Guest Author - Lisa Pinkus
The notion of good and evil is an intricate inconsistency, a paradox of sorts. In Judaism, despite clear definitions of how good and evil exists, the topic still remains complex. If G-d has a Master plan, then how can free will exist? And, yet, very clearly – Judaism states that evil is a result of man’s free will.
This possibility – of man choosing evil over good - exists here in the physical world, the world that is ours only temporarily until we join G-d in the spiritual world. Here, in the physical world, we have the choice to follow the will of G-d. There, in the spiritual world, we become like the angels who have no free will and no desire to do evil.
Furthermore, “evil” is very broadly defined. The images that arise in your head – the things that our society punishes people for – are included, of course. But, also in the realm of evil exists actions that are purely for the satisfaction of our ego.
It is actually quite easy to stray from the path of what’s “right”. Think about it – how caught up in over indulgence is our society? Do you think that home movie systems, liposuction, and fashions that change every week are truly a part of what G-d wants for his Children?
The Yetzer Hara or evil inclination is not something outside of us but something within. But, the Yetzer Hara is not a bad thing. If it didn’t exist, being a pious individual would be relatively simple. With the evil inclination, however, we are in a constant battle against our own selfishness and desires.
Our Yetzer Hara leads us to believe that this world is all there is. So, we yearn for more – more toys, more money, more vacations, more power in our job. It is only this yearning that can ultimately bring us back to that which is absolutely true. It is our ability to overcome the desire of the Yetzer Hara and live life as intended by G-d that allows us to fully grasp the meaning of our existence.
With the High Holy Days right around the corner, there is not a better time to concentrate on setting aside our inclinations to want more things, better clothes, and more prominent positions. It is a prime opportunity to take our Yetzer Hara by the horns and ensure that we are making good choices for our lives.
Here are some action ideas for your Yetzer HaTov (the good inclination):
*Make a list of your values and then write out how you actively live those values in your daily life.
*Take time to volunteer. Giving to the community has a powerful impact on your view of the world.
*Live simply. Clear out the clutter in your home, your mind and your family life.
G-d created us with a Yetzer Hara, the evil inclination, so that we might overcome the desires that lead us astray and choose – with our free will – to walk on G-d’s intended path.