Rabbi Dr Zvi Aviner
IDOLATRY-18/Evil: Who Created it?
Observing Nature, Man sees in it so much pains, sorrow and death.
He sees, and experiences, natural disasters and catastrophes
that kill people and animals alike, with no mercy.
Man feels the earth shaking under his feet, causing destruction and death
he sees tsunamis washing people into the sea,
volcanos erupting and burying towns under ashes
Man sees diseases and pandemics that decimate whole populations,
diseases caused by viruses, bacteria and parasites
that take advantage of the host. And Man asks –
Who created all that evil out there?
Watching the cosmos,
Man sees in it exploding nova, and black holes
that swallow entire solar system every minute,
and he asks- why is the Universe built like this?
Isn’t it controlled by a bad god, or by Satan?
And when Man gets sick, he asks – who is after me?
Why do I deserve so much suffering?
Where is G-d?
Why doesn’t the Good G-d protect me?
And when Man looks at his fellowmen,
at people who commit heinous crimes and atrocities,
people who are cruel and indifferent to other people’s life,
And he asks:
Who made Mankind so evil?
Aren’t we controlled by Satan?
The Book of Job is dedicated to that old question.
Job’s friends tell him that he must have sinned to deserve his fate.
They also tell him that G-d must have a good plan for him
Making him stronger by the agony,
or that G-d has some other plan for him.
But Job rightly rejects all those explanations.
They might appease his friend’s minds, but not his mind.
Their words do not comfort him, the suffering person.
To Job, nothing in the world can explain his misery.
Then G-d appears to Job and tells him the bitter truth,
that Mankind can never understand G-d.
Rabbi J.B. Soltoveitchik blessed is his memory,
takes this as halachic guidance.
We should never tell a suffering person,
that his misery is caused by some kind of Heavenly Plan,
or as a test for his character.
We should never engage a suffering person
with theology, trying to defend G-d
Instead, we should try hard to elevate his spirit
and convert him from a victim to a pro-active person
whose goal is to alleviate the agony from other people
and eradicate evil from the Earth.
So, what is evil?
What does Moses say about it in Genesis Chapter One?
Who created evil, when, and why?
Lets’ note that our discussion is a prelude
to the following story of Eden in Chapters 2-3.
You can’t understand the Garden of Eden
The Tree of Knowledge Good and Evil
without knowing what good and evil are.
So, let’s continue the story of the creation of Adam.
So far, we’ve learned, that ELHM
consulted every entity in chapter One
and used it to make Adam, layer by layer,
as the rabbis said:
ELHM looked at the Torah and made the world,
ELHM consulted the Six Days and made Adam’s body,
He Consulted His Wisdom and Science, and made Adam’s mind
He Consulted His Spirit of Art, and made Adam’s artistic heart,
He Consulted His own Self, and made Adam’s Self
Moreover, ELHM blessed Adam with two Drives –
the Drive to be fruitful and multiply, namely the Sex Drive,
and the Drive to rule over, to wield Power,
Those two powerful Drives would assure
That Adam would not sit idle, but rather
aspire to achieve goals,
and thrive in our habitat, the Earth.
All these consultations gave Adam precious gifts,
but also opened up the door for IDOLATRY,
since ELHM spoke in plural while creating Adam.
Adam would be tempted to worship these gifts,
worship himself, instead of worshipping G-d
Now, having exhausted
almost all the entities mentioned in chapter One,
ELHM made His last Consultation.
Wishing to plant in Adam even a stronger Drive,
Wishing to ensure that Adam would arrive at the End of the Day,
ELHM consulted the End of the Sixth Day, where it says:
And ELHM saw everything that He had done
And behold, it was Very Good, Tov Meod.
And it was evening, it was morning, the Sixth Day (was over),
And ELoHim said let us make Adam in our form and our image…
And ELoHiM blessed them saying be fruitful and multiply…
And EloHiM said behold, I have given you all the grass…
And ELoHiM saw everything that He had done and behold, it was
Very good (Tov Meod) And it was evening, and it was morning,
Y om (Day)
H a Shishi, (Sixth) (Genesis 1:31)
………………………… The Sabbath Day ………………………………………
V aYechulu (and they ended)
H aShamyim (the Heaves)And the Earth, VeHaaretz, and all their hosts,
And ELoHiM finished all the work he had done,
And ELoHiM finished on the Seventh Day His work which He had done,
And He abstained on the Seventh Day from all His work which He had done
And ELKM blessed the Seventh Day…” (Genesis 2: 1-2)
Here the verse says that at the End of the Sixth Day,
ELHM will judge Adam, along with the entire Six Days,
to see whether Adam has become
Very Good, or Very Bad in ELHM’s’ eyes
If Adam is deemed Very Good, in ELHM’s eyes,
ELHM would allow him, and CREATION,
to enter the next Day, the Sabbath.
But If Adam is deemed Very Bad,
ELHM would terminate him with the entire world,
and return everything to nothingness
as He had done to numerous other Universes before
ELHM then consulted the Very Good option mentioned in the verse
and planted in Adam the Drive to do Very Good things.
This would prompt Adam to walk in the right direction,
To be Very Good in ELHM’s eyes
But to balance Adam’s drives, to make his trial a fair trial,
ELHM also planted in Adam a powerful Drive
to do Very Bad things.
Adam, , blessed with a Free Will, would have to choose
between those two powerful Drives:
The Drive to do Very Good things,
and the Drive to do Very Bad things.
Now you may ask,
where in the text does the verse mention
the option of being Very Bad? The Talmud says
It lies in the Hebrew word for Very Good, Tov Meod
which can be easily read as Tov, Maved, meaning Good and Death.
Thus, ELHM consulted Good, and Consulted Maved, Death
and made Adam’s Drives accordingly
Let’s note that the Hebrew term Drive, Yezer,
refers to Desire, Lust, to be attracted and fascinated
by the magic of Good or the magic of Bad.
Thus, Adam is attracted on one hand
to be Very Good in ELHM’s eyes,
to create, build, do justice,
to comply with ELHM’s Commandments
But on the other hand, Adam is attracted
to do the opposite, to be Very Bad in ELHM’s eyes,
to destroy, do injustice,
and to violate all ELHM’s Commandments
Now let’s pay attention to the vocabulary.
If Adam is deemed Very Good,
he is called “Righteous in ELHM’s eyes”
whereas if he becomes Very Bad in ELHM’s eyes,
he is called Sinner
But as we know,
Adam is judged not only by ELHM
but, also, by the Attribute of MERCY, YHVH.
You can see that in the Text.
At the End of the Sixth Day, Adam is judged
By ELHM – from one side, from the Six Days
And by YHVH from the other side, the Sabbath
Both Attributes judging Adam whether or not
He has become Very Good or Very Bad.
But there is a difference.
To be Very Good by ELHM’s eyes,
Adam needs to comply by His Laws.
Whereas to be Very Good in YHVH eyes,
Adam needs to be merciful, compassionate and forgiving.
To be Very Bad in ELHM’s eyes
Adam has to violate ELHM’s Commandments
Whereas, to be Very Bad in YHVH’s eyes,
Adam has to be cruel, merciless,
lacking compassion and forgiveness.
When Adam is deemed Very Bad in YHVH eyes,
He is referred to as “Evil in YHVH eyes.”
And here we’ve arrived at the term Evil in the Torah.
It is always associated with YHVH’s assessment, never with ELHM
For the term evil is an emotional reaction to those
who act against YHVH’s values.
The term evil expresses disgust, repulsiveness and rejection,
referring to the person’s character, declaring that he is evil
In contrast, the terms Righteous or Sinner in ELHM’s eyes,
refer to the balance of a person’s merits and sins on ELHM scale,
rather to the person’s character
Let’s note that throughout the Torah, and the entire Bible,
the term evil is always associated with YHVH’s assessment
A kings of Israel is called “Evil in YHVH’s eyes”
when he followed the IDOLATRY of the Canaanites
and also took advantage of the poor, the orphans and the widows.
Now, let’s ask,
Does Evil prevail in Nature?
Since Nature is so full of agony and sorrow,
is Nature controlled by Evil?
The answer depends on whom you ask.
Suppose you ask that question
to a smart spider, or a smart serpent, that can talk.
You ask it:
is the world, so full of agony and sorrow, controlled by Evil?
The smart spider would not understand your question.
For having been made by ELHM alone,
the spider or the serpent would have no knowledge of the Merciful YHVH
and would not have a clue that the Universe
could have been created differently,
with no sorrow or pains in it
To the spider’s mind, agony and pains are
manifestations of ELHM’s Justice,
where animals eat and are eaten,
inflict pains an suffer pains
in endless cycle of Absolute Justice
In the Spider’s mind,
the world seems perfect, as it is
with no Evil in it
Now imagine that a beautiful cherub, an Angel of MERCY,
wonders into our world. You ask the Angel:
Is there evil in the world?
The Angel would answer carefully:
I know, the Angel would say,
that this world could have been created differently,
with no pain or agony or death in it.
After all, I am coming from such a world, from the Eternal Sabbath
where YHVH reigns, and ELHM abstains from ruling
But I also know, the Angel would continue,
that ELHM’s Universe is run by Absolute JUSTICE,
And JUSICE is never Evil in YHVH’s eyes
The animals are not evil, the Angel would add,
Since they abide by ELHM’s orders
and comply with His Natural Laws,
with no sense of discretion or Free Will
But Adam, in contrast, the Angel would say,
Is the only creature in the world
that may be deemed “evil,” by YHVH eyes
For Man is the only creature that is aware
of YHVH ways and Her expectations from us,
and can exercise Free will to choose
between good and evil
No, the Angel would say, the world is definitely
not controlled by Satan,
nor by any independent force of evil.
Since the only evil in this world,
can be performed by Man,
who is aware of the Merciful YHVH
and yet decides to do the opposite of Her wishes
Moreover, the Angel would say,
Don’t ask why in the world did ELHM
made the animals capable of causing pains and agony.
ELHM did it, so it would enter Man, through the Evolution,
So that Man would be able to cause pains and agony.
But whereas the animals are never evil in YHVH’s eyes
When Man acts like an animal, he is Evil in YHVH eyes
The Nova of the First Day explode,
So that Man could blow up his fellowman
The Waters of the Second Day covered Earth
So that Man could drown his fellowmen
The Vegetation of the Third Day can produce poison,
So that Man could poison
The Sun of the Fourth Day can burn
So that Man could burn his fellowmen
The Fish of the Fifth Day can swallow other fish
So that Man could swallow his enemies
The Birds of the Fifth Day can dive and catch fish
So that Man could do the same to his fellowmen
The Crocodiles of the Fifth Day can tear flesh apart
So that Adam could do the same to his fellowmen
The Beast of the Sixth Day can prey on the Cattle
So that Adam could prey on his fellowmen
The Snakes that came to power on the Sixth Day can bite
So that Man could bite
ELHM consulted the Six Days, the Angel would say,
And made Adam accordingly,
So that Adam could perform all the agony in the world
And stay for that on a trial.
But when the animals that perform all that agony and pains
are good in ELHM’s eyes,
when Man does all that to his fellowmen,
he is Evil in YHVH eyes
Adam is the only creature that carries
both the Spider and the Angel, in his heart,
Adam, with his Free Will,
can choose to behave like the spider
and be Evil in YHVH eyes
Or act like the Angel,
and be YHVH’s beloved one,
As Abraham, Moses and David did
Adam can behave like an animal
And declare that War is good,
that only the strong prevails, as in the Jungle,
and that G-d is dead, like Nietzsche said
that the Bible is a poison made by the weak
to harm the strong and the healthy race
Adam can raise an army wearing fancy uniform
with a skull-emblem placed on his hat,
and murder millions of innocent people
In a calculated, vicious, cool scientific way
like the Nazis.
Thereby, not only worshipping Satan,
but becoming real Satan on real Earth
But Adam can opt for the opposite.
He can walk, like Noah, in ELHM’s ways
And let the Angel of YHVH enter his heart,
and be righteous in ELHM’s eyes
and beloved in YHVH’s eyes
And since Evil is just Man’s perception of things
from the perspective of YHVH eyes in his heart,
the more Mankind accepts YHVH in our heart,
the more we would become sensitive to evildoers
So as Mankind progresses in history towards the Sabbath
Evil would be seen more starkly and larger in our eyes.
But this would be an illusion, and we should overcome Evil
As a blowing wind, as an image wiped out by reality
But if the Evil of Mankind would grow for real,
If Man would become “Very Bad” in YHVH eyes,
Our evilness would block the world’s progress to the Sabbath,
leaving us in the Hands of ELHM to execute His harsh verdict
In fact, the Torah says,
that Evil of Man can grow so big
that it would sever the Holy Name YHVH to two parts,
to Y-H and V-H,
like the Amalekites did at the Exodus.
Moses and Joshua fought and won over Amalek,
But the Torah states that this battle is not yet over
And that YHVH would continue fighting against Amalek
Till Her Name has become complete and wholly again
King David says in the “Psalm song for the Sabbath”
that although the evildoers may flourish like grass,
they would also burn like dry strow,
so that a righteous person would bloom like a Palm Tree
in G-d’s courtyards.
The rabbis asked:
Who is this righteous person, that Davis refers to?
And they answer – this man is Noah.
NOW THAT WE’VE MENTIONED EVIL AND THE SERPENT
IT IS TIME TO MOVE ON TO STUDY THE STORY OF
THE GARDEN OF EDEN
AND THE SECOND COMMANDMENT OF NOAH: ADULTERY!