I’ve been reading recently, that according to a recent study, addictions are a disease. There are other influences as well that drive a person to be an addict, nevertheless in the end, the individual still has the power of control over their own choices.
In another article I read recently, the author was saying, while a person intellectually understands something is bad for them, the association of the imagery and emotions to good feelings, will many times trump what good logic dictates. Therefore to overcome this problem, a person with his mind, must change the associations of certain bad decision and good results to the bad results they truly lead to.
Both of these articles are not saying anything new. The Bible talks of two spirits that is built in, within a person. An animal soul, which in some people is stronger and more inclined to certain animalistic tendencies. And a G-dly soul which in some people is stronger in certain areas than others. The G-dly soul which is compared to light, it dwells and manifests itself through the mind, will always have the power over the darkness and animal soul. As strong as emotions are, the mind can overcome the emotions, and the animal within.
Our sages tell us, that a person who has a predisposition to bad leanings, and he actually wants to do the bad but overcomes this temptation, the depth of his goodness comes out in a way that would never be drawn out if not for the trial. When facing an internal battle, the strength is always there to overcome, and to make us stronger and wiser as a result.
Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch once told his son, “the evil inclination inside each one of us, even though it’s called an animal, can at times act slyly and can clothe itself in the guise of a straightforward humble righteous person, requiring one to use much cleverness to uncover its’ tricks. The evil inclination, manifests itself in each person according to his nature. One person might feel a powerful desire to do a good deed, yet it is coming from the evil animal within, who is trying to prevent him from doing something necessary positive and good at this moment.”
“Take this as a general rule” said the Rabbi. “Anything that leads to an actual performance of good and self refinement, and is met with opposition, even the most noble, comes from the evil inclination”.
Rabbi Meir of Premishlan once related the following; “One wintry day, while I was traveling with my teacher, our horse and buggy reached an incline and it seemed to me that the carriage would topple over at any moment. I was prepared to jump out hastily, full of youthful courage, when my teacher placed his hand on mine and said “Sit down calmly, no bad will befall you.” So it was.
After some time elapsed, driving on flat snowy terrain, we hit an ice patch. The carriage turned over and we all fell on the snow. My teacher then said to me “Nu, so do you see now, when a person falls”.
This experience taught Rabbi Meir that sometimes the danger of succumbing to the evil inclination is not when the danger is apparent. If we remain cool and collected, we don't act in haste, and with focus on our goal, we will reach where we need to.
It is when we least expect it, we are overly confident, that we unexpectedly reach the ice patch and go slipping down. We must always be on the lookout for the enemy, because the enemy never forgets what they are here to carry out.