The word yetzer is often translated as impulse, inclination

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch's reading of yetzer in Bereshit 6:5 is not that of instinct or impulse, but rather that which the person, qua yetzer, forms.

And in this view i found translations like: The good and bad imagination The drive to create good/evil.. the desire to satisfy personal needs or the will of HaShem.

It seems to refer to something inside of us (i know about the explanation that humans were made - vayyitzer - with two yods to refer to the yetzer hara and the yetzer hatov) an impulse or inclination, but also to feelings; desire or drive, and last but not least to our capacity of thinking; imagination, creative thoughts.

How could the yetzer be defined (looking at these areas of the self, emotions and thinking) ?

2 Answers 2


Malkie Janowski for Chabad.org:

The word yetzer is related to the Hebrew word tziyur, "form." In other words, the yetzer hara takes the raw material of the animal soul's benign passion and provides it form by channeling it towards immoral ends.


We have also clarified the matter of the good and evil inclinations in a man. They are two formations (yetzirot) added to a man besides his soul. And they are light from the angels (good inclination) and light from the klipos (evil inclinations), outside of the good inclination and external to it. But being that the soul itself is innermost than all of them, and being that it is the essence of a man, therefore it is in his power to tilt the free will to the place that he wants - because he (the soul) is greater than them. shaarei kedusha part 3 gate 2

according to this it is a kind of "formation"

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