The shmuess with the group of new students in the
yeshiva came to its conclusion. The boys left the room and
went back to the main study hall. Only Yaron seemed to be
lingering and it was obvious that he wished to be alone with
the Rov. Yaron had progressed slowly as far as integrating
into the yeshiva world, but he was a talented boy who was
determined to understand everything fundamentally. The Rov
turned his attention to him at once and soon they were
sitting across from one another, with the Rov urging Yaron to
say what was on his mind.
"In the last few talks," he began, "we heard a great deal
about the struggle between the yetzer tov and the
yetzer ra. It is a battle to the finish between the
two, and victory in each clash is of utmost importance. We
heard descriptions and examples of discussions between the
two drives which, according to you, are most common, but of
which I heard here for the first time.
"I examined myself to see if I ever experienced such a
struggle between my good and evil inclinations, or if I ever
felt this conflict raging within me. The answer is negative;
I simply am not familiar with such a thing! Either I don't
have a good inclination, or I am lacking an evil one, or they
both reside within me in peace and harmony, without any
arguments, without any battles. I looked around at my
friends, expecting that one of them would get up and declare
that he doesn't understand what you were talking about,
altogether, since he hasn't experienced such a struggle. But
to my great surprise, I remained alone in my sentiments.
"Is there anything wrong with me? I have always thought I was
a very normal person, so how is it that I am completely
unfamiliar with the internal struggles that accompany a
person at all times and present themselves several times a
day in his heart and consciousness?"
"Don't worry, Yaron," the Rov comforted him with a smile.
"You're altogether normal. I have no doubt that you
incorporate a good inclination that propels you to seek the
truth and pursue good deeds from the very fact that you have
a sublime soul that aspires to return to its source. As far
as an evil drive -- that you certainly possess, for without a
tendency towards evil with which a person must contend and
which he must overcome, there is no meaning to anything he
does. It is very much like an exercise machine which is
missing springs and coils. There is no tension, no conflict,
nothing. There must be a counter-force to the person doing
the exercises. Otherwise he is not exerting himself. No
muscles can develop from lack of counter- force.
"But your questions are still valid. You deserve some
"Man is the only creature on this world composed of two
different and contrasting entities: matter and spirit. While
angels are purely spiritual and, lehavdil, a dog and a
donkey are physical creatures, man, on the other hand, is a
composite of these two entities. Since Hashem, Himself,
infused a living spirit into a lump of earth, of clay, the
product of that fusion seems so perfectly uniform and
complete that even a close scrutiny does not reveal a seam
joining the two.
"And thus do we have a cerebral-Yaron and a physical, or
corporal-Yaron as one cohesive unit without any outward sign
of the duality and difference between them.
"Furthermore, in the internal workings of this symbiotic
creature, as it were, there is a conglomerate of different
powers which freely voice their opinions and suggestions
without even identifying who is speaking and to which half of
this man he belongs.
"A man from the outside who was to bend an ear to the voices
pouring forth from this round table discussion would be
totally confused: each of the voices sounds like it is the
person himself. Every utterance is prefaced with an egotistic
`I think,' `I feel . . . ' etc. And it sounds as if this is
the definitive voice of the man himself, brooking no argument
or opposing opinion. Pairs of sentences which are by content
altogether contradictory sound like the single voice of the
person in this round table conference. `I think that I've got
to get up now in order to do this and that,' as opposed to `I
want to sleep some more and I don't owe anybody anything.'
Or, to use a different example, `I really must donate to such
a worthy cause,' alongside `It's my money and I have no
intention of sharing it with anyone else.' Even the person
himself, within whom rage the medley of these voices, hears
from the midst of this babble what he wishes to hear, the
will that best expresses his desire."
"So how is any final decision ever arrived at?" asked
"Very simply. The decision is determined by whoever shouts
the loudest. The highest volume, the greatest power behind
the shouting, is the deciding factor. That way, there are no
arguments or uncertainties. There are no guilt feelings after-
the-act. In this internal `parliament' there is no clear-cut
division of parties regarding body and soul and there is no
definite identification of the leanings of any of the
"In the end, when a person finally `decides,' he declares
that he's `in the mood' to do this or that. That is his will
and he will act accordingly."
"I am certain," said Yaron, "that in most cases, the voice of
the body is stronger and louder, whereas the voice of the
spiritual ideals and values are weaker. But primarily, where
do we find expression of man's free choice, which is his
ultimate, highest essence?"
"That," said the Rov, "is the question of questions. Here
sits the man-of-free-choice as president of his internal
`parliament' -- and the determining factor in his decision
between all the voices is merely their noise level? This
`voter's' problem is one of the mixture of unidentified
voices. He hears voices and cries, but he cannot immediately
identify the source of each one and what it represents. He
doesn't know if one particular call is coming from his body,
bearing the characteristics of earthiness and baseness, or if
it comes from the refined side of the spirit and its
respective aspirations. If he could avail himself of the
services of `Caller ID' and know immediately who is saying
what, he would be able to classify the voices according to
their source. And then his act of free choice would operate
from clarity in accordance with the real inner design of
those various voices.
"This is the only advice he can avail himself of in
dispelling the fog that envelops the voices he hears. If he
could identify them, his decision would spring from
fundamental rules that he embraced as a `voter' and by which
he conducts his life, and not according to the volume
produced by the various powers that seek to be heard. Only in
this instance can we say that the decision is the person's
and expresses his ultimate will, and his conduct in choosing
"If I understood you correctly," said Yaron, "then this is a
marvelous and easy guideline for every person to employ: to
classify the inclinations and the voices that he hears inside
him. For then he will clearly see which originates from the
side of his material body and which emanates from his mind
and better judgment and those values by which he wishes to
live. The `Caller ID' is the solution. This is how he can
learn to differentiate between his yetzer tov and his
yetzer ra; it will be much easier then for him to
decide which to follow."
"Well said," the Rov complimented him. "Identification is the
right direction. For without it, a person wanders aimlessly
in the dark throughout his life and does not know who,
exactly, is pulling the reins as he marches along his way.
"But this is only the beginning. There are many deceptions
and camouflages which sometimes make that identification a
difficult task. For example, `It is advisable for me to sleep
for another half-an-hour because then I will get up fully
refreshed and will be able to study with a clear head.' Did a
desire to learn with a clear head truly speak to me, or was
it simply laziness disguised as love for Torah? Is this not a
clear example of `corporal-Yaron' versus `spiritual- Yaron'
"Only one who truly cares, who is genuinely concerned, and
who listens carefully to the voices within him -- and acts
accordingly, can be in control of his own actions."