The Talmud, on Sanhedrin 64a recounts how the Sages subdued and imprisoned the evil inclination for idolatry and then subdued and injured the evil inclination for sexual immorality. Those are two of the three cardial sins, which makes me wonder about the third. Why didn't the Sages in the story attempt to subdue and do away with the evil inclination toward murder?

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    Is it such a rampant problem?
    – Double AA
    Jul 5, 2022 at 0:19
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    @DoubleAA seems to have been, Sotah 9:9
    – Heshy
    Jul 5, 2022 at 0:24
  • It seems self-evident to me that bloodthirstiness has plagued every generation of humanity.
    – Isaac Moses
    Jul 5, 2022 at 0:29
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    Even one is surely a plague in some sense, but consider if there are more murderers on the street than people who have cheated on their spouses. The urge is apparently of wildly different strength
    – Double AA
    Jul 5, 2022 at 0:32

1 Answer 1


This is an intriguing question, although the same could be asked of all yetzer hara’s - why wouldn’t they do away with everything? (The Maharsha touches on this issue) Obviously, that wouldn’t be an option as this would negate the purpose of the world. So now the question is, why these 2? If it’s related to the cardinal sins then the question about murder is indeed a tough one.

The Poras Yosef in Yoma 69B explains that the reason they wanted to eliminate the inclination for sexual immorality, was because of the Gemara Sanhedrin 64A that states that the whole reason the Jews served idols was in order to permit sexual immorality. Therefore, once they removed the inclination for idol worship, they sought to remove the inclination for things that caused the idol worship in the first place.

According to this understanding, it was not about cardinal sins, it was always only about Avoda Zara. Murder was not connected to that, so they didn’t try to eliminate it.

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    If "Gemara Sanhedrin 64A states that the whole reason the Jews served idols was in order to permit sexual immorality", then ALL you would need to do is eliminate the desire for sexual immorality. No need to worry about idolatry. Yet they eliminated idolatry FIRST. Why? Jul 7, 2022 at 22:06
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    That’s a good point. Although I can’t source it, I assumed that the original reason was immorality, however after hundreds of years, idol worship had become a “tradition” and even without the original reason, they still continue. So they removed idol worship. Then they tried to remove the original cause, in an effort to prevent it from ever taking hold again in the future.
    – Chatzkel
    Jul 8, 2022 at 11:49

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