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Shabbat Parashat Toldot 5773

Ein Ayah: Different Parts of Our Evil Inclinations

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 9:190)

Gemara:  [The Torah writes in the context of the creation of man,] “Vayyitzer Hashem” (Hashem created) with two letters yud. We learn from there that He created man with two yetzarim (inclinations – the words for creating and inclination are very similar) – a good inclination and an evil inclination. Rav Nachman asked: But only one yud is found regarding the creation of animals, and we see that they have an evil inclination, as they damage, bite, and kick. Rather, it is as Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi said: “Woe is to me because of yotzri (my Creator); woe is to me because of yitzri (my evil inclination).” 


Ein Ayah:  The animalistic characteristics that drag a person to lowly desires do not require a special creation to have their effect. Rather, if a person just abandons the special high nature of his spirit, he will sink naturally toward great deterioration and will remain there until the spirit of his intellect will raise him again to the proper level.

However, the aforementioned danger of natural deterioration applies only to matters of physicality, to which man has a natural animalistic connection. However, there is another part to a person’s evil inclination. That is in regard to a spiritually undeveloped person’s opposition to accepting Hashem’s mandates. This finds special expression in regard to mitzvot whose reason is not clear but are divine mandates, which some people will oppose even though the mitzva does not compromise the desires of his animalistic tendencies. This is a specially created inclination, which allows a person to improve his spirit by giving him free choice to choose between that which is right and between this evil inclination. This is the battle between the recognition of the word of Hashem and the inclination, in addition to the battle against the natural tendencies toward physicality. When one overcomes the intellectual evil inclination, then he will have a broader recognition of goodness because he not only will know about good in and of itself but also in contrast to the evil that he has been exposed to.

This explains the double creation that the pasuk refers to. It is not intrinsic in the creation of a physical being that there should have to be any other force toward sin other than the situation of his spiritual side not succeeding, which allows the physical side to take over and cause sin. Yet, Hashem created an additional type of intellectual evil inclination. The Rabbis referred to one type of evil inclination with “woe is to me from my Creator,” i.e., the inclination to go against what Hashem said simply because Hashem said it. “Woe is to me from my evil inclination” refers to those inclinations that oppose success and purity in pursuit of a connection to Hashem due to the unrefined physical nature of a person. 


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