When I was young and had struggles with my "yetzer hara" - sexual impulse, I was fascinated by the Jewish attitude towards that impulse. God created this impulse for a purpose. It is meant to push people to get married and have children, and later to strengthen the love-bonds between husband and wife. This impulse is a very strong and important tool; we should keep safe and use it at the right time and place. This idea greatly helped me live through the hormonal years of the youth.

Now, thank God, I am married. I love my wife and I use the physical impulse for the purpose it was created for. But... I still have impulse towards other women. I do not understand why this impulse is needed? Why did God create it? Apparently it does not serve any good purpose. I ask because I want to cope with it better, and the best way to cope with something is to know what it is really there for.

EDIT: Although hillel's answer is good, it is too general. Our sages explicitly say that the physical attraction is there, not only to give us a spiritual challenge to overcome, but also to push us to build the world (they say that, when the sages of "knesset hagdola" canceled this attraction, they could not find a fresh egg... so they had to bring it back, see Yoma 69b). I would very much appreciate an answer in this spirit.

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    I don't understand... you're asking why Hashem created the capacity for general lust rather than lust only toward one specific person? I fear that this question (primarily due to the last sentence) is skirting close to the "personalized advice" boundary... Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 17:30
  • I would like to note that the answers to this question could likely be applied to explain why Hashem would create homosexuality as well. @sabbahillel's quote from R Dessler would, for example. Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 15:26

3 Answers 3



The question was edited to add the reference to the fact that when the Yetzer Hara was totaly eliminated, chickens stopped laying eggs. This means that the general concept of "lust" means that there is a desire to actually do or accomplish. This means that without the drive that we have, people cannot accomplish anything in this world. If we never felt hungry, we would starve to death. Thus, without the "lust" that we feel, we would never get married in the first place. An example can be see in the writings of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach as shown in the example that I linked.

Original This is discussed in many areas for example, Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler in Michtav Me'Eliyahu in Kuntras Habechirah, (Michtav MaEliyahu, Vol. 1, page 111-119) explains that everybody is given free will in order to be able to raise himself to whatever level that he is capable of reaching. If a person was only attracted to one person, they would not be able to resist behaving inappropriately nor would it be a matter of free will. Similarly, if one "mated for life" and never felt any attraction to another, we would be no more than animals in this respect and would not deserve reward or punishment.

While this is one of the greatest tests, it is still no different (in essence) than feeling a desire for non-kosher food.

See also Michtav Me'Eliyahu as well as

Michtav Me'Eliyahu

One well known idea of his, expounded on in Michtav me-Eliyahu, is the Nekudas Habechira (point of free will). He states that a man has one point in his service to G-d where he has to fight his evil inclination, while at other points there will be no struggle, for the levels below his Nekudas Habechira have already been conquered,and he will easily win those battles of will; whereas levels higher than his Nekudas Habechira are not yet within his grasp. (For example, someone who adheres to Orthodox Judaism will have no problem keeping kosher, but may sometimes be tempted to rely on unreliable kosher supervision, while somebody farther away from religious practice will have to struggle with whether to eat a ham sandwich (which is non-kosher regardless of supervision).) Each time one defeats the evil inclination by choosing to do good over evil, his Nekudas Habechira is raised a bit higher, and that choice will be easier for him to make in the future. Consequently, Man's task in life is to consistently raise his Nekudas Habechira, thus growing ever greater in his service of God.[1]

[1]Michtav me-Eliyahu vol. 1 pp. 113

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    This is a good answer, especially the text from Rav Desler. Thanks.
    – guest
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 11:45
  • wonderfull, I appraciate a lot the rav Dessler.
    – kouty
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 12:12
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    Although the answer is good, it is slightly too general. See the edit to my question.
    – guest
    Commented Feb 27, 2016 at 20:31
  • @sabbahillel I read the article by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, and I am not sure how it is related to the question... he explains very well why it is important to be attracted to one's own wife, but why is there attraction to other women?
    – guest
    Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 16:41
  • @guest The point is that without the feeling of "lust" one would not feel it to ones own wife either. That is the point of the chickens no longer laying eggs. The feeling of lust is required. The human being needs to have the feelings in general and then can direct them to the proper ends. In fact, I have seen other articleas that connect this with the drive to succeed in general. Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 17:16

I would like to try to answer this question as it relates to your request on function you said " I ask because I want to cope with it better, and the best way to cope with something is to know what it is really there for." which means you are looking to change ...

you are asking about change and coping IMO

Coping: Coping with thoughts about other women is shown in behavioural research to be very common, most married monogamous men and women report having these thoughts, just because science in terms of evolutionary biology, says it exists and serves a purpose. If you feel like mating everything with in a 5 yard radius you may have a high labido this can be due to imbalances in a diet, meds, mood. Seek medical advice. If you have mild to lust here are some ideas about not succumbing to it...being a man or a women lust wreaks havoc. I should know, I am a someone who is guilty of it, and live with that regret. So I am speaking from personal experience, and can tell you that I have not only repented of this sin but taken very SERIOUS steps to not let it happen again. Being 44 years of age I have lived long enough to speak to this. Lol.

Disclaimer: These ideas are from my training as a Acceptance and Commitment (ACT) Therapist. So this type of therapy is used in treatment of unwanted behaviours.

So think about it this way, You value your wife, and you value beautiful women. Your actions towards your wife is based on your values i.e she is beautiful and so you are attracted to her. You also value being sexually pure in thoughts and actions.

Values based actions are not only in line with aligning with Hashem's desires for your life but values based action is also scientifically proved to help you not AVOID things... (see ACT Therapy and any research by Dr Steven Hayes)

If you are having lust or thoughts that are not according to your values, to cope with that you can do the following according to the "ACT model" of living a values based life Scientifically proven approach to recover from habitual unwanted behavior

  1. Focus on what is important and make small steps towards committed action. ie. when you think of other women, notice that-and refocus your mind towards moving towards what you value and whats important, ie, living a life with habits and actions pleasing and honouring to Hashem

  2. If you are using images of other women as an avoidance mechanism- ie. feeling lonley or stressed or not being fulfilled notice perhaps how you feel when you start to think lust full thoughts..are your tired? are you lonely? When notice that you can choose to t focus on committed action towards whats important-can take action-REST or call someone etc and notice how this improves your moves a way from whats most important to you.

In my opinion its about being VERY CLEAR on values clarification, and noticing when you are not living according to your values and then making committed action to correct the thought, action or behaviour.

THis is based on values based research from contextualscience.org. or Steven Hayes or Dr Russ Harris work mainly if you want to read more about it.

If you want to see how ACT can help with lust also this link can help which is Russ's ideas on not getting "hooked" by these thoughts


I would like to end my saying I am glad you asked this question, as it is something we all struggle with, and it takes courage to ask this!

Warm Regards, Ray Frank

  • Welcome to MiYodeya Ray and thanks for this first answer. Since MY is different from other sites you might be used to, see here for a guide which might help understand the site. Great to have you learn with us!
    – mbloch
    Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 4:35

Why does G-d tempt us? To reward us when we do good.

The 'Sahtan' (aka Satan) is an agent of G-d who puts challenges before you and hopes you will over-come them and he, that angel who brings temptation, rejoices when you over-come the temptations.

If you're going to be given an infinity of reward for something, the harder the task, the sweeter the reward.

Nobody every got any happiness out of something that was just given to them, including the lottery. There is no joy in that, the recipient doesn't have the inner muscles to handle it.

Imagine a billionaire father who wants to give each child 500 million dollars.

Make your bed! the father demands.

You make your bed.

OK, here's five million dollars.

Just for making my bed? That's too much?

The more you do for the 500 million, the happier you'll be.

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    This answer would be improved if you could bring some sources to show that this is indeed the reason. Also, do you really think nobody ever got any joy out of winning the lottery?
    – Daniel
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 0:25
  • ATAT welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks for the interesting answer! If you haven’t done so already, you should take a look at the tour. MY places a lot of emphasis on sources (after all, we don’t know you personally). Maybe you will be interested by something I wrote to help you understand the site "A beginner’s guide to MY - How is this site different from other Judaism sites” ?
    – mbloch
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 4:56

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