October 19th, 2017

Sexual harassment and the yetser ha-ra

Megan McArdle writes:

Every society is going to have those who knowingly, perhaps even joyfully, break its rules. And this is the problem with phrases like “rape culture” and “teach men not to …”, which imply that transgression would stop if only society disapproved enough. Society already disapproves. We did teach men not to … . They know.

No, what you see in the allegations against Weinstein is not ignorance of right or wrong, but a man who seems to have enjoyed doing wrong things. Teaching such a man that something is not merely wrong, but really, really, really wrong may only increase his enjoyment…

…[C]old economics may reduce harassment, but won’t end it. If sexual harassment law has also failed — and in Weinstein’s case, it obviously has — then there are two ways to alter that dynamic.

To truly change the dynamic, we will probably have to raise the level of moral outrage we feel about sexual harassment even further, past “men shouldn’t do this” and past even the Victorian distaste for homosexuality, and closer to something like a capital crime. Harassment would need to become the sort of thing that people couldn’t wink at and still look themselves in the mirror the next day.

And that change cannot be demonstrated by the outrage on display in public Facebook posts or in columns. It will have to happen in private hearts.

We’ll know we’ve made progress when women are willing to accuse men at the height of their powers, men who can hurt them for years to come — or benefit them in exchange for their silence. And when the people around those men move swiftly and without hesitation to deprive them of the power they’ve abused, even though they’ll be tainted by the scandal, even though they’ll suffer personal costs from the loss of an ally.

We are not in that world today. And despite the public outcry, I’m not really sure that we’re any closer to it than we were three weeks ago.

The first point of McArdle’s with which I would disagree is “they know.” Overt sexual coercion is clearly wrong, and Weinstein’s more despicable predations were and are very clearly verboten. They even segue into assault and possible rape, and everyone knows that’s wrong. But I would bet that Weinstein himself rationalized most of it by saying, not just to the world later on but to himself at the time, that she wanted it, too.

People can fool themselves and often do. And if Weinstein didn’t actually fool himself that way, a lot of other people are quite capable of fooing themselves that way.

But those are the clear cases of wrongdoing. A great deal of sexual harassment is not of the Weinstein variety. It exists in a much grayer zone that includes what is often thought to be playful flirting or jokes. And in that zone it’s not always so clear what is consensual and what is not; what is wrong in other words.

The borderline is where the trouble in knowing vs not-knowing occurs, and if I were a man in the workplace I might be tempted to never speak flippantly or playfully or mildly flirtatiously to a woman at all, lest my words be misconstrued. Dating someone at work is already frowned on, but do we really want to make people terrified to make any sort of overture to anyone, even welcome overtures? And has this prohibition and fear already taken hold, for most people (not, of course, for the Weinsteins among us)?

Another fact that is undeniable—although I suppose people deny it all the time—is that sexuality of the consensual kind contains more than a hint of aggressiveness, and that’s part of its frisson. We don’t want it to be real aggressiveness, destructive or unwanted aggressiveness. But I don’t see how one can ignore the fact that we face a dilemma in trying to do away with the unwanted type while keeping the desired type. It’s not impossible to do so—and in fact I think most people manage to do so. But we have to be very very careful not to take all the—well, let’s just call it the “yetser ha-ra”—out of life.

What on earth am I talking about now? It’s an idea from Judaism:

The ‘evil inclination’ [yetser ha-ra in Hebrew] is frequently identified in the Rabbinic literature and elsewhere with the sex instinct but the term also denotes physical appetites in general, aggressive emotions, and unbridled ambition. Although it is called the ‘evil inclination’, because it can easily lead to wrongdoing, it really denotes more the propensity towards evil rather than something evil in itself. Indeed, in the Rabbinic scheme, the ‘evil inclination’ provides human life with its driving power and as such is essential to human life. As a well-known Midrash (Genesis Rabbah 9: 7) puts it, were it not for the ‘evil inclination’ no one would build a house or have children or engage in commerce. This is why, according to the Midrash, Scripture says: ‘And God saw everything that he had made and behold, it was very good’ (Genesis 1: 31). ‘Good’ refers to the ‘good inclination’, ‘very good’ to the ‘evil inclination’. It is not too far-fetched to read into this homily the idea that life without the driving force of the ‘evil inclination’ would no doubt still be good but it would be a colourless, uncreative, pallid kind of good. That which makes life ‘very good’ is the human capacity to struggle against the environment and this is impossible without egotistic as well as altruistic, aggressive as well as peaceful, instincts.

It follows that for the Rabbis the struggle against the ‘evil inclination’ is never-ending in this life. Nowhere in the Rabbinic literature is there the faintest suggestion that it is possible for humans permanently to destroy the ‘evil inclination’ in this life…

So I’m not winking at or excusing sexual harassment. I am saying that we don’t want to do away with the yetser ha-ra, either. Let’s not pretend this is a simple matter. It’s the sort of thing people have wrestled with for just about as long as we’ve been fully human.

[NOTE: Here’s a story I came across many many years ago. I quoted it in this post from 2006, but the link to the story no longer works:

Jewish lore tells a tale of a time when Evil was actually captured (B. Tal. Yoma 69b). Now, one might think that if Evil could really be physically contained, the most sensible thing to do with it would be to destroy it right away. So much for sensibility. It turns out that Evil’s captors paused before they acted on their first instincts.

Evil was held captive for three days, during which time its fate was debated. The Talmud does not record many details from that debate. I suppose they decided to leave that part up to our imaginations.

Well, three days passed… And then, someone made a startling realization. During the time of Evil’s imprisonment, all chickens in the land stopped laying eggs. It was as if they had gone on strike.

Had folks looked further, they would have realized that other strange things had been occurring – or more precisely, not occurring, during those three days. No houses were built. People didn’t show up for work. No marriages took place. No homework was done… and I suppose that no lawns were mowed, no leaves were raked, no trash taken out, and no gutters were cleared either.

The reason was obvious. The Evil Inclination is that which causes God’s creations to act aggressively and acquisitively. Building houses, and families, and careers – these are activities that require healthy, yet well controlled, measures of both aggressiveness and acquisitiveness.

Folks realized that the Evil Inclination could not be obliterated. It couldn’t even be held captive forever. For Evil’s own source is also the source of creativity and productivity. The only thing that could be done before setting Evil loose again in the world, would be to wound it. So Evil was blinded, and then set free. Thus, it was placed at a decided disadvantage in its continuous struggle with Good.]

41 Responses to “Sexual harassment and the yetser ha-ra”

  1. Julie near Chicago Says:


    One of your best postings E-VAH ! I have an online pal who is part Jewish, part Irish, and a communicant of the Church of England. He has a tendency to remark “the evil that is in all of us” and “our daily struggle against it.” He is not, by the way, any sort of cleric; it’s just how he sees the world and the people in it. (The website is Samizdata.net, highly recommended.)

    Occasionally such a comment elicits a response to the effect of “Who is this we, Kemo Sabe?” Followed, in at least one case, by the assertion, “I have no evil in me.” Meaning, she’s never killed anyone nor committed any crime of aggression. Fair enough. Somebody else pointed out that the word “evil” is really being used in different ways by the commenter and the responder.

    I myself have often thought this platitude that’s been around for at least 74 years (of my personal knowledge) that “everyone has a dark side” is bushwah. For one example, my Honey certainly didn’t, although considerable anger — or frustration — was within his range. I honestly do not think he ever had the slightest urge to do away with me, despite occasional provocations in that direction.

    This exegesis on the Rabbinic doctrine is much to the point and very welcome. Just about any of our human characteristics can be turned toward actual evil; as can any other tool. And, as pointed out, aggressiveness and acquisitiveness are not in themselves bad: if evil acts result, it’s because of the ends toward which these traits are applied.

    I note also that all animals appear to be acquisitive in some degree, food being a rather important feature in maintaining a long and happy life.

  2. Kyndyll G Says:

    There are actions that are violent crimes. There are words that no reasonable person would use in broad daylight with a mixed group of coworkers, or casual social acquaintances.

    That said, I look at the joyless gray world of the far left, in which everyone must watch every word they say lest it in some way, somehow, could possibly offend someone (who may not even be a member of the conversation), and carefully consider every action, in case the most angry, intolerant Grundy, looking for offense everywhere, might possibly find offense it. I’m sick of it. This is not the world I was born into. It’s not the world I grew up in. It’s not the world I want to live in. Worse than neo-Victorianism, it’s living under the heel of the world’s most intolerant and unpredictable religion. (You just never know what’s going to be bad tomorrow, and how you’re going to get in trouble for something you did 10 years ago that was not only not a crime, but not even questionable.)

    Violent crime, like rape, is wrong. Always was, always will be, under any circumstance. Expecting sexual favors for advancement – yep, wrong. But since these things occur rarely, to few people, that’s a problem to the religion of victimhood, which needs the whole world to be separated into victims vs. victimizers. It’s unhealthy for actual victims (no healthy treatment program for victims of anything would advise spending a lifetime wallowing in the memory of being a victim, and looking for every possible way of being a victim every minute of every day going forward), it takes the sunlight out of the world for a vast number of people who derive social satisfaction in wrapping themselves in gratuitous victimhood, and of course it’s worse for those accused of victimizing. Only a scant few of the latter have even done anything that deserves punishment in a sane world.

    None of this ends well. The future is very bleak.

  3. Ben David Says:

    The word you are translating as “inclination” is “yetzer” – literally “creative force”. Or “created nature”.

    The good and equal inclinations in your quotes are two precise mirror-image terms used throughout Judaism:

    Yetzer Ha-Tov (the good creative force)
    Yetzer Ha-Ra (the bad creative force)

    The exact same word is used at a very telling point in Genesis:

    And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him. Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, whatsoever moveth upon the earth, after their families; went forth out of the ark…. and the LORD said in His heart: ‘I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the created nature of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

    … here the “created nature” of man’s heart is mentioned at the end of a story whose repeated subtext is the sexual wellspring of creation (2-by-2, male and female…) That’s also the hinted message of the Sages not finding an egg when the flow of the “yetzer” creative energy is stopped up.

    The same root is used in modern Hebrew for a “creative artist” (Yotzer) and for their artistic “work” (Yetzira).

    While the word “create” is used for the creation of Adam – according to Jewish tradition, a siamese-twin like creature fusing male and female – this word is used for the formation of Eve.

    So what’s bad about this creative force?

    It is the root of self-interest – necessary for this world to exist and continue – but like corporeality itself it introduces the danger of forgetting that we are also children of a transcendent G-d and partake of that transcendence.

  4. vanderleun Says:

    ” Dating someone at work is already frowned on, but do we really want to make people terrified to make any sort of overture to anyone, even welcome overtures? ”

    And this rises up in the same era when more and more people, especially the young, are working 60 to 80 hours a week, often on weekends as well. Just where and when are people supposed to find others, date others, if not at work?

  5. Cornflour Says:

    This isn’t the first time I’ve promoted the virtues of Archive.org. The site can often be successfully used to find what would have been otherwise lost somewhere in past versions of the internet.

    For those few who may be interested, the passage cited by Neo is from a sermon(?) given Rosh HaShanah morning 5763, Friday evening, Sept. 6, 2002, Temple Sinai, Newport News, VA.

    The complete text of the sermon(?) can be found at

  6. Richard Saunders Says:

    Judaism is all about — all those 613 commandments — controlling the yetzer ha-ra and channeling it into socially useful and benign actions. For example, the Talmud says, “But without the Evil Desire, however, no man would build a house, take a wife and beget children” (Bereshit Rabbah 9:7) and the human race would cease to exist. For another, we know that accumulating wealth and showing it off by putting your name on buildings is silly (see Psalm 49), but without the impulse to show off, we wouldn’t have the hospitals, universities, and social welfare institutions that we have now.

    Jews don’t believe that you can eliminate your yetzer ha-ra, but you can bring it under control.

  7. Pervy Grin Says:

    They did this on Star Trek in 1966


    And in that episode the evil Kirk went all Weinstein on Yeoman Janice Rand. And the Good Kirk was weak and indecisive.

  8. groundhog Says:

    But I would bet that Weinstein himself rationalized most of it by saying, not just to the world later on but to himself at the time, that she wanted it, too.

    But unless I’m misunderstanding many of the encounters, Weinstein was suppose to be suggesting a business venture not a dating one.

    If your doctor calls you and wants to see him about your last checkup it’s clearly misleading to try to date you. In my opinion.

  9. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Pacifism’s ‘goodness’ enables the evil that men do. It is to this that Orwell referred to when he asserted that,

    “Pacifism is objectively pro-fascist. This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side, you automatically help out that of the other. Nor is there any real way of remaining outside such a war as the present one. In practice, ‘he that is not with me is against me’.

    We believe half-instinctively that evil always defeats itself in the long run. Pacifism is founded largely on this belief. Don’t resist evil, and it will somehow destroy itself. But why should it? What evidence is there that it does… unless conquered from the outside by military force?”

    Pervy Grin,

    I thought of that episode as well.

  10. Tatterdemalian Says:

    But they don’t want to punish lawbreakers, because they consider themselves above the law, and want to be able to break any law without being punished. Instead they would rather make crime unthinkable, so other people won’t think it possible to break the law. Then they could break laws themselves with impunity.

  11. arfldgrs Says:

    What kind of person makes false rape accusations?

    What if a woman has consensual sex, and then regrets it the next day? What if a woman gets dumped by her boyfriend and decides to accuse him of rape as revenge? What if she’s just doing it for attention? Are false accusations reaching epidemic levels in today’s hard-drinking hookup culture, where the lines of consent have been blurred? Critics argue that reports of rape should be treated with more caution, since men’s lives are so often ruined by women’s malicious lies.

    [its one of the reasons MGTOW says stay away. My ex decided to fake her MURDER…30 years later she is not dead… but she destroyed my career, destroyed my sons life fromwhat it could be, alienated my family, everyoneincluding the detective thought i did it. so they went to work to manufacture a case, harrase me, force me to send the baby to my parents(Wher she appeared and just picked upthe kid) false allegations were made by here… and on and on… /// in another case, it took a good friend to talk to a woman i wasnt dating, and get on tape that she said “i wanted to teach a lesson” to whit i didnt go to jail for stopping by on the way home and knocking on the door… yes, that is all i did…]

    Generally, feminists dismiss this idea by arguing that false accusations are rare—only between 2% and 10% of all reports are estimated to be false. What’s equally important to know, however, is that false rape accusations almost never have serious consequences.

    This may be hard to believe, especially considering that rape is a felony, punishable with years of prison. However—to start with this worst-case scenario—it’s exceedingly rare for a false rape allegation to end in prison time. According to the National Registry of Exonerations, since records began in 1989, in the US there are only 52 cases where men convicted of sexual assault were exonerated because it turned out they were falsely accused. By way of comparison, in the same period, there are 790 cases in which people were exonerated for murder.

    so many of them know that no matter what is found out, nothing will happen to them. and the perosn they lied about, would still suffer even if exhonerated by a court!!!!!!!!

    in the most detailed study ever conducted of sexual assault reports to police / http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20100408125722/http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs05/hors293.pdf

    and THAT rate of error means 10 innocent men out of 100?

    Lesbian fantasist invented 15 rapes and sexual assaults

    Woman heading to prison after falsely accusing 15 men of rape

    Six women. Three nursing homes. And the man accused of rape…

    Florida apologizes to 4 black men falsely accused of rape in 1949

    Man falsely accused of rape, freed after 17 months in jail

    Woman Who Falsely Accused Brian Banks of Rape Ordered to Pay

    Jury orders blogger to pay $8.4 million to ex-Army colonel she falsely accused (West point)

    White Teen Who Lied About Abduction and Rape by Three Black Men


    in the United States, the FBI Uniform Crime Report in 1996 and the United States Department of Justice in 1997 reported that 8% of accusations for forcible rape had been through investigation determined to be false

    lying about Forced rape.. not sexual abuse
    but now sex abuse is so ambigiiuous you can be in trouble for today what was ok legally yesterday
    ie. you can steal a kiss 15 years ago, and due to statues of limitations, they may be able to take you to court as a crime today (heck if you know they can also accept hearsay from a 3rd party who wasnt there!!!!)

    Studies in other countries have reported their own rates at anywhere from 1.5% (Denmark) to 10% (Canada).

    David Lisak’s study, published in 2010 in Violence Against Women, classified as demonstrably false 8 out of the 136 (5.9%) reported rapes at an American university over a ten-year period

    and status and such can modify the belief
    AND notice that they are always talking about false FORCIBLE rape, never revealing the false accusations that were not that…

    oh, they like to say you have problems with women if you do NOT agree your a rapist, sexual pervert etc. and you CANT get off the lists once your on them, even if false!!!
    [if you think so, let us know the process]

    Presumed Guilty
    College men accused of rape say the scales are tipped against them

    MGTOW, if your worried. enjoy life, stay away from such, and dont get in trouble. never be alone, etc.. and KEEP records and so on… Such record keeping of an ATM ticket saved one student from Crystal Magnum, who is now in jail for a later murder…

  12. parker Says:

    I am glad I grew up a naive farm boy. I was taught, especially by dad, that real men honor, respect, and protect women. Glad our children got the message and are passing it onto their children.

  13. Terrence Condolini Says:

    When the police refuse to do their duty, because they are corrupt and evil themselves — as happened with the NYC police — then really people are reduced to extra legal solutions. And that is the deeper and intractable situation present in lawless USA 2017.

  14. ConceptJunkie Says:

    That Talmudic story of capturing Evil reminds me, of all things, of an episode of “Star Trek”. If you’re familiar with the show, you might already know which episode I’m referring to… the one where Captain Kirk gets split in two by a transporter malfunction. At first it seems the split is between “good” and “evil”, and the “evil” Kirk is definitely evil, engaging in, among other things, some Harvey Weintein type actitivities, but just like with the fable, the “good” Captain Kirk was unable to make decisions under duress. He was hesitant and lacked confidence. It turns out the split personalities weren’t so black and white after all. Kirk couldn’t function at all without both halves of his psyche.

    In the end, of course, Captain Kirk is made whole again and we all learn a lesson about our inner angels and demons. While the episode isn’t particularly good science fiction, it is a wonderful observation of humanity (as was often the case with Star Trek), and made for a really good episode.

    I’m sure many cultures have explored similar ideas.

  15. Lurch Says:

    as if the fear of rejection isn’t frightening enough to men already, now we add in fear of unjust persecution for a glance or foolish pick-up line. is it any wonder why many men are saying to hell with it and busy themselves with on-line porn? More and more, this can be seen as a rational response to an untenable situation.

  16. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    I can’t recall having ever having had my attention drawn to Yarbrough’s Bowdoin College. Through that chain of one link leading to another that neo has mentioned before, I just read the Wiki entry on Bowdoin College’s most famous personage: “The Lion of Roundtop” Professor of Rhetoric Gen.

  17. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Oops. wrong thread.

  18. huxley Says:

    as if the fear of rejection isn’t frightening enough to men already, now we add in fear of unjust persecution for a glance or foolish pick-up line. is it any wonder why many men are saying to hell with it and busy themselves with on-line porn? More and more, this can be seen as a rational response to an untenable situation.

    Lurch: That seems to be the Japanese male response these days, given that males must initiate.

    “Why are almost half of Japan’s millennials still virgins?”

  19. huxley Says:

    One problem here — among many — is that women’s sensitivity to harassment varies according to the attractiveness of the male.

    For instance, there’s Brie Larson, a second-string actress, who got all bent out of shape when she smiled at a TSA guy and he had the unmitigated gall to ask for her phone number!


    Her twitter response was: “‘To live life as a woman is to live life on the defense.”

    The horror! How can one live?

    But if Brad Pitt saw her smile and asked for her number, who would bet Larson wouldn’t have melted and giggled then bragged to all her girlfriends.

  20. huxley Says:

    If Harvey Weinstein looked more like George Clooney than Jabba the Hutt, would we have ever heard about this scandal?

  21. n.n Says:

    And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and rule over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the sky and over all the beasts that tread upon the earth. “

    The “evil inclination”.

    Fortunately, God, the supreme religious/moral philosopher, advised us to self-moderation and charity to others. Go forth and reconcile, He probably said, and certainly meant. Most of the Torah is a historical treatise of what not to do.

  22. n.n Says:

    It was the second or third-wave feminists…. female chauvinists, really, in service to themselves… humanitarian pornographers, and social liberals, who advised women to grab their feminine virtues and exploit the leverage they possessed over men. Planned Parenthood was an enabler of sexual liberalism, as well as female and male chauvinists.

  23. Ozyripus Says:

    Neo, thank you. Yetser ha-ra is the most apposite comment on life I have had a chance to consider in my 88 years, and yet, it has been around, what is it, some 6000 years, as a story told in kitchens. Well, that’s where, setting on a chair in the corner, I learned most of the useful attitudes, listening to the women working and talking. They would spell out certain words in the yeser ha-ra stories.

  24. n.n Says:

    I am man, therefore I rape, and, when the mood should strike me, I will also rape-rape, right?

    The [class] diversitists, abortionists, and chauvinists, are, once again, painting with broad, sweeping strokes.

    Principles/character matters.

    Or will they deny agency to men, as they denied agency to women when they placed conception before Choice?

  25. neo-neocon Says:


    Weinstein’s very beautiful and young wife (soon to be ex-wife) apparently found him sufficiently non-Jabbaesque to marry.

    I am actually puzzled by all this focus on his physical unattractiveness. I’ve seen photos of him that look awful and photos where he looks okay. Yeah, he’s no George Clooney, but how many people are? He looks pretty average for a man his age, somewhat gone to seed, much like most men his age that I see every day. It is a well-known fact that women are less interested in male looks than men are in women’s looks, and that power and money and sense of humor make a man (even a physically ordinary or perhaps unattractive one) rather attractive in the eyes of many women. And I’m not just talking about gold-digging women, I’m talking about women actually finding that they are attracted to the personality or aura of power of a man.

  26. huxley Says:

    neo: For one-off sexual overtures, though, I’ll stand pat that sexual attractiveness is a big deal for women, though not as big as it is for men.

    Again, if Brad Pitt had put the moves on those women rather than Harvey, I think it would be a different story.

    In a recent post you asked Why Now? for Harvey. Good question. I don’t know for sure, but my thinking is that Harvey got old and weak and wasn’t as good as his last hit.

    There is the fun Don Surber idea, which someone here linked, that Harvey’s downfall was a coded message to Hillary from inner Dem circles that she shouldn’t run again lest Bill’s indiscretions be resurrected.

    Sort of like finding Harvey’s severed head in Hillary’s bed a la the Godfather.

  27. n.n Says:

    I am actually puzzled by all this focus on his physical unattractiveness.

    I agree. A visual cue is the first unconstructed judgment of a person. However, a sustained perception is based on a constellation of mental, physical, and economic attributes that define us as individuals.

  28. n.n Says:

    When not tempered by a suitable religious/moral philosophy, Nature’s fitness function: evolutionary progress, is also a source of “evil inclination”.

  29. Caedmon Says:

    When I was a boy in Swinging London I heard the simplistic narrative: “A Century ago women’s ankles were taboo, a generation ago women’s knees were taboo, and mow we have the mini skirt. Whatever next?”

    It seemed obvious to me what would be next: women’s breasts, and the idea filled me with melancholy. It seemed terrible that future boys would never know the beautiful terror that the mystery of the female breast inspired in me. To them a women’s breasts would as unexceptional as her elbows.

    I had underestimated yester ha-ra. And if libertinism could not conquer it, as many in the 1960s believed it would (do remember when we were told that we shouldn’t worry about pornography because it was going to fade away when true liberation came) I doubt SJWs are going to make much impact

  30. Tom G Says:

    The rationalization: that she wanted it, too.

    No. It was “she was willing to sell her body to get into the movies, or to even be a finalist.”

    She wants to be in the movies so much, she’ll do anything, or almost anything.

    He’s a John, she’s a pro, a professional sex-worker.

    Look at sugar daddy / sugar baby beauties getting their college education paid for. They WANT the education, they’re willing to sell time & sex to avoid huge loans.

    Harvey’s victims didn’t want the sex, but they DID want what he could give, and in choosing actresses and movies, he DID give to many — letting him have sex was part of the price many were willing to pay.

    Harvey probably believed that all the women knew he would be a “trick”, not just a **ick.

  31. Janet Says:

    I had never heard of the yetser ha-ra but I was taught about “concupiscence” in Catholic grade school, i.e., the tendency to sin that we all have as an effect of Original Sin. This is why I get so frustrated when I hear these discussions. No amount of legislating will eradicate yetser ha-ra or concupiscence. I’m not saying that trying to curb the tendency is impossible and we shouldn’t try. Laws may help that. But they won’t eradicate it.

    As Martin Luther King used to say during the civil rights struggle, “You can’t legislate love.”

  32. Johann Amadeus Metesky Says:

    I think it was R’ Moshe Chaim Luzzato (though it could have been the Nefesh Ha’Chaim, I can’t exactly remember) who said that the yetzer hara has access to all of your abilities. This mirrored what I heard once in a biology lecture: the primitive part of our brain that controls very basic behavior, fight or flight stuff, is often referred to as our “lizard brain” and that lizard brain has access to the cerebral cortex of a human being. Lizards are amoral, you’re just lunch to a komodo dragon. Combine that amorality with human abilities and it’s surprising that people ever developed societies.

  33. DNW Says:

    Weinstein is a man without a scintilla of honor, or even any notion of what it might be.

    In fact much of the population of our current society is composed of persons just as completely without personal honor as he is. The concept of honor is just not part of their moral furnishing, it is as irrelevant to them as the notion that they might have a permanent identity, one that is not fluid and transitory, or that they might be in some sense responsible for what they do, rather than just passive riders on the storms of depersonalized impulse.

    There are even activist organizations which are dedicated to pushing this view and eradicating all remaining traces of honor based morality as a kind of atavistic relic of Saharan tribalism … or Border Scots reavers, at best.

    Jonathan Haidt has commented on the transformation of the United States from an honor society to a “dignity” society, on its way to a victim society.


    “We’re beginning a second transition of moral cultures. The first major transition happened in the 18th and 19th centuries when most Western societies moved away from cultures of honor (where people must earn honor and must therefore avenge insults on their own) to cultures of dignity in which people are assumed to have dignity and don’t need to earn it. They foreswear violence, turn to courts or administrative bodies to respond to major transgressions, and for minor transgressions they either ignore them or attempt to resolve them by social means. There’s no more dueling.

    Campbell and Manning describe how this culture of dignity is now giving way to a new culture of victimhood in which people are encouraged to respond to even the slightest unintentional offense, as in an honor culture. But they must not obtain redress on their own …”

    What then does one say to a male that is self-reduced ontologically to nothing more than an egotistical skin bag of appetites … a kind of wild-child navigating the canyons of the city, looking for a target and an opportunity for its next emission event?

    What does one say to the females who have so little honor or dignity (Yes some women do have honor and self-respect … they exist within my own family and have since frontier days) that they don’t immediately seek retaliation or justice when the pig paws them? What kind of moral weaklings are they? What kind of “deal with the devil’ must they be presumed to have already made when they do not immediately seek justice?

    The problem with this human pig, is not an aggressive impulse to succeed, but his core moral constitution. The problem with his victims [in general] is that their honor if any had a price, and a low one at that.

    I profoundly disagree with the tenor of the Tamud, and the moral anthropology it presents and or implies.

    In fact I find it remarkably un-Biblical, be that bible the Torah and Prophets, or the one that includes the Newer Canon.

  34. Frog Says:

    This is really a paean to feminism. With an interesting Jewish overlay.

    Where have all the young men gone? They have gone away, their every overture made an offense. One hears little about female sexual “harassment”, does one? But when I was young we used to call it “cock-teasing”.

    Weinstein has always looked like a pig; it is not ageing that has changed his facial appearance. The casting couch has existed in Hollywood since H-wood began making movies, and the women chasing actress roles prostituted themselves. How it works, has always worked.

    The dominance of our society by the female sex will not yield Amazons. I notice young male clothes models in on- line ads now have the same shoulder width as the women depicted with them; these men are slimmed-down, wimpy versions of young manhood. We become quite toothless by virtue of this bizarre imbalance.

  35. DNW Says:

    Thinking that something must be amiss, I have now reread the excerpts Neo quoted on rabbinical lore, and tried to make sense of them in light of the deliberate bracket quoting of the terms “evil inclination”, thus signaling and acknowledging the problematical definition of the term “evil” as it is used in context.

    Let’s assume then that what it is really referring to is merely some kind of personal manifestation of an elan vital which is or can be heedless of consequences, uninhibited, or egocentric. Or a “Joie de vivre”, perhaps.

    The difficulty here with the framing laid out in the “lore” , comes in assuming that something so simple and responsible in essence as building a house, and securing one’s family shelter, should be posited as an in-essence act logically convertible with an evil impulse. Thus the mere act of surviving by arranging inert material things, is somehow thought to embody an ego-centric impulse which is more or less undifferentiated in its essence or nature from an evil manipulative or exploitative social impulse.

    The definition of “good” then, seems as always taken as as term to be enveloped in a cat’s cradle of presumptive obligations to the “group” – which makes self-abnegation a social good per se, and therefore the working out of an individual’s teleology, is liable to be considered inherently suspect via-a-vis the group.

    On that view then, the nature of moral life is posited as irreducibly “conflictual” – as many religious progressives nowadays will have it; and thus any self-interested acts whatsoever are seen as potentially problematic aggressions per se … at least in principle.

    This is again, obviously the result of seeing the collective (whatever that may be and however defined), as the locus of moral grounding, rather than the virtuous individual. As the individual in a group must nonetheless seek its own interests if it is to even live, this sets up an irreconcilable moral tension.

    This is a tension that I take it to be absent from, or less pronounced, in virtue ethics systems.

    The Talmud as I understand it, is not merely a collection of post Temple period rabbinic interpretation, but a long ongoing commentary meant in many instances to adjudicate disputes within a beleaguered population wherein the aim was the preservation of the group’s existence within a hostile environment, as much as anything we would usually consider to be metaphysical matters. Or perhaps, the metaphysics was viewed through that particular lens.

    In any event, I don’t insist on these points regarding a Talmudic” definition of good and evil; it is just how it looks to me based on what I have read here..

  36. Frog Says:

    Judge not, lest ye be also judged.

    The man has not been indicted, much less found guilty.

    What is worse, BTW, Jane Fonda straddling a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun during the war, or Weinstein straddling some wannabees for sex?
    Take the gun as a large phallic symbol for the comparison to register.
    At least we know, we have documentation as to what Fonda did. We lack the same hard evidence on Weinstein.

  37. Stealthcook Says:

    There is a prohibition in Orthodox Judaism- Yichud- (to be alone with).Except for public venues, women or men -except for siblings, parents, husbands,do not meet members of the opposite sex in private settings. -not to say that this will protect you completely from HW and his ilk, or say a motivated psycho cab driver etc.,but it does minimize the possibilities, say meeting someone in their hotel room alone to talk business projects ,or even a public setting that puts you in an isolated setting like a park- You are forced to think ahead.

  38. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Frog Says:
    October 20th, 2017 at 4:20 pm
    Judge not, lest ye be also judged.

    When did Jane Fonda get a judgment from a judge?


    Everybody is going to be judged, no way to run from that with Clinton’s get out of jail free card.

    The modern christians use “judge” the way they use “to have an opinion”. That’s not what they were talking about back in 1st century AD.

    Of course, neither much of the Right nor all of the Left, cares about that.

  39. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Janet Says:
    October 20th, 2017 at 6:22 am

    It’s almost like you got that from the holy spirit’s wisdom. It doesn’t sound like much of what humanity thinks is popular, at least.

    The US has a spiritual power. All the laws and stuff, can’t change the heart. Did the 10 commandments prevent Israel from betraying the covenant? Nope.

  40. Ymar Sakar Says:

    “Why are almost half of Japan’s millennials still virgins?”

    That’s like the people using CNN’s title, reads something like “Why is Trum working with Russians to defeat Americans”.

  41. Ymar Sakar Says:

    There are numerous instances in the Old Testament, or parts of the Torah as the Jews might say, that mention the events and consequences of sexual predation against a woman that belonged to a tribe of Israel.

    In one of the first instance, when the daughter of Jacob was kidnapped by Canaanites and they planned to marry her off to the city’s prince, Jacob, or the Sons of Israel (just two of them) planned to take her back. First they sent servants, which were rebuffed. Then they negotiated a marriage contract. They utilized deception to buy time, and then when the Canaanites were weakened from circumcision, went around somehow killing hundreds of males in the city, as all of the city obeyed the Prince. Nothing was left in the city, except women and children. The livestock were taken. The men killed or fled.

    A city fell because of one woman. Like Troy.

    Then there was another story later on, concerning the tribe of Benjamine. Two guests of a Benjamine stayed for the night, under the host’s protection. Other Benjamites came and wanted to use the strangers in whatever “seemed good” to the raiders. The host tried to compromise by saying “take my wife or concubine instead” but the Benjamite raiders in the night refused.

    So the Israeli husband or male master, gave over his woman to the Benjamites, and in the morning she came back crawling to the doorstep and then died. So he cut her up and sent pieces of her body (as a message) to all of Israel. The Israeli tribes came together, hundreds of thousands of battle hardened warriors and tribalists, and came to the city of the Benjamite raiders, and demanded that the guilty be relinquished and judged for adultery. For which the penalty is always Death.

    The Benjamites refused. The tribes of Israel consulted the Divine Counsel and the prophets, and the message was to gather their forces and to annihilate the Benjamites. To which, they did, and nothing much remained of the Benjamites. They had to be given women from the Tribe of Judah, just so the tribe wouldn’t die out.

    Did any relative or friend of these Hollywood girls who became whores, did any of them try to wage war against the world for her? Nope, and they know. They know it.

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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