Genesis Rabba 9:7


בראשית רבה (וילנא) פרשת בראשית פרשה ט

Original Text:

רבי נחמן בר שמואל בר נחמן בשם רב שמואל בר נחמן אמר הנה טוב מאד זה יצר טוב והנה טוב מאד זה יצר רע, כי יצר הרע טוב מאד, אתמהא, אלא שאלולי יצר הרע לא בנה אדם בית ולא נשא אשה, ולא הוליד ולאו נשא ונתן


“And God saw all that God had made, and found it very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” Nahman said in R. Samuel’s name: “Very good” refers to the Good Desire; and “very good” refers to the Evil Desire. Can then the Evil Desire be very good? That would be extraordinary! But without the Evil Desire, however, one would not build a house, marry, beget children, or engage in business." [Soncino translation. Edited for gender neutrality]

Suggested Discussion Questions:

1. Why does R. Nachman bar Shmuel bar Nachman say that “very good” refers to both the good and evil desires?
2. What is the evil desire? How does it motivate creation?
3. If progress is created by the evil desire, then why is it called evil?

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