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  #1  
Old 10-02-2005, 08:37 PM
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Default How does Judaism explain evil?

Namaste Yall,

I've been struggling with the theology of evil, how to explain it. So I'm hoping to gain some widsom from your tradition. The reason I come to you guys is because I think we share some similar beliefs. Personally, I don't buy the idea of an external source of evil, like the christian Devil. I think it absolves the person of responsibility. ("The Devil made me do it.") On the other hand, I don't buy the idea of an internal source of evil. I believe that we are all "made in the image of God" and that creation is "good." Therefore, humans are essentially good but imperfect.

But if evil doesn't have an external source and evil doesn't have an internal source, then I can only conclude that evil is not a thing in and of itself but merely the result of the absence of good, the way that dark is the absence of light. Evil exists where good fails. Logically this makes sense to me. But emotionally it is difficult to accept. If evil is merely the result of our imperfection, how do we explain torture and genocide? How can that much evil, which seems so actively virulent, be simply the result of the absence of good?

So as I said, I am hoping for some insight from Judaism. Thanks,
-lilith
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  #2  
Old 10-02-2005, 08:40 PM
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I'll be honest, I really don't understand what you're asking. . .

Like, if you're asking what the purpose of angels are? Or if you're asking do we believe in a satan who rebelled against Hashem? or what?
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  #3  
Old 10-02-2005, 08:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Binyamin
I'll be honest, I really don't understand what you're asking. . .

Like, if you're asking what the purpose of angels are? Or if you're asking do we believe in a satan who rebelled against Hashem? or what?
No, why does evil exist? What causes it?
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  #4  
Old 10-02-2005, 09:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilithu
No, why does evil exist? What causes it?
The kabbalah and Chassidut explain that the origin of evil is goodness and that G-d created evil so that it would tempt man and thereby promp him to overcome the temptation thereby bring out qualities in him that would otherwise not be accessible.
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  #5  
Old 10-03-2005, 07:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Binyamin
The kabbalah and Chassidut explain that the origin of evil is goodness and that G-d created evil so that it would tempt man and thereby promp him to overcome the temptation thereby bring out qualities in him that would otherwise not be accessible.
that, from what i understand, is the role of Satan in Judaism, not a dualistic sort of thing, but rather as an angel (i've also heard him referred to as Samael) who tempts us only so that we may overcome temptation and make ourselves better people and closer to G-d (the whole Jacob's ladder thing)
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Old 10-03-2005, 07:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jewscout
that, from what i understand, is the role of Satan in Judaism, not a dualistic sort of thing, but rather as an angel (i've also heard him referred to as Samael) who tempts us only so that we may overcome temptation and make ourselves better people and closer to G-d (the whole Jacob's ladder thing)
Correct, although we don't believe Satan rebelled against Hashem, we believe he is ful-filling the purpose that Hashem gave him. For more proof just look to the story of Abraham and the 3 angels that visit him in the guise of men.
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  #7  
Old 10-03-2005, 07:49 AM
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So both good and evil come from God? I know that there is a verse in Isaiah that says this ("I am the God of both good and evil, etc.") but did not think it was a central belief.

And evil exists because it is necessary to help us express our likeness to God? I realize that this is not a debate forum and honestly my intent is to learn not argue, but I find this answer to be unsatisfactory. (Then again, I have found all answers on evil to be unsatisfactory, so it's nothing specifically against Judaism's answer.) I think this answer works fine for "small evils," if one call them that - the everyday obstacles that we encounter. I can imagine that God lets us fail the way that a parent lets a child fail in order to learn. However, a parent would never let his child walk off a cliff or be murdered right in front of him, without trying to intervene.

Jewscout, hopefully you know me well enough to trust that I say this with great respect for Judaism:
If one believes that God has the power to stop great great evils like the genocide of defenseless innocents and yet permits it, or even is behind it as some sort of learning experience, then I can easily understand why so many Jews lost their faith during the holocaust. Surely your rabbis have wrestled with this question in the aftermath of the holocaust and come up with something more?
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  #8  
Old 10-03-2005, 08:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilithu
So both good and evil come from God? I know that there is a verse in Isaiah that says this ("I am the God of both good and evil, etc.") but did not think it was a central belief.

And evil exists because it is necessary to help us express our likeness to God? I realize that this is not a debate forum and honestly my intent is to learn not argue, but I find this answer to be unsatisfactory. (Then again, I have found all answers on evil to be unsatisfactory, so it's nothing specifically against Judaism's answer.) I think this answer works fine for "small evils," if one call them that - the everyday obstacles that we encounter. I can imagine that God lets us fail the way that a parent lets a child fail in order to learn. However, a parent would never let his child walk off a cliff or be murdered right in front of him, without trying to intervene.

Jewscout, hopefully you know me well enough to trust that I say this with great respect for Judaism:
If one believes that God has the power to stop great great evils like the genocide of defenseless innocents and yet permits it, or even is behind it as some sort of learning experience, then I can easily understand why so many Jews lost their faith during the holocaust. Surely your rabbis have wrestled with this question in the aftermath of the holocaust and come up with something more?
yes it is a question, i think, has been wrestled a great deal in the aftermath of the Holocaust (and even before then as well i imagine).
there are, i'm sure, many possible answers as to why HaShem allowed the Holocaust to happen, more than i'm sure i know of. For some no answer is sufficient enough to explain how or why this occured, and any answer one presents will be met as an apologetic answer to excuse this horrible atrocity. But i do not believe it is an excusing of this event, rather a way for those who have faith and have kept faith in the face of this horrible event, to come to terms with what happened to them and their families.
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  #9  
Old 10-03-2005, 10:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jewscout
yes it is a question, i think, has been wrestled a great deal in the aftermath of the Holocaust (and even before then as well i imagine).
there are, i'm sure, many possible answers as to why HaShem allowed the Holocaust to happen, more than i'm sure i know of. For some no answer is sufficient enough to explain how or why this occured, and any answer one presents will be met as an apologetic answer to excuse this horrible atrocity. But i do not believe it is an excusing of this event, rather a way for those who have faith and have kept faith in the face of this horrible event, to come to terms with what happened to them and their families.
Thank you Jewscout, for your honest answer.

I am personally tired of apologetics and am perfectly willing to accept that sometimes we don't know the answer. (What I cannot accept is any answer that belittles the suffering of the people - any answer that says it was their fault, or that it's no bad in the grand scheme of things.) As I said, I have looked through many different faith traditions to see how they explain evil and none of them are sufficient in my book and certainly I can't come up with anything better. But honesty and faith go a long way.

I wish you a blessed Rosh Hashanah. May you observe it surrounded by those you love.
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Old 10-03-2005, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by lilithu
No, why does evil exist? What causes it?
Human nature is the short answer to that. The dark is in all of us, but when it's out, it's really out there.

Where does anybody want to start the annals of evil from ? People have been massacaring other people since they first settled the land. Human nature has got worse, not better.

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