Tehillim 81:10 and the Yetzer Hara

Question

Tehillim 81:10 could be read as: “There shall be no strange god in you (Nit zol zeyn in dir Gott fremd)”

Rabbi Avin said: “What is the meaning of that which is written? What ‘strange god’ is there inside the body of a person (i.e. within you)? You must say – this is the Tempter, the Yetzer HaRah [the human inclination to be distracted/led away from G-d] – Shabat 105b. Rabbi Avin explains that the service of strange gods in actual practice starts with the service of the strange god within the person himself…

This means that an idol-worshipper is called “the evil inclination.”

[It follows that when speaking of a single body, then idol-worshipping, which is called “a foreign god” or “a strange god,” is entirely within man].

So here are my questions:

1. Why is the evil inclination compared to a foreign/strange god?

2. Also, what is the connection between idolatry and the evil inclination?

3. And why is it assumed that both come from or occur within man?

4 months

Answers

  1. I am not sure that I understand where the sentence – This means that an idol-worshiper is called “the evil inclination.” – comes from. The Sages are not suggesting that an idol worshiper is called the evil inclination. Rather, the Rabbis are teaching that idol worship is fueled by the evil inclination. The Rabbis teach that the initial desire to worship idols comes from an intense desire to worship God that has been directed in the wrong direction but afterwards the evil inclination compels the idol worshiper to sin over and over again.

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