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Is there G-d in evil?

by Rabbi Tzvi Freeman

  

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A Spark Within

The holy Arizal, Rabbi Yitzchok Luria, explained that everything in the world is nurtured by G-dliness, each thing contains a Divine spark that vitalizes it and sustains its very existence. Nothing can exist without that spark. Yet, that sustenance does not come to each thing in the same way.

There are those things and events that are nurtured in a direct and open way--they are within the realm of kedushah--holiness. Then there are those in which the G-dly spark conceals itself. They are compared to fruits within a shell--you need to peel off the shell in order to get to the fruit. For this reason, they are called the realm of the "klipot"--meaning 'shells'. This second category comprises almost all of our world.

Potentially Good

This second realm itself is divided in four parts. There is the highest realm, referred to in the Zohar as 'the shiny shell'. That means it is something like the crust immediately surrounding a nut, which can actually be eaten along with the nut. Similarly, those things in the realm of "klipat nogah" can be elevated when their spark is redeemed. In this realm lie all those things and events that the Torah permits--all the earth, most fruits and vegetables and all Kosher animals.

For example, a cow is slaughtered and kashered according to Halachah and eaten with a blessing and with the proper mindfulness--for the sake of serving our Creator with the nourishment and strength we derive from its meat. The divine spark within that animal is now redeemed and shines openly. And the meat itself enters into the realm of kedushah.

Evil

On the other hand, if the cow is not correctly slaughtered, or is eaten just to satiate another hungry beast who happens to walk on two legs, it not only does not rise, but rather sinks deeper.

Where does it sink to? To the other three levels of klipot, which cannot be redeemed so easily. This is the realm that covers all those things and deeds that are forbidden by the Torah. All of them are also nurtured by a Divine spark--otherwise they could not exist. But the spark is so deeply hidden that it cannot be redeemed--except through extreme methods. Methods such as a deep, inner Teshuvah, or through a test of faith.

The Good in Evil

For example, let's say a person decides not to eat kosher meat. Instead she goes out and buys the same meat everyone else eats from the supermarket. Then, later, she realizes that this is not the way a Jewish person is meant to eat, and that this meat is not allowing her G-dly soul to shine within. She feels a deep remorse for what she has done, and resolves from now on to be very careful about what she eats. In fact, she ends up more careful about her eating, and all other mitzvahs, than before her little supermarket episode.

TAGS: evil

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COMMENTS

Is evil really evil?

Posted by: Moshe G, Miami Beach, FL on Oct 30, 2006

I always have found this subject to be very interesting; thanks for the suggested reading! What I don't quite wrap my head around is that if G-d has created everything -created everything with a purpose, even- and evil is oboviously part of everything and part of G-d's creation. Then how can evil be evil? Is there such a thing as evil?

Moshe G

Editor's Comment

A shell conceals the nut. Is that good or bad? It depends: when used the way it's meant to be used, the shell protects the nut until time for consumption, at which time it is discarded - that is good. But if one attempts to eat, rather than discard, the shell, that is bad. Similarly, there are things that conceal G-dliness. When those things are treated the way G-d intended for them to be treated - avoided, overcome etc. - it is good. But when we abuse G-d's intentions and consume or indulge, rather than ignore or rise above, the evil itself, WE make it evil.

RELATED CATEGORIES

Philosophy » Creation
G-d » Creation

Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Teshuvah
Repentance. Or, more literally, "return" to G-d. Teshuvah involves regretting the past and making a firm resolution not to repeat the offense.
Halachah
Jewish Law. All halachah which is applicable today is found in the Code of Jewish Law.
Kosher
Literally means "fit." Commonly used to describe foods which are permitted by Jewish dietary laws, but is also used to describe religious articles (such as a Torah scroll or Sukkah) which meet the requirements of Jewish law.
Chabad
Chabad, an acronym for Wisdom, Knowledge, and Understanding, is the name of a Chassidic Group founded in the 1770s. Two of the most fundamental teachings of Chabad are the intellectual pursuit of understanding the divine and the willingness to help every Jew who has a spiritual or material need.
Zohar
The most basic work of Jewish mysticism. Authored by Rabbi Shimeon bar Yochai in the 2nd century.
Tanya
Foundation text of Chabad chassidism. Authored by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of the Chabad movement, and first published in 1796. Considered to be the "Bible" of Chassidism.
Adam
The first man, created by G-d on the sixth day of creation. He was banished from the Garden of Eden after eating from the forbidden fruit of the forbidden knowledge. Died in 2830 BCE.
Arizal
Rabbi Isaac Luria, the 15th Century founder of Modern Kabbalah.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.