Fooling the Satan Inside of Us

This may seem a little bit counterintuitive at first. If the month of Elul¹ is an awakening process culminating in Rosh Hashana [the Jewish celebration of the New Year], wouldn’t it make sense to blow more blasts of the Shofar [ram’s horn] on Erev Yom Teru’ah [the evening before “the day of shouting and horn blowing,” i.e., New Year’s Eve]? Chazal’s² [(our Jewish sages’)] famous answer is even more counterintuitive—“to fool the satan,” they wrote. By not blowing shofar on Erev Rosh Hashana [New Year’s Eve], we theoretically put the Yetzer Hara [the Evil Inclination] “at ease,” so that it won’t be ready to prosecute when it counts on the Day of Judgement.

For anyone with an even mildly skeptical bone in his body, this is a difficult answer to swallow, even on the most simplistic levels. Straightforward, even childish questions, begin to emerge — how could the Satan forget every year when Rosh Hashana is? Hasn’t he been around for long enough not to be fooled by this trick anymore? Even on a slightly more intellectual level, maybe we shouldn’t even be afraid of the satan –– if we go into Rosh Hashana feeling confident enough to tell Hashem [the LORD Adonai] that we are worthy of life, then we certainly shouldn’t have a problem inviting the prosecutor to the party!

Rav Binyamin Kwalwasser, the mashigach ruchani [religious supervisor] of Yeshivat Lev Hatorah [religious school] and a rebbe [religious teacher] of mine, offers a deeper insight into this idea of “fooling the prosecutor.” When speaking about the Satan, we’re not talking about your run-of-the-mill red entity with horns and a spiked tail, but rather the Yetzer Hara [Evil Inclination] inside of us.

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Author: Tzvi Silver

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Bible reference(s): Genesis 2:7, Genesis 4:7, Genesis 8:21, Deuteronomy 10:16, Job 1:6-12, Job 2:1-7, Psalms 51:10, Proverbs 25:21, Isaiah 5:18, Isaiah 14:4-19, Isaiah 57:14, Ezekiel 28:11-17, Ezekiel 36:26, Joel 2:20, Matthew 4:1-11, Matthew 6:13, Mark 1:13, Luke 11:4, Luke 4:2-13, John 8:44, John 13:2, Acts 5:3, Romans 7:17-24, 1 Corinthians 7:5, 2 Corinthians 12:7, 2 Corinthians 11:14, Galatians 1:4, Ephesians 4:27, Ephesians 6:11, Ephesians 6:16, 1 Thessalonians 3:5, 1 Timothy 3:6-7, 2 Timothy 2:26, Hebrews 2:14, James 4:7, 1 John 2:13-14, 1 John 3:8, 1 John 3:10, 1 John 3:12, 1 John 5:18-19, Matthew 5:18, Revelation 20:10, Leviticus 23:24, Numbers 29:1, Ezekiel 40:1

Source: “Fooling the Satan inside of Us,” The Times of Israel: The Blogs, September 30, 2015.

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