After the flood is all over and Noach brings his korbanos after setting foot onto dry land for the first time in a while, HaShem promises not to bring such a deluge upon the earth again. The pasuk says (8:21) ‘And HaShem said to Himself ‘I shall no further curse the ground because of man (man’s deeds) - for man’s inclination is evil from its youth.’ What exactly is going on here; why should the fact that HaShem has dubbed man as ‘evil’ mean that he does not deserve future punishment? Rashi and the Sforno make similar points to answer this question. Rashi says that HaShem was saying that since our yetzer hara comes into us at birth - whilst the yetzer hatov does not become part of us until years later - we are ‘not fully to blame’ for any wicked actions that we might do. Similarly, the Sforno writes that the natural climate of the post-flood world changed in that it was less conducive to following one’s (spiritual) sechel. Thus, again, HaShem was saying that ‘it’s not our fault that we’re so bad .’

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