Sunday, September 16, 2007

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Theological Evil

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

My post 9/11 Memories generated an interesting theological & philosophical discussions. In particular, these words of mine...
There are men motivated by evil in this world. Worse, they are absolutely convinced that their incredible evil is good. That evil is sometimes given power, for it serves a purpose. We may not agree with it, or understand it, that such evil is empowered. Perhaps because it draws good and strength in response, because it challenges us to not be complacent, to dig deep to struggle for good. ... Lets appreciate the blessings we have, thank Hashem for every one of them, and pray that next year, evil will have served it's purpose and be removed from this world.

Simcha commented: Do you realize you that you are separating G-d from the events of that day by calling it an "evil act?" It did not pass without Hashem's approval. This was the opening shot in the final war against Amalek (whose philosophy is one and the same with that of America today.) Bin Laden was just the tool in His hand...

Jon commented: One must never blame God for evil. One can only blame man who abuses his gift of free-will. God DOES turn evil into good (Joseph sold into slavery) but this does not absolve the evil acts which all men will be required (someday) to answer for. Simcha blasphemes when he accuses God of evil. He, no doubt, will similarly claim that Hitler was God’s tool, and that the allies were Amalek.

Chassidic and Kabbalistic concepts around evil are somewhat difficult and often confusing unless studied in total. Now I'm going to see if I can explain a complete theology while standing on one foot... First we start with, there is nothing but G-d, there was not creation in the past tense but continuous creation, in the present tense G-d composes the universe and empowers it, moment by moment, creating, maintaining, and directing everything within it.

This means evil is a creation of G-d, is empowered and permitted to operate by G-d. However, for there to be free will, for there to be value in making a choice for G-d, there must be an apparent alternative. This means alternate choices must appear wholly independent. And therefore, negative forces that would turn us away from G-d appear to offer valid alternatives, and are fully empowered to create those alternatives.

At the highest level, this is a task and force given by G-d. At lower levels, this appears to be independent agents that we refer to as evil.

There are various further and deeper discussions about how such agents are empowered, how they receive their trickle of energy from G-d in a backward fashion (an undesirable path), and how they are also able to capture the holy potential when such is misused. But this is the best I can do in a brief post while standing on one leg.

This theology of evil differs considerably from other religions.

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