Derech Hashem 1:5:8

Though G-d certainly manifests and allows for goodness by turning His “face” toward one thing or another [1] He also manifests and allows for evil [2] by hiding His “face” and by simply disallowing for goodness to occur in that instance. It’s just that He’s not the perpetrator of evil [3].

In fact, G-d created a specific system for evil to exist and function [4], and He did that with the specific intention of having evil — as well as goodness — carry out His ultimate designs for humankind and the universe [5].

This system, which we’ll expand upon later [6], is comprised of a different order of phenomena than that of the Transcendent Forces, and all manifestations of evil and imperfection derive from this system. Ultimately, though, all of the phenomena within this system derive from G-d’s concealing His “face”, with greater instances of concealment allowing for greater instances of evil [7].

At bottom, then, goodness is withheld and the Transcendent Forces are weakened when the system of evil rules, while goodness is strengthened and the Transcendent Forces are themselves rectified and made secure when the system of evil is subjugated.

As such, everything we’ve said about the existence of goodness and evil [8], about the battle between reason and physicality [9], and about things being rectified and defective [10] is rooted in these two systems [11]. For when one is either fortified or overpowered its qualities and effects influence creation one way, while when the other is fortified or overpowered its qualities and effects influence creation the other way.



[1]       See 1:5:7.

[2]       …given that He’s the Creator of everything.

This is meant to deny the claims of those in antiquity who held that evil was created by another being. See Da’at Tevunot 36 for a discussion of this misreading of G-d’s abilities and intentions. But in fact we should be flummoxed by the fact that G-d would have created evil given that He’s over-achingly benevolent, as was pointed out in 1:2:1. This dilemma is discussed in Da’at Tevunot 30, 36 and in Klach Pitchei Chochma 47, and is the subject of the discussion below.

[3]       That’s to say that while He allows for it to occur by turning His “face” away, He Himself doesn’t commit evil.

That apparently indicates that goodness is the “default mode” of the universe. It’s just that there are times when evil must manifest itself because it too serves an important purpose (see below). G-d then “suppresses” His goodness which itself allows for evil.

Again the point is that while G-d doesn’t commit evil, He sometimes allows for it passively. See arcane discussions of the issues raised here in Adir Bamarom p. 344 and in Otzrot Ramchal p. 203, and see Da’at Tevunot 100-114, 130.

[4]        This system is the mirror image of the system within which the Transcendent Forces operate, in keeping with the principle known as “G-d has made one to correspond to the other” (Ecclesiastes 7:14), which is roughly analogous to Newton’s rule  that for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction.

[5]       That is, contrary to the common notion, evil serves God, too; it also has a role in the playing out of G-d’s intentions for the universe. For, nothing can countervail G-d’s intentions or thwart His designs; everything is beholden to Him.

[6]       See 2:8:2 and 3:2:8 as well as Klallei Pitchei Chochma v’Da’at 8.

[7]       That is, while this phenomenon is the overarching basis for the existence of evil it nonetheless plays itself out through the alternative system spoken of above that evil functions under.

[8]       See 1:5:7.

[9]       See 1:3:2.

[10]     See 1:5:7.

[11]     That is, they’re rooted in the conflicting roles of these systems.


(c) 2015 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

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