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Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “The cunning of the evil inclination.”

The sadness that seemingly is concerned with great and elevated matters does not stem from holiness but from impurity.

A person’s evil inclination attempts to overwhelm him with sadness, regardless of the cause of that sadness.

The deeper the sadness, the more does a person grow depressed and descends, until he succumbs to a temptation of one kind of another.

This is a well-known psychological phenomenon: when a person berates himself for his sinfulness, he is liable to become so depressed that, in his despair, he paradoxically commits a sin graver than any that he had already committed.

So even if one’s sadness seems motivated by the desire to rectify one’s life, its ultimate outcome discloses its true identity: it is the cunning of the evil inclination, intended to cast a person to the depths.

—Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz