LEV86 When you suffer hardship, [the evil inclination] will call your attention to the prosperity of the wicked and the success of the heretics, as it says, “The tents of robbers are at peace, and there are safe places for those who anger God” (Iyov 12:6), and it will say to you: “The only reason this misfortune has befallen you is that you have attached yourself to God's service and to His commandments, and you do not have the strength to bear it, as the burden is too heavy and the end is too far away. If you would remove this matter from your heart and give yourself a rest from it, you would be in a happy state, as you see enjoyed by the wicked. Witness what is said in Scripture: ‘With those close to Me will I be sanctified’ (Vayikra 10:3); ‘Only you have I known among all the families of the earth; therefore, I will punish you for all your iniquities’ (Amos 3:2); and the like.” When it sees that you intend to perform any religious act, it will magnify [the act] in your site and discourage you from doing it. If you intend to fast, it will say to you: “Beware, for [fasting] will weaken you, make you ill, and prevent you from attending to your secular affairs, as well as those that concern your life hereafter.” If it is an additional prayer you wish to offer at night, [the evil inclination] will bring to mind the thought that sleep is more beneficial to you than food, preserves your health, and strengthens your body more than eating or drinking. If you intend to give charity, it will cause you to imagine the loss of your money, place before your eyes a picture of impoverishment, and remind you of the misery of poverty and privation. And so, in every kind of religious or charitable activity, it will try to discourage you and make you feel that [the activity] is too formidable for you, so that you desist from it. But when you consider committing a sin, [the evil inclination] will endear its pleasure to you and make you oblivious of the penalty. It will encourage you to do it and to develop a passion for it. If you hear such things from it, answer it that any suffering you experienced in the past left no mark on you, but passed quickly and was gone. The recompense for it, however, stands forever, never ending or consumed. One can fast all day, but when night comes he eats again, and it is as if he never fasted, as his strength returns to him; But his reward remains reserved for him. The same is true of one who keeps awake part of the night: when he sleeps, his vigor returns, as if he had not stayed awake; but the reward for staying up and offering prayer is reserved for him forever. As for giving charity, I explained this matter well in the Gate of Trust in God. In regard to sins, what you have to do is mediate and reflect on how quickly your pleasures fade, whether those permitted or those forbidden, and how the shame of a disgraceful act -- and the penalty-- remain with you in this world and the next. In this way the evil inclination will be defeated by you, you will pursue right conduct, and desist from what is disgraceful.
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