More Discussions for this daf
1. The young idolator 2. Kares, etc 3. Mavetel Yetzer Hara
4. Achaz and Molech 5. Mentioning the Name of An Obsolete Idol 6. Achaz and Molech

Rabbi Yoseph Dov Karr writes:

I would like to share my own "chedush". let me know if you like it. you may share it with others if you agree that it is good.

The gamara tell a story about a young child who's stomach is bloated and he is starving to death. he is thrown on a garbage heap to die. Hash-m send Elijah to save him. he is the only child left from a family of 3,000. Elijash asks to boy if he is willing todo something to save himself and live. the boy replies Yes. Elijah says all he has to do is say Shema every day and he will live. the boy is silent and refuses. he explains that his mother and father had not taught him. He instead kisses his avodah zorah and is stomach burst and he dies.

I had two questions on this. First, why didn't the boy lied to save himself. he could of loved his avodah zorah and say shema. He should have done want ever he could to live. Second why mention his father and mother did not "teach him". this does not answer the question as Elijah was willing to teach him now. Maybe he heard about the Torah or Shema from someone else?

I would like to answer based upon the gamarah in Berachos that says there are three steps to fight the Yeitzer Harah. First go and learn Torah, if that works great. If not, Say Shema, if that works, great. If not you should comtemplate the yom hamesah ( the day of your death). Avodah Zorah is a Yitzer Harah. There three steps should work. We see they did not with the young boy. The Gemara in Huryos says a father (and mother) must first teach their son Torah tzivah lanu Moshe etc. The second thing is Shema. That is what the boy was saying - my father and mother never taught me torah - torah tzivah lanu Moshe. Torah can not help save me from the Yeitzer Harah. He also did not agree to say Shema. So this did not save him. What about thinking about the Yom Hamesah. After all he was about to die. the Vilna Gaon Z'tl explains why there are three steps to fight the Yitzer Harah. Why not just contemplate the day of one's death? Just skip the the third step.

He explains not everyone will be effected by the Yom Hamesah. The Greeks say "eat drink and be merry for tomorrow you will die". We unfortunately see that death means nothing to the Arabs that blow themselves up. It is only someone who learns Torah and accepts the "Yoke of Heaven" by saying Shema that one can properly give musser to and tell him to thing about the day he will die. Death meant nothing to this boy and therefore he died. We see all three steps to fight the Yeiter were used but to no avail.

We now understand why Hazel had to daven to Hash-m to save us from the Yeitzer Harah of Avodad Zorah. The three steps did not help to save us or this boy! Only Hash-m could help. There our rabbis daven to Hash-m to take away this Yeitzer Harah that we could not conquer by ourselves.

Rabbi Yoseph Dov Karr, Passaic, N.J.