man’s inclinations are therefore balanced between good and evil, and he is not compelled toward either of them. he has the power of choice, and is able to choose either side, knowingly and willingly, as well as to possess whichever one he wishes.
man was therefore created with a good urge (yetzer tov) and an evil urge (yetzer hara). he has the power to incline himself in the direction he desires.
rabbi moshe chayim luzzatto
rabbi luzzatto, in derech hashem, aptly summarized this notion long held notion. the brilliant and controversial figure from the 1700s concisely laid out a common belief that is held to the present. in present times, with “evil” having sinister connotations, “bad” or “wrong” is often used instead. a blog post had football coach nick saban, three centuries later sharing thoughts aligned with this concept.
rabbi luzzato discusses the “power of choice.” this phrase must be examined in depth. irrespective of good or bad, humans embrace “power.” as individuals, we wish to control our lives and our surroundings. this desire for control does not concern intention. likewise, irrespective of good or bad, humans enjoy the opportunity to have “choice.” we embrace options. you only need to go to a restaurant’s menu to appreciate that individually we have preferences- not everyone wants spaghetti with meat sauce.
harnessing both power and choice can be a means to improve one’s inclination for “good” urges. creating multiple options of good or positive things to do allows for one to make a choice. the choice, however, is rigged for the positive. human’s desire for power and choice are satiated.
for the sake of goodness, i committed to read inspiring books at night. rather than choosing one book, i decided to have a number of books on my side table. thus, everyday, i maintain both my power and choice. i save myself from experiencing discord over the project by being committed to one book that does not spike my enthusiasm.
in sum, in some circumstances, one can improve their odds of choosing positive urges by harnessing human’s love and need for both “power” and “choice.”
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