When a person’s craving and desire for something becomes so strong that he finds it very difficult to overcome that strong desire, then we refer to it as an addiction.
Overcoming an addiction will depend on a person’s determination which in turn will depend on various criteria. Firstly, it will depend on a persons character, fortitude, and will power. Some people are very strong minded by nature and don’t give up easily. They’ll climb the highest mountain no matter how difficult the task. They will never give up no matter what difficulties they encounter. Others are very weak or feeble minded and start many things but easily give up at the least difficulty. People with strong character and will power may find it much easier to overcome an addiction while those of weak character may find it far more difficult.
Secondly, it will depend on a person’s awareness of the results and consequences of his actions and his personal desire to overcome them. Offer a person a big enough reward to stop his addiction and chances are that he will be able to overcome it. Give someone a million dollars to stop smoking, and chances are that even the most addicted person will gather the will power to do it. Show a person the very great danger caused by his addiction and it may sometimes help him overcome it. Many people need the support of others to help them overcome their great temptations and this is why we have organizations such as “Alcohol Anonymous” or “Weight Watchers”.
This may be the reason why a Korban Pesach, which represents the destruction of the Egyptian avodah zarah, was eaten in a group. Not everyone had the courage, strength or ability to overcome their addiction to it on their very own and therefore needed the support and encouragement of others.
There are times when a person’s addiction becomes so strong that it seems to defy reason and logic. His addiction now turns into a mental illness. This sometimes happens when a person becomes depressed. The person can’t seem to muster the great strength needed to fight his cravings. This is what is meant by “Hardening ones heart.” One’s craving and desire becomes so great, that the person loses the desire or ability to resist. This is a punishment for his obstinacy or overindulgence.
When a person does something many times, his desire to repeat it becomes more intense and therefore it becomes more and more difficult to break the bad habit or addiction. This is the meaning of “ovar v’shana, na’seh lo k’heter – repeating an act makes it seem permissible.” It becomes so difficult for him to fight the addiction, that he simply gives up the fight without even trying. What happens is that one loses the desire to fight the battle and gives in to his desires.
When a person does all he can to overcome his natural animalistic instincts to sin, then Hashem comes to his rescue and helps him overcome this desire. This is what is meant by “If Hashemdoesn’t help us, we would be unable to overcome the yetzer ho’rah on our own.” If a person shows a desire to do good, then Hashem helps him by increasing this desire. This is what is meant by “If you open up your heart like the opening of a needle, then I will open your hearts like the opening of the Ulom.” All Hashem asks of us is to light the spark and then He will light the fire. If we place a small fire upon Hashem’s Altar, then Hashem will respond by bringing down a fire from the Heavens Above.