Who Is a Hero? who conquers his desire

The answer to the above rhetorical question is: “He who conquers his desire”. This classic Jewish motto expresses the frequent tendency of radical religion to view urges negatively. Accordingly Haredi focus on keeping urges under control, overcoming impulse (yetzer).

Written By Prof. Gideon Aran

Professor Gideon AranThe examples of Haredi efforts at regulating the body’s various appetites are well known: sex (only for reproduction and contingent on strict conditions of matrimony and purity), nutrition (just enough to ensure bare subsistence and enable Talmud study), and excretions (even here enjoyment is forbidden).

A similar stance is taken towards sleep, another threatening bodily weakness. Sleep is suspicious because when sleeping one is no longer occupied with the Torah, and this is the first step on the pathway to sin. During sleep religious discipline weakens, and the body is liable to attain autonomy and precedence. So war is declared on sleep, and it is defined as a phenomenon indicative of evil.

Taken from “Denial Does Not Make The Haredi Body Go Away Ethnography of a Disappearing (?) Jewish Phenomenon”, By Prof. Gideon Aran.

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