Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Yetzar Hara & Original Sin

Yetzar Hara & Original Sin

The Yetzar Hara is defined on Wikipedia as: Yetzer hara (Hebrew for "evil inclination") refers to the inclination to do evil, by violating the will of God. The yetzer hara is identified with Satan.

Hebrew4Christians.com defines Yetzer Hara as:
The yetzer hara represents the inner impulse or tendency within the human heart to gravitate toward selfish gratification (the word yetzer first appears in Genesis 6:5 where the wickedness of man is described as "every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually"). The yetzer hatov, on the other hand, represents the inner impulse to do good.

Yetzer is also used in Scripture to refer to something formed or shaped, like pottery fashioned by the hand of a potter. Just as a potter purposes a shape in his or her mind before forming an object, so that which is intended within the mind will shape or form our character and disposition, especially with regard to our relationship with God.

The following prayer appeals to the LORD to help us love His Torah and His mitzvot and also to keep us from the power of the evil inclination within us that pushes us into sin, pride, perversity, temptation, and shame:
Blessed art Thou, LORD our God, King of the universe, who removes sleep from my eyes and slumber from my eyelids. May it be Your will, LORD our God and God of our fathers to accustom us to Your Torah and attach us to Your mitzvot. And do not lead us into the hands of sin, nor into the hands of pride or perversity, not into the hands of temptation, nor into the hands of shame, and do not let the evil inclination rule over us.

The Yetzer Hara has many striking characteristics that identify it with the evil desires of the heart that Yeshua taught about and to Rabbi Sha'uls teachings about the flesh (It is from these teachings that Gnostics who claim to follow Messiah, believe physical is evil). Let's ask a key question, is the Yetzer Hara what the Church now calls "original sin". When studying the Masters words, the concept of the Yetzer Hara appears to be the same as the flesh, or our fleshly desires. This corresponds with the Jewish concept of the Yetzer Hara.

So what did we actually inherit from Adam? Was it sin? If so that seems to violate the statement that the punishment for sin of the fathers is limited to the 3-4 generation (Adam was many more generations before Yeshua). Another explanation then seems to be in order. What was inherited was not the sin or punishment of sin (Original Sin); but the propensity (predisposition) to sin (rebel against G-d and seek our own will). This corresponds exactly with Sha'uls (Paul's) writings about overcoming the flesh! So thus we are not condemned because of Adam's sin: we are predisposed to seek our own way, not G-d's, which is sin.

The Yetzer Hara is opposed by the Yetzer HaTov (The good inclination). We will address the Yetzer HaTov more at a later date. This duality is seen well in children, as they will lie and do what they know is wrong; without being taught. It is only by teaching what is right that they learn to control themselves and not do wrong.

In Summary

What the Messiah's sacrifice did for us is it provided the sacrifice required for the sin offering; reconciling us to G-d. His sacrifice cleared the rebellion between us and G-d; He gave us a fresh start. Further His sacrifice provided a High Priest to make intercession for us in Heaven (see Messianic Jews). With His accession to G-d, the Ruach HaKodesh then was sent to us to give us the Torah on our hearts and the ability to rule over & overcome the Yetzer Hara. Messiah paid the penalty for sin; we are now responsible to live a life pleasing to G-d by walking in Holiness.

Blessings Rabbi Gavri'el

1 comment:

Forrest Anderson said...

As a gentile believer, I have long been familiar with the concept of 'Original Sin', which you state more accurately as Yetzer hara.

The longer I am with Yeshua, the more I am aware of the evil inclinations within me, and my predispostion to give in to them.

What surprises me is that Judaism seems to be aware of an impulse towards good!

The idea of Yetzer haTov is interesting, particularly without the intervention of the Ruach haKodesh. Without that indwelling, I cannot imagine any actual selfless impulse, not even that of kindness, as such actions tend to make one feel good, and the reward is thus gained by doing the kindness.

Practicing the gifts of the Ruach such as patience, or kindness, or humility are generally a response to the inherent vice and predispostion towards sin within us.

Patience and humility, for instance, are practiced workings against the sin of pride, while kindness is a practiced working against hate, as is love, or charity, or as obedience is against rebellion.

Are you speaking of an inward disposition towards Yetzer haTov, or a disposition of practice, as I outline above?


Forrest Anderson