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    The evil inclination – B’reshit

    leonardo da vinci body man person scienceThe human being whose creation is described in this sidra is not a perfect paragon.

    Just as he can do good, so can he do evil. He has an evil inclination (a yetzer ha-ra) just as he has a good inclination (a yetzer ha-tov).

    Would he have been better off to have been created as an angel?

    The sages say no. The evil inclination is actually regarded as good for him and it can be used to serve God (Deut. 6:5, Rashi’s commentary, and Mishnah B’rachot 9:5).

    One way of understanding this statement is that in bringing the evil inclination under control, a person is serving the Creator.

    On the Mishnah in B’rachot, the M’lechet Shlomo says that conquering the evil inclination is a means of service of God. As an example, the evil inclination is a source of cruelty, and by being compassionate instead of cruel, one is defeating this inclination and serving the purposes of the Almighty.

    Another view is that it is because of this inclination that one is moved by the drive for sexual gratification (which is one reason for marriage), building a house and pursuing an occupation, so the stimulus of the yetzer ha-ra leads one to actions that enhance the world (Gen. R. 9:7).

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