer to The King (HaShem) in this world. Hey, even the comment from Chazal about serving HaShem with no thought to the reward makes sense too!

Guess I'll go pick a fight.


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