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Topic: The Flaming Sword

The Flaming Sword

From: Roland in Montreal, Quebec

Dear Rabbi,
When Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden of Eden, the book of Genesis says that an angel guards the Tree of Life with a flaming sword. I read an incredible explanation that this angel is the evil inclination which distracts and invades the mind, keeping one's mind from G-d. What does the flaming sword stand for?

Dear Roland,
The evil inclination often appears to us like a "good little angel." But it comes hand in hand with the destructive force of a flaming, double edged sword. It cuts both ways.

Sometimes people sin thinking they will get pleasure. Other times, they think the sin itself is a mitzvah or good deed. Think of the hijackers who recently killed thousands in New York, Washington, and near Pittsburgh. Their evil inclination convinced them that they were doing a good deed.

The Talmud says that the evil inclination is also the angel of death: It lures a person way from G-d, then destroys him.

See Targum Yonatan, Genesis 3:22

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