April 15, 2024
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April 15, 2024
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Navigating the Dark Forces: A Journey to Great Destiny

In life’s intricate tapestry, we often encounter moments of profound challenge and opposition. Sometimes we experience unusual opposition when something great is about to happen and our destiny is about to be fulfilled. These adversities may not be mere stumbling blocks but rather indicators of an impending great destiny. It is during these trials that we are called to fortify our resolve and push forward, for beyond the veil of struggle may lie the fulfillment of our life’s purpose.

In parshat Shemot, (4:24-26) we read of a curious incident that occurred to Moshe. He was on his way to fulfill his destiny and liberate the Jewish people in Egypt from slavery. While stopped at an inn, a supernatural force tried to kill him. Rashi called this force an angel. R’ Shimon Ben Gamliel referred to this force as Satan (Nedarim 32a.) If this force had succeeded in killing Moshe, history would have been rewritten, altering the course of the Jewish narrative forever.

This supernatural dark force has been referred to by many names. Whether it is called the “Yetzer Horah,” Satan, or “Sitra Achra” (the opposing force) its purpose is always to set up opposition; to prevent individuals from fulfilling their destiny. In modern day movie lore it has even been called the dark side of the Force.

The Vilna Gaon’s commentary on the story of Iyuv (Job) introduces the concept of the “Sitra Achra,” an opposing force whose mission is to create obstacles in fulfilling God’s plan. Overcoming these hurdles becomes a testament to one’s faith and elevates the honor of God. The heroes of the Torah faced similar oppositions. In the story of the Akeidat Yitzchak, the Gemara tells us that it was Satan who suggested that Avraham be put to the test to see if he would sacrifice his son (Sanhedrin 89a.) The midrash related that Satan created a lake along the way, as an obstacle, to hinder the two forefathers from fulfilling their mission.

In the narrative of Moshe’s ascent to Mount Sinai, Satan once again attempts to sow doubt among the Jewish people. Satan (the opposing force) came and showed the Jewish people an illusion of Moshe’s demise. The people interpreted this to mean that Moshe had surely died. Rashi explained that Satan said to them, “Moshe has died, for too much time has already passed, and he has not returned.” As a result, they made plans to worship the golden idol. Within a short period of time, the people who had witnessed the miracles of the liberation from Egypt and the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, began to have their faith unravel.

In our own life experiences we need to recognize that these dark forces mostly oppose us when we have great destinies to fulfill. The Sitra Achra typically tries to influence us if he sees greatness and fulfillment ahead. In fact, using that perspective, when we face unusual difficulties and challenges in life perhaps we need to tell ourselves that something great may be lying ahead in our future and may be coming down the road soon. The greater our destiny, the more formidable the challenges we face.

Life’s spiritual tests may lead us astray, tempting us to abandon the path of righteousness. The Sitra Achra, with its craftiness and resourcefulness, may seem insurmountable. However, with God’s help, we can overcome these challenges. Success in overcoming adversity signifies reaching new levels of personal greatness.

In life, we may confront situations that shake us up spiritually. We may have a financial loss, experience sickness or have a family tragedy befall us. Like our forefather, Avraham, who was asked to sacrifice his beloved son, or like Moshe who almost lost his life on the way to fulfill his righteous mission, our faith may be put to the test. We have moments of testing in which we know the right thing to do, but feel pulled in the opposite direction. The Sitra Achra is strong and can feel unbeatable. It is crafty and resourceful. Nevertheless, with God’s help these challenges to our faith can be overcome and we can experience success and meet our true destiny.

Maintaining “emunah” (faith) during difficult times becomes pivotal. The ability to affirm that “all God does, He does for the good” (Brachot 61b) even in the face of apparent adversity demonstrates unwavering faith. May Hashem bless us to help overcome the obstacles in life along the way so that we can reach our spiritual heights and ultimately fulfill our destiny in the most positive manner.


Rabbi Dr. Avi Kuperberg is a forensic, clinical psychologist and a member of the American Psychology-Law Society. He is the coordinator of Bikur Cholim/Chesed at Congregation Torah Ohr in Boca Raton, Florida. He can be reached at [email protected].

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