There is a sentence on Wikipedia about Kabbalah, but unfortunately, there are no sources for it, and I would like to know the sources (if they exist).

The sentence says: "Among the problems considered in the Hebrew Kabbalah is the theological issue of the nature and origin of evil." In the views of some Kabbalists, this conceives "evil" as a "quality of God," asserting that negativity enters into the essence of the Absolute.

Does someone know who those Kabbalists are?


  • 1
    Evil as we know it also comes from G_d. It just so happens that we perceive it as bad, whereas in reality it is for a greater good. It is not a quality of G_d. It COULD be argued that evil is a sub sub sub sub category of the sefirah of Gevurah. All good and 'evil' come from him. My sources: Tanya of the Alter Rebbe. May 8, 2023 at 12:40
  • @MarsSojourner there are two types of evil, one that is just the absence of light, and one that is created darkness. I think chassidus says that this second evil is created by Hashem, but doesn't say it is "part of His Essence". So I am interested in this question as it seems to be saying something other than Tanya
    – Rabbi Kaii
    May 8, 2023 at 13:22
  • @RabbiKaii Where does it state that an absence of light, means it is evil? May 8, 2023 at 14:09
  • @MarsSojourner sorry don't have any sources to hand right now, however it's not controversial. For e.g. the first chapter talks about the 4 "evil" elements of the animal soul, but defines them as not sinful. Ra in this case just means obscurity of Hashem
    – Rabbi Kaii
    May 8, 2023 at 14:16
  • 1
    @RabbiKaii " two types of evil, one that is just the absence of light, and one that is created darkness." By 'absence of light', I am assuming that you are referring to the Tzimtzum HaRishon. By 'created darkness', I am assuming that you are referring to the Yotzer blessing that we say after Barchu in the morning, "יוצר אור ובורא חשך". But they are the same. See the commentary of the MaHaRid to the siddur on the Yotzer blessing for details. The Tzitzum HaRishon pertains to G-d's name only Jun 7, 2023 at 20:04

2 Answers 2


From basic principles and texts:

  1. God Himself is unknowable; He only makes Himself known through His attributes (qualities) namely He "emitted" the ten Sefirot and everything else and by them He is knowable to man. It is He that fills the Sefirot [and they do not fill or constitute Him] Patach Eliyahu.

  2. Sefer Yetzira Perek 1 Mishnah 5:

עשר ספירות בלי מה מדתן עשר שאין להם סוף עומק ראשית ועומק אחרית עומק טוב ועומק רע ... אדון יחיד אל מלך נאמן מושל בכולם ממעון קדשו ועד עדי עד:

Ten Sefirot "of What," their quality is Ten that's infinite. A depth of first, a depth of last (Chokhmah-Binah) A depth of good, a depth of evil (Keter-Malkhut) A depth of (south, north, east, up, down, west) the singular Lord Almighty, the faithful King, rules over all of them from His holy dwelling place for ever and ever.

Keter is known as the axis of Good as the commentators bring, as per (Ps. 73:28) ואני קרבת אלהים לי טוב / As for me, drawing nigh to God is what's good. So its "antipole" Malkhut (and which has nothing of its own but rather is the summation of all ten) is known as the dimension of Evil as in distance from God, that is, "as it were;" i.e. if it were possible, that's the illusion of the world, etc.

So, analyzing the statement you're asking about:

  • "evil" as a "quality of God" - Yes, per #1 and 2, insofar as it's a quality of His manifestations particularly the Sefira Malkhut, and the illusion of the world as separate from Him.
  • asserting that negativity enters into the essence of the Absolute. - No, nothing enters into His very own essence, for His absolute essence is unknowable as per #1 and furthermore it is He that fills the Sefirot and not vice-versa and similarly from #2 it is He that rules them and not vice-versa.

Many meukablim talk about what it means for things to be "bad" (for example, is evil an objective concept? do things merely appear evil but really they are good? or is "evil" just a good thing that is being misused?) and how things became/become "bad." From what I have seen these deal more with evil as an abstract concept and less with "why do bad things happen to good people" type questions. Three examples that come to mind are: Shaarei Kedusah of Rav Chaim Vital (especially the first part); The Sod HaNachas of Rabbi Joseph ben Avraham Gikatilla; and the introduction to Tolaat Yaakov of Rabbi Meir ibn Gabbai. You can also find some discussion of these topics in hassidic literature, for example it's probably discussed in the main volume of Siftei Chein.

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