Derech Hashem and mussar state that Divine service is emulating Hashem, becoming His partner, and similar to Him so we can attach to Him.

Ramchal states that we should come to earn and therefore own our good, in the same way Hashem owns His own good.

If Hashem doesn't have a yeitzer hara and apparently never went through any kind of process to earn and own His own good, what exactly are we emulating in Him?

I have an answer of my own from Chassidus, but I would genuinely like to hear a wider spectrum of answers. Thank you

  • "If Hashem doesn't have a yeitzer hara and apparently never went through any kind of process to earn and own His own good, what exactly are we emulating in Him?" Maybe in the level, or extent, to which we own our good (i.e. that we should absolutely own it)?
    – Tamir Evan
    Feb 10, 2023 at 14:05
  • 1
    It seems that emulating Hashem has its parameters/boundaries, and isn't just 'emulate Him in everything you can imagine'. For instance, we are prohibited from taking revenge but the passuk says "G-d of vengeance" (see judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/98312/…). And even more obvious things like G-d is Omnipotent but we're not, and we can't emulate Him in that dimension, and so on.
    – user9806
    Feb 10, 2023 at 15:53
  • I don't understand. We are to emilate HQBH, and the yeitzer hara means that we are doing so as free willed beings, and not as robots. After all, being Self Defining, who we are by our own will, is very much emulating Him. But it's not the battle itself that is in emulation, the ability to emulate is what we are fighting for. Feb 12, 2023 at 20:37
  • @MichaBerger it sounds like you have an answer, one that questions my assumptions which is perfectly valid? If you post as an answer please clarify exactly how the yeitzer hara and free will are connected, and prove that it is a causal relationship?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Feb 12, 2023 at 20:39
  • @MichaBerger and please explain if there is anything we can grasp about Hashem's Self Definition that occurs without any yeitzer hara
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Feb 12, 2023 at 20:46

1 Answer 1


The Midrash says [Genesis Rabbah 9:7]:

Can the Evil Inclination [then] be “very good”? That would be extraordinary! Yes, [because] without the Evil Inclination, no man would build a house, take a wife, beget a family, and engage in work. So said [King] Solomon: "And I saw that all labor and all achievement in work was the result of man's envy and rivalry with his neighbor.” [Eccl. 4:4]

A small amount of evil inclination is therefore good and necessary for one to be productive. So we must conclude that HaShem, being all-good, must have some evil inclination that He uses in just the right amount.

Also, the Torah says:

יֵ֣צֶר לֵ֧ב הָאָדָ֛ם רַ֖ע מִנְּעֻרָ֑יו -- The inclination of a man's heart is evil from his birth. [Genesis 8:21, 6:5; Berakhot Y 3:5]

and we are created in God's image.

  • זוֹ הִיא (גְּבוּרַת) גְּבוּרָתוֹ: שֶׁכּוֹבֵשׁ אֶת יִצְרוֹ — שֶׁנּוֹתֵן אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם לָרְשָׁעִים sefaria.org/Yoma.69b.15
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Feb 12, 2023 at 22:07
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    Yes, God regularly prays that His mercy might overcome His justice. There are many sources for that. Feb 12, 2023 at 22:12
  • It's amazing that this gemara describes Hashem as having a Yetzer. Really interesting and intersects with your answer.
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Feb 12, 2023 at 22:14

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