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From: rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu (Russell Hendel) Date: Mon, 30 Dec 1996 13:12:26 -0500 Subject: RE: Yezer Ra = Impetuousness Eli Turkel, [V25n51], responding to my initial suggestion that "YEZER RA = EVIL INCLINATION = IMPETUOUSNESS", contends that this would only account for sins of lust but not for sins of rebellion. A simple answer to this based on comments of the Rav, Rabbi Soloveitchick, will lead to a deeper understanding of sin and Jewish hashkafah. A brief synopsis is as follows: 1) YEZER RA when used in regards to sins of lust means impetuousness not passion. Thus, e.g, "(S)he sinned because their YEZER got the better of them" should not be translated "They sinned because they had passions" but rather "They sinned because they were impetuous". 2) YEZER RA when used in regards to sins of rebellion should be interpreted as SENSE DISTORTION. A simple example might help: A person crosses the tracks to catch a train DESPITE the fact that the train is coming and gets killed. Why? Because the persons sense of time is DIRTORTED--(s)he thinks he can make it and can't. In a similar manner when say Adam (who prophetically knew G-d) or Yaravam Ben Nevat (who had prophetic support) sinned (Adam by hiding from Hashem and Yaravam by making idols)they did so because their SENSE of (spiritual) reality was DISTORTED--Adam really thought that if he hid from G-d, G-d would go away (i.e. G-d didn't care that much about the sin he did)-- similarly Yaravam did not think G-d would mind that much if he kept the Jews from Jerusalem by making idols. In the case of Yaravam I imagine he thought how important he was now that he was king and began to think less of the purpose of the kinghood. After thinking this for a long time he became "obsessed" with his sense of importance and this in turn led him to think that G-d didn't mind the idols. 3)The Rav has pointed out that both IMPETUOUSNESS and SENSE DISTORTION happen because of "HYPNOTIC OBSESSION": A person who is obsessed with a pleasure will probably impetuously persue it; a person who is obsessed with a value (like Yaravam's sense of his importance) will probably have his sense of reality distorted. The Rav explained that Judaism does not oppose pursuit of pleasure or selfish goals; it rather opposes "hypnotic pursuit" of these objectives. These conceptual distinctions should deepen appreciation of Judaic values. Russell Jay Hendel, PHd ASA, rhendel @ mcs drexel edu