Dealing with the Yetzer | Parshat Mishpatim





Dealing with the Yezer | Parshat Mishpatim

Rabbi Yaakov Cohen shares this weeks Torah portion Mishpatim on dealing with the yetzer. In Judaism, yetzer hara (Hebrew: יֵצֶר הַרַע‎, for the definite “the evil inclination”), or yetzer ra (Hebrew: יֵצֶר רַע‎, for the indefinite “an evil inclination”) refers to the congenital inclination to do evil, by violating the will of God. The term is drawn from the phrase “the imagination of the heart of man [is] evil” (Hebrew: יֵצֶר לֵב הָאָדָם רַע, yetzer lev-ha-adam ra), which occurs twice in the Hebrew Bible, at Genesis 6:5 and 8:21. The Sages of the Talmud (Berakhot 32a) have spoken about the “evil inclination” in poignant terms, making a comparison to what it is like: “To what is it like, the evil inclination in man? It is like a father who takes his small son, bathes him, douses him with perfume, combs his hair, dresses him up in his finest accoutrements, feeds him, gives him drink, places a bag of money around his neck, and then goes off and puts his son at the front door of a brothel. What can the boy do that he not sin?”

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