Let My People Know

"Everyone must–and can–overcome temptation"


Temptations overcome a person only when some measure of conscious complicity exists. 

Feelings, holy or otherwise, do not arise in a vacuum. 

They develop within one's conceptual realm, within the image of the world as one understands it.

Even if a person cannot dominate his feelings–his heart–he can control his intellect. 

He can use the power of his mind to visualize God gazing at all that he does until this awareness becomes part of his worldview, a tangible component of his reality. 

If this picture is sufficiently robust, he will develop a fear of sin and a fear of heaven.

Both will give him the strength to withdraw from and transcend the evil inclination and the temptations that assail him.

The sinner has no excuse because everyone must–and can–overcome temptation. 

Still, it is wrong to disparage such a person and feel superior to him. 

It is the sinner who must struggle to break his fiery passion through a conscious fear of God. 

A person who does not experience such passion, who is not susceptible to the fire of lust burning in his blood and overwhelming his senses, cannot understand that struggle:

What it means to withstand temptation and declare, "Because I fear God, I will not sin!"

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From Understanding the Tanya, p. 80, by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz