Inside Tefillin – Shema Yisrael Loving G-d From The Bottom Of Your Heart
The Shema Yisrael prayer is very central in Judaism. We say it
several times a day, don it in Tefillin and place it on our doors in
Mezuzas. Its second pasuk tells us that we need to love G-d “With
your whole heart” Bechol Levavecha ,
“With your whole heart” Bechol Levavecha , a popular explanation
for this statement is that a whole heart includes both the yetzer
hatov – good inclination and the yetzer hara – bad inclination.
It has been stated that a child has no good inclination; instead all
of their activities are either instinct or selfishness. The mind
develops at the same time that the child’s body matures. This final
burst of physical and mental growth brings the good inclination with
What do we mean by good inclination? Teenagers who were asked about
this issue concentrated on the major physical and hormonal changes
that they feel are very intense. However, they also said that as
mature “men” they now understand the inherent value of doing good,
the ability to serve G-d correctly, and to don Tefilin. This “good
inclination” is at best a hazy concept to a small child.
During early adolescence children become more social beings. This
helps to decrease selfishness and increase a desire to do what is
right and assist others. However, this is still very immature. Our
Rabbis of Blessed Memory have stated that there are several levels of
service to G-d. The highest level of service is serving G-d through
love. However, most religious people can only do this in a very
limited way. The lowest level of service, which is still very good,
is serving G-d through fear.
The source of the discussion that says that a child receives a good
inclination Yetzer Hatov is in Avot Derebbe Natan (16 2).
It has been said that the evil inclination is senior to the good
inclination by thirteen years, for it grows with and accompanies the
child from the moment it comes forth from the mother s womb. If he
wants to profane Shabat it does not deter him. If he wants to murder
it does not deter him. If he wants to commit a (sexually) immoral act
it does not deter him. After thirteen years, However, the good
inclination is born in him. (Now) when he wants to profane Shabat the
good inclination tells him, (the Pasuk) One who profanes it shall
surely die. If he wants to murder, it tells him Whoever sheds a
man s blood shall have his blood shed. If he wants to commit a
(sexually) immoral act it tells him, Both the adulterer and the
adulteress will surely be put to death.
The reasoning abilities that the new good inclination exhibits is the
result of education that parents have struggled to teach the child.
Hopefully the reasoning will work in preventing the child, whose body
is much larger and competent in sinning, from performing the sin.
The method of this nascent good inclination follows the simplest form
of religious service; that of serving G-d through fear. The battle
against the inclination to do evil leans against the inclination to
do good . The body likes the short-term pleasure that the evil
inclination brings. This new social reasoning is still budding.
Through further development good children can grow to levels of Love
of G-d .