Friday, September 29, 2006

Reclaiming Good and Evil

I wanted to recount a story our rabbi told on Erev Rosh Hashanah.

Basically, the story goes that some townspeople tracked down and trapped the yetser hara, the evil impulse, and imprisoned it in a big lead pot so that it couldn’t get out.

For three days it stayed there. For three days, none of the town's chickens laid eggs.

The townspeople figured out that not only was the evil impulse truly evil, but it was also the root of creativity and fertility. While they didn’t want to let it out because it would create evil, they also couldn’t kill it, because that would be the end of the human race. So they ended up blinding it and setting it free.

The idea is that at the root of many evil things can be good things, and vice-versa (going to the point that someone made above earlier about the fact that many folks who do evil do so in the name of something ‘higher’).

In this sense, at least from a Jewish perspective, it is impossible to do away with evil. That which is truly evil must be broken down, debilitated, refashioned into something good.

Now that’s what I call recycling!

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