We must realize many sins result chiefly from evil acquaintances, so one must flee from those persons as one would from fire. The Yetzer Hara (Evil Inclination) has already taken up permanent residence with such persons, and he appoints them messengers to shoot arrows even at the souls of their friends. These “arrows” are their foul language and irreverence with which they make every prohibition seem more attractive, provoking their own Evil Inclination and that of their friends, and causing every evil to occur. As Chazal said¹, “Many friends do evil.” Even if they advise and entice one to only go along with them but not do what they do, one should not heed them, because this is the incitement of the Evil Inclination itself. The Torah says, “Happy is the man who has not walked in the counsel of the wicked” (Tehillim [Psalms] 1:1); and King Shlomo [Solomon] cried out, “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent If they say, ‘Come with us’...do not walk in the way with them” (Mishlei [Proverbs] 1:10,15).
Consider how artfully the Yetzer Hara incites a person to sin. The Midrash² states:
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Author: The Chofetz Chaim
Keywords: Adversary, Angel of darkness, Body of death, Christ tempted, Christ's temptation, Christ's temptation in the wilderness, Deliver us from evil, Devil, Devil and Jesus, Devil tempts Jesus, diabolos, Evil angel, Evil Inclination, Evil nature, Evil one, Good angel, Good nature, Hara Yetser, Ha-ra Yetser, Hara Yetzer, Ha-ra Yetzer, Hara Yezer, Ha-ra Yezer, Intentional misspelling, Intentionally misspelled, Jesus' temptation, Jesus' temptation in the wilderness, Jesus tempted, Jesus tempted by Satan, Jesus tempted by the devil, Jesus tempted in the wilderness, Jesus's temptation, Jot, Jot and tittle, Jots, Man's sinful nature, Mispelled word, Mispelling, Misspelling, Misspelled word, Origin of sin, Personification of evil, Personification, Satan, Satan and Jesus, Satan tempts Christ, Satan tempts Jesus, Seducer, Sexual temptation, Sin, Sin in the flesh, Sin personified, Sin within, Sinful nature, Snatcher, Temptation, Temptation from within, Temptation in the wilderness, Tempted in the wilderness, Tempted of Satan, Tempted of the devil, Tempted sexually, Tempted to do evil, Tempts Christ, Tempts Jesus, The devil tempts Christ, The devil tempts Jesus, The Evil Inclination, The Evil One, Tittle, Two jots, Two yodhs, Two yods, Wicked one, Wilderness temptation, Wretched man, Yatsar, Yetsarim, Yetser ha ra, Yetser ha tov, Yetser ra, Yetser tov, Yetzer, Yetzer ha ra, Yetzer ha tov, Yetzer Hara, Yetzer ra, Yetzer tov, Yezer ha ra, Yezer ha tov, Yezer Hara, Yezer tov, Yod, Yodh
Bible reference(s): Psalms 1:1, Proverbs 1:10, Proverbs 1:15, Proverbs 4:14-15, Ephesians 6:16, James 4:7
Source: The Chofetz Chaim (Yisrael Meir Poupko), Music of the Universe, trans. Raphael Blumberg (Jerusalem), pp. 26-30.
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