Examine Your Life
Question 25: Is my Evil Inclination truly evil? Is my Good Inclination truly good?: 

   Rabbi Schwartz

What is good? What is evil? A useful definition is this: Good is all that advances the mission Hashem gives us; Evil is what retards it.

Classically, the Evil Inclination has been defined as relating to the physical world, eating, drinking, and having a "good time". At the same time we understood the Good Inclination being about preparing for the next world, learning Torah, keeping mitzvos and improving our character. However, our material wellbeing is also essential for our spiritual progress. We must eat properly, relax properly and live happy lives to do the will of Hashem. Therefore, more important than asking ourselves what are we doing, is to ask, why are we doing all we are doing. This our sages call, "living for the sake of heaven". If we can have such an intention, then even our most mundane acts become our gift to life.

The Evil Inclination works to rob us of such a motivation. It focuses us on pleasure and prestige for selfish reasons. Thus, it is evil, turning our lives from wonderful to horrible and spoiling all that we do.

True, we cannot escape our obsession with ourselves; we cannot help thinking about our own best interests; but, we can and must redirect our goal towards Hashem. Let us use our self-interest to do what is ultimately best for us, and give our lives to the reason for life.

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