(However, she made the inside of the outhouse appear as a luxurious home with beautiful furnishings. And if that's not the perfect illustration for what's going on today with the allures of modern society, then I don't know what is.)
This smith had a kosher Jewish wife and children, but he kept getting pulled toward this demon-wife in a way that the Kav Hayashar describes as against the smith's will.
In fact, this smith even got up in the middle of the Pesach Seder to be with the demon-wife in the luxury-illusion outhouse for 15 minutes. His real wife, concerned about his sudden leave of absence, went to go peek through a crack in the wall and she got a real eyefull.
Fortunately, a holy Sage named Rebbe Sheftel (son of the Shlah Hakadosh) lived in their area and the human wife reported her discovery to the holy Rebbe. Rebbe Sheftel sent for the smith who admitted he had "an alien wife (ishah zarah) who was not from the seed of a human being."
Rebbe Sheftel gave the husband an amulet which broke the power of the demoness over him and forced him to separate from her.
Not long before his death, the demoness came to him weeping, protesting about how could her abandon her and her children? Then she showed him a flirty smiling face (panim sochekot), smooching and hugging and cajoling him until he agreed to grant her and her children a portion of his property: the cellar.
Yet only a short while later, something the Kav Hayashar refers to as "wars in the states of Poland from 1648 to 1658" occurred. (I assume this refers to the Khmelnystky massacres.) And the smith and all his heirs were killed during these uprisings.
Demons in the Cellar
It began around 1678 when a young man entered the locked cellar and 15 minutes later, was found dead on its threshold, but no one knew why.
Two years later, the entities started making trouble in the outer buildings, where people used to cook. Then the entities started wandering freely through the main living quarters, breaking things and terrifying the inhabitants.
Interestingly, they first tried a non-Jewish exorcism using Catholic priests, but it obviously didn't work.
Finally, they called on Rebbe Yoel Baal Shem of Zamusht (Zamosc) to intervene. He convened a special beit din, which he compelled the demonic entities to attend. He could hear them although he could not see them.
These chitzonim claimed to be the offspring of the Jewish smith and his demon-wife and, with no human heirs left to inherit the property, these demonic offspring insisted that they were the rightful inheritors of the smith's property and not the new unrelated owners who legally bought the property.
However, the current owners claimed true ownership for the following reasons:
- They purchased the property legally from the smith and his representatives.
- Demonic entities don't have the status of human offspring (zera bnei adam).
- Their mother the demoness compelled the smith to cohabit with her against his will.
After hearing both sides, the beit din delivered their psak (verdict) that the demonic entities had no rights to the smith's estate, including no rights to the cellar, because their primary dwelling place is the wilderness and the forests, and not the yishuv (places of human habitation).
Then Rebbe Yoel Baal Shem Tov bound the entities by oath to leave the smith's estate (including the cellar) and go to the wilderness and the forest.
The Kav Hayashar concludes the saga by saying:
הֲרֵי לְךָ רְאָיָה בְּרוּרָה, שֶׁהֶעָווֹן הַזֶּה גּוֹרֵם כְּשֶׁהָאָדָם נִדְבַּק בְּלִילִית אוֹ בְּשֵׁדִית מִן כַּת מַחֲלַת, אֲזַי נֶעֱקָר הוּא מִן הָעוֹלָם וְגַם מִשְׁפַּחְתּוֹ, וְאֵין לוֹ שׁוּם זִכָּרוֹן בָּעוֹלָם
From this incident you have a clear demonstration that this transgression causes that when a man clings to Lilith or to one of the cohorts [kaht] of Machalat, he uproots himself and his entire family from the world until no memory of him remains.
And anyway, there was heavy judgement going on at that time as a horrific amount of Jews were slaughtered during those years.
The Teshuvah Cure
עַל כֵּן יִתְרַחֵק הָאָדָם מִן הַזְּנוּת, כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יָבוֹא אֵלָיו שֵׁדִית בִּדְמוּת אִשָּׁה, וְיִדְבַּק חַס וְשָׁלוֹם בּוֹ אוֹ בְּזַרְעוֹ, וְגוֹרֵם רָעָה לְעַצְמוֹ. וְהַגּוֹדֵר עַצְמוֹ בְּגָדֵר עֶרְוָה וּמִדַּבֵּק בְּאֵשֶׁת נְעוּרָיו שֶׁהִיא כְּגֶפֶן, אָז אַשְׁרֵי לוֹ וְאַשְׁרֵי לְנִשְׁמָתוֹ שֶׁלֹּא נָתַן כֹּחוֹ לְזָרִים. רַק יִהְיֶה הָאָדָם נִזְהָר מִלְּהוֹצִיא זַרְעוֹ לְבַטָּלָה. וְאִם יַגִּיעַ אֵלָיו חַס וְשָׁלוֹם חֵטְא זֶה עַל יְדֵי אֹנֶס, אֲזַי יִרְאֶה תֵּכֶף לְתַקֵּן אֶת הַפְּגָם בִּתְשׁוּבָה, וְאָז טוֹב לוֹ יִהְיֶה סֶלָה
Therefore a man must distance himself from licentious behavior lest a demoness come to him in the form of a woman and cling to him or his offspring, Heaven forbid, so that he will cause himself harm. Fortunate is the one who makes protective barriers for himself and adheres to the wife of his youth, who is likened to a grapevine. And fortunate is his soul, for he does not deliver his strength to alien entities (zarim). In any event, a man must be careful not to waste his seed.
And if this sin should overtake him against his will, Heaven forbid, let him immediately rectify the blemish through repentance. Then all will be well with him, selah.
Also, it's worth noting that, like with the Pele Yoetz and all the other writings of tzaddikim, after the Kav Hayashar provides strict frightening warnings about a particular sin, he offers reassurance that teshuvah can still remedy everything "and then all will be well with him, selah."
Serving WHOSE Needs?
As the Kav Hayashar writes:
וְהָיָה דָּר עִם שֵׁדִית אַחַת, וְהוֹלִיד בָּנִים זָרִים וּבָנִים מַשְׁחִיתִים, וְגַם הוֹלִיד מֵאִשְׁתּוֹ גַּם כֵּן בָּנִים. וְהָאִישׁ צוֹרֵף הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל הָיָה לוֹ אַהֲבָה יְתֵרָה, וְנַפְשׁוֹ קְשׁוּרָה בְּנַפְשָׁהּ שֶׁל שֵׁדִית, וְלִפְעָמִים הָיָה מֻכְרָח לְבַטֵּל תְּפִלָּתוֹ וְלָצֵאת מִבֵּית הַכְּנֶסֶת לַעֲשׂוֹת רְצוֹן הַשֵּׁדִית הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל
He used to cohabit with a certain female demon, who bore him “foreign sons” and “destructive sons.” He had a human wife as well, who also bore him sons.
But the smith was very much in love with the demoness to the point that his soul was bound up with hers.
Sometimes he was forced to interrupt his prayers and leave the synagogue in order to fulfill the wishes of the demoness.
The Illusion of Obsession
(The term he uses is "heret lo panim sochekot - she showed him a laughing/playful/smiling face." She showed him such a face. It wasn't real, just something she showed him. Sort of like what many people do on Facebook and Instagram.)
Yet the children they created together weren't considered his real children and prohibited from inheriting him. Tragically, the man left the world with no descendants behind him, which is why the demonic offspring thought they had rights to his home until the local beit din informed them otherwise.
So it was all dimyon.
Elusive & Illusive
The demoness resembled a beautiful happy woman, her relationship with the smith resembled a marriage, the results of their relationship resembled children and heirs - but in actuality, it was all nothing.
Even the outhouse resembled a luxury villa from the inside, but was only ever a simple structure encapsulating a dark stinking hole full of repulsive waste.
It was all dimyon.
Nothing concrete. Nothing real or long-lasting.
Elusive and illusive.
Interestingly, the above scenario portrays the man as leaving his family and a profoundly significant Torah obligation (Leil HaSeder) to spend 15 minutes with his demoness. Fifteen minutes! Couldn't he at least postpone it?
But no, she compelled him. The Kav Hayashar refers to this several times above:
- He was forced to interrupt his prayers.
- He was compelled against his will - hi hayatah kofah et hatzoref ba'al korcho."
- Sometimes, licentious sins "come about by force - al yadei oness."
Yet the smith created the initial opening.
And what started out as controllable and desirable veered out of control and overtook him against his will.
And this reminds me of other stories: stories from modern times...
When Dimyon Takes Control
And as for such men who can't even make it through a simple meal with his family: What a rascal of a baal taavah! It's bad enough he gazes at such images -- can't he even wait until the end of supper?
But no, he just gets up and abandons his kosher wife and children. He doesn't even care that in his wife's despair and helpless rage at his abhorrent behavior, she'll mishandle normal child mishaps (like a picky eater, a kvetchy eater, or a toddler who throws his bowl of noodles on the floor). No, he doesn't care. His need to immerse himself in these fake images is stronger than his love for his family.
Texting is mostly text, but it can include playful smiley emoticans. And the whole texting dynamic resembles a human relationship and seems fun, but it's actually highly destructive.
Furthermore, relationships conduct primarily through texting aren't at all the same as real person-to-person relationships. Yet the obsessive texting feels like a real satisfying relationship.
Finally, according to Rabbi Wallerstein, these girls care about Shabbat. Texting demands major Shabbat transgressions.
So why can't they control themselves?
She's a happy girl who likes her school and family, yet these trashy novels sucked her in.
She fights their pull ("Why was I doing this if I knew it wasn't right for me?") At one point, she resists picking up the alluring novel and instead picks up a siddur and begs Hashem to help her: "Please, Tatte, please! Help me remain pure. You know how badly I want to serve you in sanctity...Please, Tatte, cleanse me. Don't let me fall now. Help me resist this overpowering temptation..."
After such sincere heartfelt prayer, Rochy states: "I was sure my battle was over."
Then: "Sunday morning, however, I was once again under the spell."
Rochy finds herself living a double-life of a dedicated frum girl who teaches popular classes in Yiddishkeit to adoring students while secretly consuming forbidden reading material at every opportunity.
She's aware of her hypocrisy and hates herself for it. But she still can't stop.
Then, just like the mesmerized smith 3 centuries ago, this frum girl leaves her family Seder to huddle next to the light of the upstairs bathroom to immerse herself in the mesmerizing secular novel hidden there.
Again, a novel's characters aren't real, but as any voracious reader knows, the world of a compellingly written novel feels real.
(Another interesting correlation to the story that began with the smith: The demons ended up in the cellar, then spread throughout the house. Likewise, Rochy's "demons" -- the trashy novels -- were located in the basement, then spread to her room and she ended up carrying around the images in her head wherever she went, as if her "demons" and left the basement and spread out.)
Yet that plunge to rock-bottom forced Rochy to realize how low she'd fallen.
Again she turned to Hashem with her whole heart and begged Him to forgive her and rescue her from her compulsion.
And she succeeded. She refused to finish the novel that took her out of the Pesach Seder and needed to physically restrain herself from descending to the converted basement of her grandmother's apartment where the novels lay.
As time went by, she felt freer from her addiction. Eventually, she was able to go down to visit her grandmother without feeling the allure of the novels. Occasionally, she felt a twinge, but she fortified herself by thinking of what she wanted to be and how short life is.
"Life was too short, our souls far too precious, to blemish with temporal indulgence."
And just like our tzaddikim promise, sincere teshuvah cured her of her unwanted compulsion.
Interestingly, many people caught in the above situations express a helplessness. They want to stop, they're distressed and mortified by their behavior, but they feel they can't stop.
Men addicted to disgusting images describe their self-disgust and the measures they take to stop themselves, but as if compelled, they find themselves at the computer yet again.
Facebook is another source of panim sochekot. People tend to post images and announcements that show them in the best light, happy and successful. Many people feel addicted to Facebook, even as studies show that Facebook makes them feel worse. Nonetheless, so many feel compelled to constantly check their Facebook.
Yet the frum girl above managed to disengage from her compulsion by turning to Hashem and the Kav Hayashar promises us the teshuvah is not only possible, but effective.
May Hashem help all of us overcome all our "demons."