The Evil Inclination
Good is the Evil Inclination?
word “Bereshis” means in the beginning. Parshas Bereshis is the beginning of
the Torah, and in fact, the beginning of time (The Vilna Gaon explains that time
is the first thing G-d created).
this portion, the order of creation is laid out through the first “six days”
(there is much discussion amongst the commentaries whether these days are twenty
four hour days, or units of time).
final aspect of creation is the creation of man—Adom and Chava (Adam and Eve).
the way that things were created, and from the ensuing commandment given to Adom
and Chava, we can understand man’s purpose in the world.
us take one example: “And all the herb, had not yet sprouted” (Genesis Ch.2
V.5). This would seem to be an apparent contradiction to an earlier verse:
“And the earth brought forth vegetation” (Genesis Ch.1 V.12). The Talmud
(Tractate Chullin 60b) explains this to mean that G-d created the vegetation
under the surface, yet He was waiting for man
to pray for it. This speaks of an extremely crucial idea: That
G-d desires a relationship with man, and wants man to rely on Him for his
needs, much like a parent with a child.
of the tree of knowledge of good and bad, you must not eat thereof” (Genesis
was the first commandment given to Adom and Chavah. What was the purpose of
this, and all subsequent commandments given to mankind?
G-d saw all that He had made, and He saw it was very
good” (Genesis Ch.1 V.31). Why does it state “very good” on this day (the
sixth day) as opposed to the word “good” alone which was used for the other
days? The Midrash explains: that on this day (the sixth day), the yetzer hara—evil
inclination—was created. Why is that very good? Because it now enables man to
have bechira—free choice.
choosing good over evil is the only way in which the world can reach its true
purpose, and the commandments are the vehicle through which we choose.
the Garden of Eden, the evil inclination existed outside the body (as manifested
by the snake).
did G-d not want them to eat from the tree? Before Adom and Chavah ate from the
tree of knowledge, their perceptions of good and evil were understood on the
elevated level of truth and falsehood. If, for example Adom was to see someone
steal, he would not merely think it bad, he would think it false. Thus his
choosing good would be easier as he would be able to perceive it more
objectively. By eating from the tree, the evil inclination internalized, thus
creating a bias. It then created within Adom and Chavah a relative value system.
When a person sees something from the outside, he is usually able to look at it
objectively. Once it becomes part of him, however, he no longer sees it as such.
is particularly a problem in our society, where there is no absolute scale of
good and bad.
can we do to rectify the sin of Adom and Chavah?
must look at the commandments given to us, and attempt to not only perform them
the correct way, but to also see the truth in them, i.e., to understand the
ramification of our actions as far as helping or G-d forbid, hurting the world.