In Sefer T’hilim Chapter 10, it says: “He lies in wait, like a lion in his lair (literally “his sukkah”).”
He lies in wait to snatch the poor one; he snatches the poor one by pulling him into his net. (T’hilim 10:9)
On the surface, this chapter of T’hilim seems to be referring to enemies of the human sort; but it can also refer to our biggest internal enemy, the yeitzer ha’ra (evil inclination), whose desire is to cast its net, cause us to stumble, and ultimately pull us away from Hashem, His commandments, and the truth we know in our heart of hearts.
So strong is the yeitzer ha’ra’s influence that without Heavenly assistance we would be unable to overcome it:
Rabbi Shimon bar Lakish stated, “The evil inclination of a man threatens every day to overpower him, and seeks to kill him, as it is said, ‘The wicked watches the righteous and seeks to slay him’; and were it not that the Holy One, blessed be He, is his help, he would not be able to withstand it.” (Sukkah 52b)
The “poor one” mentioned in the above pasuk of T’hilim refers to the person who is entirely caught up in the yeitzer ha’ra’s grasp and finds it nearly impossible to rid himself of its influence:
Rabbah observed, “First he [the evil inclination] is called a passer-by, then he is called a guest, and finally he is called a man, for it is said, ‘And there came a wayfarer to the rich man, and he didn’t want to take of his own flock and of his own herd to prepare for the guest that had come to him, and [instead] he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared it for the man that had come to him.” (Shmuel 12:4) (Sukkah 52b)
The Gemara explains that the yeitzer ha’ra takes on three personas as he seeks to lodge within an individual: a “Wayfarer,” an invited “Guest,” and finally a “Man.” First it appears as an innocent wayfarer, who has no particular hold on the person; then as a regular boarder who is tolerated by his host; and finally it makes itself at home, exerting full control over the person’s thoughts, desires, and actions.
The value of the accomplishment of the mitzvos depends on our efforts, and each of our struggles against the evil inclination has value. May we all be zocheh to give Hashem a nachas ruach in every moment anew!
(Material was previously published on www.ShiratMiriam.com.)