Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Daf Yomi - Sukkah 52 - Names of the evil inclination

The Gemara states that the evil inclination has seven names. Why is it important for us to know that the evil inclination has seven names? I once heard from my Rebbe, Rabbi Chaim Dov Keller, Rosh HaYeshiva of Telshe in Chicago, that when Yaakov encountered the angel of Esav, Yaakov inquired as to the name of the angel. The angel responded, “why then do you inquire of my name?” The obvious question is, why did Yaakov inquire of the angel regarding his name, and why did the angel refuse to divulge his name? The answer is that Yaakov was not merely seeking to validate the name of the angel. Yaakov was saying to the angel, “you are the evil inclination, and you are my enemy. I need to know your name, i.e. your nature, so I and my descendants can know how to do battle with you throughout the generations.” The angel responded, “you cannot fight me, because I always appear with a different name, i.e. in every generation a new group arises that attempts to topple the citadel of Torah and its observance.” Similarly, the Gemara here records the various names of the evil inclination, so we can actually discern its true nature and battle with him until we are successful in vanquishing him.