One of our most tiring battles that a Jew wages his whole life is his ongoing battle with his dark inclinations and bad character traits. Before Adam sinned when he ate from the tree of knowledge evil was something external to his existence. His essence was total good to the point that even his garments were made of light. The moment he sinned he plummeted from his lofty heights, his light turned to his skin, and the external evil became something internal and part of his essence. Good and bad mixed together, truth and falsehood.
This primal sin teaches us that every man no matter who he is and where, what his physical or spiritual achievements are, he can still fall and stumble when the ‘venomous snake’ the evil inclination comes along bribing him with his smooth talking. Every Jew is warned, “Do not believe in yourself until you last day”.
Many people tell themselves “I’m okay, I’m human, I’m not harming anyone…” These are words of defense and if everything was really fine he would have no need to defend himself. But G-d tells us that specifically when everything seems fine and we think we can rest on our laurels, that is when the evil inclination springs upon us trying to break all our boundaries with all his might.
It’s not for naught that G-d told Moses in this week’s Torah portion: “Send for yourself men and they should spy on the land of Canaan”. It didn’t say “send righteous ones” it just says “send men” because even the righteous are humans of flesh and blood and eventhough they attained great heights in the Torah and character development they can fall and stumble on the mines and obstacles the evil side hid in their path.
In Deutronomy 16 it says: “For bribery blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous.” This is precisely what happened when the spies sinned. Who were these spies? They were the righteous of the generation!
Yochanan the high priest served 80 years(!) as a high priest and at the end of his life he became a heretic and joined the Sadducees. This tells us that no one is immune and we must stand on guard always for there’s no guarantee from falling to the evil inclination except for someone who is always steadfastly cleaving to G-d with wholehearted simple faith in G-d and his commandments.
Rabbi Dessler wrote in his book ‘Michtav M’Eliyahu’: asks “How can man know if something is the truth? Everything we deal with has some sort of personal bias that makes us blind from ‘bribery’? He answers that this bribery doesn’t totally cover over the truth, therefore someone who is really looking for the truth will be able to detect when it’s the pure truth. Our great consolation is that all we need to do is to strengthen our search for the truth and cleave to it, and then the evil inclination won’t be able to mislead us.
From Yalkut Lekach Tov