In the book of Judges (16:4-21) the prophet tells us about the events that led to the death of Samson. He got involved with a Philistine woman named Delila and this woman brought about his downfall. She asked that he reveal to her the secret of his power and he ultimately told her that the fact that he is a nazirite is what makes him so strong. She cuts his hair while he is sleeping and then his enemies are able to capture him.
The prophet goes into great detail in his record of the conversation between Samson and Delila and our sages explain that the prophet gave us a foundational lesson for life in the thread of this conversation. Our teachers tell us explains that Delila represents the evil inclination that influences man to do evil and Delila’s quest to find the secret of Samson’s strength is the evil inclination’s quest to bring a person under his complete control. The evil inclination knows that he can get a person to sin but this does not satisfy him. He wants to know that the person belongs to him, lock stock and barrel.
The first thing that Samson tells Delila is that in order to break his strength he needs to be tied with seven moist ropes. The sages explain the moistness of the ropes represents the enjoyment that is invested in a sin. The theory being, that if a sin is done with enjoyment, this will then bring the person under the control of the evil inclination.
But Samson breaks out of the grip of these moist ropes. Enjoyment invested in a sin is indeed terrible, but it is not a guarantee that the person belongs to the evil inclination. So we move on to the next attempt of the evil inclination to capture a person. This time Samson says that he needs to be tied with ropes with which no work had ever been done. This would mean that these ropes were manufactured for the specific purpose of capturing Samson. The rabbis explain that the message is that in order to ensnare a person, it is not enough that the sin be done with enjoyment, it must also be invested with premeditation. The theory is that if a person invests thought and deliberation into a sin, he will then go over to the camp of the evil inclination.
But this doesn’t really work either. There is no question that a sin committed with enjoyment and with premeditation is worse than an inadvertent sin but it still does not spell utter spiritual destruction.
In the next stage in the struggle, Samson tells Delila that she needs to weave his hair into a loom in order to render him helpless. The hair represents a person’s ability to justify his actions. The message here is that if a person invests his sin with a moral justification, he will then belong to the evil inclination and his spiritual life will be destroyed.
But this tactic also fails. As long as the hair is still attached to the head, there is still hope. The fact that the hair is attached to the head represents the act of rethinking one’s decisions. As long as the person is still willing to analyze the justification that was applied to the sin, then the person can easily lift themselves back up from the trap of the evil inclination.
The ultimate trap of the evil inclination is to get a person to invest his sin with a moral justification and then cut his hair. In other words, when a person invests his sin with a moral justification and then refuses to reconsider his reasoning, he belongs to the evil inclination. And when Delila cuts Samson’s hair, he loses his strength.
But in the end, the evil inclination can never be completely victorious. God gave a person a power of renewal. Samsons hair began to grow back and he regained his strength. Through the power of renewal, a person can overcome any obstacle that the evil inclination may throw into our path.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal