Is Man Good or Evil?

Moshe Ben-Chaim

Topic = Is man innately good or evil, and please bring proofs either way.


We have a few instances in the Chumash which deal with this question. Subsequent to the flood, (Gen. 8:21) as G-d "smelled " Noah's sacrifice, G-d commented, ".....I will not again curse the land due to man, for man's instincts are evil from his youth, and I will not again smite all living as I have done." This teaches us according to a Rabbi, that man's instincts are evil ONLY from his youth. Meaning, the instinctual drive has a head start over the intellectual development, as the instincts are active right away from birth. This doe not mean that man is always to be evil. It means that man's instincts have been active longer, but only temporarily have the upper hand. This being the case, and stated by G-d in response to Noah's perfected act of sacrificing to G-d, teaches us that man can overcome his instincts. Similarly, G-d told Kayin, Adam's oldest son, that he can rule over his instincts. (Gen 4:7)

We then see directly from two statements of G-d that man has the ability to overcome his instincts.
Man then is not innately evil. Man is actually not innately good or evil, but innately a decisive being who can select which aspect of his personality he desires to indulge.


Moshe Ben-Chaim

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