I understand that to make this world spinning (to get to its purpose of bestowing the world to come), the Evil Inclination (Yetzer Harah) is commanded by Hashem to constantly drag us to do transgressions (as defined by the Torah), so we fight back and get rewarded etc.

Solicitation to transgressions explicitly contradicts the Torah (דין מסית ומדיח). On the other hand, we hold that Hashem and the Torah are one ("אורייתא וקב"ה וישראל חד איהו"). That brings me to the paradox that Hashem commands to disobey Himself.

How can this paradox be solved?

  • 5
    Why would it be rewarded? It's not a person and doesn't have free will. That's like saying how are tables rewarded for holding things.
    – Heshy
    Feb 27, 2018 at 0:46
  • See Rashi on the last pasuk in Nitzavim
    – Heshy
    Feb 27, 2018 at 0:48
  • "it's not just a story, a tale that's been told; a fable, a myth or a legend of old; it's not someone's fantasy, theory, or whim. it's what i believe, ani maamin"
    – Hershy S.
    Feb 27, 2018 at 4:33
  • @Heshy 1. is it the same Heshy? 2. I saw Rashi here, I didn't realize what you're referring to he.chabad.org/parshah/… 3. The last paragraph "it's not a story" I also didn't understand what it is about?
    – Al Berko
    Feb 27, 2018 at 12:20
  • @AlBerko the first two comments are me. The third comment is somebody else. I didn't get your ping, but I'm not sure if he did either.
    – Heshy
    Mar 5, 2018 at 16:28

2 Answers 2


The Evil Inclination is not a Jew, it is a malach, and therefore is not commanded in any of the mitzvos which were given to klall yisrael, but whose purpose is to made good decisions have meaning by making them dificult. Just like any malach, he has his own purpose, different than that of a Jew.

  • In my understanding, the Torah obligates all creatures, incl the spiritual ones. Torah was created before the angels and they know it and learn it, as the Gemmorah tells the story about their resistance to handing it to Moses and humans in general. Of course, there are implementations specific to men (אדם כי ימות באהל) but the general guidelines are true for all. For example, לפני עוור should work for angels in preventing them to harm innocent humans, but the EI can override it purposefully with the aim of obstructing Jews.
    – Al Berko
    Mar 6, 2018 at 10:19
  • In other words, if the general purpose of the Torah is to make the world (esp. humans, esp Jews) good and prosper, the general purpose of the EI is exactly the opposite - to ruin the Jews, the humanity, and the world. Is'nt it what the serpent did to Adam?
    – Al Berko
    Mar 6, 2018 at 10:21
  • @AlBerko Angels aren't commanded by the Torah at all; they study it the same way a yisrael studies the laws of korbanos - because it is Torah, not because it applies to them. The argument Moshe used to get the Torah in the first place was that it applies to humans and not to angels - what makes you think that it "obligates all creatures, incl the spiritual ones"? In addition, the purpose of the world is to give G-d an opportunity to give, the best form of which is that which is earned, and the YH facilitates that by giving us a chance to earn reward - not to make the world "good and prosper". Mar 6, 2018 at 12:26
  • I decided to rephrase the question to reflect the actual paradox I see in YH existence. Can you help me to solve it?
    – Al Berko
    Mar 7, 2018 at 10:34
  • 1
    @AlBerko - I think that the same answer still holds true - the YH is an integral part of the commandments, for without them being difficult they have no meaning. There is als no question of lifnei iver because he is not a human and is therefore not included in the commandments Mar 7, 2018 at 11:04

According to one school of thought, mal'akhim are not commanded. They are made in a certain way. It's like asking about rocks being commanded to fall when you let go of them. (Near an object of significant mass, like the earth, etc...) The satan is a force in nature, or more correctly in metaphysics, that leads people astray. One that keeps us humans from being automata by making the choice between good and evil a real choice.

Yes, such forces, when "high" and abstract enough, are fit for personification. So we can talk about the satan as a "he" and talk about what "he wants". But that's like talking about a program "wanting" me to give it the right password. Angels aren't persons. They have no free will. They just do whatever the Creator "Programmed" them to do.

(See R' Saadia Gaon, Emunos veDei'os 4:14 as one example source from the Aristotelian side, and for a sample Qabbalist, Avodas haQodesh 3:5. Or the Meshekh Chokhmah on Bereishis 3:4, or Vayiqra 19:18.)

And so the satan isn't commanded anything. He's just doing what he's made to do.

There are other schools of thought, from saying that angels do have free will (discussed in this Mi Yodeya question: "Sources for free will of angels") to the middle ground -- that they have free will in principle, but in practice there are no choices for an angel to make. "Where" they exist, choosing right over wrong is obvious. (See the Rambam's Guide to the Perplexed 2:7.) As well as the possibility of fusing the two: Normally things are so clear to an angel there are no choices to be made, but when on a mission in our world, an angel can lose that clarity.

This possibility of free will that never has an opportunity to actually get excercized is exactly the kind of existence G-d made the satan to take us out of.

  • I tried my best to understand your answer. Gravity is a "natural" force and it is not personified, but YH is and clearly behaves on its own, based on Job. We should agree that angels are beings and not forces, they have names and forms. I also agree that "commanded" is not a good term, maybe "missioned to" or "ordered to". BTW, based on Job, do you recall any mentioning of a similar dialog between Hashem and YH (the Nachash) in Adam's sin? Does anybody elaborate the very creation and the working algorithm of it?
    – Al Berko
    Mar 11, 2018 at 11:32
  • Also, most sources are too vague to be taken seriously. I still think that the existence of the equal and negative force or the lie in the world where the Torah is the truth is problematic and points to a paradox.
    – Al Berko
    Mar 11, 2018 at 11:34
  • @AlBerko - YhR is a different way of looking at things than the satan. We each have our own YhR, but the satan is more external. But un any case, why would you say gravity isn't an angel -- each blade of grass has an angel standing over it saying "grow! grow!" There is just less need to speak about the personification of gravity, because the level at which is operates is so much closer to physical and less like our interaction with persons. Mar 11, 2018 at 18:07
  • Angels are beings which are forces. The Rambam, identifies them with the intellects that cause things to happen according to Aristotle's metaphysics. Find a parallel in your own (presumably not intellect-based) metaphysics. Mar 11, 2018 at 18:08

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