Humanity Was Formed With Two Impulses

The Jewish Talmud is essentially a collection of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish ethics, laws (instruction/revelation), customs, and history. It has two components: the Mishnah, the first written compendium of Judaism’s Oral Law; and the Gemara, a discussion of the Mishnah and related Tannaitic writings that often ventures onto other subjects and expounds broadly on the Hebrew Scriptures (The Tanakh). The terms Talmud and Gemara are often used interchangeably. (Adopted from the Wikipedia entry for the Talmud.)

In a word, the Talmud articulates a cogent view of our basic nature and relationship to God: In Genesis 2:7, the Hebrew Scriptures Bible state that the Almighty formed (vayyitzer) humankind. The spelling of this word in Hebrew is unusual insofar as it uses two consecutive yods¹ instead of the one that is expected. Learned Rabbis and ages have inferred that these yods stand for the [Hebrew] word “yetzer,” which translates to [our English word] “impulse,” with the existence of two yods here indicating that humanity was formed with two impulses: A good impulse (the yetzer tov) and an “evil” impulse (the yetzer ra).

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Author: Anthony G. Payne

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Bible reference(s): Genesis 2:7, Genesis 2:19, Matthew 4:1-11, Matthew 6:13, Mark 1:13, Luke 11:4, Luke 4:2-13, Romans 7:17-24

Source: “Our Incredible Shrinking Life & Influence: Staring into the Face of Our Own Mortality (Death & Dissolution), 2009, pp. 5-6.

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