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A man was down on his luck. He tried various business ventures to no avail. He was sitting dejectedly in the park when a well-dressed fellow sat down next to him. This was clearly a man of means. Surprisingly, he greeted the less fortunate man warmly.

“It appears you are in a bad place. Would you like to talk about it?”  The crestfallen fellow looked up and began to feel a glimmer of hope. He was delighted that such an obviously successful person would show interest in him. The tale of woe came spilling out. When he finished venting, the elegant stranger made a proposal.  “I have been looking for someone I can trust to run a new business venture.  You will handle the daily tasks, and profits will be split 50/50.  I have lists of vendors and customers. Order whatever we need, and then make the sales and arrange deliveries.  Just keep an accurate record of the bills so I can have my bookkeeper handle the invoices.”

The man was overwhelmed with gratitude. He immediately placed large orders to secure significant discounts.  He used the customer list to begin developing relationships. He then hired a PR and marketing firm which created a beautiful logo and began coding an amazing website. They placed ads in prominent magazines and on the radio and went all out to create a buzz to launch the new company.

This once beaten man suddenly became a CEO. He ordered expensive clothing to fit his new position and signed a lease on a luxury vehicle befitting his new station. He was on top of the world, as everything he had ever wanted was coming to fruition.  He kept excellent records of every invoice as agreed.

Bills began to pile up, and demand letters and calls started coming in. The newly minted CEO began to worry and reached out to his partner.  “My bookkeeper has been ill.  Please assure our vendors that the bills will be paid in full very shortly,”  he was told. A month went by, and nothing had been paid.  The CEO asked to meet with his partner.  The partner assured him they could meet that very evening, and he would treat him to dinner at an excellent new steakhouse. Everything would be explained and resolved, he said, so there was no need to worry.

The partner showed up and greeted him warmly. He apologized profusely for the snag. “Let’s enjoy a nice meal together, and then we can work this out,” he said. They dined on delicious steaks, expensive whiskey, and fancy desserts. The benefactor handed him a black credit card. “You can use this to resolve all of our bills, as well as for dinner tonight. I have a prior engagement, and I have to run.” The CEO’s faith was restored, and he was in good spirits from the meal and the drinks.  When the waiter arrived with the bill, he pulled out the prestigious black card with a flourish and added a generous tip. The waiter was impressed.

The card was declined. The waiter returned to the table with his apologies and asked for another credit card.  It soon became clear that this benefactor was a charlatan and had taken him for one last expensive ride. The “CEO”’s debt was far beyond what he could ever have imagined, and he became hopelessly lost.

The “benefactor” in our tale is the yetzer harah.  He preys upon us by exploiting our weaknesses. His special talent is showing us a world of temptation and desire.  Some think they can give in to their wants in this world “in exchange” for their portion in the world to come.  But that is a fallacy.  The evil inclination does not want what is best for us – not in this world and certainly not in the next one.  His entire function is to test us and make us falter.  He was created so we would overcome the allure and earn eternal reward. He is not our friend. He is our sworn enemy in a life and death struggle for eternity.

As the weather improves and thoughts turn to leisure, it is important to remember who we are and why we are here.

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