Evil in its forms

My feeling about the evil inclination is that it has several different aspects to it. One is physical desire. Nowadays it is not a popular concept, but  during the Middle Ages this was considered the major aspect of the evil inclination. See the Chovot Levavot {The Musar book called Duties of the Heart} for example. The other is a kind of evil inclination that  Israel Salanter talked about, the spiritual evil inclination. That is a inclination that comes to a person that is directed towards evil even when physical desires oppose it. The "Imp of the Perverse," as Edward Allen Poe called it.

 But I would like to suggest a third and forth evil inclination. One is bad worldviews. The other is bad attitudes.

Bad worldviews are easy to identify. For example a person can have very good characteristics. He can be kind, and clean, and considerate, and perfectly psychologically healthy, but believe that to get entrance into Gan Eden he must behead as many Christian or Jewish infidels as possible. That is, he is Muslim.

But some world view issues are more difficult to identify. Even things written in books of  ethics and morality like Musar books might not be applicable across the board.  Also there is the problem of conflicting values in Torah itself. I might mention the conflict between working and learning Torah for one thing. Or honoring ones parents as opposed to other activities that might or might not be required by Torah.

Other problem include the fact that learning Torah in fact does not give immunity from the evil inclination. .
 Now one way to solve conflicting values in Torah would seem to be to go to the Rambam. He divides mitzvot of the Torah according to their purpose. Many mitzvot are to prevent idolatry. Many others are for peace of the country. Some are for other purposes. And we know that the reason for mitzvot according to the Rambam does determine to some degree how they are applied. [as we see with the rich widow that the Rambam decides like R. Yehuda against R. Shimon but gives a reason for it that the reason of the Torah still applies to her.]That is in the view of the Rambam the Torah has certain commandments that it is the purpose of the Torah to bring one to. Telos-- "purpose" Ethics. So a command not to serve other gods would be purpose of many other mitzvot. For example not to wear  tattoo, or not to make an idol even if one does not worship it. etc. The purpose of many mitzvot is peace of the state. So in application the mitzvot that are to bring to that would have to be applied only in a way that in fact brings to peace of the State.

So I suggest to learn Musar. That is the classical books of Musar that R. Israel Salanter founded his movement upon. This is for the purpose of  gaining a Torah world view. Plus there are several books by the close disciples of R. Salanter. The main benefit of these books I believe is in fact in the area of world view. --not so much what people think it is supposed to do--correcting ones character.[It does not matter if you are religious or not or even if your are Jewish or not--these are important books for world view issues.]


Appendix: Musar means classical Musar e.g. Chovot Levavot, Orchot Tzadikim and the books of Moshe Chaim Lutzato and the student of  Gaon from Villna-- Reb Chaim from Voloshin.
 You can find things that you disagree with but it gives a basic framework for a Torah World view.