Truly a Fool

R. Yisrael of Ruzhin remarked that he was never able to understand the statement of Shlomo (Kohelet 4:13), the wisest of men, that the evil inclination is an “old and foolish king.”

It is understandable that he is referred to as a king, as he rules and overpowers the individual. It as well is understood that he is called old, as he enters the body at birth and the good inclination enters when the individual comes of age.

However, why is he called a fool? He seems quite clever in his ability to ensnare even smart individuals and blind their eyes.

Now, when I sat in prison in Russia and there too the evil inclination came to me, I finally understood why he is a fool – for who forced him to come to prison? I am sitting here involuntarily, but he comes here on his own accord – surely there is no greater foolishness.

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