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Did G-d Create Evil?

Did G-d Create Evil?

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Question:

Did G‑d create evil? Surely G‑d made everything. So although it is people who actually do evil, it was G‑d who must have created the idea of evil. But if G‑d is good, how could He create evil?

Answer:

Here's the paradox: Goodness exists because G‑d desired it; evil exists because G‑d doesn't want it.

If a human wants something, but doesn't actually do anything about it, nothing happens. You may want a piece of cake, but a cake will not materialize unless someone bakes it.

But when you're a Divine Being, your desires create reality. With G‑d, just wanting something makes it exist. After all, He is all-powerful; if He wants it, what can possibly stop it from being? He wanted a world, so it was. He wanted goodness, so it was.

Now the same applies to G‑d not wanting something: it too becomes reality. If G‑d decides He doesn't want something, then that decision itself makes that thing exist. G‑d's all-powerfulness means that even His not-wanting creates. Evil is what G‑d doesn't want. So it exists.

But evil doesn't exist in the same way that goodness exists. G‑d wants goodness, so its existence is true and everlasting. Evil exists as a negative, something G‑d doesn't want, so its existence is flimsy and temporal. Evil is no more than an undesirable non-entity, a path not to be taken. By doing evil acts, we give evil more credit than it deserves. Our bad choices make evil into a truer existence than it really is.

In the end, evil can't prevail. It is an unwanted ghost, a temporary illusion, a thin facade. Over time evil dissipates, no matter how menacing it may seem. Wicked empires crumble, rotten ideas become exposed, and goodness eventually shines through. That's what G‑d wanted all along, but He leaves it to us to achieve.

The only way to banish the ghost of evil is to turn on the light of good.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
Artwork by Sarah Kranz.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
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Anonymous April 10, 2017

So why are we in this world? Just what in 'the world' does it take to find out why we are in this world? I'm lost because I don't know where to go with this question that has bothered me for many years (if not my whole life). Are we really in this Milky Way Galaxy? If we are according to what we may or may not believe....then we must be going on a journey (the whole Milky Way Constellation entirely) and we will one day get there and 'structure back the Universe' as it may have once been. In the mean 'time' there really isn't time or enough time to really say that time in important because in G*d's incomprehensible time the mystery remains. My mind cannot reach it. Ultimately the Earth will evolve into a big round ball of clay with no life, water, or organisms, just like the other planets. The Sun's light/energy will dwindle and fade into another sphere of clay. And the Universe will continue to expand and produce more planets, suns, stars and comets. Bewildering! Reply

Eliezer Zalmanov for Chabad.org April 25, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

There is a fascinating concept in Chassidic teachings called "Dira BeTachtonim" which basically explains the reason for creation and why we are here. You can read up on it here. Reply

Leo Maas Wheaton March 29, 2017

We humans, and for that matter all living things, are in this physical world to know good and evil - the tree of knowledge. How could Adam(mankind) possibly know G_d's love? Could G_d explain to Adam the concept of pain and suffering while Adam had never experienced such things? When Adam and Eve ate of the tree, their eyes were opened, and became as "one of us, knowing good and evil" This is ongoing to this day. In our collective memory, especially after our physical death, we will know good and evil to a depth well beyond our current understanding. I can't help but be overwhelmed at G_d's love, a love so great, that He is completely immersed within and without His creation; experiencing the same good and evil as we do. One thing to keep in mind, time does not exist in G_d"s heavenly realm. Reply

Ronne Shelton Anaheim March 28, 2017

Not able to get into this concept that what G-d doesn't' want comes into existence because he doesn't want it. Do you have other examples of G-d not wanting something and it exists because of this theory? Shalom Reply

Gil London March 28, 2017

There is no good or bad. There is only too little or too much. Reply

hannah March 28, 2017

I'm sorry, but this article is pointless. Evil exists to give us free choice. That way we can emulate G-d in His image. Reply

Rodney Los Angeles April 4, 2017
in response to hannah:

I don't think that this article is pointless, but do agree with you that so called" evil" exists for the power and glory of G-d to be shown for and through us. I think that "goodness" exist because it is G-d's nature; and "evil" exist because G-d allows it to exist. G-d created Man and Man creates evil. So G-d allows Man to create evil so that we can choose to repent back to goodness or our true G-dly nature. Reply

Rabbi Shmary Brownstein For Chabad.org December 11, 2016

To Edwin The verses you cite from Isaiah say: So that they know... that there is nothing besides Me; I am G-d, and there is no other. Who forms light and creates darkness, makes peace and creates evil; I, G-d, do all of these.
You are right that these verses speak of G-d's omnipotence and His creating evil. The verse "I am G-d, L-rd of all flesh; is anything impossible for Me?" [Jer. 32:27] states this quite clearly.
The Divine name Sha-Dai is interpreted by our sages to mean "Who made a limit to the world," "Whose G-dness is sufficient for every creature," and "the world and its fullness cannot contain his G-dness." These meanings include the concept of omnipotence, but go beyond it.
There meaning of "shidud," shattering, is also given to this name, meaning that G-d disrupts the laws of nature. Reply

Frank Nairobi, Kenya. March 28, 2017
in response to Rabbi Shmary Brownstein:

I've been battling with this thought for a longtime and when I saw the post, I thought I was going to get the answers but no! It's so basic (for lack of a better word) and I expected more. Answered none of my questions. Could have gone a little deeper with the answer Reply

Edwin Kista November 29, 2016

"G‑d's all-powerfulness means that even His not-wanting creates. Evil is what G‑d doesn't want. So it exists." does that explain Yeshayahu 45:6 and 7? does it actually say in the tanakh that G-d is all powerful, almighty? does "shaddai" mean "almighty"? does it come from "lishdod" and therefore i take it suggest overpowering or "shad" and therefore I take it suggests sustenance? Reply

Inga Jones-Sullivan Killeen November 13, 2016

See Yesha'yahu 45.7. The Hebrew word choice is ra' or rah Reply

AvramJ August 16, 2014

Evll << He wanted goodness, so it was.
Now the same applies to G‑d not wanting something: it too becomes reality.>>

If don't want trees in my garden - I don't plant them. Or are you saying in the Garden of Eden G-d didn't want evil and that caused it to exist .
Surely G-d created everything that is - whether positive or negative. However without evil there would be no point in freewheel. The paradox has remained a paradox for all Monotheists and no one can explain it. Reply

Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell Riverside, CA March 18, 2014

The answer given is not logical at all. To say, definitively, that something G-d doesn't want exist because he doesn't want it, would have to apply to EVERYTHING that is negative. Example: breast cancer is negative, but not evil in that cancer cells do not have a human motive to exist. So, does G-d want cancer to exist? Etc. Think about it. Perhaps, if it had been an answer of "human evil", perhaps. That is even stretching it. Reply

Anonymous NY March 11, 2014

If G-d doesn't want something he can make it not exist! Why would he let it be created if he doesn't want it? And how is evil evil anyway if everything G-d creates is good and if everything is G-d himself anyways? Reply

Irene Glen Burnie, MD USA June 4, 2012

Did God create Evil? I believe G-d created all things good. I also believe He gave us the freedom to accept his love or reject it. The evil resides in our choices. We can obey Him because of our love for him, or disobey because we want our own way. We want to be g-d and rule the world. Look around, isn't that what man has wanted to do in every generation. Rule. Be g-d. Adam and eve, didn't like what G-d said they wanted to be their our boss. Isn't that what our children want. Tell them the rules. Don't do this, it will harm you. They don't listen, they don't like to be told what to do. But some, when they are older will understand and love their parents enough to listen. Evil, I don't know how it got started. Perhaps an angel also rebelled against his maker also. Doesn't mean a snake form, maybe evil is considered a snake as the bite can be deadly. Reply

Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell Riverside, CA June 29, 2011

My answer is that I think evil was not created. The "evil" gene is a genetic mutation. I don't believe there was an animal (serpent) that G-d made who was evil, but it makes a great story in Genesis. Lots of the stories make great stories. That doesn't mean they were true, in my opinion. We have to remember that people of old had no knowledge of science and so fairy tale type stories were often told to give explanations for certain phenomena. Just my opinion. In fact, just shortly back in history, in America, they did frontal lobotomies on humans to try to get rid of "evil" or mental illness diseases. Reply

Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell Riverside, CA, USA August 14, 2010

If you look at people as the animals they are, Then it is astounding that we even have ANY good at all in us. We, for the most part, have overcome the eat or be eaten philosophy. Yet, we still see this happening every day by many people. Let me get mine before you get yours. Etc. It is ONLY with G-d in us that we have goodness. What is so special about being Jewish is that we are taught and believe that from the moment we are born, we are born holy in G-d's eyes.That G-d is within us, in our soul. That we are the children of G-d. This is goodness, that we try to emulate the GOOD in G-d. Of course, we will not create floods and fires and all that to punish wicked nations, but in my opinion, G-d does not do that either. I don't believe that part of the torah. I think there is ONLY good in G-d. It is when we turn our backs on Him that we turn into the pillar of salt metaphorically. Reply

Anonymous December 30, 2008

From Proverbs:
כִּי נֵר מִצְוָה וְתוֹרָה אוֹר
so does not "Light" actually mean "Teachings (Torah)"?
And since וּבוֹרֵא רָע
and בר can mean "purify, improve"
and רע can be "intelligence",
does it not follow that G-d purifies the intelligence with Teachings (with Torah)? Reply

sue Kanata, ON October 20, 2008

To la schele neal I spent ten years or so representing myself as one race or the other. I found that most people are prejudiced toward some race or the other. When I found that I was under fire by the very people bothering you, I was afraid. I was used to tolerant, intellectual Torontonians and not backwoods hicks.
No, I did not question G-ds' choices. Over the years, I have been "instructed" to believe that primitive paranoids like anti-Semites are souls incarnating from traumatized animal existence.
We are democratic; we try somehow to gain perspective as to the evils of man. Perhaps your grandfather hunted the deer, who sorely missed their own loved ones. If this idea is a given in evolution, then the expression that the sins of the fathers are visited upon the sons for 10 generations does seem to make sense. If your ancestor has killed, perhaps the action deprives your DNA of some immunity to a sense of justice from within the wild kingdom. I have suffered exactly what you have, yet I am a vegan. Reply

Brandon Phillips Los Angeles, CA October 19, 2008

Did G-D create evil Isaiah 45:7 G-d is the speaker:
"[I am the One] who forms light and creates darkness, I make peace and creates evil; I am G-d, Maker of all of these." Reply

sue Kanata, ON October 12, 2008

Leaves of Grass We are many leaves of grass- a "lawn". GO out and mow it. The lawn blades get cut, as you play G-d with the whole scape.
If you were a ripening grass plant, would the mower seem to be good, or evil? Reply

Anonymous October 11, 2008

Did G-D create Evil? I was taught that we were created as beings with free will to choose, just as the invisible, spirit creatures were. If we are free to choose, our choices have cause and effect, coupled with our imperfections. The negative outlines the positive & vice-versa. Living with intent, in the 'Light', I agree, is ultimately the best path but who can always know the 'good' when in the temporal darkness? Choice, then is a matter of circumstance and unforseen events, often beyond our control. We just do the best we can and hope and pray for light at all times. Reply

sue Kanata, ON October 11, 2008

Evil, or "Live" It stands to reason that LOVE supports all manner of life forms- the Creator allowed for all ways without prejudice.
I see a lot of evil deeds occuring because of other life forms, like cancer cells, invested animals and small viridiae.
Since we believe that the great One created all of these lives, it is that Ones' love principle which conquers what our societies currently perceive to be evils of this or other worlds.
Love exists because of trust and faith, and faith will, indeed, return what is ill and traumatized into more viable life forms. Reply

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